From Abracadabra to Zombies
09 July 2011
Are you, I wonder, still equating those of us who are skeptical of the extent of man's contribution to climate change with flat earthers and holocaust deniers? If so, take a look at this from BBC News:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13792479 (Solar predictions bring heat and light)
Well my oh my! Who would have thought that! Fluctuations in the temperature of the sun have an effect on the temperature of the earth! Perhaps that is not caused by man! Perhaps we flatter ourselves if we think that our contribution to climate change is all that significant!
Come on! You are supposed to be a skeptic! Get more skeptical about all those scientists who have a vested interest in exaggerating this alleged problem so that they can get jobs and funding.
I do not know what the truth is on this one; but I do know that it is not as cut and dried as you seem to think that it is. And whatever the truth this idea of a scientific "consensus" is wrong. There was a consensus against Galileo at the time, and, more recently, there was a consensus that stomach ulcers were not caused by bacteria until a pioneering Aussie rebel proved that they were.
Regards and best wishes,
reply: Did you even read the article you link to, Lewis? If you did, then you have some explaining to do.
First, everybody in climate change science knows that fluctuations in the temperature of the Sun have an effect on the temperature of the Earth.
Second, the article makes several points that you seem to have missed.
- The research [that there may be a lessening of solar activity that will mean less energy output in the near future] itself has been presented at one rather small and rather select science meeting - not, as yet, formally published and peer reviewed.
- The predictions made about the next solar cycle would have to turn into reality - which might not happen, however sound the science.
- Even if all that happens, the Sun's activity would have to diminish enough to overwhelm the man-made contribution to the greenhouse effect.
- The Sun is not the major determinant of Earth's climate on human timescales.
- Any effect from modern changes in solar activity is likely to be dwarfed by greenhouse gas emissions and associated issues such as sulphate aerosols.
- Research on cloud formation in the real world suggests the cosmic ray amplification of cloud cover - the way the Svensmark idea works - isn't big enough.
- A recent modelling exercise on the impact of any future grand minimum suggested it would cool the planet by a fraction of a degree Celsius.
- Another recent paper concluded that while the major Ice Ages occurring every 100,000 are undoubtedly profound events, the so-called Little Ice Age that partially coincided with the Maunder Minimum wasn't anything like that, bringing temperatures down globally by 0.3-0.4C. Since the beginning of the industrial era, by comparison, temperatures have risen by about 0.7C.
- "In a future grand minimum, the Sun might perhaps again cool the planet by up to 1C. "Greenhouse gases, on the other hand, are expected to raise global temperatures by 1.5-4.5C by 2100. "So even if the predictions are correct, the effect of global warming will outstrip the Sun's ability to cool even in the coldest scenario. "And in any case, the cooling effect is only ever temporary. When the Sun's activity returns to normal, the greenhouse gases won't have gone away."
- Changes in solar output have no impact on ocean acidification, the other major impact of rising carbon dioxide concentrations.
The worst thing about your response to this article, however, is that you are too willing to ignore the bigger picture (all the other research that has been done) and bring one little study, a controversial one at that, to the forefront. You've got to look at the bigger research picture.
Or aren't you aware that there is a bigger research picture?
1 Dec 2010
I was glad to come across your website devoted to "reason," but I knew it was too good to be true. Other than your take on ghosts and goblins, your views that it's the global warming "deniers" who are irrational conspiracy theorists sounded more like it was coming from the mainstream media.
reply: I don't call the climate-change deniers "conspiracy theorists."
I couldn't help but wonder what your take is on other environmental issues, including the Southeast Asia tsunami and the Haiti earthquake.
reply: You sound like a very focused individual. I'm sure my readers can't wait to hear what other things you wonder about.
A rational skeptic would read your articles and wonder, "just what are they being skeptical about?" You seem to actually puppet many of the common misconceptions that come from the misinformed mainstream media. Reading your articles is like overhearing a group of college girls talking about world affairs based on an interview they read with Johnny Depp in Us Magazine. You might want look up a man by the name of Ed Krug and read his story.
reply: I did. Ed Krug was a soil scientist who, in the 1980s, helped conduct a 10-year federal study on the effect of acid rain on the environment. He disagreed with the scientific consensus on the severity of the acid rain problem and he paid the price for his conviction. In 1992, Reason magazine wrote a very sympathetic article in defense of Krug and against the EPA.
You should also read about the impending Ice Age that the media and government scientists warned us about back in the early 1970s. In 1974, Newsweek had a wonderful article about how if the world governments didn't act now, we'd all be killed by a deep freeze.
reply: You should follow your own advice about parroting (or is it puppeting?) the mainstream media. The Newsweek article was rubbish and did not represent the views found in the scientific media, which you should check out. Newsweek helped spread the myth of a scientific consensus in the 1970s that the planet is headed for another Ice Age. Recently, syndicated columnist George Will repeated the myth. I repeat: it's a myth. There was no scientific consensus in the 1970s that the planet is in a serious cooling trend.
I always thought skeptism was supposed to encourage people to think outside the box, steer the masses away from hysteria, and see things on [sic] a more unbiased, calm perception. It's difficult to take websites such as yours seriously when your articles read as if they could have been written by Sean Penn and Rosie O'Donnell.
reply: Mark, I think your cred went out the window when you cited Newsweek. Your puerile essay at insult doesn't inspire confidence in your observations, either.
11 Dec 2007
One of the oft-repeated axioms among skeptics regarding science is that a majority view does not automatically make something true. Science is not democratic. Another way to look at it is, as Carl Sagan put it in his Baloney Detection Kit, "Arguments from authority carry little weight." This point is hammered home time and again in skeptical magazines and skeptical web sties. And yet, a near universal mantra of "scientific consensus" is almost always included when discussing Anthropomorphic Cataclysmic Global Warming (ACGW). And now, the Skeptic's Dictionary has resorted to this same emotional plea in the very second sentence where the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is mentioned.
reply: The argument from authority involves asserting or implying that something is true because an authority says so. The ad populum fallacy involves asserting or implying that something is true because large numbers of people accept it as true. Both of these appeals are fallacies because neither who accepts or supports a claim nor how many accept or support it are relevant to the truth of the claim.
It is not always irrelevant to identify who or how many people make a claim. In this case, noting the consensus view is relevant and necessary. In climate change studies, we are dealing with probabilities. More important, we are dealing with a political situation in which powerful politicians and misguided journalists wrongly proclaim either that we are not justified in making changes as long as there is some doubt about an issue or that because there is a minority opinion, the issue is "controversial." A similar situation exists with respect to intelligent design and so-called "alternative" therapies. Perhaps, we need a new fallacy name: false charge of irrelevant appeal to authority and popularity.
If you read Carl Sagan correctly, you will not find him claiming that it is always irrelevant to cite the scientific consensus.
The IPCC consists of just over 3,800 scientists. And yes, these 3,800 scientists do say humans are the greatest causal factor in the 1-Degree of global warming that has occurred over the past 100 years and that this increase will result in cataclysmic disaster. What the Skeptic's Dictionary does not mention are the facts that the IPCC does not do any research nor does it monitor climate related data or other relevant parameters.
What is also not mentioned is that over 17,200 scientists have publicly signed the so-called Oregon Petition stating, "There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate."
reply: I wonder how many "scientists" we could get to sign the following statement: "There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is not causing or will, in the foreseeable future, not cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate."
If you read the Wikipedia article on the Oregon Petition, you'll find some interesting things. For example, it was signed by Perry Mason, Redwine, Ph.D., and one of the Spice Girls. The article cites Scientific American:
"Scientific American took a sample of 30 of the 1,400 signatories claiming to hold a Ph.D. in a climate-related science. Of the 26 we were able to identify in various databases, 11 said they still agreed with the petition—one was an active climate researcher, two others had relevant expertise, and eight signed based on an informal evaluation. Six said they would not sign the petition today, three did not remember any such petition, one had died, and five did not answer repeated messages. Crudely extrapolating, the petition supporters include a core of about 200 climate researchers—a respectable number, though rather a small fraction of the climatological community."
Now I won’t commit the same fallacy many do by saying just because one side of this debate has more scientists than the other side, then it must be true. But I will point out that the consensus view is not on the side of ACGW. In other words, between the numbers 17,200 and 3,800, 17,200 is the consensus.
reply: I don't think so.
That doesn't mean they are automatically right. But when the other side can't do simple math, I must be highly suspect of their other claims involving numbers.
reply: The other side? And I thought we were friends.
* AmeriCares *