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First, I call it the Global Warming hypothesis, AGW, not the insipid term climate change. The AGW hypothesis as posited by such notable scientists as Gore and Obama is actually several statements: The average temperature of the planet is increasing. This increase is significant. A substantial portion of the increase claims from man made causes […]
One of my good friends (who I’ve unsuccessfully been prodding to join Ricochet) writes the underappreciated blog “Grok in Fullness” under the pseudonym Jubal Harshaw. Since he’s refused my brow-beatings, I’m forced to regurgitate his brilliance here.
His most recent post references two articles on climate science. The thesis of his article is that there is statistical bias in prestigious journals with regards to climate science (“I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!”). Both “Publication Bias in Measuring Climate Sensitivity” and the counter article “No evidence of publication bias in climate change science” actually conclude the same thing, titles notwithstanding. Please go there to see all the lovely details complete with “funnel plots” and intellectual rigor.
But the bias is not the most interesting part for me. The most interesting part is the climate sensitivity conclusion, on which both articles agree. You see, CO2 has a mathematical contribution to the greenhouse effect that amounts to about 1.0 C for every doubling of carbon. It’s logarithmic, which already mitigates the effect of continued burning of fossil fuels. What it all comes down to is what the secondary “forcing” is (mainly the feedback loop of extra water vapor, a powerful greenhouse gas, released into the atmosphere due to increased temperature). Climate alarmists would have you believe the effect of all the other factors is 3x to 6x. It turns out both the bias adjusted factor and the “complete” factor (including the results in obscure journals) came out to about 1.6x.
On December 22, Ben Santer – one of the climate scientists most responsible for politicizing and then corrupting climate science — wrote an open letter to Donald Trump once again pretending to speak on behalf of “science.” We can expect many such cries of despair and shouts begging for attention (and continued funding) in the future. In the Trump administration — whether it lasts four years or eight — such histrionics will be a growth industry.
It seems to me that there are about eight questions that you’d need to ask to learn someone’s full opinion about global warming:
- Is the planet currently warming?
- To what extent is anthropogenic carbon dioxide responsible for global warming?
- How bad will global warming get?
- How much time do we have to respond?
- When will our understanding of global warming be sufficient to allow us to deal with it effectively?
- When will technology be advanced enough to deal with global warming?
- How do we handle the economics of dealing with global warming?
- How do we handle the politics of dealing with global warming?
I made a list of what I thought were possible, reasonable answers to each of these questions, and came up with two answers for the first, four for the second, five for the third, and so on. Multiplying the number of possible answers for each question I got:
It’s tempting to think that precision doesn’t really matter: Just get the Big Picture right and all the little details will eventually fall into place. That’s what vision is about, after all, and there’s a reason why people scoff at detail-orientated pedantry and hold it in contempt. A small error of fact here, a logically weak argument there … trees and forests, right? But more often than not, this is just rationalizing for our failures and laziness. Forests are made up of individual trees and someone who can’t tell a larch from a cedar shouldn’t be taken very seriously as a forestry expert, especially if their reaction to getting caught is to dismiss the point as one of mere detail and ask whether we can go back to discussing What Really Matters™.
This is what has always bugged me about the Science! crowd, particularly those who make catastrophic climate change their cause. Because they have important facts on their side — C02 is a greenhouse gas; we are pumping huge amounts of the stuff into our atmosphere; from what we know of the historical record, recent warming has been rather rapid — they act as if nothing else really matters. That the subject is inherently complicated to a degree one usually associates with economics? Big deal. That the actual projections are expressed in terms of confidence levels with fairly wide margin of error? So what? That even accounting for those margins, models have generally over-predicted surface temperature warming trends? Shhhh! You’re helping the deniers! That one of the champions of the movement is a vindictive, litigious jerk who sues over being called a fraud? Shut-up, ignoramus!
This isn’t empirical truth-seeking: This is normal, political railroading mixed with an unhealthy serving of secular religion about an important matter that happens to relate to actual science that is very hard to do, and even harder to do well.
The New York Times is generally credited with having introduced the genre of highlighting the suffering of government-favored groups, perfectly satirized by Mort Sahl when he posited the headline World Ends, Women and Minorities Hardest Hit. (Page 2: Woman Completely Satisfied). While the Times may have created the genre, the Washington Post perfected it with its […]
Listening to James Pethokoukis’s podcast the other day, I had a glimmer of hope about the politics of Silicon Valley. After all, this is a innovative culture that is taking on taxi cartels and are rewriting the rules of the labor market. Well, this Wired interview with Al Gore shook me back into reality. Together, they perfectly capture the techy […]
Pope Francis received in audience in the Vatican on Monday the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheik Ahmed Muhammad Al-Tayyib. Following in the footsteps of Obama, and having previously declared that “respect for true followers of Islam should lead us to avoid hateful generalizations, for authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every […]
Recently, the Attorneys General of a number of states launched an effort to use the RICO anti-organized crime statute to prosecute opponents of climate change alarmism. This truly shocking action is nothing less than an all-out attack on science.
There are several vital issues involved here, involving not only substance but, even more importantly, process. Let’s start with the latter. Science is not a collection of facts, but a process of discovery. Alongside its sister, conscience, it is based on the signature western individualist belief that there is a fundamental property of the human mind that — when presented with sufficient information — is able to distinguish right from wrong, justice from injustice, truth from untruth. Matters of science must therefore be determined by reason, not by force. To attempt to prevail in a scientific dispute through the use of force is equivalent to the use of a gun to prevail in a courtroom, or, for that matter, of rape to prevail in courtship. It is nothing less than a criminal rejection of a basic principle of our civilization.
It is also prima facie evidence that the case requiring such enforcement is severely defective. No valid scientific theory has ever required the use of police powers to prevail. No Ptolemaist was ever burned at the stake by Copernicans, nor did the Relativists ever find the need to round up the hard-core Newtonians or Etherite dead-enders. Even counter-intuitive theories like quantum mechanics and the Big Bang have done just fine without the assistance of Gestapo raids directed against their detractors. In the courtroom of science, you don’t need a gun if you have the facts on your side, and juries would be well-advised to distrust the case of those parties who choose to use weapons to silence adversarial witnesses.
In testimony before Congress, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the Department of Justice “has discussed” bringing a civil RICO action against climate change “deniers” for fraud — similar to the Clinton Administration’s suits against the tobacco industry — and confirmed that it has issued a request for action to the FBI for consideration. Assuming that she really means it and isn’t just trying to threaten people into silence, what constitutes prosecutable denial? There are many levels of opposition to the belief that global warming is primarily caused by human activity and that this warming will be catastrophic. Here’s a list of beliefs in descending levels of dissent:
- Global warming is a complete hoax;
- The planet is warming, but due to natural causes;
- Human activity contributes to global warming, but is not the primary driver;
- Human activity contributes significantly to global warming, but the consequences are not catastrophic;
- Human activity contributes significantly to global warming, but there is nothing we can do to stop it;
- Human activity contributes significantly to global warming, but adaptation is more economical than trying to stop it;
- Human activity contributes significantly to global warming and there may be something we can do to stop it, but we don’t yet know what that is; and
- Human activity contributes significantly to global warming but, we don’t know yet how to stop it and, until we do know, we shouldn’t implement “solutions” that might only make things worse
Which of these statements constitutes the minimum standard for fraud?
Suppose the CEO of a company (say, ExxonMobil) asks its scientists to determine whether global warming is real and, if so, what the company’s position should be. Emails fly back and forth in an internal debate, representing all levels of belief and disbelief. In the end, the company decides (as ExxonMobil did) to back a carbon tax as the best response.
Global warming lengthens the growing season, and increases net rainfall worldwide. The enrichment of atmospheric carbon dioxide accelerates the rate of plant growth. These are all very positive developments, both for humanity and for wild nature. As a result of climate change, the Earth is becoming a more fertile planet. Nevertheless, representatives of the green movement call for the imposition of economically destructive — and highly regressive — carbon taxes, lest global warming result in catastrophic floods of coastal areas.
This assertion is problematic because global warming has been going on for four hundred years. We can know this with certainty, not from the doubtful claims of researchers who assert that they can measure average global temperatures to within a tenth of a degree, but from readily available historical accounts. Civil War buffs are familiar with the massive snowball fights engaged in by Confederate armies stationed as far south as Georgia, and everyone who has read Dickens encounters tales describing much more severe winter weather in mid-19th century London than anything we see today. If we read back further in time, we hear of a world that is much colder still, with the Thames freezing regularly, sometimes for months on end, during the 1600s.
The profound global warming of the past four centuries cannot be plausibly ascribed to anthropogenic causes, but it certainly has happened, and the greens cannot deny it. That being the case, the catastrophic effects predicted for global warming should now be apparent. In particular, many proud cities and towns that were thriving in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries should now be sleeping beneath the waves. It is time that the reality, or lack thereof, of such losses be assessed.
Today is April 22nd. It is also V.I. Lenin’s birthday. It is also, not coincidentally, the day specifically chosen for the grand-daddy holy day of the great state/world religion of Eco-Marxism – Earth Day. It is also the day when I ponder most on when a First Amendment lawsuit will finally be filed which claims (correctly) that […]
I’m an agnostic on climate change. Claire Berlinski recently qouted a scientist who said roughly that he did not think there was a CC conspiracy. (And yes, I’ve heard about the hockey stick and ‘Climategate’ scandals.) On April 17 I posted this thread: http://ricochet.com/oncoming-ice-age/ Preview Open
I came across this article and I thought people should be aware of it: http://business.financialpost.com/fp-comment/lawrence-solomon-why-it-looks-like-game-over-for-global-warming Preview Open