I’m very fond of Chris Turney‘s book, Bones, Rocks, and Stars. It’s a slender, simple description of the many tools scientists use to figure out how old something is, and when arguing with young earth creationists, it’s become the first thing I recommend to them. It’s short and easy to read, and focuses on explaining how dating methods work.
Turney has a new book out: Ice, Mud and Blood: Lessons from Climates Past(amzn/b&n/abe/pwll). This is the one you’ll be able to hand to climate change denialists, and it’s a winner.
Its virtues are the same as his previous book, the careful documentation of exactly how we know what we know, and less dictation of the conclusions. This is useful, because as we all know, climate is a phenomenon that shows a lot of variability, exhibits patterns in its history, and also has large degrees of uncertainty, phenomena that denialists can seize upon to magnify that uncertainty into a basis for an unwarranted rejection of well-supported hypotheses. So while we can see distinct variations from simple linear uniformity of climate change like the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period, that doesn’t change the fact that greenhouse gases profoundly influence earth’s temperature, and it’s clear that CO2 has risen to levels the planet hasn’t seen in at least 650,000 years. The past tells us what we can expect in the future, and it’s grounds for serious concern. Yes, Turner comes down firmly on the side of an anthropogenic cause for the current trend of global warming, and he explains exactly why, step by step.
Where Turner departs from the formula of his last book, though, is that this one, while still fairly short, is much denser and more technical. Anyone can read it — I managed, despite knowing next to nothing about climatology — but it’s not the kind of thing you’ll be able to do in an evening or two of light reading. There are a few places where the level of detail slowed me down to a steady slog rather than a fast flit, but face it, any book that tries to untangle ocean currents, monsoons, El Nino, and past current reversals is going to occasionally demand the same level of studious, focused attention you’d need to clean up a snarled fishing reel. This is a book that is describing some extraordinarily complicated stuff.
If you want just one book, not too thick or too technical, that will give you the intellectual tools to at least understand what the climate change experts are talking about, this is the one. I recommend bringing it to the beach and reading it there — you’ll appreciate the rising tide and the ocean beaches a little more, and perhaps regard them with a little more respectful dread.
Thanks. I have been looking into reading about these exact subjects. Will get both books.
Oooohhh… Global Warming… That’s a kook-magnet. I’m thinking at leas 300 posts with lots of Libertarian philosophy served as a side dish to kookery it’ll attract.
Hopefully, though, we won’t blame Bush. because while he deserves to be arrested, tried and imprisoned for life, he’s not responsible for everything.
Thank my lucky stars I have appointments today and will be forced to miss the blood-pressure raising flame-war this thread is likely to spawn.
There was an interview with Chris Turney on the ever-excellent Grauniad Science Weekly podcast, which you can find here:
Thanks for the suggestsions, I’ll be picking both of these books up very soon.
Jason Dick says
I’ll definitely have to check this book out. In the meantime, here’s a couple of online resources for global warming:
This one focuses on debunking specific denier arguments:
This one is an introduction to the field:
Glen Davidson says
I hope it gets into the amplification of CO2‘s effect by water vapor. That’s an issue that generally is not covered very well.
I would add that it should cover the several problems left in understanding global warming. The models still don’t predict very exactly what happens, although, unfortunately, they may be underestimating the problems.
I have to wonder how much the past really tells us about today’s warming. Generally CO2 has gone up after the warming has started in response to other climate forcing. This time it looks like greenhouse gases are the first and primary cause.
This book on climate should also help to answer YECs, since climatic changes often have reflected very predictable changes in orbits and in tilts, so that the record of climate is an independent way of dating the earth back tens of millions of years–and it agrees with radiometric dating within the expected levels of precision and accuracy.
Moses: You can mark me as one of those Libertarian kooks.
I will not argue against climate change … evidence on Mars shows icecap shrinkage due to increased solar radiation during the time in question.
I still think the jury is out on anthropogenic climate change.
Jason: Thanks for the links. I particularly enjoyed the debates in comments there … a lot of folks are actually using their heads instead of just repeating dogma … on either side of the anthropogenic issue.
The other positive feedback is methane release from permafrost and the sea. Methane is a strong greenhouse gas, much stronger than CO2. And it is happening now.
Thanks for the book tip PZ,I like those book recommendations you give a lot,will go buy this one for sure.
Of course the AGW kooks will show up. That is what kooks do.
My question is whether we can really can or will do anything about the CO2 rise and AGW. A lot of scientists in that field wonder the same thing.
Right now our immediate problem is a shortage of fossil fuels and it is already hurting the entire world. So while people squabble over AGW, we are fighting for oil in the ME (without much ROI) and competing with other oil consumers for the available stocks. While simultaneously ramping up exploration and production any way we can.
Fossil fuels are the basis for the 21st century technological civilization which is spreading to the rest of the world.
My best guess is we can’t do anything but adapt to a warmer world. And we will make a lot of noise while doing nothing much. This has been the usual human pattern for forever. We seem unable to plan ahead more than 1 or 2 electoral cycles much less a generation or two.
Bones, Rocks and Stars was an absolutely fascinating read – and I very much enjoyed Turney’s avoidance of any major conclusions, rather just discussions of techniques and the data. If, as you say PZ, that this book is quite similar, then I can’t wait to get my hands on it.
This reminded me of this:
AGW Denialist: Summer warmer than winter “just an assumption”
I like how he manages to further embarrass himself. Rather than admit he made a mistake he makes more mistakes.
PZ Myers says
Yes, the book does talk about all kinds of factors that influence climate, and explicitly discusses the fact that in past events CO2 seems to have been a follower, not a forcer.
No, solar radiation has been directly measured there has been no significant net increase in solar radiation over the time in question (it is more likely that there has been a decrease). The evidence indicating Mars is warming is also not conclusive, nor does it appear to be linked to solar radiation (which has been directly measured anyway, as I said before).
If you had gone to the links in post #5 you would see both discuss the issues with Mars:
There is still the issue with the stratosphere. If the climate change is due to the sun, the stratosphere should be warming faster than the troposphere. If the climate change is due to greenhouse gases (which we can tell originate from human influences due to their isotope ratios) then we would expect to see the stratosphere cooling. The stratosphere is colling. I still am waiting to see a AGW denialist explain that.
I’ve been begging a gobal warming denier at work to bring in the book she claims explains how we’re all making it up – and she never delivers. I want to understand where she’s coming from so I can better explain why she’s wrong. :o) Thanks for the book tip!
ps: “It’s virtues are the same as his previous book” – Its!!!!!! grrr. With the help of this song, you’ll never forget.
Just read that book late last year. Love that subtitle: “The Science Of When Things Happen”. Will add to my library on science books, as well as his new one which is not out in libraries yet. Isn’t it great that we have these scientists who not only do research, but write about it as well to remind us that we are not yet inundated by religious nonsense! Science will endure!
It’s 800 kyr at least. Same for methane. At least for CO2, that information was available well before this book was published.
Can’t wait to read it!
I’ll be heading to the Strand to get both of those books — I’m always looking for short, clearly-explained science books as a science writer. (The bio ones help me out more since I have a background in climatology.)
Realclimate.org is of course always an excellent source for explanations on climatic phenomena and debunking (though it can get a wee bit technical at times). Elizabeth Kolbert’s “Field Notes from a Catastrophe” is also a short but thorough look at global warming.
Haha, great point about Libertarians. Not that they don’t have some legitimate arguments, but they were the first ones to deny the science (and many still do) on global warming, which is a little offenseive to scientists in general [that somehow, through special knowledge of your polititcal ideology, you know more than the best experts in their field about what is happening on the earth and what needs to be done].
Wasn’t one of the great turn-offs of orthodox socialism that it was so arrogant and bombastic as to declare itself as the ‘final’ political ideology, the last one we will ever need, resulting in dogmatic supporters that skewed facts to fit their ideology. Yet I see quite a few libertarians doing the same thing, and offering the ‘free market’ [with or without corporations/animal rights/inheritance/democracy??? – i never seem to get consistant answers on these four questions] as a panacea to all our problems, including environmental protection (I’ve yet to meet the environmental scientists who thinks we should get rid of federal protection on nature reserves)
Added note: (This isn’t an endorsement of the center either: politics in the U.S. need to move away from corporate puppets like Obama and McCain [and Clinton, and most of the frontrunners])
Slightly off topic but the mention of dating methods in the OP reminded me that i’ve used this article a few times to good effect, written by a christian for christian radiometric dating skeptics … as well as for the rest of us!
It has a good set of Q&A in the back of the document including a response to this common ‘misconception’ …
19. Only atheists and liberals are involved in radiometric dating.
… as well as beating down most of the usual YEC canards regarding dating methods.
He may not be forgetting. I have noticed that PZ consistently uses “it’s” for the possessive. For a careful writer such as PZ to make this mistake, and make it every day, does not seem like forgetfulness. Instead, I think it is more likely that he is making a conscious choice against traditional punctuation (which is, of course, the privilege of genius). We will not have to speculate any more if PZ will relieve our confusion. PZ?
Some of the early studies on climate change were, to put it bluntly, laughable. To make things worse, the poor state of science reporting in the popular media so poorly reflected the content of the studies that many people simply laughed off the entire concept. However, currently available data are sufficient that it would, in my opinion, take a deliberate act of willful ignorance to say that there is nothing happening.
At any rate, as someone who has studied some chemistry, I can say that hydrocarbons are much too useful and interesting molecules to waste on burning them for fuel.
Even if there were no carbon emissions problem, I would still advocate moving away from hydrocarbon fuels and toward renewable or more environmentally-neutral energy sources.
I personally have no problem with burning hydrocarbons for fuels. They have many advantages. They are easy to transport, being liquid and non-corrosive, and have a high energy density. If the hydrocarbons were originally made from CO2 in the air (in modern times) so that the net change in atmospheric CO2 associated with their burning is zero, I’d have no problem with it at all.
TheBlackCat: I did read the links … Carefully, in fact. I also read the comments on the pages there as well. Not everyone agrees with that explanation of stratospheric cooling. Look carefully at the comments to the posts in the links provided.
If you look further down, there is also a graph that shows ocean based lag in temp change. Plenty of good evidence on both sides … unfortunately, actual experiments are a bit hard to run here.
Global warming is a fact … but AGW is still debatable, and is being debated.
Thanks for the tips, PZ.
AGW is hotly debated in about the same way that creationism and evolution are debated. That is, the overwhelming majority of scientists and experts on the subject fall on one side of the debate, while public opinion is split down the middle.
Steve Bloom says
Yep, Kristopher, not everyone agrees with climate science, just like not everyone agrees with evolution.
For me to believe in AGW alarmism first show me the warming, coz i just can’t find it:
http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=3231 (latest temp figures to the month)
Kristopher, a little understanding of the carbon cycle and gas laws will go a long way to clarifying the role of humans in short circuiting the geochemical side of the C cycle and our contribution to enhancing the natural greenhouse effect.
Even if the human element is hazy (which I am leaning towards us being culpable) where is the harm in doing what we can to cut back CO2 emitions? You save money? Make less polution? Own a vehicle less prone to rolling over? Yeah real downers. [/sarcasm]
I don’t claim to understand the science (of AGW; obviously, the science supporting warming itself seems sound to me), but I can’t see how decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels, and increasing the use of alternative energy sources can be a bad thing – unless you happen to work for an oil company or one of the many governments propped up by the generosity of an oil company.
One day the well’s gonna run dry. While that might not be for a hundred years or more I suspect the people who’ll be alive at the time would rather have an alternative ready.
werd, finite sources are incredibly undervalued by economists, the premise of supply and demand destroys the fabric of a society dependant on it once those resources run thin.
Yes there will be losers in the shift away from fossil fuels. But there will also be winners, new jobs will be created and there is technological advances to be made. With all that talk of cutting fuel excise now in Australia, to me it would serve a far greater purpose that instead of having the excise cut we use that excise to directly invest in alternative fuels. We rake in billions a year from the excise, using it to fund research and find a viable alternative seems far more rational than just putting that money in the coffers.
Two addtional books I highly recommend:
‘The Discovery of Global Warming’, by Weart, and
‘Mummies, Dinosaurs, Moon Rocks: How We Know How Old Things Are’, by Jespersen and Fitz-Randolph
Both would be good introductory books.
Kristopher: “Global warming is a fact … but AGW is still debatable, and is being debated.”
It’s only being debated in comments on blogs and forums. The reality of AGW is not being debated by climate scientists – only the severity and timelines. That should give you a big clue.
Every scientific body of national or international standing on the planet accepts and confirms human influence on recent climate change: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change
Dr Strangelove says
No, the jury is not out on AGW. To say that dramatically increasing the CO2 levels in the atmosphere will have no effect is a stunning display of denial or ignorance.
I don’t understand what GW denialists want. First, it was that GW is not happening, then, CO2 wasn’t a factor. Now, it’s not caused by humans.
It seems eerily like the pattern of evolution denialists. First, there is no evolution at all. Then, there is, but only microevolution. And then the irreducible complexity crap. Is there any kind of evidence worth of consideration? It seems clear to me that the ones that already have their mind set before seeing any evidence are the denialists.
But a difference is that the evolution denialists have something invested that they don’t wanna lose and it’s their religion. What do GW denialists have to gain? I know the more vocal proponents like that guy Milloy from junkscience.com or the complete nutcases that came up with “They call it pollution, we call it life” are in Big Oil’s pockets, but regular folks, what do they have to lose? Their big hummers?
As others said, even if GW is not caused by humans (which VERY probably it is), what the hell? It IS happening anyway, and it is devastating. Why does it matter if it’s caused by us, we should just work on minimizing the problem.
They want to avoid changing their behavior, and more importantly, to avoid feeling guilty.
Note it’s not just big hummers that people will lose. All CO2-emitting vehicles must go, and the sooner the better. (Obviously those vehicles can’t all be replaced or abandoned overnight.)
Nick Gotts says
For me to believe in AGW alarmism first show me the warming, coz i just can’t find it – ad@
That’s because you’re getting your information from a denialist disinformation site which cherry-picks what it displays, ad. Try going to a site run by climate scientists (http://www.realclimate.org/), or read the recent IPCC report, or check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change.
What’s that you say, ad? Oh, I see, it’s all a commie/treehugger conspiracy to steal your tax dollars, involving thousands of climate scientists, politicians from across the world and the political spectrum, and many business leaders? Right. Don’t forget the tinfoil hat when you go out, ad.
Before adding more to this post, and to see where the deniers fit in the picture, a reading of this http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/174951/rick_shenkman_american_stupidity might be an idea. It is valid, I believe rather universally though, especially among those who consider the economy more important than life on this planet.
Longtime Lurker says
The last global warming denier I argued with (a young Ron Paul troll) claimed that the IPCC was merely trying to lower Americans’ standard of living. I practically bellowed at the kid, “How’s Voodoo Economics working out for us, bucko?”
Effin’ Reagan… remember when Jimmy Carter pledged that oil imports would not exceed 1970s levels?
Jason Dick says
llewelly in #38:
No, the vehicles themselves don’t have to go. Well, we do have the technology and should be making them significantly more energy efficient, but the use of gasoline and/or diesel is still a good means for energy transport. The difficulty here isn’t that our vehicles are emitting CO2, but instead that we are obtaining the fuel from the ground. If we can successfully make a transition to [i]efficient[/i] biofuels (i.e. ones that don’t take up exorbitant amounts of land area), then the use of that fuel will be carbon-neutral.
Brian Macker says
Yes, Moses those “evil Libertarians” who are all crackpots that want to seastead. Which is evil I guess until the global warming crackpots get in the business of floating cities.
Unfortunately honest intellectual debate doesn’t work this way. You can’t honestly lump people together such positions. Not all global warming alarmists are into seasteading and not all libertarians want to move out to sea.
Same with lumping everyone together who doesn’t share the alarmist views on global warming as “denialists” and labeling them as evil. Perhaps it makes for a good rethorical stategy but it also smacks highly of intellectual intolerance. The kind Marx was famous for. No need to answer any objections from the bourgeoisie since by definition their arguments can be trusted on moral grounds. Same here.
Still haven’t gotten an answer to the issue of the human carrying capacity of the earth if we switch over to the socialist plan of government controlling our energy. It’s quite clear that stopping the production of greenhouse gases would immediately lead to the deaths of billions in the present and not some distant future. It’s very unclear whether anyone will actually die from any of the purported effects of global warming. If you draw the slope of that line I really don’t see any point where it makes sense to let the alarmists control the oil supply.
“This is useful, because as we all know, climate is a phenomenon that shows a lot of variability, exhibits patterns in its history, and also has large degrees of uncertainty, phenomena that denialists can seize upon to magnify that uncertainty into a basis for an unwarranted rejection of well-supported hypotheses.”
No, PZ it isn’t going to help because you haven’t grasped the issue yet. The sea rising a few centimeters over some long period isn’t a threat to humans because we can move. The proposed “solutions” are known to be harmful in the here and now.
Often the “solutions” increase CO2 production because the people proposing them are economic idiots. Sorting my plastics out and having a separate truck pick them up only to have them dumped in the same landfill is a solution? Of course not.
The uncertainty matters a whole hell of a lot and it isn’t just the uncertainty about the climate but also the uncertainty of the effects of the asinine solutions to global warming being suggested. Kyoto being one of them. Ethanol another. Carbon trading yet another. I know global warming is a socialists wet dream but get a grip on yourself.
There is also the uncertainty of the political process. Global warming is just one more excuse to violate peoples rights and rights violations have a much longer track record of wrecking peoples lives than climate change.
The issue isn’t merely science. Especially when you start labeling anyone who questions your political solutions a denialist, and arguing that anyone disagreeing is in the pocket of big oil, etc. This isn’t about science anymore. It’s just dirty politics.
“I don’t understand what GW denialists want. First, it was that GW is not happening, then, CO2 wasn’t a factor. Now, it’s not caused by humans.”
You can start by understanding that the GW denialists aren’t the Borg with a collective mind or something. Many of the, “denialists”, er well let’s just call a spade a spade, their obviously selfish evil libertarians. But that’s not loaded enough. Let’s call them facists or nazis. After all, denialist, smacks of holocaust denialist and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
These nazis have been arguing many different angles from the beginning not because they are like separate human beings or anything like that. No it’s because they are evil subhumans and want to hurt the planet in the evil pursuit of money and all.
Hell according PZ the libertarians are the worst political philosophy on the planet. Worse than the Nazis and Communist but hell people don’t realize that so let’s keep lumping. We’ll lump anyone who questions any aspect of global warming dogma, plus libertarians, an hell all republicans, independents, and nazis into one big category. Fascists works for me.
So just refer to us all as fascist from now on and just skip the whole debate thing. It’s such a waste of time, ya know, actually having to deal with any “uncertainties”. The planet is going to burn up you see and we need to lock deniers, er nazis up in jail just for opening their mouths.
Guys like Tom Segalstad need to be put in front of a firing squad. Since he obviously is the equivalent of a creationist when it comes to science.
How dare he bring up any uncertainties because we need to get the UN involved in deciding how we run the economy. The UN’s IPCC says so. A group that thinks Arafat deserves the peace prize is obviously the go to team to get this mess sorted out. They obviously know how to run a peer review process. I guess if your peers are a bunch of dictators.
Did I mention that America is Evil because A) Global Warming B) Iraq C) Capitalism? D) No universal healh care. Go socialism. Worship Marxism, Stephen J. Gould did and he was an evolutionist. If you don’t believe in Marxism you don’t believe in Natural Selection and certainly aren’t a proper scientist.
You see everything needs to be lumped, we need to ignore uncertainties, and get with the dogma. Be sure to label your intellectual opponents evil too. Especially for things where they think you are advocating harmful policies based on sound science you haven’t a clue about. That makes them want to see things your way.
Pro-global warming guy like Mann makes a big ass mistake in his hockey stick graph. Don’t be humble and admit the mistake. No. That might lead to uncertainty and that’s worse than the violating the scientific spirit. Uncertainty is now the enemy. After all we always are certain in science (what kind of scientist believes that crap).
David Marjanović, OM says
Fixed that for you.
“Denialist” is a technical term. It means “someone who uses reality denial as part of an ideology”.
As for calling libertarians evil… I prefer considering the complete lack of empathy an illness…
I call Godwin.
What? What plan?
If it would be done overnight, yes. Nice strawman.
The egnorance! It burns!
You fucking moron. Evacuate Bangladesh yourself. Have you never thought about what happens when the sea level rises by just one meter over several decades?
Never mind the increased frequency of hurricanes…
What? Controlling the oil supply? What are you talking about?
Dumping them wouldn’t release any CO2. Burning them would.
And recycling them would save a lot of oil.
Suppose every single proposed solution is utter crap. Would that make the problem itself go away?
So you really thought you would get away with making extraordinary claims and not providing extraordinary evidence?
Also, again, just because something else could be even worse doesn’t mean nothing needs to be done about global warming. Logic — ur doin it rong.
Indeed not. See the definition of “denialist” above.
The rest of your comment is just an incoherent rant. It is quite stupid to use ignorance as a cause for outrage.
Rather, go here and here and learn.
Brian Macker says
“It is quite stupid to use ignorance as a cause for outrage.”
Actually it isn’t. I can be outraged about your ignorance and your lack of thought before you try to force everyone to do things your way. Your climatology arguments amount to nothing more than Pascal’s Wager. The level of your ignorance on all these matters is appalling. You fall for the most trivial of mathematical fallacies. It’s more religion than science. Then you have the gall to call me stupid, moron, etc.
I get sick of the way many of you project psychological crap like claiming other have a complete lack of empathy and then calling them ill. Instead of actually learning what motivates them by actually reading their arguments you ignorantly assume it’s because of some moral lacking. This is typical not only of Marxian argumentation but Christian, Muslim and other ideologies. Hell, even ideologies like Objectivism play this game.
My motivation here is a deep love of and understanding of science. I a lot older than most here and I have experienced these fads of the left in the past. I also know some history and the left has a very bad track record here. I have yet to met an ideology of the left or right that I like.
Most of all I am a skeptic in the sense of Paul Kurtz. I lived and breathed science as a kid. I was a member of CSICOP for a very long time. I have a natural ability to understand math, logical argumentation, and any kind of modeling. I don’t need to go very far into any theory or model before I immediately see implications and problems with it and can draw conclusions.
My motivation is NOT selfishness, ignorance, or any other of the nonsense that is being projected onto me. I have seen a long history of this kind of scare mongering being used to bolster what is in fact very poor science. If you truly wish to understand the motivation and not your mind reading imaginations then read this article by Michael Crichton, “Aliens Cause Global Warming” The current work in the area of climatology has all the earmarks of bad science. We are being sold nonsense, and I’m not talking about some basic physical thing like CO2 is a greenhouse gas that I learned in grade school science.
I share a certain amount of background here with Crichton because of my involvement in skeptics groups and my age. I’ve seen these kinds of scares. In addition I’ve seen and know about the kinds of screw-ups in the economic realm that are caused by these political movements.
We are presently seeing a total screw up unfold that was perfectly predictable based on the actions taken by Alan Greenspan right now. It’s really bad, and I’m not talking about what you see at the surface. The actions taken are predictably going to take a course of action that is going to be much worse than it is. We will be experiencing high rates of consumer inflation. This screw up is all based on basic misunderstandings of the capability of modeling and a total misunderstanding of emergent systems.
If you truly want to understand why I don’t find global warming credible.
There are obvious flaws in the math and modeling done by these climatologist. It’s obvious to me because I was a wiz at math and I am also a wiz a computer modeling. It’s obvious to me how to implement computer models. I know the difference between a simulation and a mere model.
Patrick Frank has written a good article in Skeptic Magazine that will maybe, just maybe, clue you into how I can immediately zero in on the politicalized pseudo-science here. If you believe the IPCC then you are a chump, really. They are NOT following good scientific procedure and are miscommunicating the scientific certainty here. Basically there is none. It’s not only garbage-in garbage-out, the what they are attempting to claim based on their models is actually laughable.
He gets what you and the other commenters like Nick Gotts don’t. It’s ironic how nasty you guys get given your ignorance and failure to “get it”.
Patrick Frank after going into detail that hopefully can make even you grasp the uncertainty here. Arguing as PZ does that “has large degrees of uncertainty, phenomena that denialists can seize upon to magnify that uncertainty into a basis for an unwarranted rejection of well-supported hypotheses.” is really total bullshit that is not in the spirit of science. We aren’t as he and others like Naomi Oreskes claim merely trying to muddy the waters here. The waters are truly muddy.
Here are some conclusions Frank comes to and I agree whole heartedly and for me they are magnified because I have deeply studied issues of human cooperation and society. You are playing with fire here and you are incompentent to understand why I say that.
“However, if the present uncertainty limit in General Circulation Models is at least ±100 degrees per century, we are left in total ignorance about the temperature effect of increasing CO2. It’s not that we, “lack … full scientific certainty,” it’s that we lack any scientific certainty. We literally don’t know whether doubling atmospheric CO2 will have any discernible effect on climate at all.
In other words, Pascal’s Wager.
I am criticizing here the same way I criticized Alan Greenspan and his “new economy”. I understood how and why he was using bad science based on a misplaced confidence in modeling and a misuse of math. In economics these forces take a long time to play out but they will continue to unfold and it isn’t going to be pretty.
These are things that at least some minority of libertarians understand and the majority of those who mock them don’t. You don’t know what you are toying with. On the most flimsy of concerns there have been all sorts of policies proposals that are quite harmful.
Economics is the science of seeing the unseen future effects of such policy. It’s all based on what can be quite easily simulated and yet NOT modeled. Just like evolution can be simulated on a computer but no model is going to tell you how a specific history is going to unfold.
Climatologist are not only bad scientific procedure but bad scientific philosophy. The main purpose of science is error reduction and they are flouting many of the procedural and social conventions that are required to keep error in check. This whole demonization of their opponents as “denialists” is part of this breakdown in science. … and yes I’m pissed about it.
I haven’t found a good article yet that properly expresses my concerns with many of the other aspects of antropomorhic global warming I find troubling. It is for instance obvious to me that tree ring data is a very bad proxy for global temps. Extremely bad. I know this from knowing a hell of a lot about gardening, biology, trees, fertilization, etc. I for instance know why trees branch the way they do and have the leaf shapes they do. I get interested in things and explore deeply.
Trees grow in response to many factors and there is no way one can determine temps from tree ring data in any reliable way. There are too many other factors they respond to. I planted 75 dogwood trees and watched them over a 14 year period and there rates of growth are just too dependent on factors that are transient and random. They don’t track climate.
They are influence by weather in complex ways. Not just how much rainfall but when it falls and how cloudy it is. A difference of just a day of extra sunshine between rains can stunt a plant in a particular location. Soil depth, soil moisture, insect attacks, neighboring plants, positioning of rocks, etc. all effect the rate of growth and survivability. I’ve had rolling rocks, and shifting soil make a big diffence in how big a tree got.
Now one could claim that things work out on average, but that’s something you’d need to prove by some other means. They have attempted to do this but have failed mathematically. If you know squat about statistics then you know that it is easy to get correlation with two different things that are trending. The problem is that C02 is a fertilizer. It makes trees grow faster directly.
This obviously throws a wrench into the idea of using tree rings to track anything as nebulous and long term as “global temperature” from a local standpoint. It’s like proposing that foot size determines intelligence without taking into effect the fact that age correlates with foot size. It’s such a glaringly obvious mistake and it has to be pointed out to them?
Not only are you using Pascal’s Wager but ironically PZ and many of the rest of you are using argument from authority and the Courtesans Reply. I don’t need to go extremely deep into many mathematical issues to directly see a problem, or generate a disproof or valid criticism.
There’s a math problem where you need to decide if you can use domino’s to cover a checker board of x squares width and y square height. Each domino covers two squares.
At first the temptation is to try different coverings. However once the fact that each domino covers exactly one black and one white square it becomes obvious that it won’t work for some checker board widths. Checkerboards with odd widths and lengths have different numbers of black and white squares and thus cannot be tiled. Arguing about individual positionings of dominos is moot after you realize this.
The reason global warming is so contentious is because proponents of AGW think they have a shortcut solution and it’s only a matter of providing physical evidence to the rest of us dummies that this is the case. The idea being that the physics of CO2 guarantees that all other things being equal that temperatures will rise with increased CO2 given actual conditions such as CO2 having a different absorption bandwith than H20.
To them all this temperature recording, modeling, etc is window dressing that is only required to convince the rest of us of a forgone fact of basic physics. I see where they are coming from. When I learned about CO2 back in high school this was quite obvious to me. However there’s more to it than that. This is actually based on a misunderstanding of the problem.
There are many assumptions here that are bad. Perhaps in another comment I will cover them but right now I have to go.
Don’t bother calling me a moron anymore. (You are wrong about Bangladesh also but I don’t have time to cover that either.) Please come up with a better term, like nazi instead of moron as that doesn’t capture the evil you are projecting on me. Idio-Fascist might be better.
I just think you are ignorant. It’s frustrating but it’s not about some inherent sickness. You just haven’t “got it” yet.
I do find disturbing the tendency of many here( and on both the left and right, and libertarian, and objectivist, and religious) to project evil motivations onto those they disagree with.
I use Marxism as an example of building sin into your philosophy, but I could pretty much use Objectivism too. Their original sin is to “fail to focus” or some such nonsense. So instead of having to press their arguments they can dismiss you as “irrational” because they have on foundationalist grounds deduced what is “rational”.
Environmentalists directly picked up this bad habit from Marxism. It’s not valid however. The fact that PZ Myers and some of the rest of you practice this sort of moralistic reasoning means it’s not a Godwin to point this out.
That some libertarians believe private charity is superior to public is not based on selfishness. It’s based on a model of politics and economics and a reading of history based on those models. Don’t get confused. Libertarians aren’t objectivists, and frankly the issue of objectivism is more complex that you are aware of. Leonard Peikoff is quite a different beast than David Kelly although both have their mistakes.
I’m neither Libertarian nor Objectivist. I’m a different beast and I pretty much end up being disliked by most any ideologe with any lengthy discussion. Especially since I actually bother to read their arguments.
Brian Macker says
Bourgeoisie is also a technical term in Marx’s economic belief system. It classifies people in a upper or merchant class. It is also a derogatory term meant to rob them of their humanity.
Within the ideological system of Marxism it is assumed that knowledge is class based. That’s where postmodernism gets it’s ideas about alternate truth system. Postmodernism being an offshoot of Marxism. Except in this case the “truths” of the ruling class are considered false and merely a justification for systematic robbery. Thus anything anyone of the bourgeoisie class has to say can be dismissed as evil. It also applies to anyone who would defend the bourgeoisie since obviously any such defense is informed by evil.
Of course, that’s all quite silly since it assumes what it sets out to prove. It’s also a nice way to shut down dialog.
Your definition of “denialist” serves the same exact purpose. It assumes the very thing you need to show, that somehow all those you throw in this gross overgeneralization are denying reality.
Using such tactics shows that the person doing it really doesn’t believe in the spirit of science. Firstly, Scientific theories aren’t “reality” but only models of reality. Secondly, science is about keeping an open mind and knowing that all knowledge is tentative. Thirdly, it’s not compatible with the open dialog of science.
Calling people morons in what should be polite conversations also serves that purpose. You want to demean me into being quite on the issue because frankly in my opinion you can’t hold up your end of the conversation.
I’ve argued with many a creationist and IDer in my time but I’ve never labeled them “denialists”.
If you read that article in the skeptics magazine you will see that the AGW proponents (which is NOT the equivalent group referred to as global warming alarmists) are not understanding the math they are producing, being charitable, and perhaps lying to us, being uncharitable, and perhaps something else.
Since they are not understanding that if you use math it has to work out properly do I get to call them “denialists”. In this case mathematical denialists. Obviously since they use math the assume it’s going to work. So in a sense they are denying the reality of the situation. When you screw up your math you need to accept that reality.
You are not in control of words anyway. You sound like those racists who try to claim that by nigger they don’t mean those nice blacks but only the lying lazy ones that live in the slums. Other people are using the term denialist and connecting it with “holocaust denialist” and specifically calling for them to be jailed. Which is the “in thing” in europe.
That zing, is for your haughty insertion of “[American]” into the other guys comment like Americans are somehow more scientifically illiterate than the rest of the world. I suggest you watch this video on you tube showing a french audiences familiarity with whether the moon orbits the earth or not.
Since when is science determined by this kind of popular opinion poll mentality anyway. Do you really think that if “most scientists” or “most Europeans” believe something that somehow makes it beyond question? Not sure what exactly you think but there sure is a lot of AGW and GWA use of the term consenus. I smell a rat.
You know. Ill tempered people like you make it very unpleasant to carry on a conversation.
Of course, I’ve thought about it. I visited New Orleans before Katrina and was shooting the breeze with a taxi driver. We got on the topic of how they deal with heavy rains and such being below sea level. He mentioned that the had several big pumps, I vaguely remember him saying six. My reaction was to tell him “Boy you guys are fucked”. You see I quite a bit of experience with earthen dams and that’s all a levee is.
Katrina didn’t flood because of climate. It flooded because of the weather. It wasn’t below sea level because of rising sea levels either, and subsided at a far greater rate than anything caused by global warming.
I really can see that you haven’t given a minutes thought to any of this. Do you know anything about the history of the Netherlands? Probably not.
What on earth leads you to believe that Bangladesh would need to be “evacuated”? You do understand what the term means right? Did we evacuate the Netherlands when it started to subside at a rate greater than the oceans are rising? Sure over a very very long period certain areas are going to eventually have to be abandoned to the sea, but that doesn’t require “evacuation”.
Besides, what the hell do you think has been happening all along in Bangladesh in the first place. Do you read the news? The are constantly being screwed over by the weather and that isn’t due to the oceans rising all of the sudden and swallowing them up or something. Dying because a hurricane slams into the coast or a tsunami happens isn’t about ocean levels rising, or climate.
“Never mind the increased frequency of hurricanes…”
Yeah, that prediction has panned out real well. Do you have even one skeptical bone in your body?
Again that’s weather not climate and is not any new problem. If I moved from Long Island to Portland Oregon then I’m going to have to deal with a whole hell of a lot more rain, but it’s not like its something I don’t have to prepare for anyway.
Vice versa, if I were to move from Minnesota to Long Island, and I did, then I’m going to have to deal with a hell of a lot more hurricanes. Doesn’t mean I have to be stupid and stay put when a hurricane blows in. In fact I did leave the Island before Gloria hit.
The reason I had that luxury had more to do with the fact that my countries economics wasn’t screwed up than the frequency of hurricanes. Those in bangledesh don’t have that luxury because they have a political system which screws with the economy in worse ways than here.
I do see however that you are in the global warming alarmist group. You aren’t merely pushing what you believe to be the science you have moved into politics here. Increased hurricanes? Some models say yes and some say no.
Global warming is NOT going to make the planet uninhabitable and some areas will benefit while others do not. People have transportation. This sort of thing happens all the time an is a good argument for an increase in freedom, not a decrease. You don’t think local conditions change in ways that render areas less important or less habitable?
When the Europeans discovered the new world and alternate shipping routes that really screwed up the importance of the middle east as a trade route. It could not sustain the same population and people had to move.
There used to be iron mines in various regions of New York that when they played out rendered the area economically stagnant and the people had to move.
When New Orleans started subsiding they really should have been made to pay for their own public works. We subsidized them and that’s why they remained in an area that really should have been abandoned. We do the same with coastal hurricane insurance. There are people along the gulf coast who have rebuilt their houses many times using subsidized insurance. Any private insurer would have them paying through the nose and they would also have abandoned the idea of rebuilding expensive houses in such areas.
It’s a matter of cost. Economics not “climate science”.
I’m talking about the obvious. Are you even paying attention? Do you think you can implement the goals of the Kyoto Protocol by just letting people buy as much oil as they want? You really need to lose the habit of calling other people morons.
I get this all the time with you guys. Something like “There was no ice age scare. That is just a myth, moron!”. Usually by someone half my age who didn’t live through it. I’ve been through so many scientific scares I’ve lost track.
I hate to tell you this but I’m a whole hell of a lot smarter than you think I am.
Let me tell you a technique I’ve learned over time. I assume the most charitable intepretation of what the other guy is saying and address that. Makes for a more productive conversation.
But perhaps that’s not what you did. Perhaps you are again economically ignorant. The “separate truck” was important. You do realize they use fossil fuels, right?
Recycling doesn’t “save oil” unless it costs less to do so, period. Didn’t know that, did you? Recycling uses energy. Even if you use 100% non-fossil fuel based energy to do the recycling it doesn’t “save oil” if it doesn’t cost less money.
Of course, this is where you are going to call me a “moron” and accuse me of not thinking again. Mostly because you are an economic ignoramous who doesn’t know about economic law. Law in the same sense as law in the rest of science.
You seen the economically educated understand that you always could have used that non-fossil energy in some other way. It’s the introduced non-fossil energy source that is “doing the work” here. Picking the plastics up with the extra truck and dumping it in a landfill is still wasteful. It still uses more resources. If your town didn’t have the pick up law then the plastic would still end up in the same landfill, and that non-fossil energy could be used elsewhere to reduce the use of fossil fuels.
“And recycling them would save a lot of oil.”
The economics already takes care of that given proper circumstances. We can “recycle” just about anything. Whether it “saves oil” depends on the costs. That’s why we don’t recycle certain materials. We mine more materials. All sorts of economic factors play into this. How far are we from the mines? How far are we from other industries that could use the materials. Etc.
We don’t collect orange peels from individual residences yet they are “recycled” under certain circumstances. OJ factories produce enough peels in one location to make it economical to recycle them for other uses like those peel based cleaning products, and that “saves oil”.
Where recycling makes sense it’s a viable business and please feel free to set up a company to reap the profits. The first “recyclers” were robber barons. Got rich off of saving the shavings produced by milling.
When your concerns become an religion like it has for some with environmentalism it’s more about feeling good about oneself (and making others feel bad about themselves) than thinking things through.
But feel free to hate.
Brian Macker says
“Suppose every single proposed solution is utter crap. Would that make the problem itself go away?”
You haven’t established a “problem” and certainly not one that is contrary to the incentives that laissez faire capitalism already establishes.
If your unstated goal is that humankind not change the course of history then maybe there’s a problem from your perspective. I don’t see it that way. If the problem is that man effected the climate in any way then it’s a little late for that. Go back with a time machine and murder all the scientists and engineers who discovered and invented all this technology. That’ll solve “the problem”.
Of course, I see it as a side effect of something with extreme benefits, not a direct problem.
You’ve got things entirely in the reverse. It’s you who is making extraordinary claims. You claim certainty when the math just isn’t there. In reality there is extreme uncertainty and that’s how you’re a “denialist”.