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Perry and Galileo

In regards to John Huntsman’s appeal to science, Rick Perry said the following regarding climate change:

“The science is not settled on this.  The idea that we would put Americans’ economy at jeopardy based on scientific theory that’s not settled yet to me is just nonsense,” Perry said.  “Just because you have a group of scientists who stood up and said here is the fact. Galileo got outvoted for a spell,” he said. (source)

The video is here:

The first thing that struck me about this was the phrase “The science is not settled” as that has been the conservative mantra on evolution for decades.  It is also a phrase that demonstrates an ignorance of what science is and how it works.  It is like the favorite “evolution is just a theory!”

A corollary to this is that Huntsman’s position, i.e., that science has to be taken seriously, is currently rejected, in general, by the GOP candidates (and, by extension, many GOP voters).

It is one think to disagree over the appropriate policy responses to the science, but yet another to simply dismiss science out of hand because one doesn’t like what it is saying.

The second thing that struck me is the Galileo line.  I think that the best retort to the deployment of said scientist comes from James Fallows:

To spell it out: until this evening’s debate, the only reason anyone would use the example of Galileo-vs-the-Vatican was to show that for reasons of dogma, close-mindedness, and “faith-based” limits on inquiry, the findings of real science were too often ignored or ruled out of consideration. And Perry applies that analogy to his argument that we shouldn’t listen to today’s climate scientists? There are a million good examples of scientific or other expert consensus that turned out to be wrong, which is the point Perry wanted to make.

[...]

The reason I think this stings over time is that it’s like someone who tries to fancy himself up by using a great big word — and uses it the wrong way.  Hey, I’ll mention Galileo! Unfortunately in mentioning him, I’ll show that I don’t know the first thing about that case or what an “analogy” is. It’s better to be plain spoken.

This is on target, methinks.

Indeed, Perry presented this analogy as if Galileo was caught up in a scientific battle with other scientists when, in fact, he was the scientist battling non-scientists.  As such, governor, that analogy does not mean what you think it means (or, to. paraphrase a debate line from many years ago:  you, governor, are no Galileo).

The third thing that struck me is that everything Perry said will resonate with a lot of voters.  A lot of voters, especially in the GOP base, do not believe the science, and even if they are unsure on the subject, they tend to believe that all talk of climate change is just an excuse for liberals to destroy the economy (as such, like everything GOP these days, the opposition to even discussing climate change is based in concerns about higher taxes and more regulations).

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About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor and Chair of Political Science at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. He is the author of Voting Amid Violence: Electoral Democracy in Colombia and is currently working on a comparative study of the US to 29 other democracies. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging at PoliBlog since 2003. Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. john personna says:

    I’d suspect that there is a stronger correlation between AGW and Texas fires than there is between AGW and hurricanes.

    Interestingly, the link between wildfires and climate change was discussed during a Senate hearing on June 14, according to ClimateWire, when Tom Tidwell, the director of the U.S. Forest Service, told senators that his agency’s research shows that climate change is already leading to more frequent and larger wildfires in the West.

    U.S. Forest Service? Pfft. They probably have scientists!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  2. bro43rd says:

    Although I concede your analysis of the Galileo analogy is spot on, I find your take on GW is extremely one-sided. Any scholar worth his salt would investigate all angles regarding a disputed subject. But maybe salt is hard to find in OH, sheesh who knew. I find it amusing that 2 non-scientists make statements about the science of climate when it’s obvious both have not done appropriate research and are simply toting party lines.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 13

  3. @bro43rd:

    I find your take on GW is extremely one-sided

    I am curious as to what you mean by this. I think that the only position I took on the subject in this post is to imply that the dominate (and widely dominant at that) scientific consensus on this subject is that climate change is happening.

    Any scholar worth his salt would investigate all angles regarding a disputed subject.

    In a general sense, all well in good. However, after a subject is studied for a while, certain angles do get dismissed. As such, I am not sure what your point is, as it sound like another version of “the science is not settled.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  4. john personna says:

    @bro43rd:

    We have a thing called the National Science Foundation. They say:

    The overwhelming majority of climate researchers have reached the understanding–based on decades of evidence, modeling and debate–that it is extremely likely that human activities are responsible for rising temperatures on Earth.

    A rational political class would accept that analysis, that it is “extremely likely” and not “unsettled.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  5. calder says:

    Any reason James Fallows doesn’t get a link for that quote?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  6. Scott O. says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    There may be a scientific consensus but Al Gore is fat.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  7. Lit3Bolt says:

    Remember kids: The Garden of Eden was real, the sun goes around the Earth, slavery is justified, cigarettes don’t cause cancer, and global warming is just a myth!

    In the end, it comes down to power, and truth is inconvenient for those in power. Thus, more lies are needed.

    Everyone who denies global warming is either a hack or a tribalist motivated by anti-liberal spite.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3

  8. @calder: My oversight (thanks for letting me know).

    It is now fixed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  9. John Burgess says:

    While there’s no doubt that climate change is occurring, I think it is indeed unsettled as to the cause. Just a couple of weeks ago, a Danish study, reported in Nature, showed that cosmic rays–something that is not factored into most climate models–plays a likely role in cloud formation. Cloud formation plays a role in temperature.

    Is this the ‘answer’ to climate change? No, it’s not. But it presents an important factor that has to be considered before science gets as settles as it ever settles.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 7

  10. john personna says:

    @John Burgess:

    LOL John, the cosmic-ray battle is so 4 years ago!

    And no, as a result of that 4 year old question, the NSF has not taken down their “extremely likely” statement.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  11. bro43rd says:

    @ john personna, So the science is settled? Because a statist organization which depends on donations from said state to operate says so? Really find that hilarious. Would these be the same scientists who 40 years ago stated a new ice age was dawning? Good thing science is not always settled by the first theorizers or we’d be living on a flat frozen planet. The fact is that during the earth’s largest expansion of life, atmospheric CO2 concentration was 100X more than today and avg temps were 20 degrees higher. I am not denying GW, but I do have issues with laying unfounded blame on human activity and CO2 exclusively. I’m going out on a limb here since I’m no scientist, but I’ll bet the Sun has something to do with GW/GC trends.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 12

  12. john personna says:

    @bro43rd:

    Dude, when you describe a national science foundation as “a statist organization” I can stop reading.

    You have no sense of history.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  13. Tlaloc says:

    The third thing that struck me is that everything Perry said will resonate with a lot of voters. A lot of voters, especially in the GOP base, do not believe the science, and even if they are unsure on the subject, they tend to believe that all talk of climate change is just an excuse for liberals to destroy the economy (as such, like everything GOP these days, the opposition to even discussing climate change is based in concerns about higher taxes and more regulations).

    I sometimes think that the right has taken Rush’s 2112 album or Well’s The Time Machine as a blueprint for how society should be, with a scientifically literate overcast ruling an ignorant mass of peons. The weird thing is they’ve self selected the role of peon.

    Perhaps those of us who understand science should start calling ourselves “Morlocks.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  14. Tlaloc says:

    Would these be the same scientists who 40 years ago stated a new ice age was dawning?

    Never happened. Media people in the 70s misrepresented what scientists were saying to make it sound like an ice age was coming. Coincidentally some media people are again misrepresenting what scientists are saying to make you confused on climate change.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  15. Dave E. says:

    “Indeed, Perry presented this analogy as if Galileo was caught up in a scientific battle with other scientists when, in fact, he was the scientist battling non-scientists.”

    That’s not true. Geocentric astronomy was not just a theological construct, it was also the scientific consensus leading up to Galileo’s time. Heliocentric astronomy was being studied by many astronomers, but it was not yet widely accepted even in Galileo’s era. Rice University has some interesting background on the scientific thought of the time that I recommend.

    Galileo did much to cause many scientists, though not all at the time, to question the science behind geocentric astronomy, but to say he was only battling non-scientists is false.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  16. @Dave E.:

    That’s not true. Geocentric astronomy was not just a theological construct, it was also the scientific consensus leading up to Galileo’s time.

    Agreed, but that’s not the point: the issue is not that Galileo wasn’t opposed by other scientists,it is that he was placed under house arrest by the church. As such, it was not a case of simply being argued with (or, being “outvoted” as Perry put it), it was a case of a non-scientific authority using its power to punish a scientific view that it did not like. Put more simply: the powerful rejecting a scientific theory (that ended up being correct) because it conflicted with their dogmatic view of the universe. There is no way that Perry can claim to be Galileo in that scenario.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  17. Polaris says:

    Steven,

    How is that different from a scientist getting blacklisted (denied tenure, and most importantly funding) because the DOE (or pick the agency of your choice) doesn’t like the possible political implications of the science.

    This did happen about 10 years ago (not four) when it was first postulated outside of the rather obscure Phys Rev (D) that high energy particles may have an unaccounted for effect in cloud formation.

    CERN went to great lengths to try to ‘sanitize’ this and it’s one reason it took so long for the basic data to be gatherered.

    On a personal level as a scientist (physicist actually), do I think the data merits the claim that global warming is real? Yes. Do I think that human activity is an important component in any currently model of climate science and change? Absolutely. Is it a scientific fact that human activity is causing global warming? Sorry, but that’s just a step too far. That’s not to say that it’s NOT, but we’ve been burned before when political groups for political reasons take the science far beyond where it was ever intended to go.

    -Polaris

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  18. @Polaris:

    Two quick thoughts:

    1) I do think it is different, although that does not say that what you describe is pleasant or justified. Academia, in general, can be an unjust place, no doubt (and when money is involved, it can get all the more problematic).

    and’

    2) The real point, and it gets to the rest of your comment, is that the GOP stable of candidates are not willing to even concede the basic science. I can live with the notion that there is a legitimate debate about what is to be done about climate change from a policy perspective (indeed, I find myself in that camp, more or less). However, to simply pretend like the science does not exist is a serious problem.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  19. bro43rd says:

    I agree I have no sense of history. Especially since no one can have a “sense” of history, history is learned not sensed. As to whether or not the NSF is statist, http://www.nsf.gov/ I’m pretty sure that the .gov thingy at the end of their web address confirms my statement. What other evidence (that isn’t promoted by some entity dependent upon gov $$) can you present that empirically proves AGW/ACC. Oh, and other than because “it’s settled” please.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  20. john personna says:

    @Polaris:

    On a personal level as a scientist (physicist actually), do I think the data merits the claim that global warming is real? Yes. Do I think that human activity is an important component in any currently model of climate science and change? Absolutely. Is it a scientific fact that human activity is causing global warming? Sorry, but that’s just a step too far. That’s not to say that it’s NOT, but we’ve been burned before when political groups for political reasons take the science far beyond where it was ever intended to go.

    Wait a second …

    Since you are a scientist, I’ll ask you a question I won’t put to say bro43rd … is “scientific fact”‘ the appropriate threshold for all action, from the trivial to the mega?

    Scientists and engineers can usually recommend actions proportional to their confidence.

    What we see on the political right is a rejection of that common sense, and a demand that “scientific fact” be a binary tripwire. We can’t encourage bicycle riding, because AGW is not a “scientific fact,” etc.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  21. Polaris says:

    Addendum, the cosmic ray effect on cloud formation is particularly interesting to me since unlike many of the other natural sciences (biology especially) a physicist is pretty much free to have whatever political opinions his like since physics (esp particle physics) and most things you do in everyday life are so adjoint (at least to a first appoximation).

    However, the blacklisting that occured against this research was ‘dissapointing’ even to Physicists (who are also a pretty ‘progressive’ bunch as a demographic and thus inclined to agree with AGW in principle). That’s why I mentioned it. In this, there is at least a passing resemblance to what the RCC tried with Galilleo all those centuries ago….at least enough I think to justify the use of this parallel by an admittedly non-scientist political candidate.

    -Polaris

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  22. john personna says:

    @bro43rd:

    Statism (or etatism) is a scholarly term in political philosophy either emphasising the role of the state in analysing political change; or, in describing political movements which support the use of the state to achieve goals.

    You have not shown a political agenda. You just assume one because the science gives you an answer you don’t like.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  23. john personna says:

    (If there really is no such thing as ‘scientific fact’ then it would certainly be a useful rhetorical technique to demand it, before you do something you dislike. The wait becomes forever.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  24. Polaris says:

    John,

    I am distrubed by the openly anti-science and anti-intellectual stance of many modern republican candidates. It’s one reason that while I agree with many of their positions on a policy (esp foreign policy) and economic views, I can’t and won’t call myself a republican. I consider myself to be a conservative (in the old sense of the word) libertarian. I do think there is enough data to justify some steps to reduce pollution many of which are good ideas in their own rights (you will not hear me rail against the existance of the EPA for example even if I dislike some of their actions on the non-scientific front).

    That said, a lot of what the “Green” movement wants to do would involve major disruptions in the global economy with the associated costs. Worse, the worst offenders wouldn’t be held accountable (and the worst offender is no longer the US, it’s China).

    As for why? Political backlash. As much as I dislike the anti-science tone of the modern GOP, I have to glumly accept that the scientific community in a lot of ways brought it on themselves especially when many so-called scientists allowed their thoughts and conclusions to go WAY ahead of the available data (and thus science) and thus allowed themselves (often willingly) to be coopted by other groups often for overtly political reasons.

    When “Science” and “Scientists” are permitted to be coopted by overtly political factions, then our social trust of the scientific method decreases and IMHO everyone loses.

    Sorry about the lengthy reply. It’s the best thought out answer I can give at the moment.

    -Polaris

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  25. john personna says:

    @Polaris:

    I agree with your intro.

    That said, a lot of what the “Green” movement wants to do would involve major disruptions in the global economy with the associated costs. Worse, the worst offenders wouldn’t be held accountable (and the worst offender is no longer the US, it’s China).

    Those don’t worry me, because they don’t have a snowball’s chance.

    I mean, look at the political strength incandescent bulbs garnered. That even though they were a net cost to their supporters.

    When “Science” and “Scientists” are permitted to be coopted by overtly political factions, then our social trust of the scientific method decreases and IMHO everyone loses.

    Well as I say, I’d encourage you to look at it near the “legislative margin” rather than the rhetorical extreme. Sure, some greenie wants to shut down all coal plants and tear out all hydroelectric dams.

    Legislation is happening very far from that extreme.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  26. Polaris says:

    John,

    What bothers me as a scientist rather than as a simple amature political commentator like the rest of us here, is when policy is being dictated and gross and often dire predictions are made of impending doom when the data just isn’t there to back that up!

    Do you remember “Population Bomb” circa the 1960s? In some way there is a genuine risk of a similiar debacle with AGW. In short, I am disturbed when rhetoric that claims to be good science (but isn’t) is being used to drive policy. {Al Gore I am looking at you, but the GOP isn’t innocent either…see ‘Intelligent Design’ which I personally loathe and consider to be nonscientific.}

    However, does that justify not supporting a political party because it has non-scientific or even anti-scientific views? No. Not if I agree with enough of what else that party might stand for at this particular time (and candidate). Honestly when it comes to dealing with the public and dealing with politics, much of the scientific community (physicists most definately included) are in dire need of a little humility. In truth, the actual researcher (be it theory or experimental) isn’t the problem (humility-wise). It’s the academic briar-like environments in which too many work and live IMHO.

    -Polaris

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  27. john personna says:

    @Polaris:

    Well, just as the right would have us do nothing, the left would have us fear everything.

    I don’t need to defend either extreme, when my goal is response proportional to scientific confidence.

    And of course, big picture, I think the “do nothing” folks have won. We will do essentially nothing, and we will get to know AWG as fact. Historical fact, that is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  28. john personna says:

    (That is, we get to see how big it “was.”)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  29. mantis says:

    Do you remember “Population Bomb” circa the 1960s? In some way there is a genuine risk of a similiar debacle with AGW.

    The Malthusian catastrophe predicted in The Population Bomb was merely delayed, largely due to the work of Norman Borlaug and the Green Revolution, who dramatically increased agricultural production around the world starting in the ’60s and 70s. It’s still a real problem we will face as world population grows, and grows more quickly all the time.

    In short, the population/starvation problem was quite real and inevitable unless we did something about it. We did something about it. Same goes for global warming. It’s going to get worse unless we do something about it, and when it does it will be extremely disruptive to human civilization.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  30. @Polaris:

    What bothers me as a scientist rather than as a simple amature political commentator like the rest of us here, is when policy is being dictated and gross and often dire predictions are made of impending doom when the data just isn’t there to back that up!

    No argument there–indeed, I quite concur.

    But, despite hysteria in books and on talk shows, I think John Persona has the right of it (no pun intended): on the level of legislation, we are hardly over-reacting (if reacting at all).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  31. Polaris says:

    Mantis,

    I don’t think that’s strictly accurate. Yes it’s true that the work of Borlaug and the greatly increased agricultural potention played a large role. You also seem to be overlooking the fact that for the past 20 or so odd years, the population curve has ceased following the exponential increase curves for unchecked growth. The “Green Revolution” as you called it increased the habitat space beyond what any could have predicted at the time, and that gave time for the gobal population to start to stabilize around the new (higher) habitat ceiling.

    The point I was trying to make was that you had completely unexpected and unpreducted technologies and events that changed the facts as they were known and as a scientist I must always be open to having ‘facts’ change with new data. If you aren’t then you aren’t dealing in science but something else….. That’s why I won’t say that the statement “Humans cause global warming” is a fact. That science just doesn’t justifiy it (at least not right now).

    -Polaris

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  32. bro43rd says:

    Ah I see the problem here. This issue has been put forth as a left vs right thing, which is ridiculous. That alone qualifies it as a political objective. But politics aside, as an anarchist and one who believes that conservation of the environment is a necessity, I am skeptical that an organization that is funded by gov$$ would give any other opinion than what is desired by the giver of funds. This would be analogous to a paid spokesperson advocating against his employer, it just doesn’t happen. When the independent scientific community (that doesn’t depend on gov $$), comes to a consensus re: climate change theory and what can be done, if anything, then I will gladly eat crow. Until then I will oppose all legislation (regardless of which party suggests) and support individual action.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  33. @Steven L. Taylor:

    the dominate (and widely dominant at that) scientific consensus on this subject is that climate change is happening

    More properly, the majority of the evidence is that climate change is happening. That’s the important point, not how much consensus there is on. Regardless of who is right, the big damage of the AGW debate is that it’s created a public perception that science is the process of getting a bunch of experts into a room and having them vote on what the truth is, rather than the gathering of evidence via the experimental process.

    Even if the pro-AGW side is correct, they tend to make unscientific arguments in favor of it when debating it publicly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  34. mantis says:

    You also seem to be overlooking the fact that for the past 20 or so odd years, the population curve has ceased following the exponential increase curves for unchecked growth

    No, I’m not. I was referring to the population growth of the ’70s and ’80s, which is what The Population Bomb was about. The population growth of the past 20 years is irrelevant to that discussion. However, we can talk about that! Population growth rates really started to decline in the mid-1970s, and have dropped since their zenith of 2.2% in 1963 to about 1.2% now. We’re still on track to have 9+ billion people on the planet by 2050. This could slow down even further if more parts of the world experience negative population growth as parts of Europe do now, but it’s hard to see that happening very quickly in places like Africa, South America, and much of Asia.

    The point I was trying to make was that you had completely unexpected and unpreducted technologies and events that changed the facts as they were known and as a scientist I must always be open to having ‘facts’ change with new data.

    Indeed! We are in complete agreement. Who knows? Maybe we will create a new form of algae that will take CO2 and convert it to methanol, which we can use for fuel!

    That’s why I won’t say that the statement “Humans cause global warming” is a fact. That science just doesn’t justifiy it (at least not right now).

    Not unreasonable. The way I would put it is “it is highly likely that human activity has significantly contributed to the current warming of the climate.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  35. john personna says:

    @bro43rd:

    Let me ask you this … Japan is a totally different country and culture than ours. They live at a northern extreme. They have no native energy and need to import everything. They have no reason, politically, to be for or against global warming. They certainly don’t think we are smarter than they are.

    Why do they believe it?

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  36. @Stormy Dragon: Fair enough, all around. I am operating from the assumption that consensus emerges in a scientific community because of evidence (or, at least, that is way it is supposed to work).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  37. john personna says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    rather than the gathering of evidence via the experimental process

    It is very easy to put co2 in a box, shoot sunlight into it, and watch it heat. Chemists do not dispute the behavior of the molecule.

    This is really about denying that this same effect adds up, on a global scale. And of course, to do “experiments” at that scale, you need to change the global atmosphere, something we are doing as we speak.

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  38. David M says:

    @bro43rd: The scientific community is already in agreement about climate change, you’re waiting for a consensus that has already happened.

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  39. Polaris says:

    David M,

    Is global climate change happening? Yes. Do we know the precise causes and mechanisms?

    NO.

    The problem is too many people with too many political agendas (many with frankly luddite instincts) have lept to conclusions far beyond what the science supports and worse made those conclusions a matter of belief rather than fact.

    -Polaris

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  40. Polaris says:

    Indeed John. One of the difficulties is that it’s difficult (not impossible but difficult) to translate the carefully controlled experiments of the lab to the more general case of a planetary atmosphere with many interacting effects. That’s why it’s important to try to track down and quantify every possible important effect, and then try to build a coherent, testable model from that….and not deny certain effects exist because they are politically inconvenient.

    -Polaris

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  41. mantis says:

    Do we know the precise causes and mechanisms?

    NO.

    Global climate is a very complex system. We know a lot about it, but there is also a lot we have yet to learn. From what we know now, it’s is extremely likely that human activity significantly contributes to current warming.

    As a physicist, I’m sure you are aware there are other scientific concepts and theories about which we do no know everything. For instance: gravitation. I’m not willing to jump off of a building just because our knowledge is incomplete. Are you?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  42. john personna says:

    @Polaris:

    That’s why it’s important to try to track down and quantify every possible important effect, and then try to build a coherent, testable model from that….and not deny certain effects exist because they are politically inconvenient.

    That burden of proof would be different in a climate-neutral world.

    That is an asymmetry to this argument. Scientists such as yourself who would express caution do not contest warming. They do not contest the co2 contribution. But after all that, they somehow want the default assumption to be “does not matter?”

    Serious?

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  43. samwide says:

    I’ll cross-post something I first posted at Dave Schuler’s place:

    There are really two distinct questions that, alas, get run together in the debate to our detriment, I think. One question is, Is the planet warming? The other is, If the planet is warming, is there an anthropogenic element to the warming?

    Unfortunately in the politicized debate as it exists now, some folks think that by denying any anthropogenic element, this also shows that the planet is not warming.

    This is extremely shortsighted, and potentially quite dangerous. The consensus is that the planet is warming. We should be focusing our attention on what that entails right now for us and for our economy. How will the warming affect our coastal cities; how will the warming affect our agriculture: how will the warming affect the fire-flood cycle in the West and Southwest? And so on. More importantly, what can we do to address the effects the warming will have?

    Much of the argument today reminds me of the story of the man who was shot with poisoned arrow. He refused medical treatment until someone would tell him who shot him, what the arrow was made of, where the feathers came from, what was the composition of the poison and so on. Unsurprisingly, he died before he had his answers.

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  44. bro43rd says:

    @David M: Plenty of debate re: the consensus you claim. And I should clarify your misstatement of my statement as well, “When the independent scientific community (that doesn’t depend on gov $$), comes to a consensus re: climate change theory and what can be done, if anything,…”. Many independents out there refute AGW/ACC completely and even proponents of AGW/ACC do not agree on what can be done. Again using a government sponsored source as your basis of fact is not convincing. The fact that governments are promoting the issue as dire raises a giant red flag to me, IMO it is just another scheme to gain greater control of the populace. The simple fact that governments are responsible for massive waste of resources and production of that boogeyman CO2 and do not attempt to curb this in any way makes me skeptical that their motives are not as pure as they would like us to believe.

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  45. john personna says:

    @bro43rd:

    Just curious about your general age. Do you have 50 years to see how wrong you really were?

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  46. Polaris says:

    You have to weight that against the economic costs. The problem I have is the uncertainty is just too high for me. This isn’t a matter of esoteric approximations to the 14th decimal place (the difference between ‘wrong’ Newtonian Gravity and Einstein’s General Relativity under ordinary conditions). This is a matter of economic life or death for many people in the middle of one of the worst economies in a century.

    Given that CO2 levels were often much higher than today, and given that factors other than CO2 can have even larger effects (such as volcanic dust effects) [albeit over short times] and given that there is now strong evidence that cosmic rays and the solar cyle are an important component as well, I just don’t see how the science justifies the economic pain, at least not now.

    That’s what I’m saying. It’s a matter of weighing alternatives and assigning uncertainty to imperfect knowledge.

    -Polaris

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  47. john personna says:

    @Polaris:

    You have to weight that against the economic costs. The problem I have is the uncertainty is just too high for me. This isn’t a matter of esoteric approximations to the 14th decimal place (the difference between ‘wrong’ Newtonian Gravity and EInstein’s General Relativity under ordinary conditions). This is a matter of economic life or death for many people in the middle of one of the worst economies in a century.

    But you acknowledged earlier that economic costs are not all or nothing … what happened?

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  48. john personna says:

    (Sorry dude, you may have the scientific framework, but that isn’t what you are letting rule in your own mind. You are sliding over to false dichotomy because that supports your in-group identity.)

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  49. samwide says:

    @bro43rd:

    I am skeptical that an organization that is funded by gov$$ would give any other opinion than what is desired by the giver of funds

    If the implication of that were true, then we could expect to see different conclusions — indeed, diametrically different conclusions — being published by the NSF as administrations and Congresses of different political persuasions come into power. Do you have any proof that has happened?

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  50. Polaris says:

    John,

    I don’t believe I am. I’d rather do nothing than do the wrong thing especially over something that isn’t a matter of scientific fact. I DO think we can and should do things to combat/adjust for global warming (a fact), but that doesn’t mean destroying coal production in the US (as one example) to do it, nor does it mean forcing people to buy lights they don’t want (another recent example). That’s using bad science to promote government power into individual lives and that’s not right.

    -Polaris

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  51. Polaris says:

    @samwide:

    Sam it happens all the time. The possible connection between Gamma Rays (and general high energy particles in an atmosphere) and cloud formation was buried for 10 years largely because of politics. Scientists can and do lose funding, tenure, and often much worse for merely getting on the wrong side of a political fight in academia.

    -Polaris

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  52. Dave E. says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Thanks for acknowledging that Galileo was also fighting the majority of scientists at the time, because it is central to understanding how Perry and AGW skeptics see Galileo’s relevance today.

    You see a “non-scientific authority using its power to punish a scientific view that it did not like” as being relevant today. Perry and AGW skeptics, myself included, don’t. We see Galileo’s fight against a scientific community that was dogmatically clinging to and highly invested in one scientific view as what is truly relevant today, since there is no state authority, at least in the US, that is dogmatically enforcing a scientific view on AGW.

    I see far too many AGW proponents, scientists and non-scientists alike, acting the way geocentric believers acted 400 years ago. If Galileo were alive today I think he would be sickened at the herd mentality among AGW proponents and their refusal to acknowledge contradictory scientific evidence. Most of all, I bet he would be horrified to hear anyone utter the phrase, “The science is settled.” Seriously, if anyone thinks Galileo would endorse that they really should take a step back and think for a moment.

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  53. bro43rd says:

    @samwide: I do not prescribe to the idea that there is significant difference between Reps and Dems regarding policy, no matter the rhetoric the spews forth from DC. I follow some advice given to me in my youth by a man whom I admire greatly, “Believe only some of what you see, very little of what you hear, and nothing the government says.”
    Every retort directed my way reminds me of that lamest of excuses parents often use, “because I said so”.
    I find Polaris’ logic convincing. Just claiming “it’s settled” and “you’re wrong” does nothing to advance the debate.

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  54. Rob in CT says:

    @bro43rd:

    Pretty funny, given that quite of few of the anti-AGW crowd are funded by or otherwise connected to industries that stand to lose if the pro-AGW crowd wins.

    So, if the government says something, it’s wrong. If a “private” researched funded by a bunch of coal companies says something, it’s right? Please.

    Scientists have been seriously studying this for a relatively short period of time and, given the complexity of the global climate, I’m sure there are gaps in their knowledge. There’s always going to be some uncertainty (how fast is the warming, how much is human activity driving it, what precise impact with X policy have?). But “do nothing” has really substantial downside risk.

    When we talk about examining cost, don’t we have to consider the potential cost of doing nothing and then having the planet warm by 4C over the course of a century? What are the costs of that?

    Everything has a cost. I think the real problem here is the old tragedy of the commons problem. Not only do folks here in the US not want to deal with this in a top-down manner (statist! commie!), but folks can reasonably doubt the likelyhood of international coordination.

    I’m inclined to trust the scientists on this – so I think it’s happening. And I think it’s pretty clear we’re not going to do anything about it until it gets bad, at which point measures taken to reign it in will be even more painful. It’s in our nature, I guess.

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  55. Polaris says:

    Rob,

    The problem is that the scientists themselves haven’t come up with a concensus other than global warming is happening. What you have is what amounts to a political orthodoxy within much of academia that is warping the ability of scientists to do the needed research.

    I am very much open to the idea that AGW is a real effect, but the data and available science isn’t there, and resorting to scare tactics makes me suspicious of those that try to use that argument rather than appealing to the raw data (Mr Gore, I am again looking at you).

    -Polaris

    Edit PS: Even if AGW is a real effect (not just global warming), what do you propose to do other than returning to the 12th century in terms of technology. I admit I am engaging in a bit of hyperbole there, but that seems to be…if I am to believe the alarmist models…about the only way to cut emissions by enough to make a dent in the effect. I sincerely hope that isn’t what you are suggesting because it’s a nonstarter (I hope by anyone rational).

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  56. David M says:

    @bro43rd: It’s settled and you’re wrong. It doesn’t really matter if you don’t like it or not.

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  57. bro43rd says:

    @Rob in CT: Agreed that independent studies may also have ulterior motives, but as revealed by LVM in “Human Action”, all actions taken by people have different motives. The point I make is that government action is never benevolent although that is what they always tell us. Government is to be suspected of ill intentions since they derive their power by force (coercion) and not by voluntary means.

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  58. john personna says:

    @Polaris:

    “destroy coal production” is exactly the kind of false dichotomy I am talking about. You use that to argue against doing anything.

    Do you for instance support moderate energy standards for refrigerators?

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  59. bro43rd says:

    @David M: I’m sure your kids will love & respect you no matter how illogical you are. Me, not so much.

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  60. mattb says:

    @Dave E.:

    If Galileo were alive today I think he would be sickened at the herd mentality among AGW proponents and their refusal to acknowledge contradictory scientific evidence.

    Dave couldn’t the same attack be leveled against the current skeptics? In that I’ve yet to see many skeptics, in internet discussions, even acknowledge the possibility that there could be legitimate studies that suggest/point to a human component to global warming. In fact many skeptics don’t even want to acknowledge a long term measurable trend upwards in global temperature (let alone the fact that the rate of increase is happening at a higher rate of speed than previous rises).

    In fact, I can still remember quite clearly how republicans in the 1990′s were still denying the very premise that the earth is warming (a statement made already within this thread). The question becomes to what degree are those statements being driven by matters of faith (ie. as pundit’s like Rush Limbaugh have said many times “the idea that man could adversely affect the ecosystem enough to create global warming is the height of human hubris”) or attempts at looking at the data as it stands.

    Most of all, I bet he would be horrified to hear anyone utter the phrase, “The science is settled.” Seriously, if anyone thinks Galileo would endorse that they really should take a step back and think for a moment.

    That might be true. And here, I think it’s far wiser to follow Kuhn and instead of talking about science as settled (for there are a number of historical problems with that) I think that one can successfully state that “CO2/AGW” is the current paradigm for research — the best going theory against which everyone is working (even if its an attempt to disprove the idea).

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  61. samwide says:

    @bro43rd:

    I do not prescribe to the idea that there is significant difference between Reps and Dems regarding policy, no matter the rhetoric the spews forth from DC.

    I must say that’s convenient for you vis-a-vis the question I raised about your “argument”.

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  62. Polaris says:

    @john personna:

    Define “moderate”. How much will it cost the economy, and what will be the gain? Furthermore, what global climate model are we using? If we are using the one that Gore is pushing (which right now is not supported by the current science), then it won’t make any difference.

    If we are to believe the “alarmist” models and predictions, then pretty much any economically reasonable and feasable (let along politically possible) action would have far too little impact to make any difference. The Earth is a big place after all.

    So do I think that moderate standards are bad necessarily? No….depending (again the devil is always in the details) of what you call ‘moderate’, but unless you can show that:

    1. We are talking about a real effect here (and no Virginia, the science doesn’t support that yet)

    or

    2. If you should show that it would make a real difference even if it were.

    I’d be with you. So far I’ve seen precious little of the sort.

    -Polaris

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  63. Polaris says:

    To sum up my issues with the AGW political crowd:

    1. I have yet to see the science and data that shows that AGW is a fact in the scientific sense (not to be confused with global warming as a whole, nor the assertion…certainly correct…that human factors can be an important factor and need to be considered)

    2. Even IF the human agency were responsible for Global Warming (ie the observed global warming is all AGW which is the “Gore” model), that any reasonable, non-destructive policy that we could institute would have any noticable effect on the trend.

    -Polaris

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  64. samwide says:

    @Polaris:

    Even IF the human agency were responsible for Global Warming (ie the observed global warming is all AGW which is the “Gore” model), that any reasonable, non-destructive policy that we could institute would [not?] have any noticable effect on the trend.

    But then we’re still left with the questions I posed, somewhat elliptically, @ Thursday, September 8, 2011 at 14:06 — Isn’t all the back and forth about the possible A in GW really a distraction from what we ought to be concerned with? That is, that global warming is a fact. What will be its effects and how are we going to deal with them if they are unhappy? All the argument about the possible anthropogenic contribution is a distraction, really. The world is getting hotter – what does that mean for us and what steps should we take to attenuate, as much as possible, its deleterious effects?

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  65. David M says:

    @Polaris: It’s pretty easy to clear up that first objection of yours.

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  66. steve says:

    ” The point I make is that government action is never benevolent although that is what they always tell us. Government is to be suspected of ill intentions since they derive their power by force (coercion) and not by voluntary means.”

    Most basic research is funded by government. Even a lot of research done by private firms is done by people who move back and forth between universities. So, these same scientists who give us GPS, the Internet, nanotechnology, the human genome, etc, become suspect when it comes to AGW? I think that we should judge their work by its merits.

    I would agree with Polaris that the real problem is the policy response. No science is ever really settled, that is just a strawman argument. However, the large majority of the evidence available suggests that human actions are part of the problem. While we continue to investigate, we need to determine if there are available, realistic policy responses. If there are, is the evidence strong enough. That becomes a value judgment. Do you need to be 80%, 90% or 995 certain?

    Steve

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  67. bro43rd says:

    @steve: Agreed. I am most suspicious of government research that falls in line with whatever scheme the government is currently pushing. Especially when said government stands to collect big time revenue from legislation driven by that research. Just as we are now finding out about Dr Keys (US Army doctor/researcher who developed c-rations) who cherry-picked data regarding heart related disease to fit the theory he put forth. And this government sanctioned nutritional scheme has been thrust upon the American public for forty+ years, look where that has gotten us, a public with the highest levels of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, obesity, etc. Many posters here claim we have to act now on this climate change issue before it’s too late, I say that is a leap of faith and I’m more inclined to look before I leap.
    As an anarchist, I have an unusually high distrust of all government actions. But this is a whole different discussion.

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  68. Ben Wolf says:

    @bro43rd:
    1) The government doesn’t need your money. You may have noticed that when politicians enrich themselves they do it via the private sector, not sneaking over to the Treasury Department with a potato sack.

    2) Dr. Keys was one man. AGW theory is supported by the work of thousands in a hundred different countries over a period of seventy years.

    3) It isn’t a faith issue, it’s an issue of physics. Add a greenhouse gas, you trap heat. Satellites can measure the Earth’s growing energy imbalance (more coming in than going out). Five separate temperature records confirm a warming trend. It isn’t caused by solar activity because we’d be seeing enormous solar cycles in order to produce so much warming so quickly. It isn’t water vapor because the atmosphere has to warm first in order to hold more water. It isn’t coming from the oceans, because we’d see them cooling as the atmosphere warmed. There is no other plausible explanation. That’s what climatologists have been doing for decades: eliminating variables one by one to determine the most likely cause of the warming. The only variable left that can account for it is carbon dioxide.

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  69. MarkedMan says:

    Analogy: We are living in a city in the dry riverbed of a dam that is leaking. The people who study and build dams say it is leaking because of the effects of people driving over it, failing to maintain it, etc. There are other people who say that it is leaking for reasons completely outside of our control, such as being bombarded by cosmic rays.

    The first group says we have to act now, before the dam breaks and we have a catastrophe. The second group says we have to wait until we figure out every possible cause of the dam leaking and assign a percentage of blame to each one. Until then, we do nothing except spew contempt at the people who study and build dams for a living.

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  70. Polaris says:

    MarkedMan,

    It’s not that simple. In the first place contrary to what Ben is asserting, it’s not cut-and-dried that increased CO2 is the one cause for global warming, and even if it is, whether or not it’s all due to man made activity. I will concede being a fact based person that I am, that most CO2 increase is man-made, but that doesn’t mean global warming is! The fact is a lot of factors haven’t been properly accounted for and much of this decade the planet has actually cooled slightly compared to 1990s trends. The point is the science is not in, regardless of what the academic orthodoxy would have you believe. That same orthodoxy managed to bury any research into cosmic ray effects for 10 years because it was assumed to be irrelevant. That’s bad science by any measure.

    What’s worse, is even if the AGW models are right what are we supposed to do about it? That’s where the political rubber hits the road, and it is there where the fear mongers IMHO have lost their credibility. Bad enough to try to suppress lines of research that might not support your orthodoxy (although most of the phycists that study the cosmic cloud effect actually think that AGW probably does exist fyi), but it’s worse when you try force expensive and potentially economically damaging policy based on fear rather than science.

    It may very well be that there is no solution that will meaningfully alter the course of greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere. In that case, doing nothing in terms of greenhouse gases is not the worst reaction in the world (and instead we should determine how we are going to live on a warmer planet).

    -Polaris

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  71. Polaris says:

    I would agree that nothing in science is ever fully settled, but in that case I wish the AGW prophets (many of whom are not scientists…Mr Gore for one) would drop the notion that AGW is “settled science”. It’s not. At best it’s a leading theory (in the scientific sense meaning a detailed model that fits available facts).

    -Polaris

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  72. bro43rd says:

    @MarkedMan: Linear thinking is what has failed many. In regards to human action, the possibilities are infinite.

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  73. David M says:

    I’m hard pressed to see the difference between Polaris and someone who believes climate change is a hoax created by the weather channel to make money. At least the weather channel conspiracy nut isn’t claiming to be a scientist I guess.

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  74. Ben Wolf says:

    The fact is a lot of factors haven’t been properly accounted for and much of this decade the planet has actually cooled slightly compared to 1990s trends.

    We’re way off-topic at this point, but what factors are you referring to? I’m also not sure what you mean when you refer to cooling since the 1990′s. All temperature records show a continued warming trend, albeit not warming quite as fast.

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/

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  75. Polaris says:

    @Ben Wolf: Solar Activity for one. There is now compelling evidence that solar and cosmic ray activity is far more important for cloud formation (research that had been supressed for ten years) than previously aknowledged. Increased cloud formation has large effect on the earth’s albedo and is actually (probalby depending on the size of the effect) even more important an effect than greenhouse gasses.

    Heck simple monitering of global temperatures after major volcanism shows that albedo has a huge effect on global climate.

    -Polaris

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  76. Polaris says:

    @David M: So I have to buy into the most extreme AGW models to be a scientist? This is the orthodoxy that many of us are talking about and it’s had a chilling effect in academia.

    In fact I am very open to the idea of AGW and do acknowledge that climate change is a fact in of itself. The question is how much of it is human related, and by extension how much can humans reasonable do about it. THOSE issues are have not been ‘settled’.

    I will even agree there are some for their own self interests try to use innate scientific caution to try to prevent any change or any action at all. I haven’t agreed with that either. However, if I am to propose or sanction a plan of action based on science then I want it based on the science and not of overblown fears created by scientific data misused far beyond it’s original intent for political purposes.

    -Polaris

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  77. mattb says:

    @Polaris:

    I wish the AGW prophets (many of whom are not scientists… )

    I realize that this is an excerpt of a larger quote, but it seems to me that the vast majority of AGW deniers (heck CC deniers) are not scientists… So what’s your point?

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  78. john personna says:

    @Polaris:

    Define “moderate”. How much will it cost the economy, and what will be the gain?

    Refrigerators are an interesting case, and provide a good test of ideological versus practical thinking. You see, efficiency is cheap. There are efficient models in all price ranges. It isn’t even a case that the rich can afford and buy more efficient models than the poor.

    Sears refrigerators are more energy efficient than Sub-Zeros.

    So knowing that, would you be willing to prune the least efficient? Say by putting a minimum bar for watts/cu-ft?

    If we are to believe the “alarmist” models and predictions, then pretty much any economically reasonable and feasable (let along politically possible) action would have far too little impact to make any difference. The Earth is a big place after all.

    Why do you do that? Why do you try to emotionalize a rational discussion?

    You may start with science, but you constantly slide off to these highly emotional exit-points.

    Again, the thing about refrigerators and light bulbs is that is we choose our standards wisely, we actually save consumers money. We encourage, with a minimum bar, efficiencies that manufacturers might blow off.

    Sub-zero doesn’t give a crap about kwh. All they need to do is make you feel cooler than the neighbors. But, at minimal cost, they could be as efficient as Sears.

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  79. bro43rd says:

    @Ben Wolf: 1) I’m not aware of the opt-out choice at the polls. And being the vast majority of the citizens, myself included, aren’t financially able to ‘vote with their feet’, essentially we are forced/coerced to participate in the system which governs the geographical area. LSS, the PE/Politicians/Corporatocracy gets rich off the back of the people via a inflationary monetary policy.
    2) Dr Keys’ is where it started, followed by numerous scientists, doctors, nutritionists, etc, many who still promote this false theory even to this day. This all happening primarily in government sponsored research facilities. What’s the hidden agenda? Numerous possibilities but it just happens to coincide with the advent of big agra and government farm subsidy programs. If just one man can cause this much trouble…
    3) The facts do not support the catastrophic models put forth by the AGW theorists. Ice core samples have been analysed dating back 1M+ years, and have found CO2 levels 2X that of present time before humans even existed. It also shows warming and cooling periods that occasionally have, comparatively speaking, severe swings in temperature. The earth being resilient shrugs it off and just keeps on a rotating.
    I believe conservation will be essential to the continued survival of the human race, and I fully support and encourage others who dedicate themselves to this issue. But trusting a corrupt bunch of pols/PE/Corporatocracy to manage the earth, well I find it ludicrous.

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  80. john personna says:

    FWIW, I’m tired of the whole false dichotomy, and will try to leave this thread alone.

    It is stupid to think this is some big all or nothing dilemma, but sadly … we seem that stupid as a species.

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  81. MM says:

    @David M: The nut isn’t existing entirely on the appeal to authority fallacy. He usually has a wider range if crankery.

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  82. Ben Wolf says:

    @bro43rd: Responding in order to your points:

    1) The reason the research happens in government funded “labs” is because the private sector won’t pay for it. There is no private temperature record, no private satellites observing climate.

    2) No one has suggested climate has never shifted before humans evolved. The question is why it shifts, or what is forcing it to change? Go back seventy million years and you see that CO2 levels were nearly six times higher than today, but the sun was also 7% dimmer. Furthermore no on is arguing that global warming will destroy the planet. The argument is that the mild climate in which our civilization evolved is being replaced with one that will severely stress it, and is changing more rapidly than many species can adapt. In addition the seas are acidifying as they absorb more and more CO2: this cannot be refuted and is arguably even more serious a problem than the actual warming of the atmosphere.

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  83. Scott O. says:

    @Polaris:
    Have you got a link to this gamma ray cloud stuff you’ve reffered to several times? I assume we could measure the cosmic rays that are hitting our atmosphere, have they been increasing? Also,

    The fact is a lot of factors haven’t been properly accounted for and much of this decade the planet has actually cooled slightly compared to 1990s trends.

    I’m not a scientist but I’m pretty sure that any scientist that studies the climate will tell you that you need a lot longer than a decade before you can declare that there’s a trend.

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  84. jan says:
  85. jan says:

    More and more legitimate Nobel Prize winning scientists are what you would call “skeptics” that AGW is ‘settled.’ Also, more and more of the data coming from places like NASA and CERN are also showing that AGW is in dispute.

    Eminent physicists skeptical of AGW

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  86. David M says:

    @jan: PopTech is a AGW denier website written by cranks who are not climate scientists. We’d be better off getting AGW information from the Onion.

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  87. David M says:

    It’s really hard to take all this talk of cosmic rays seriously when the author of the study is on record saying “At the moment, it actually says nothing about a possible cosmic-ray effect on clouds and climate, but it’s a very important first step”.

    Polaris – I doubt most here “buy into the most extreme AGW models”, but refusing to support moderate steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions places you squarely alongside the looniest climate change deniers. You are willingly providing cover for people who have no understanding or respect for science.

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  88. Polaris says:

    DavidM,

    So I am “with you or against you” is that it? Hardly a scientific position. I am not providing cover for anyone. I am a skeptic and that is a time honored stance in the scientific community. You say I don’t support ‘moderate’ steps to reduce greenhouse emissions. That’s not entirely true. What I’ve said is that we have to weight the economic costs of doing such steps against the likelihood that we will see any relevant gain….and right now that gain is almost impossible to quantify because the science to support a solid model simply isn’t there.

    When this is pointed out, the academic orthodoxy starts yelling “the sky is falling” and it goes downhill from there.

    I have no issue with taking steps as warrented especially if those steps have other positive aspects as well, but I am not for making them if it hurts this country alone and allows worse polluters to get off scott free (see China), and especially not based on fear rather than good solid science.

    -Polaris

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  89. mattb says:

    @jan:

    CERN: ‘Climate models will need to be substantially revised’ New atom smasher research into cloud formation

    The problem with non-scientists (on both sides) glomming onto different reports is that they tend to over represent the meanings of those reports. So for example, actual climate scientists had the following to say about the CERN data:

    Lead Author of the CERN paper Jasper Kirkby:
    At the moment, it actually says nothing about a possible cosmic-ray effect on clouds and climate, but it’s a very important first step.” (http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110824/full/news.2011.504.html)

    Judith Curry: this is a fascinating topic, and the CERN CLOUD experiment seems very well designed. I look forward to digging into this topic at some point when I have more time. At this point I will only state that this experiment doesn’t tell us much about the climate system. (http://judithcurry.com/2011/08/28/cosmic-ray-discussion-thread/)

    Gavin Schmidt, NASA Climate modeler:
    The paper first confirms some results that are well known… Aerosol nucleation experiments are not usually front page news, and the likely high public profile of this paper is only loosely related to the science that is actually being done. Rather, the excitement is based on the expectation that this work will provide some insight into the proposed cosmic ray/cloud/climate link that Svensmark (for instance) has claimed is the dominant driver of climate change … It is eminently predictable that the published results will be wildly misconstrued by the contrarian blogosphere as actually proving this link. However, that would be quite wrong.The CLOUD results are not in any position to address any of [the 4 points necessary to establish a significant GCR/cloud/climate link], and anybody jumping to the conclusions that they have all been settled will be going way out on a limb. (http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/08/the-cerncloud-results-are-surprisingly-interesting/)

    In other words Jan, the link you provided doesn’t really say much of anything about climate change.

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  90. mattb says:

    @jan:

    More and more legitimate Nobel Prize winning scientists are what you would call “skeptics” that AGW is ‘settled.’

    Jan,

    That link you provide actually gets the facts wrong and misrepresents others. Three of the 7 Physicists listed all support (or supported) the idea of Anthrogenic Global Warming… they just don’t necessarily accept Catastrophic AGW. Of the four “true deniers” on has never conducted work within the area of climate science and the other three — true deniers — were all partners in a conservative think tank.

    Here’s the actual details…

    The first “anti AGW physicist” it cites is Freeman Dyson. The problem is that — like most scientists — Dyson actually believes in some degree of AGW: “One of the main causes of warming is the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere resulting from our burning of fossil fuels such as oil and coal and natural gas.” [Dyson 2007 - http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/dysonf07/dysonf07_index.html

    So it isn't AGW that Dyson disagrees with. It's Catastrophic AGW. Presenting Dyson as someone who doesn't believe is AGW is a ignorant at best representation of his position.

    Also, note that Dyson himself is quick to admit that he's NOT AN EXPERT on this topic, as he noted in a 2009 interview: "I don’t claim to be an expert. I never did.... My objections to the global warming propaganda are not so much over the technical facts, about which I do not know much, but it’s rather against the way those people behave and the kind of intolerance to criticism that a lot of them have." [Dyson 2008 - http://e360.yale.edu/content/feature.msp?id=2151

    The second physicist, Dr. Giaever definitely is a denier but has not published any work in the area of climate science.

    The third nobel lauriet listed - Robert Laughlin - believes in AGW (and potentially CAGW], he just questions man’s ability to do anything about it:

    “Carbon dioxide from the human burning of fossil fuel is building up in the atmosphere at a frightening pace, enough to double the present concentration in a century. This buildup has the potential to raise average temperatures on the earth several degrees centigrade, enough to modify the weather and accelerate melting of the polar ice sheets. ” [Laughlin, 2010 - http://theamericanscholar.org/what-the-earth-knows/ ]

    The fourth person, Edward Teller who died in 2003, was also a believer in AGW – but not CAGW. It is true that he didn’t feel that the science had completely proved the link (as he wrote in a 1997 editorial). But, as early as 1957 he was discussing the linkages of CO2 and Global Warming:
    “[The American Chemical Society] must have been a little bit bewildered then when Teller started to talk about carbon dioxide and global climate [at their 1957 national meeting]. Teller told the assembled chemists that continued burning of carbon based fuels would increase the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, eventually warming the planet to the extent that the polar ice caps would melt, and the resulting rise in sea level would submerge costal cities under water.” (http://nucleargreen.blogspot.com/2008/03/edward-teller-listens-as-eugene-weigner.html)

    I have no arguments with the listing of Frederick Seitz, William Nierenberg or Robert Jastrow as a AGW deniers. It should be noted that together they formed the Marshall Institute (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshall_Institute) a conservative think tank that, in addition to denying Global Warming, also took up the position that Regan’s Starwars Inititative was a good thing, that second hand smoke did not cause cancer, that Acid Rain was not caused by human emissions, that ozone was not depleted by CFCs, and that pesticides were not environmentally harmful.

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  91. Larry says:

    Merhinks there is a better explanation for Perry’s statement than the one offered by Fallows. The only reason Perry would invoke Gallileo is because Perry thinks Gallileo was outvoted because Gallileo was wrong. Essentially Perry was trying to say even the best scientists are sometimes wrong. Infortunately for Perry, Gallileo was right No matter, ignorance is bliss and Perry’s campaign keeps rolling along with followers as ignorant as their candidate.

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  92. MarkedMan says:

    mattb, good on you for going to the trouble to refute jan’s post. My initial reaction was “waste of time” but then I reconsidered. There are probably people who really do think scientists and science-supporters are too quick to dismiss the arguments on the other side. This web site is a good example of why we don’t engage in such arguments very often. The web site posted something that doesn’t really match what they claimed. I’ve seen virtually the exact same post at other sites. When the problems with it are pointed out, the posters just ignore them. They leave the post up. People like jan continue to point to it. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if she continues to use it despite the problems with it that mattb pointed out.

    So it isn’t really that scientists refuse to enter into a discussion with their critics. It’s that with a certain type of critic, no discussion is possible. Mind is made up, “evidence” is just so much random debris, a point conceded in one discussion will be restated to the next audience.

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  93. mattb says:

    @MarkedMan: Honestly, that’s exactly the reason why I respond (with links) to some of the material posted by Jan and others.

    Also, I found it ironic that people who are skeptics rarely apply the same skepticism to the materials that they use to justify their positions.

    I am a believer in AGW. I’m not as persuaded by many of the CAWG arguments. That said, I am quite concerned about mass migration due to AGW in areas of Asia which could have huge long term repercussions.

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