Don't look, the sky is falling!

Destroying the earth? Mere child’s play. “Mankind ‘shortening the universe’s life’.”

The eschaton is approaching. (Imminently. If not yet immanently.)

It's clear that the environmentalist meme has now infected the brains of countless poor victims, even cosmologists! I blame the usual suspects. Al Gore, I'm looking at you.

Forget about the threat that mankind poses to the Earth: our activities may be shortening the life of the universe too.

...New Scientist reports a worrying new variant as the cosmologists claim that astronomers may have accidentally nudged the universe closer to its death by observing dark energy, a mysterious anti gravity force which is thought to be speeding up the expansion of the cosmos. ~telegraph.co.uk


Fortunately this theory makes as little sense as the Anthropogenic Global Warming lies do. But I must say that cosmologists have a much better command of the prerequisite and nonsensical word-salad-like jargon to describe their theories than climatologists do. The following three paragraphs should be banned from the annals of periodic literature forever, sealed in a locked container and held in an underground vault to confound and annoy the future generation unfortunate enough to find and open it:
Like the decay of a radioactive atom, such shifts in energy state happen at random and it is possible that this could trigger a new big bang. The good news is that theory suggests that the universe should remain in its current state. But the bad is that quantum theory says that whenever we observe or measure something, we could stop it decaying due what is what is called the "quantum Zeno effect," which suggests that if an "observer" makes repeated, quick observations of a microscopic object undergoing change, the object can stop changing - just as a watched kettle never boils.

In this case however, it turns out that quantum mechanics implies that if an unstable system has survived for far longer than the average such system should, then the probability that it will continue to survive decreases more slowly than it otherwise would. By resetting the clock, the survival probability would now once again fall exponentially.

"The intriguing question is this," Prof Krauss told the Telegraph. "If we attempt to apply quantum mechanics to the universe as a whole, and if our present state is unstable, then what sets the clock that governs decay? Once we determine our current state by observations, have we reset the clock? If so, as incredible as it may seem, our detection of dark energy may have reduced the life expectancy of our universe." ~telegraph.co.uk


I almost prefer Al Gore's simplistic explanations of how capitalism is destroying the planet. Almost.

The question is what can we do about this unfortunate immanetizing of the eschaton? Does this new theory have applicable propaganda value for the left like Global Warming? I wouldn't doubt it. Already, we have people sterilizing themselves in order to reduce their carbon footprint. Because, as we have all been taught by the prophet Al Gore, babies are destroying the planet. (Such are the irresponsible consequences of Global Warming propaganda.)

In this case it may be too late. We've already looked at the dark matter of the universe, thereby speeding the destruction of same universe. Assuming, of course, that by so doing we haven't actually caused said universe to branch off into an alternate universe which itself now speeds to destruction. And does this mean that we have now caused two universes to be hurtling to destruction? Oh, mankind, does your perfidy spread limitless throughout the multiverse? Oh, woe and profound regret is our bipedal mammal of infinite destructiveness.

Somehow I just can't shake of the feeling that this may all be George Bush's fault.

Posted by Eric Simonson at November 23, 2007 6:44 PM
Comments
Comment #239083

Eric,

Have you ever tried knitting?

Posted by: Rocky at November 23, 2007 6:58 PM
Comment #239085

Eric:

I think liberalism needs these causes to rally around.

In my lifetime I have seen a few.

Population explosion

1970’s energy crisis - (world should have been out of oil by now).

Aids crisis: We should all be dead. Aids is important of course, but wow has the magnitude changed since the fear campaigns of long ago.

Nuclear freeze movement. That idea stopped when the soviet union collapsed.

And now global warming.

What is true in all of the cases is that the hysteria helped to bring together liberals as a focal point.

Also over time the hysteria produced a much more realistic expectations. The issues that were going to conquer the world became managable. We don’t need to live in such fear.

Why is the left so depressing?

Posted by: Craig Holmes at November 23, 2007 7:28 PM
Comment #239088

OK. Let’s make the comparison:

Anthropogenic Global Warming
1) Well understood physics, that is, how CO2 and other Greenhouse Gases trap more heat, even well known at the beginning of the last century.

2) Isotopic analysis, along with chemical fingerprinting help confirm that humans are the source.

3) A huge yearly increase in measured CO2 is accompanied by a parallel increase in global temperature. Times of the year and the day where heat tends to escape see less heat going away.

4) Stratospheric temperatures have dropped, consistent with known behavior of atmospheric CO2; warming that would have been consistent with rises in solar irradiation were not observed at critical times.

5) This is the consensus position of well over 90% of the scientists in the field, in the kind of profession where people make their name by overturning old theory, or at least refining and fact-checking it.

Compared with:
Collapse of the Universe as a result of the quantum effects of observation

1) Suggested by two (count’em) scientists.

2) Based on science they may not even understand properly.

3) Dealing with some not so well understood cosmological phenomena…

Yeah, Eric, keep on selling the controversy. Keep on making mountains out of molehills, reading the pages of the Drudge Report so you can get more half-baked information to bash liberals with.

Keep on doing that, because people like me can easily hand you your ass on the real junk science, which you see fit to rely upon for some strange reason.

Craig Holmes-
The Conservatives have themselves tied in so many loops they can’t figure out what they really stand for, whether they distrust the government, or want to hand it broad new powers to intrude into our lives. They’ve allied with each other, taken up each other’s causes in order to fight their common enemies, and ended up mutating their system far out of recognition. It is the Conservatives who live in fear, fear of liberals being in control.

The Right needs to grow up. Power can and will be shared.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 23, 2007 10:00 PM
Comment #239092

Geech Eric, now you’ve done it.
Ya went and gave Owl Gore material for another insufferable movie.
He can call this one “An Even More Inconvenient Lie”. Oops. I mean “Truth”.
Wonder if he can use the same ice falling off the same icecap another 1,000 times or so in this one.

Posted by: Ron Brown at November 23, 2007 11:56 PM
Comment #239093

Stephen:

I do think we can learn from the AIDS epidemic.

Here is a link about how science got it wrong.

http://virusmyth.net/aids/data/pdphth6.htm

Government money was actually a hinderance because they were sending money to poor researchers that were in the end putting out bad data.

Now 20 years later AIDS is an issue, just not the “end of the world” issue it was thought to be in the mid-late 1980s.

Global warming “feels the same”. There is a “rush to judgement”. There could be billions of grant money available.

I am just saying what I believe from watching human behavior. Humans have a tendency to conclude with research what they believe to be true. (Self fulfilling prophecy). It takes time to sort it all out.

I think in 20 years there will be a global warming issue. However it will be something different that is pushing the doomsday crowd.

It has to be something sort of new for a doomsday issue.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at November 23, 2007 11:59 PM
Comment #239100

Eric

Thanks for a great example of the dangers that occurs when a non-scientist tries to explain scientific principles. While the scientists in the article you cite are well qualified, they probably died laughing when somebody published their wild conjecture. Quantum mechanics successfully explains atomic structure and dynamics at the microscopic scale, but fails miserably at the macroscopic scale. And you can’t get any more macroscopic than trying to describe or define the Universe. You need to use relativity at that scale. But if these scientists had managed to derive a unifying principle that combines relativity and quantum mechanics, I’m sure they wouldn’t be talking about Schrödinger’s cat.


Now 20 years later AIDS is an issue, just not the “end of the world” issue it was thought to be in the mid-late 1980s.

So is this the result of AIDS not being the danger as we once thought. Or is it the result as empirical data suggests, that programs, education and medicines have worked together to bring some control over this disease.

Did you read the article you cited? It never says that AIDS is not a dangerous issue. The Dr. who wrote your article is merely suggesting (and the evidence appears not to support him) that AIDS is the result from factors other than HIV.


Posted by: Cube at November 24, 2007 3:43 AM
Comment #239106

Craig,

Hindsight is 20-20.
It’s very easy to say “if we knew then…”
But when people are actually dying of a disease that was spread by more than just “a lifestyle”, do we not do all we can to make sure we stop it in it’s tracks?

The same can be said about “global warming”.
We may not know for certain what the future might bring, but is that any reason not to do all we can to make sure that these “dire consequences” don’t come to pass?

Posted by: Rocky at November 24, 2007 9:33 AM
Comment #239107

Ron Brown-
Truth as defined by who? Politicians running campaigns with fossil fuel money, and the Pundit apologists paid to relate their party’s latest excuses?

Or the vast majority of scientists qualified to speak on the topic. You know, even back when I was a Republican, I trusted what scientists had to say. I didn’t ascribe political motives to them everytime they said something that contradicted an industry position.

The Republicans took the side of big tobacco, bought all those claims about cigarettes being non-addictive, not causing cancer, this, that, and the other… And guess what? They were wrong. And why? Because they defined science by politics. They defined their entire argument on rhetorically disproving a scientific consensus.

They are in no better, no more convenient of a picture here. But still they keep on, so they don’t have to admit defeat. Yet they are defeated. They can’t keep a lid on it. People themselves are noting the changes in climate, and the science is giving contrarians fewer and fewer well-grounded objections. We can even prove the CO2’s coming from us.

These people could still be wrong, but in life, we don’t wait until we get perfect information to act. We’d wait forever, stuck in indecision. No, we go with the best information we have, and the best tells us that we’re responsible for the rise in CO2 in our atmosphere, and that it’d be in our interests to radically reduce our output.

More to the point, it isn’t as if we don’t have the technology to start solving this now. We’re not doomed yet! People like myself believe that this is a resolveable problem, but that we have to start quickly, because this will be a more difficult problem to take care of than to put in motion. We’re not pessimists, just realists.

The time has come for the right to stop playing politics with science. Most of what it’s done is to deprive the right of any scientific credibility it might have with those outside the party. It’s also set them up to take the blame for all the consequences of the belated or absent responses to these problems.

Meanwhile, The Public has overwhelmingly bought the theory Is the Right and the Republican party in this country to become the graveyard where crackpot theories go to die? One of the reasons I left the Republican Party is that they were positively terrible about support for and knowledge of science. The politicians seem to care more about their own special interests than about the discernable truth.

Craig Holmes-
Science didn’t get it wrong. There’s a demonstrable link between the virus and the disease. They know how it works.

Don’t show me one scientist with a competing hypothesis, and tell me that’s a paradigm shift, that he knows best. That’s how politicians use science, treating science as an individual endeavor.

An important part of science is the scientists cross-checking each other, testing their hypotheses, repeating their observations, trying to get the same results and whatnot.

You talk about feelings. You don’t think people relied on feelings for ages before our modern times? The primary difference between then and now is that our scholars on these subjects are going by more than just guesswork, more than just personal feeling.

You talk about a rush to judgment. There was no such rush. It took years to find out about the AIDS virus. They at first thought just what this guy thought, that it was all the result of lifestyle, of drug use and homosexual behavior. There was a large portion of the country for which this felt right. Except the cases started showing up in people who didn’t have such risk factors. They found a virus, and that virus has been linked definitively to the disease.

The real problem is that people even individual sciences let feelings determine what they think is good science, without using good scientific approaches to test the feeling they have.

The problem is that people are expecting science to agree with them, and disagreeing with it when it doesn’t reflect their personal beliefs; but since when does the natural world have to reflect our beliefs? It is the way it is, regardless of our opinion about it.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 24, 2007 10:01 AM
Comment #239111

And lets not forget the war on christmas or the war on christans or class warfare. More hyperbole and B.S from the people that brought you wmd and the Iraq war.

Posted by: Jeff at November 24, 2007 11:02 AM
Comment #239120

There is not much to be said about global warming. The only purpose global warming serves is to scam the gullible to “donate to the cause.” This technique is not new. Ever wonder why politicians leave office millions of dollars richer?

Need a laugh? Read whatever Al Gore says about global warming. 1903: Warming; 1930s: Cooling; 1950s: Warming; 1970s: Cooling; 2000s: Warming. I detect a great lacking of common sense.

Jeff:
war on Christmas, Christians, and classes? What does that have to do with Bush or destroying the universe?

Posted by: stubborn conservative at November 24, 2007 12:51 PM
Comment #239124


Progressives and or scientists competing against neoconservative preachers, politicians and economist in a game of scaremongering is the equivalent of a junior college team competing aginst the New England Patriots in the super bowl.

Fundamentalist preachers didn’t label AIDS a gift from God to homosexuals to scare homosexuals. They did it to scare Christians.

After the attack on the World Trade Center, some fundamentalist preachers labeled it God’s way of punishing America for turning against him. Is it just coincidence that the attack occured after a coalition of fundamentalist Christians, neocons and anti-government intervention capitalists gave the neocons control of the government with a Republican Congress as enablers?

Posted by: jlw at November 24, 2007 1:23 PM
Comment #239131

stubborn conservative-
Weather and climate were once among the softer sciences. What you have here is not wishy-washy people, with the same evidence waffling between conclusions. What you have are scientists across generations gradually improving upon the theories regarding what was until a decade or two ago, an open question.

Science has improved any number of disciplines with advances in theory, technology, and greater amounts of data gathering.

You wouldn’t dismiss modern metallurgy on the basis of mistaken impressions people had in the forties. You don’t dismiss modern quantum physics because a century ago many people still believed in the classical model. You don’t dismiss modern biology because people sixty years ago did not know about DNA’s key role, or how to properly interpret genetics.

And you don’t judge modern understanding of climate on the basis of what people thought in a day and age where data gathering was sparser, computer power dramatically lower, and the processes of climate, feedbacks and forcings, were not as well understood. You act as if people knew for sure at all those times that the climate was going in one direction or another. In fact, the most famous claim about cooling was itself an open questions. Scientists were trying to decided between them. There wasn’t, to put it plainly, a consensus about these matters, like there is now.

The thing to keep in mind is that science has its uncertainties, but to depend on those to mount a credible argument is risky at best, laughable at worst.

Atmospheric sciences have to deal with a system whose complexities helped give birth to the modern scientific notion of Chaos. The Butterfly Effect came off of a program designed to simulate windflow on the planet. However, the flipside of the discovery of chaos was that there was structure in the chaos, that even if you could not precisely, arbitrarily predict something, you could at least get an idea of the range of expectable outcomes.

We can’t nail dow precisely what the excess CO2’s going to do, but we know enough about the system to know that an outcome other than global warming coming from the CO2 is extraordinarily unlikely.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 24, 2007 2:52 PM
Comment #239132

Stephen, I see have dragged that UGLY TRUCK to the curb again and are STILL trying to sell it.

“AIN’T GONNA BUY NO UGLY TRUCK”

Posted by: Tomd at November 24, 2007 3:25 PM
Comment #239140

Rocky:

Hindsight is 20-20. It’s very easy to say “if we knew then…” But when people are actually dying of a disease that was spread by more than just “a lifestyle”, do we not do all we can to make sure we stop it in it’s tracks?

The same can be said about “global warming”.
We may not know for certain what the future might bring, but is that any reason not to do all we can to make sure that these “dire consequences” don’t come to pass

I agree with much of what you say here. Looking back through what was known say in 1985 or so and following and the reaction to AIDS, there was a huge amount of waste in government research money and in hindsight a great deal of missed placed fear.

I don’t disagree with anything in your reply. My point is that we can look at the process of our coming to terms with AIDS and realize that there was a great deal of misunderstanding. AIDS still ranks below suicide for instance as a cause of death among the young. That is not to dimish it’s importance, it is simply to say that it isn’t important. Every cause of death is important. I have lost friends to AIDS. It is to say that what was predicted would happen by well intentioned people when AIDS was the great fear and what happened are two different things.

I believe the same thing will happen with global warming. I don’t think anyone will be winning the Nobel Peace Price and flying in private jets to pick it up for instance.

I think 20 years from now liberals will have another issue to rally around. Just as AIDS is important now, so will global warming be important in 20 years. It just wont be the top issue.

right now I think Obesity is probably the top health issue ahead of AIDS.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at November 24, 2007 5:12 PM
Comment #239142

Stephen:

The UN I assume uses science to make predictions;

http://www.jasonhayes.org/?p=2647

This blogger says it well.

If the UN is off by that much on AIDS, we are not “flatworlders” to entertain the remote possibility that they may be off in climate change.

My simple point is that we should not “rush to judgment”.

Over time the wheat will be separate from the chaff.

All I need to see is what the scientific community was predicting 100 years ago for today so we can measure how accurate sciences 100 year predictions are.

Answer, they were probably worthless, as they could not forsee nuclear energy etc. So to are our 100 year predictions worthless as we cannot see the future’s energy revolutions.

Here is an idea of what science thought a hundred years ago on climate change:

In 1898, delegates from across the globe gathered in New York City for the world’s first international urban planning conference. One topic dominated the discussion. It was not housing, land use, economic development, or infrastructure. The delegates were driven to desperation by horse manure. […] The situation seemed dire. In 1894, the Times of London estimated that by 1950 every street in the city would be buried nine feet deep in horse manure. One New York prognosticator of the 1890s concluded that by 1930 the horse droppings would rise to Manhattan’s third-story windows. A public health and sanitation crisis of almost unimaginable dimensions loomed.

And no possible solution could be devised. After all, the horse had been the dominant mode of transportation for thousands of years. Horses were absolutely essential for the functioning of the nineteenth-century city — for personal transportation, freight haulage, and even mechanical power. Without horses, cities would quite literally starve.

All efforts to mitigate the problem were proving woefully inadequate. Stumped by the crisis, the urban planning conference declared its work fruitless and broke up in three days instead of the scheduled ten.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at November 24, 2007 5:26 PM
Comment #239150

Craig,

Wasn’t there also a rumour that they were going to close the Patent Office because they thought everything that was going to be invented had already been invented?
Hell, the Industrial Revolution in America hadn’t really taken off until after the Civil War, and quite a few of the future States were still territories.
While I don’t think we have gone nearly as far as we shall go, I still think we have made a quantum leap in the technologies that would allow for a bit more accurate forecasting of what the “near” future might have in store for us than those folks from the 1890s.

Posted by: Rocky at November 24, 2007 8:01 PM
Comment #239153

Rocky:

I am going to have to disagree with you there. I am sure in each period of history in each year of it everyone had thought or belived they were at the peak of modern times.. even ourselves today. I don;t rememebr a source for it, but have read it quite a few times that we roughly double our technology every 50 years, what we belive is cutting edge, is child’s toys to our grandchildren.. I am sure in say the 50’sd for example.. we belived what the future would be.. and well it was nothing like they had forecasted.. I am also sure that in 1890 they alkso belive they knew light years more about how the world would go than they did in 1850. I am only saying that every idea we may come up with now, may become the next 8-track player in the eyes of our grandchildren

Posted by: RHancheck at November 24, 2007 9:14 PM
Comment #239156

Rocky:

Wasn’t there also a rumour that they were going to close the Patent Office because they thought everything that was going to be invented had already been invented? Hell, the Industrial Revolution in America hadn’t really taken off until after the Civil War, and quite a few of the future States were still territories. While I don’t think we have gone nearly as far as we shall go, I still think we have made a quantum leap in the technologies that would allow for a bit more accurate forecasting of what the “near” future might have in store for us than those folks from the 1890s.

I agree with you completely. The scientific method has been refined. There is a far more disciplined approach etc etc.

However I believe there will be many more “quantum leaps” in our future. It is impossible to predict these leaps because by definition we don’t know what they are!! What we can do is place ourselves back in 1907 and look forward and then realize that the inventions of the next hundred years will be enormous.

I would love hydrocarbons to be done away with. Anyone with loved ones in the military doesn’t want these wars over oil. I would love to say goood bye to the middle east and others as business partners.


Posted by: Craig Holmes at November 24, 2007 9:33 PM
Comment #239157

It has become apparent that there is a faction of conservative minded people who know better than the rest what is good for us all. Since science does not seem to be rooted in good conservative values I can only assume that it really has no practicle value. Maybe I should give up my concerned, caring, conscientious, easily duped liberal nature and take the who gives a shit, every man for himself conservative attitude. Screw science and to hell with aids victims. After all science is just an agenda driven liberal cause and aids is a disgusting disease mostly afflicting those not worthy of life anyways. Life sure would be more carefree and much easier if I could just blow off responsibility and live life on a lark. Sounds to me like a great excuse for the justification of a life of excess and waste.

Posted by: RickIL at November 24, 2007 10:28 PM
Comment #239159

Rick:

It has become apparent that there is a faction of conservative minded people who know better than the rest what is good for us all.

Hardly. I think it is the liberals that are way out front of science. Al Gore would be the first one to come to mind.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at November 24, 2007 11:21 PM
Comment #239160

tomd-
Just why do you think this theory is an ugly truck? Yes, it has uncertainties, but you can’t remove that, not from atmospheric physics. Chaos Theory figures into outcomes, so there is no real way to guarantee arbitrarily precise predictions over time. The best you can do is a range.

Yes, there are people who object to the theory, but no theory enjoys freedom from contrary opposition.

Is there strong evidence for the theory? Yes. The warming is confirmed, the link of the CO2 to the warming is about as confirmed as you can get with a system you can’t dump into a lab and control yourself, and human beings have been established as the source for an overwhelming amount of the new CO2 being put into the air, by a means that can distinguish modern CO2 from that of fossil fuels.

Ugly truck? Your standards of beauty might just be a bit too high for even modern science to measure up to.

Craig Holmes-
That fear wasn’t misplaced. AIDS is a serum spread disease, which meant if people didn’t acknowledge what was happening, it was going to become a major risk factor.

The Conservatives have been playing off this meme of Democrats and liberals as addicted to alarmism, but the right seems addicted to complacency. Nothing’s ever wrong, unless it has something to do with Liberals.

The science of a century ago doesn’t hold a candle to the science of now. A century ago, the quantum realm was just beginning to be explored. Now it constitutes a world of physics unto itself. A century ago, I’m not sure they knew DNA existed. A century ago, Continental drift wasn’t even a real theory. A century ago, nobody knew just how sudden and violent Climate Change could be, nor how nonlinear the system was. They imagined one day they could figure it all out.

Could Global Warming science be proved wrong? Yes. Is it appropriate at this time to declare it already discredited because a century from now we could know different? No. We will best make our decisions based on what we know now, and know best.

To presuppose that science will offer an answer, or that we will see global warming theory discredited because of the way things have changed before is to pin one’s hopes on an appeal to ignorance, to what we can’t know rather than what we do know.

For every person vindicated by the course of science, there is another who out of personal prejudice hung on to the discrediting of a theory, only to find it stood the test of time.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 24, 2007 11:43 PM
Comment #239163

Stephen:

The science of a century ago doesn’t hold a candle to the science of now.

I agree with ths completely. I also believe it is rational to believe that our current science “doesn’t hold a candle” to the science of a century from now.

Could Global Warming science be proved wrong? Yes. Is it appropriate at this time to declare it already discredited because a century from now we could know different? No. We will best make our decisions based on what we know now, and know best.

My argument isn’t that global warming will or will not be proven wrong. I am arguing that we are in a predictible cycle that is much like that of AIDS in the 1980’s. Just as AIDS is still important but not as alarmist as it was in the 1980’s so I believe it will be the same in the future with global warming.

We can learn from previous cycles and see how human nature predictibly interfaces with science. AIDS is still here, and I believe global warming will still be here 20 years from now.

To presuppose that science will offer an answer, or that we will see global warming theory discredited because of the way things have changed before is to pin one’s hopes on an appeal to ignorance, to what we can’t know rather than what we do know.

You might be right. But on the other side of the coin to think that we can predict the weather a hundred years in the future seems a bit of arrogance. Certainly there will be vast changes. It’s not ignorance to believe that there will be great advances, if only because history shows us a pattern of advancement.

So we have ignorance and arrogance. Wisdom would be to do what is possible and practical today with our current knowledge base, being open to change as new information surely arrises.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at November 25, 2007 12:44 AM
Comment #239172

Craig

Hardly. I think it is the liberals that are way out front of science. Al Gore would be the first one to come to mind.

Al Gore is a representative of the scientific community. His agenda is in the interest of responsible living in the hope of forestalling a potentially disastrous scenario. All though the global warming facts may not be 100% verifiable at this juncture, there certainly is more than enough evidence to indicate a need for serious concern. To simply ignore the situation because a few doubters think they know better than our scientific community would be totally irresponsible. The potential consequences could be so devastating that procrastination may prove to be the straw that breaks the camels back.

Tell me Craig, what serious harm can possibly come from improving the quality of our environment. Do you folks despise liberal thinking people so much that you are willing to risk the future of your children out of spite? We really are not so different. I am not living in fear that the world will end tomorrow. Nor do I think that anyone can specifically predict with a great amount of accuracy the outcome of an extreme warming scenario. It may not be as bad or it may be much worse. But I am not so stupid as to believe that we can not or should not do anything to improve our situation. If global warming turns out to be no real big deal or possibly unavoidable, so be it. Until we know for sure that we do not have a problem or perhaps can do nothing to alter it we should be at the very least trying to plan in advance as much as humanly possible. I do not see this as alarmist thinking or scaremongering. Simply as a common sense approach to a potentially serious problem affecting our entire world. One definite potential plus I see evolving from the preparations of dealing with man assisted global warming is the advancement of research and production of alternative energy sources. The latter being a huge plus for us as a nation regardless of the viability of global warming claims.

Posted by: RickIL at November 25, 2007 8:40 AM
Comment #239193

Rick:

Al Gore is a representative of the scientific community.

Al Gore is a politician. Which scientific organization is he a spokesman for? (Answer is none).

To simply ignore the situation because a few doubters think they know better than our scientific community would be totally irresponsible.

I agree with some of what you say here. I also believe we have been here before as in the AIDS issue of the 1980’s. Just as AIDS is still serious but far less than what the Al Gores of the 1980’s predicted, so in the future I believe global warming will be less of an issue.

Tell me Craig, what serious harm can possibly come from improving the quality of our environment.

Environmentalism needs to be balanced with economic development. As long as it is done is a balanced thoughtful way I think environmentalism is a very good thing.

Do you folks despise liberal thinking people so much that you are willing to risk the future of your children out of spite?

“you folks” is a language type used to segregate people and put them into groups for bigoted reasons. You wouldn’t have some bigoted thoughts about conservatives in their would you?

I do not see this as alarmist thinking or scaremongering.

I don’t think liberals are sitting in a room trying to figure out how to scare the hell out of people.

As I stated above I think what happened with the AIDS epidemic is instructional and that people react in predictable ways. AIDS is a pretty terrrible thing, however 20 years later mortality rates are still dropping among most age classifications. Meaning, although AIDS is a problem, health is improving as a whole.

We can calm down and see a pattern. 20 years from now I believe we will view global warming very differently than much of the alarmist talk now.

I think for instance that Al Gore’s “An inconvenient truth” will look silly and way over done. Most films that try to predict the future do look silly later on!!

One definite potential plus I see evolving from the preparations of dealing with man assisted global warming is the advancement of research and production of alternative energy sources.

You and I could probably work together on this issue but with different motives. I have a son in the navy and do not want him to fight in another war over energy. I think many oil producers make very poor business partners. The less oil imported the more secure we are as a country. Sometimes the left and right can work together even with different but complimentary motives.

I have worked my whole adult life with liberals successfully. I was on a public school board for 10 years. One of the best experiences of my life!!

Posted by: Craig Holmes at November 25, 2007 1:29 PM
Comment #239206

“you folks” is a language type used to segregate people and put them into groups for bigoted reasons. You wouldn’t have some bigoted thoughts about conservatives in their would you?

Not at all Craig. Erics thread was quite clearly written in liberal bashing form. Of late most posts over here on the right side have leaned in that direction. They do not leave any room for compromise and suggest that liberals are wimpy easily duped and alarmed wussies not capable of making an intelligent informed decision on much of anything. I live in farm country and am well aware of the shallow bigoted political prejudices of the extreme right. And yes I do know people on the left of the same nature. It is a shame because nothing gets accomplished while these people foolishly push against each other out of simple hatred of the others views. If it makes me a bigot to see no use for or have no respect for those of such extreme unyielding viewpoints then I guess maybe I am in that regard.

Posted by: RickIL at November 25, 2007 4:26 PM
Comment #239235

Rick:

I don’t have any idea if you are bigotted or not. You were just using language that bigots use!! “You folks” is alot like “you gays” “you blacks” etc.

Actually you do use “We they” language.

If it makes me a bigot to see no use for or have no respect for those of such extreme unyielding viewpoints then I guess maybe I am in that regard.

You should think this over. “I am intolerant of intolerant people”. This could be construed as disliking people like yourself. Or maybe it’s a mtter of extreme? You have no use for people a bit more extreme than you are?

Your last sentence made me confused. It sounded like an admition of hypocrisy. Care to try again?

Posted by: Craig Holmes at November 25, 2007 9:52 PM
Comment #239256

Eric Simonson,

Quantum theory is fun. By observing the political landscape, everyone could fork the universe into several alternate ones, one where all is George Bush’s fault, one where all is Al Gore’s fault, one where Iraq War is an humanitarian operation, one where people do actually take your post seriously, and so on.

Unfortunately, by just reading this very post of mine, you’ll change its original state, and you will never see in the same state than the one I wrote but more probably in a sarcastic state.

Too sad.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at November 26, 2007 10:02 AM
Comment #239257

Craig,

Just as AIDS is still serious but far less than what the Al Gores of the 1980’s predicted, so in the future I believe global warming will be less of an issue.

Can you factor out the Al Gores of the 1980’s in the “far less” serious AIDS is today?

Have you any fact to prove that if nothing that was done in reaction to these 1980’s alarmists call was actually done, the today AIDS issue will be similar?

We can calm down and see a pattern. 20 years from now I believe we will view global warming very differently than much of the alarmist talk now.

Sure, 20 years from now we will know better than now. Whoa, strong logic. And?
Does it means that predictions on what we know today are useless, making wake up calls regarding environment issues too, that we should wait next year to know better, and next year to wait the next year again, and again and again, because otherwise people could take it in a too much alarmist way?!?

The house is burning but let’s wait a bit to see if the roof will resist…

Alarmists play a role.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at November 26, 2007 10:21 AM
Comment #239259

Craig

This is all a bit silly. I really am not a bigot. Considering myself a liberal I think indicates that I am tolerant of most viewpoints and all races. Words can be so misleading in written form when not used with specific indicators. “You folks” was meant in the context of my message to refer to those who hold opposing viewpoints simply because the viewpoint they are opposing is that of a liberal. I do not hate or despise such people. I merely feel that their shallow viewpoints do the rest of us or themselves no good. Such viewpoints do not accomplish much more than to create anger and undo biases. Much like the state of our current legislative bodies.

I have gone back and glanced over your posts and would like to apologize for lumping you in with a few here who seemingly fit the aforementioned mold. Sometimes it is easy to form an opinion and carelessly apply it to all the threads of a post. Your replies are well thought out intelligent conversation not leaning towards particular liberal or conservative biases. I do not agree with all that you say but I do respect your opinion and the careful civility with which you present it.

One thing that truly bothers me is that conservatives in general really seem to hate Al Gore and everything that he stands for. I personally have always admired what seems to me to be an honest passion for improving our environment. To be honest my first impressions of Al Gore are still associated with environmental issues. He has as long as I can remember, long before “An Inconvenient Truth”. always made them his main issue. I realize he is first and foremost a politician and being so makes him and any issues he supports circumspect. He may or may not have been a good president. One needs much more than environmental knowledge to be a capable president. I do believe that he is advocating an agenda that he is genuinely passionate about. If nothing else he has bought to the forefront the message of a potentially disastrous scenario. A scenario that probably would have not gotten proper attention if not for him. A scenario that if we were to continue to totally ignore the scientific and naturally occurring indicators could possibly prove to be catastrophic. This may all very well be wrong. I simply feel that the potential consequences are too dire to take lightly.

Posted by: RickIL at November 26, 2007 11:28 AM
Comment #239262

In fact, it looks more like:

“House is burning but let’s wait if roof fall prediction is too alarmist”.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at November 26, 2007 1:02 PM
Comment #239267

Rick:

Thank you for the nice response. I don’t hate Al Gore. My opinion of him is that if he would have run as Al Gore he probably would have been elected. He came across as a characture of trying to parse opinion polls. I wish liberals would say “I’m liberal and proud of it” instead of try to come across as moderate. They look like me in drag. (Who am I trying to fool) (humor intended).

I am not with you on the global warming thing. I can however work with you on many environmental issues from a different motivation.

Look at what I read today for instance:

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/broward/story/320606.html

Ok, so science, weather science!!, cannot accurately predict hurricanes. Of course then I am not going to fall on a sword over their 100 year predictions either.

I am going to note what they say as an important informed sourse, and watch as this issue unfolds over the years. I also am open to supporting reasonable environmental causes. From my understanding of both human nature and history, it is wise to hold something back waiting for the other foot (or feet) to fall. Switching metaphors, I think there are other cards to be played over time.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at November 26, 2007 1:30 PM
Comment #239301

Gee, Eric learned some big words from his conservative sources and is trying his best to trot them out. Very good, Eric, here’s a cookie! Only you should have linked to “imminently” instead of “eminently”; they are, in fact, different words.

Sadly, repeating big words and knowing how to link (sometimes successfully) to Web sources doesn’t substitute for knowledge or understanding. It’s kind of funny how people who embrace the looney beliefs of fundamentalists in order to get elected scoff at the bewildering implications from findings of theoretical physicists. Well, don’t let me rain on your snark parade. Have at it. I’m sure you understand the arguments perfectly, ‘cause you know some big words that Bill Buckley once used.

Posted by: mental wimp at November 26, 2007 6:57 PM
Comment #239304

Craig Holmes

do think we can learn from the AIDS epidemic.

Here is a link about how science got it wrong.

”>http://virusmyth.net/aids/data/pdphth6.htm

Uh, you do realize that wacko Duesberg published this in 1992, and has been repeatedly and thoroughly discredited by the successful treatment of HIV by antiretroviral drug therapy, right? You don’t cite things like this without knowing where it fits in the history of the epidemic, right, Craig? You don’t just spout off about things you know nothing about other than a single crack-pot publication from 1992, do you? Do you?

If you’d like to read a pretty lucid explanation of the overwhelming evidence that HIV causes AIDS, look here. That is, if you are interested in a comprehensive review of the evidence. Otherwise, stay in your tinfoil echo chamber and enjoy the noise.

Posted by: mental wimp at November 26, 2007 7:08 PM
Comment #239307

Wow Mental,

Are you attacking Eric for using big words?

You direct 7 sentences at his use of “big words” and one sentence to disagree with the premise.

Posted by: tomd at November 26, 2007 7:18 PM
Comment #239311
Wow Mental,

Are you attacking Eric for using big words?


Uh, you’re right, I am. I guess I went after that because he emphasized them, like they lent credence to his argument. Is a particularly tired meme, and one I associate with right-wing pundits. Certain “big” words and phrases gain currency among them and they bandy them about to bolster their feeling of having superior knowledge. Not only Bill Buckley does this, but so do George Will, Charles Krauthammer, and Bill Kristol, too. (This could be bias on my part; perhaps some lefties do this, too, though none come to mind immediately.) Not too long ago the word “parlous” started popping up in their utterances, but that run has petered out now.

That said, I thought my actual critique of the premise was good. And I did link the big-word thing to the central point in the last sentence.

Posted by: mental wimp at November 26, 2007 7:41 PM
Comment #239317

Craig Holmes-
It’s correct to assert that the science of today might not hold a candle to that of a century from now, but that might only mean that beliefs about global warming are refined, not discarded. Meanwhile, by the time that century mark rolls around, the consequences of Global warming, according to the science of today, will be irreversible.

We can talk about predictable cycles of alarmism, but what do you base your notion of Global Warming being alarmist. If we define alarmist rhetoric as being that which basically cries wolf about an important matter, then Global Warming comes nowhere near being alarmist. There might be a profound sense of urgency, but the fact that its effects are playing out right now, and the best science we have now indicates that climate change tends to be quick, nonlinear and rather violent in the way it works out, we really don’t seem to have any time to screw around.

You might be right. But on the other side of the coin to think that we can predict the weather a hundred years in the future seems a bit of arrogance. Certainly there will be vast changes. It’s not ignorance to believe that there will be great advances, if only because history shows us a pattern of advancement.

We’re not talking weather, but climate. Climate is an average over time, and therefore much easier to predict well over time than Weather, which is very much a transient phenomena. Hurricanes are an especially bad comparison to climate, given that they are the kind of self-organizing system that bends weather around it, rather than working with the system around it as is. That’s what makes them so difficult to anticipate.

Even with the predictions made, we’re being given a range, not a specific number. Believe me, I’ve read what the scientists have to say, and they are well aware of the uncertainty of the situation. The thing to keep in mind, though, is that we must not count on staying on nature’s good side. People assumed the ice sheets would take thousands of years to melt. That was before they found that there were chasms and holes opening up in the sheet that let melt water funnel towards the base. That funnelling could take what might have taken three thousand years, if we were considering it melting as a solid block, and reduce it to thirty something years.

The collapse of ice shelfs on the Antarctic Peninsula is another warning sign. Instead of gently ebbing away, the ice shelfs have come apart in matter of days when they go.

When the risk of something is profound and imminent, the way you play it safe is by assuming that anything that can go wrong will go wrong, making it necessary for you plan accordingly.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 26, 2007 8:38 PM
Comment #239377

Now humans are causing the “UNIVERSE” to shrink!! Ha! Ha! And, I thought I’d heard it all with “humans causing global warming (to the planet)”; this is getting way (way) out of hand.

Good to see there’s plenty of Kool-aid for the “Religious fanatics” of the global warming crowd.

Posted by: rahdigly at November 27, 2007 1:40 PM
Comment #239399

Rahdigly-
No, a couple of scientists are saying that, and if you do some research, you’ll find barely anybody who takes that view.

As for religious fanaticism? Well, I respect religion, and it bothers me that you use the term so negatively, and besides that, the proponents of the theory can provide consistent evidence that it’s correct, while the critics seem to have no unified answer.

It would take a lot of faith in a claim, in the secular sense, for somebody to believe that Global Warming is not being caused by humans. You’d have to discount a mountain of evidence and the current scientific consensus on the matter.

Minus a major, cohesive counter theory, faith would be all you were going on.

It’s important not to discount consensus, because individual scientists can often be cranks, or folks operating on the fringe of the accepted science. Until somebody can make a compelling enough case for their hypothesis, and the body of science on the subject can work out the kinks and prove the scientist’s notion true, faith in the notion would be all that supported it.

To me, it seems that all that is really uniting this contrarianism, is the commonality of the politics, the shared agenda of industry and their Republican and Democrat apologists.

America needs it’s policy to be based on good science, not the convenience of lobbyists and the Politics of Washington. Despite all their claims, global warming science is the most compelling, best proven of the theories, and that’s what should shape the policy.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 27, 2007 3:47 PM
Comment #239401

Stephen:

When the risk of something is profound and imminent, the way you play it safe is by assuming that anything that can go wrong will go wrong, making it necessary for you plan accordingly.

Cross link this comment to our discussions about Iraq and Iran.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at November 27, 2007 3:56 PM
Comment #239427

Craig Holmes-
I could take what you said a couple ways. If you’re saying that this is why we have (or had) to take military action with these places, then I’d say no, It’s not the case with either one. If reliable evidence had been allowed to be the guage of the situation in Iraq, and is allowed to be that of Iran, then we really didn’t (in Iraq’s case) or don’t (in Iran’s case) have good reason to be taking aggressive military action. These are more politically driven agenda items, than ones founded on necessity.

But if we’re talking about the way these wars are being carried out?

They’ve never really played that way. As some have said, their plan B is hoping plan A works. They believed and still believe that skepticism about their policy is defeatism. They hope for the best, but do not plan for the worst.

Optimism without moderation and humility bears the bitter fruit of failure. The Bush Administration all too often runs things on the borderline of functionality or below, hoping that luck saves their efforts. Unfortunately, Murphy’s law holds. In the chaos of the real world, in the fog of war, those who fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

I wish Iraq had gone better. However, no opportunity to win a war lasts forever, and the longer you fight one, the less likely you are to win.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 27, 2007 6:12 PM
Comment #239467

Stephen, “consensus” in science is a joke! Many of the critics will tell you that; you just have to listen, stop being defensive (or gullible) and (for goodness sake) put down the Kool-aid, buddy. “Man-made” global warming is a lie; you are being played by a “consensus” from a goverment organization (IPCC).

Posted by: rahdigly at November 27, 2007 11:18 PM
Comment #239468

Stephen:

No, I just think you described the rationale to go to war from Bush’s viewpoint. I think President Bush felt there was a consensus concerning WMD in Iraq. He was wrong. Actually all of them were wrong. All of the best intelligence minds around the world were wrong.

I am not for “going into Iraq” on climate change. I am for “inspections.”

Posted by: Craig Holmes at November 27, 2007 11:34 PM
Comment #239471

Rahdigly,
Just one problem. The IPCC not the only organization. Here is a list:

1.2 Joint science academies’ statement 2007
1.3 Joint science academies’ statement 2005
1.4 Joint science academies’ statement 2001
1.5 U.S. National Research Council, 2001
1.6 American Meteorological Society
1.7 American Geophysical Union
1.8 American Institute of Physics
1.9 American Astronomical Society
1.10 Federal Climate Change Science Program, 2006
1.11 American Association for the Advancement of Science
1.12 Stratigraphy Commission of the Geological Society of London
1.13 Geological Society of America
1.14 American Chemical Society
1.15 Engineers Australia (The Institution of Engineers Australia

“No scientific bodies of national or international standing are known to reject the basic findings of human influence on recent climate.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change#Dissenting_statements

Rahdigly, feel free to name on scientific body that denies APG. You have the entire world to work with. Name one. You’ll have to do better than “some guy,” or science fiction writer Michael Crichton. Remember, a lot of countries have a vested interest in denying Global Warming, especially oil & coal exporters. Surely you can name one. Just one.

Posted by: phx8 at November 28, 2007 12:25 AM
Comment #239498

Rahdigly-
Scientific methods work on scientists cross-checking themselves and each other. One scientist can be wrong. Other scientists, following his experiments, can verify or debunk that scientists. Others in turn can verify or debunk the debunking!

Consensus, when it comes, is the result of scientists being unable to put enough holes in the theory to deflate it. No theory is perfect; all are approximations with room for refinement. Scientific institutions are set up to continually check and recheck these conclusions.

Consensus matters. It may not always be right, but it’s the most likely conclusion to be right, as far as we know. It is better to act on what is most likely to be right, than to wait forever for perfect confirmation that not even science can’t provide.

The only consensus you are following is a political one, and those have a much more inferior track record, especially coming from your party, than scientific theory.

Craig Holmes-
You’re buying the Bush administration’s talking point, their rationalization for being wrong. The reality is, they had no such consensus, and they sanitized the information they gave to the public to provide the false appearance of such a consensus. As for the best intelligence minds, there’s strong evidence the Bush Administration and their allies circulated reports to these people, which then fed back. I believe the term for this is incestuous amplification, and it was a practice used to increase the authoritative look of questionable intelligence.

As for going for inspections on climate change? We’ve had them, for the better part of the last generation. There’s actually confirmed evidence of Climate Change and it’s effects, which is more than could be said for the Bush Adminstration’s theory that Saddam had WMDs (even at the start of the war, there were zero confirmed WMD sites).

The main reason for people to deny Climate Change is political, and financial. As with any important policy change, there are winners and losers, and the people shouting loudest about the unreliability of the science on climate change are the people who stand to lose the most money on a shift to greener policies.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 28, 2007 11:47 AM
Comment #239499

Phx, you (apparently) didn’t read the “Consensus is Nonsensus in Scientific Matters” article, b/c that scientist clearly touched on the fact that governments have been pooring in a bunch of money to fund the “alarmists”.

Let’s not forget that tens of billions of dollars have been spent by the US government and foundations in support of the global warming theory and the good Senators do not call for ending that. This is a scientific issue and cannot be resolved by voting, or the development of consensus, or the censorship of scientists with differing and challenging questions. Nor can the science be advanced by the repression of information adverse to the global warmers beliefs. This isn’t a courtroom game where adverse evidence is inadmissible.

The skeptics are being isolated, dismissed, attacked, and defunded (burning at the stake hasn’t been openly mentioned yet, but Nuremburg-type trials have). (http://tinyurl.com/uykvu). They are asking hard questions, as they should, which aren’t being answered by the modelers, as they should.


By the way, that would be our “tax dollars” the gov’t has been using; you know, the same tax dollars that you so pathetically whined about in another post just recently. :-)


Stephen,

Let’s be clear: the acquisition of knowledge of the natural sciences has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics, of polite agreements on where to plant the daisies, or where to build the library. Letters from US Senators to silence critics is a familiar display of totalitarian instincts, a rather un-American activity we should think.

Serious scientists should welcome criticism, and many have in the past. Hypotheses are to be examined, modified, or abandoned, while knowledge is advanced, understanding improved. But it is not welcomed these days, which is, sadly, a most unscientific situation.

Posted by: rahdigly at November 28, 2007 11:56 AM
Comment #239558

Rahdigly,
Yes, I read the article. So, are you saying that every government in the world, regardless of political leanings, is supporting a Global Warming Hoax? Are you saying every credible scientific institution in the world is doing the same?

Posted by: phx8 at November 28, 2007 10:12 PM
Comment #239565

Phx, you are ignoring the fact that gov’t pours billions of dollars (OF OUR TAX MONEY!!) into supporting the alarmist; yet, you (only) focus on the oil companies that “have a vested interest in denying Global Warming” (remember that line you said in Your previous Comment?!) You were so worried about our tax dollars being spent in Iraq; remember, “rahdigly do you have my money? Where is it?” boo hoo (wimper, wimper). Now, you don’t care that billions of our dollars is poured into a CONSENSUS!

And, you are not responding to this scientist who is telling us that a consensus is “the business of politics”; in “the scientific world consensus is meaningless, and often unscientific, and worse, often wrong. Even the act of seeking such a consensus as a form of proof is not science.”

Now, unless you have better credentials than this scientist and Crighton for that matter (he has a science background in addition to being an author, by the way), stop trying to disparage them with your (kool-aid drinking) talking points and prove them wrong. I suggest you find (credible) sources that address this issue (of a Consensus) directly; until then, your just wasting space on this blog with nothing but pure drivel.

Posted by: rahdigly at November 28, 2007 11:14 PM
Comment #239574

Rahdigly,
Investing tax dollars in alternative energies has multiple benefits. Surely you would agree, moving away from oil dependence is a good idea, even if you disagree with AGW. The same goes with finding alternatives to burning coal to generate electricity.

The same cannot be said for Iraq. It is money down a rat hole, in sums which dwarf the total invested in Global Warming research. Remember, we have already spent $500 billion on Iraq, and the total is expected to top a trillion by quite a bit.

When it comes to scientific agreement, an overwhelming number of scientists have produced evidence across many fields of study. They keep coming to the same conclusion.

So I, along with the rest of the world, will move on without you.


Posted by: phx8 at November 29, 2007 12:35 AM
Comment #239617
So I, along with the rest of the world, will move on without you.

Ok then, I’ll stay with Galileo, Bruno, Semmelweis, Fox and Crichton. By the way, oil companies spend their own money exploring alternative energy; yet, you don’t say anything about that. Also, if the “consensus” is approved and Nations are taxed (like Kyoto), that will be our money wasted to something that can’t be fixed; mainly b/c it is unknown what (exactly) is causing the warming and cooling of our planet.

Oh, and, I like how you see Iraq as a failure and waste of money; yet, not “man-made” global warming. Good luck with the rest of the “consensus” folks; hopefully you guys won’t take a cruise to Antartica like Al Gore’s friend did with his enviromental wacko crowd last weekend. Al Gore buddy owner of sunken ship that left huge carbon footprint on Antarctic Ocean floor

Posted by: rahdigly at November 29, 2007 2:16 PM
Comment #239621

Rahdigly,
That is so lame. Al Gore knew a guy whose ship sank?

Oil companies not only explore alternative energies, they acknowledge AGW.

“”We have to deal with greenhouse gases,” John Hofmeister, president of Shell Oil Co., said in a recent speech at the National Press Club. “From Shell’s point of view, the debate is over. When 98 percent of scientists agree, who is Shell to say, ‘Let’s debate the science’?”

Are you kidding? You’re mentioning Fox & Crichton with Galileo in the same sentence?

The scientific method does not depend upon consensus. It consists of hypotheses supported by verifiable data, and repeatable experiments. When the results consistently support a hypothesis, then scientists might agree, which leads to “consensus.”

There are a lot of ways to create international cooperation. In my opinion, it will not happen, because nationalism will trump cooperation, and by the time anything effective is implemented it will be too late to make much difference, short of radical science fiction type solutions.

Posted by: phx8 at November 29, 2007 3:15 PM
Comment #239635

There’s no reason to implement any policy whatsoever when there is not a sound, “Scientific” explanation of what is actually causing global warming. Also, oil companies ackowledging global warming is not a problem for me; it’s the fascist alarmists that want to make mandates and tax the hell out of us for something they’re not absolutely sure about.

And, no I’m not kidding, I mentioned Fox & Crichton in the same sentence as Galileo b/c Fox used Galileo’s example (along w/ Bruno & Semmelweis) to explain why a consensus is not scientific. These are the people that paid a heavy price for their beliefs that were in opposition to the consensus at the time. And, by the way, your response: “When it comes to scientific agreement, an overwhelming number of scientists have produced evidence across many fields of study. They keep coming to the same conclusion. So I, along with the rest of the world, will move on without you.” falls right in line with those “consensus” punishers of the past; though, (at least) no one’s being burned at the stake here. :-)

Posted by: rahdigly at November 29, 2007 6:16 PM
Comment #239686

Rahdigly-
Science is a process where consensus on a matter is built by testing and retesting theory and hypothesis. That’s the point. The consensus is important in what it implies about the theory.

It implies, that having gone through all the testing, the vast majority of scientists in the field have not found enough fault with it to entail its rejection.

The whole point of any kind of investigation, is to narrow the possibilities of what is right down, until the theories of what has happened are narrowed down to those that have the best correspondence to reality. Consensus is an implication of the process of science, the goal.

Now the state of that consensus might change, but dismissing it out of hand is foolish. With any consensus, a wise person will always leave open the possibility of a better explanation, pending the introduction of new evidence and better explanations. Science is a human endeavor, so we’ll always see some piece of conventional wisdome overturned.

This, though, is not done arbitrarily, but through a process designed to aid the development of consensuses that correspond well to reality. It’s the whole point of the method. Additionally, all claims must be proven, even and especially those that allege that the current consensus is wrong.

What I have observed from the contrarians is a disregard for the process, an impatience with having to prove your claims. You take your own ideas of how the climate is supposed to work, and somehow think that your own claims are privileged. The advance of theory in the science, though, has left much of that old science behind. Notions that our climate is insensitive to our inputs, that it changes gradually and gracefully, that CO2’s effects will take centuries to be manifested are among them.

As for Crichton? He’s a M.D., one whose spent his career writing pseudoscientific bestsellers that trade on a modern fear of technology run amok. He’s not a climatologist. I know you like to believe that scientists are interchangeable, but they are no more so than engineers or lawyers or even doctors. Experience and specialization count for much in competence, and that’s a point your side constantly ignores just so you can make the claim that you have scientists agreeing with you.

Finally, it’s funny that you guys act like you’re the Galileos in this particular situation. Galileos problem as a church making official pronouncements on the matter, short-circuiting the science with censorship and threats, protecting vested interests.

Meanwhile, the guys with the power have been ignoring, minimizing and sometimes actively rejecting the scientist’s conclusion. Bush’s own people have been editing reports trying to downplay the science and the scientific consensus. The automakers get their way, the policies remain fossil-fuel friendly… The pressure from the scientists and the left, though constant, has not been particularly strong in comparison to all those who favor the status quo.

Which your point is, actually. It’s amazing that you have the nerve to invoke the patron saint of defying the status quo, in order to defend maintaining it.

Drop the act. You’re not the victims here.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 30, 2007 12:44 PM
Comment #239881

I read the article on the original post and it is a hoot. Quantum mechanics is more fun than a barrel of Schrodinger’s cats and, as every serious quantum theorist will point out, if you think you understand it, well, you don’t understand it. There has been at least one recent rigorous confirmation of the “parallel-universes” hypothesis first proposed in 1954 by Hugh Everett. That is great fun to think about, but we still have to roll about in our clunky Newtonian universe, the one in which our observations do not materially change anything large enough to see in a microscope.

All this has no relation to man’s influence on Global Warming, where we clearly do have an effect, and not because of the principle of the scientific herd. Fifty years after Alfred Wegner proposed the theory of Continental Drift the great consensus of geologists and geophysicists were sure he was wrong, and a substatial minority still believed oil arrived in Texas via underground rivers from Pennsylvania.

That’s funny- now…

I don’t give a damn what “a consensus of scientists” thinks. Science teaches us to find facts of great significance and experimentally isolate those facts as far as possible from other influences to examine their effect on systems.

Beyond a shadow of a doubt I am convinced that CO2 absorbs and is warmed by certain frequencies of infared light. Therefore, in a comparison of cloudless skies, the one that has more CO2 will be warmed more by the sun and will impede nightime cooling of the Earth more.

Are there other variables we don’t understand fully? Yep. But you have to invoke the unknown variables as a kind of miracle working guardian angel to insist man’s increase of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere has no effect on climate. That, regardless of your opinion of “consensus”, is pretty damned unscientific.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at December 3, 2007 10:49 AM
Comment #239934

Lee Jamison-
The thing to keep in mind was that folks weren’t quite sure about what the feedbacks from CO2 would be. Climate is an emergent system, where CO2 is just one piece of the equation.

To study the complexities of climate, or just any other science, is beyond the ability of any single person. There is literally a world of information to study. The value of the consensus here is that it means that the major objections for this theory have been answered, or incorporated into the theory itself to better reflect reality.

Ultimately it couldn’t be considered sufficient grounds for believing something, but it should not be dismissed or disrespected. Since most of us are not scientists, and not trained to do the science ourselves, it’s the best we can do, typically. Now, what we can do is read widely enough, and with a skeptical enough attitude to keep our distance from taking what we read about science to heart as unquestionable truth. That is why I often include the confirming evidence of anthropogenic global warming with my arguments.

The deal is, science constitutes the best means we have for discerning truth about the natural world. It is however, imperfect, tentative, and only able to come to conclusions about certain matters, and certain things. For example, with racial issues, science can’t say much because geography matters more to genetics than skin color. A black person in the horn of Africa likely shares more genetic traits with an caucasian Arab in Yemen than they share with somebody from Sierra Leone.

Science is powerful, but its a power based in part on limitations on when you can conclude something, and how you can come to that conclusion. By being disciplined about the claims one makes and the grounds we make it on, we take a lot of our bad ideas out of the equation.

Science, though, relies on the community of scientists to check each other out, to look into matters not fully and properly dealt with by others. When an extremely high number of scientists come out and support a theory the way they’ve done with Global warming, it’s not to be scoffed at. Getting scientists to agree on something like that is like herding cats if they don’t really agree.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 4, 2007 8:50 AM
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