The deniers of science Part 2

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In part 1, I showed how GilDodgen’s concerns about computer models show how Intelligent Design is scientifically vacuous, but since evolution deniers often also tend to be global warming deniers (often for very similar reasons), it may be helpful and beneficial to explore in more depth the value of computer models in science.

Let’s first explain how computer simulations of global warming take place and why we can indeed trust the results. We often hear arguments from global warming deniers which take shape as follows:

We all know that the weather is unpredictable beyond a certain time frame of 7-10 days so how can climate models be trusted?

This fallacious argument is based on a confusion of weather and climate. Climate is a statistical concept based on the outcome of many computer runs with slightly different models, conditions, weather is a local (and real) phenomenon (I already pointed out these differences when discussing Bill Dembski’s flawed understandings of these basic concepts.

Definition of climate (Edward Lorenz): “Climate is what you expect, weather is what you get.”

Updated for the 21st century (Myles Allen): “Climate is what you affect, weather is what gets you.”

Climate modelers use what is commonly known as General Circulation Models (GCM) which differ from weather prediction models in several important aspects.

So how do climate modelers approach modeling and predicting the climate? First of all, it is important to realize that general circulation models are based on scientific principles of physics.

[PvM: Updated for accuracy] In other words, models use first principles from physics to model the motion of water and air.

For instance the equations for the velocity components (u,v,w) follow from the Navier Stokes equations which are themselves based on 1) the conservation of mass (leading to the continuity equation) 2) the conservation of momentum 3) conservation of energy. Finally, the equation of state relates the density to the temperature (and salinity).

The Navier Stokes equations can often be further simplified based on scaling arguments and can supporting rotating bodies (such as the earth) which add the Coriolis force.

Circulation models for oceans and circulation models for the atmosphere are coupled at their natural interface and boundary conditions model the exchange of heat (for instance solar), moisture (precipitation, evaporation) and momentum (wind stress) at this interface. Under certain circumstance the top of the ocean (boundary layer) can become well mixed and form what is called the ‘mixed layer’. [update end]

Of course, this does not mean that there are no problems with such models. For instance, since the grid size of these models can be quite large, processes of turbulence and other processes which happen at a smaller scale will need to be approximated. And then there are processes of cloud formation, precipitation, melting of sea or land ice which are non-trivial.

So once a model has been built, do modelers just initialize it, and then predict the future? If it were only that simple. First of all, the models are run with historical data to determine how well these models can capture the physics involved. In other words, the models are validated against known data. In addition, these models are often validated against other models which have earned their stripes.

So how is a climate ‘predicted’? Climate modelers typically use a variety of models, a variety of initial conditions and a variety of scenarios to determine what the climate will look like in the near of far future. Since climate is a probabilistic concept, climate is predicted with likely ranges.

While it is indeed possible to make a model which will do anything one wants, it is much harder to 1) make a model based on actual physical principles reach a particular conclusion 2) have other models replicate these findings. In other words, like any science modeling includes verification and thus rejection.

This means that if global warming deniers are convinced that the models are somehow wrong, that all they need to do is present their own results. And here we find another similarity between global warming deniers and evolution deniers: they seldomly perform the hard work necessary to support their claims.

Let’s look at evolutionary models and ask the simple question: What do these models show? Remember that evolution deniers claim that evolution cannot in principle generate the complexity found in nature because processes of chance and regularity are unable to generate complex specified information. Such a claim can be simply shown erroneous by showing, as science has done, that simple processes of variation and selection, indeed can generate complex specified information. In other words, even if one were to accept the claim by evolution deniers such as GilDodgen that evolutionary models are without relevance because they can model almost anything (a fallacious assumption as I have shown), these models do show that one of the fundamental claims of ID is erroneous.

References:

34 Comments

I like to use a stock market analogy in these cases.

In most cases, we can’t accurately predict what the market will do on a specific day.

On the other hand, we can predict what it will do on a long-term basis - according to historical record and economic theory, it’ll most likely rise and fall in a cyclical cycle while trending upwards overall.

A useful addition to this post would be a description of some specific models with links for more detail. I could look some up, but I’m an amateur and thus not the best person to select the best examples.

The wikipedia article Climate model may be a good jumping off point to look for models. From there, the NASA educational global climate model looks interesting. You can apparently download it, try it out, and do the tutorials.

“While it is indeed possible to make a model do anything one wants”

I think it’s probably also important to add a few things: while it’s true that in chaotic systems, altering some initial values can alter outcomes to a large extent, in many systems, you can’t get out the results you want if you are using reasonable initial inputs. Often times (even with chaotic systems) the output is going to be in a limited range of outputs unless you’re using clearly erroneous input values. For example, let’s say you look at the amount of sand in the Mississippi delta, and create a model of the system. You decide that you want to show that all that sand can be deposited in a matter of days. The problem is that you really aren’t going to explain the deposit of that amount of sand in days if you are using sand-deposition rates that are anything close to reasonable and your model is anything close to realistic. Those flaws should be apparent on examination. Blanket statements like “models can produce anything” is really a non-thinking rebuttal. If there’s something truly wrong with the model, those flaws should be pointed out, not assumed to exist.

Second, there is a difference between a model producing a quantitative result (which may or may not be accurate within a certain error margin), and a result that says certain outputs are possible. The example of “complex specified information” is a good one. They say randomness + selection cannot produce information. It is clear that it can. The rest is them tapdancing about “models can produce anything you want”, claims that the model was touched by a human being and therefore invalidated since humans are intelligent agents, or complaints about artificial selection (versus natural selection). None of those complaints have any value, though.

It is quite pathetic to see the IDist quietly shift to the climate debate.

it seems that they have pretty much given up on the ID thing and try to undermine scientific credibility now in a different field.

pretty telling, isn’t it?

wicker Wrote:

it seems that they have pretty much given up on the ID thing and try to undermine scientific credibility now in a different field.

pretty telling, isn’t it?

Beyond being an attack on evolutionary biology, the ID “movement” is at base an attempt to overturn the basis of scientific inquiry itself, methodological naturalism. Thus, it isn’t surprising to see those who advocate for this to readily shift between evolutionary theory, climatic modeling, and even physics itself. Since there’s no alternative theory — because outside of methodological naturalism, one isn’t actually required — it’s not a big deal to jump between any given particular area of study. What these people are is, essenentially, a great, big “deniers” club. I won’t go so far as to say that all lines of denial are equally prevalent, I have noticed that some proportion of the same people who are biology deniers also take their turns at denying not only climate change, but also physics, cosmology, germ theory, the connection between HIV and AIDS, and the Holocaust.

The HIV thing appears to be one of the more popular lines of denial. I’ve seen numerous arguments from the denial camp that nobody has ever isolated the lentivirus (this despite the recent work by Kenneth Roux and others), and that the existence of HIV is a scientific conspiracy designed to cover the “fact” that AIDS is contracted directly from drug use or homosexuality — turning it from a viral disease into a punishment from some wrathful deity, or some other sort of boogeyman with which to frighten the children into proper behavior, I suppose. And many among this group are the same ones who oppose administering anti-HPV vaccines to children because they believe that protection from disease is equivalent to the promotion of underaged promiscuity.

Can it be long before we see them advocating animal sacrifice to placate the angry spirits? As absurd as that might sound, as soon as naturalism in science goes out the window, it’s not a great leap to slaughtering calves in order to present a pleasing perfume unto the Lord and stave off hurricanes.

First of all, the models are run with historical data to determine how well these models can capture the physics involved. In other words, the models are validated against known data. In addition, these models are often validated against other models which have earned their stripes.

Talking of model intercomparison: -

Lawrence Livermore has been running the Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison since 1989.

Their Projects page links to details on several model intercomparison projects (MIPs); including atmospheric models (AMIP), coupled ocean-atmosphere models (CMIP), and paleoclimate models (PMIP).

Somehow I get the feeling that the comparison between global warming ‘deniers’ and ID evolution ‘deniers’ is a red herring There are at least the following perceptions that make me feel this way.

1. Whilst there may be warming-up ‘deniers’ who don’t make their homework, there are plenty of them who do come up with solid, scientific (yes, methodologically naturalistic) alternatives that deserve a serious discussion. There is nothing supernatural involved if astrophysicists, and more specifically solar astronomers claim that the activity of the sun may have (and actually has had) more influence on the climate (not to speak of the weather!) than anything humans can ever do, unless they blow up the planet. There is nothing supernatural involved either, if geophysicists come up with data (and models) that seem to indicate that CO2 release follows global temperature trends with a delay of decades if not centuries, rather that the other way around. I am not an expert and I do not wish to take a position either way, but I consider it a terribly misplaced point to suggest a connection with Dembski and his ilk. That won’t help sorting out what is really going on.

2. The references to modeling and all the uncertainties and complexities points to a second weakness in PM’s posting. The weakness of these models (both of the believers and the deniers) gives a lot of the discussion just the flavor that scientists should be careful to avoid. I am worried if the claim that climate change has become a political hype for the simple reason that this could mean that we will have to face yet another religion: apologetic arguments taking over the scientific discussion (as some IPCC watchers have pointed out recently. The most worrying point of this could be that the roles of believers and deniers would turn out to be just the opposite of what we think it is.

3. All this is somehow distracting from the simple fact that the real issue is that we should stop ruining the environment – warm or cold – and use the planet’s resources in a much more prudent and careful way. There is nothing in the posting that reminds me of that. Are we, after all, waiting for that miracle to happen?

A useful addition to this post would be a description of some specific models with links for more detail. I could look some up, but I’m an amateur and thus not the best person to select the best examples.

Excellent suggestion. I will follow up with 1. improvements to the article 2. rewriting the part on conservation principles to remove some poor description of the physics involved (hangs head in shame)

“All this is somehow distracting from the simple fact that the real issue is that we should stop ruining the environment — warm or cold — and use the planet’s resources in a much more prudent and careful way.”

The real issue to me in both instances is that until scientists in ALL disciplines learn to communicate clearly and convincingly to middle-of-the-road lay persons, our adversaries will try to discredit any science in which they perceive there is in-house debate and contention amongst the practitioners. They have had to give up (mostly) on such discredited notions that the speed of light has changed over time because there is hard data to make them look foolish in the eyes of average Jane and Joe. But in arenas such as climate science, where there is substantial debate among scientists about mechanisms, magnitude of effect of various factors and a host of other uncertainties, and in which the scientists and modelers all couch there conclusions in terms of uncertainty, the deniers are tilling fertile ground where they can not be revealed to the average person as either outright liars or just plain idiots. And unless we can communicate the meaning of the results in the absence of alarmist type, ill-founded and meaningless predictions which the press love, the average person does not want to accept (believe) that their own actions have contributed to a lasting adverse impact. After all, they have lived good lives, and they don’t notice a marked difference in their daily lives, so “those scientists are probably just over-reacting so they can get more research money.”

Having said that, I agree that it IS time we stopped mucking about with the environment and tried very seriously to lessen our impact. After all, even if the atmospheric/climate scientists are 100% wrong, what harm would been done by developing cleaner ways to live? It would be money better spent than in attacking countries which don’t pose any real threat to most of the rest of the world.

But the real issue for me is that, in the climate change arena, we are once again shoving conclusions at the public without empowering them to understand or to reach conclusions of their own. In that situation we are forcing them into an either-or ball park which we ourselve rail against the IDers about. We say this, they say that, we are right because… Where does that get us? The same place we are with evolution. People are still divided because they just don’t understand it. People are going to remain divided on the climate issue as long as they don’t have the first clue about the atmosphere.

I’ve started going to high schools to discuss the science of climate change using paleoclimatological data to look at climate over time. And the kids - our next generation of voters - are thrilled to be informed and to be given some perspective of what climate change means. My efforts are perhaps too little to make a large impact, but then again, perhaps those student will grow up to think about the issue rationally rather than reactionarily when it’s decision time. Ditto evolutionary science. We are dealing with a group of adversaries who are like predators, running a herd of prey animals to reveal the weakest, and they converge on that one.

Tom

I’ve said it before but it’s probably worth saying again, the IDists are demanding that we explain weather instead of climate in the past, and they’re doing virtually the same thing with evolution.

They’re supposedly willing to believe that evolution occurred by known processes if we explain the particulars of evolution (many of which have been lost to time), while they don’t pay any attention to the fact that the “climate” of evolution follows predictions remarkably well. Plus, they have absolutely no explanation either for the “weather” in evolution, nor for the “climate” of evolution—“nested hierarchies”, derivation (rather than de novo production) of parts, and of DNA “clocks” that indicate no breaks between macroevolution and microevolution nor between designed and undesigned portions of organisms.

They focus on what has not been explained, or even better, what in many cases cannot be explained. The fact that climate and evolution have been explained and evidenced in many of their aspects is of no interest to them, for they are nothing but deniers of science.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Given the implications of global warming, I can see why people would want it to be wrong, even more so than evolution which as far as I can tell doesn’t imply things going wrong a few decades from now the way global warming does. But of course, wants don’t determine what is.

Henry

Whilst there may be warming-up ‘deniers’ who don’t make their homework, there are plenty of them who do come up with solid, scientific (yes, methodologically naturalistic) alternatives that deserve a serious discussion.

Care to name some? The alternatives have been mostly harebrained hypotheses with little or not data to support them.

There is nothing supernatural involved if astrophysicists, and more specifically solar astronomers claim that the activity of the sun may have (and actually has had) more influence on the climate (not to speak of the weather!) than anything humans can ever do, unless they blow up the planet.

Obviously, without the sun, it would be quite cold here, so no climate scientist is going to claim that energy from the sun has less effect on our climate than other factors.

I think you may be misunderstanding climate science if you honestly feel otherwise.

As far as fluctuations in solar output driving current warming, not CO2, there are two major problems:

1. The data doesn’t support the hypothesis 2. We know CO2 and other greenhouse gases cause warming, otherwise earth would be as cold as the moon. Alternative hypotheses for measured and observed global warming have to explain why basic physics have stopped working magically just as people began putting large amounts of CO2 derived from fossil fuels into the atmosphere.

There is nothing supernatural involved either, if geophysicists come up with data (and models) that seem to indicate that CO2 release follows global temperature trends with a delay of decades if not centuries, rather that the other way around.

Quick! Wake up the climate science community! They’ve only been aware of this … ummmm … since they discovered the data!

The proper answer to the lag question is “so what?”. As to why, you might spend some time reading the basic science at Real Climate

I am not an expert and I do not wish to take a position either way, but I consider it a terribly misplaced point to suggest a connection with Dembski and his ilk.

The connection is appropriately made because both camps

1. Rely on the public’s general lack of knowledge about science (as you say, you’re no expert when it comes to climate science, if you were knowledgable you’d know the “CO2 lags warming” red herring is, well, a red herring).

2. Lie through their teeth about what is known by the scientific community. When their lies are exposed, they continue to repeat them.

3. Insist that their alternative “truth” is suppressed by a cabal of atheistic, left-wing scientists who are conspiring to destroy modern civilization by undermining morals (evolutionary biologists) and our economy (climate scientists).

This list is not exhaustive but it’s a nice start …

as science has done, that simple processes of variation and selection, indeed can generate complex specified information.

I doubt that is what science has shown, since AFAIK there is no usable definition of “specified information” what ever that is supposed to mean, and this isn’t what evolutionary algorithms is about.

What they are is that “an evolutionary algorithm (EA) is a subset of evolutionary computation, a generic population-based metaheuristic optimization algorithm” ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolut[…]y_algorithms ). For example, genetic algorithms can solve optimization problems.

What EA’s can do is to validate evolutionary scenarios, not creationistic ideas. If it is to show development of new characteristics to better fit a constraint, yes, EA’s can do that.

And if new characteristics is what creationists tries to encompass with the misguided concept of ‘specified information’, that is only a lucky coincidence. (We know that no single complexity measure can ever capture all possible properties of objects. And exactly what properties characterizes all possible life?)

I am in agreement, in so far as a non scientist is can be, with just about everything you say on this site. So one question about climate models perhaps you or someone else could offer an answer.

There is a famous scam in the stock market, urban legend for all I know. You sent 1024 various stock buy schemes out, half the stocks go up, half down, so you discard the addresses of all those stocks which went down, and send out a second batch of 512, and of course you finally in the last bit of scam sell the last few people you last bit of advice.

I think I am asking, how do you know that you have not, in a climate model, simply sorted out losing combinations, as opposed to really having an accurate model?

how do you know that you have not, in a climate model, simply sorted out losing combinations, as opposed to really having an accurate model?

Because a) the models are based on sound physical principles and b) the present-day climate is quite close to the predictions of earlier models.

how do you know that you have not, in a climate model, simply sorted out losing combinations, as opposed to really having an accurate model?

c) Also, certain very important predictions generated by the models have been made public, so we can check and see whether they’ve come true or not. Therefore they can’t simply be thrown out and ignored if they’re wrong.

Two important predictions that have come true were

1. Stratosphere would cool if heating in the troposphere is due to the action of global warming gasses. This has been verified by measurements. BTW that’s another problem with the suggestion that warming’s due to increased solar output, under this scenario climate scientists wouldn’t expect the stratosphere to cool.

2. Warming would be more pronounced in higher latitudes (polar amplification). This has also been verified by direct measurement.

There are more but these two are enough to make the point …

Re “otherwise earth would be as cold as the moon.”

The half of the moon that’s in sunlight is apt to be quite warm. ;)

Henry

The 4th IPCC assessment does have something to say on solar causes v. greenhouse gasses.

The combined radiative forcing due to increases in carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide is +2.30 W/m2, and its rate of increase during the industrial era is very likely to have been unprecedented in more than 10,000 years.

[…]

Changes in solar irradiance since 1750 are estimated to cause a radiative forcing of +0.12 W/m2, which is less than half the estimate given in the TAR [3rd assessment report].

Very broadly, the more climatologists study solar effects, the less likely there appear to be the cause.

“We know CO2 and other greenhouse gases cause warming, otherwise earth would be as cold as the moon. “

Not the best example, as the poster above pointed out. A better one would be Venus, whose largely CO2 atmosphere causes surface temperatures to reach well over 400 degrees Celsius, hotter than daytime temperatures on Mercury.

What EA’s can do is to validate evolutionary scenarios, not creationistic ideas. If it is to show development of new characteristics to better fit a constraint, yes, EA’s can do that.

Or even if it’s to solve problems that require “creativity” in order to reach some sort of computational goal:

http://www.genalytics.com/content/n[…]itepaper.pdf

(Not theory btw, this is an actual product)

GilDodgy is my favorite creationist at the moment. I’m still giggling at that thing he said a few weeks ago. Something like “I’m having some serious cognitive dissonance here…I just don’t understand how thousands of scientists can fail to see that they’re obviously wrong about evolution.” Poor wittle Gil.

cognitive dissonance as well as a poor understanding of science can be a lethal combination and yet it seems to be found at an unusual high frequency amongst evolution deniers.

cognitive dissonance as well as a poor understanding of science can be a lethal combination and yet it seems to be found at an unusual high frequency amongst evolution deniers.

so much so, in fact, that it continues to make me wonder why there aren’t any science blogs dedicated to looking at the psychology of the creationist mindset.

It would seem quite a fertile field, AFAICT.

OK please don’t get excited but has anyone here seen the British film “The Great Global Warming Swindel”?

Please don’t chastise me, but they do make some good points in the film and many of the climatologists in the film used to agree with the man-made global warming theory.

There’s an interesting point that the CO increase follows the warming and not the other way around. Is this a lie or is this true.

OK please don’t get excited but has anyone here seen the British film “The Great Global Warming Swindel”?

Please don’t chastise me, but they do make some good points in the film and many of the climatologists in the film used to agree with the man-made global warming theory.

There’s an interesting point that the CO increase follows the warming and not the other way around. Is this a lie or is this true.

It’s a swindle indeed. The infomercial that is. Yes CO2 historically follows the initial temperature rise and for good reasons. Increased temperatures, caused by other factors, increased the CO2 concentrations and temperatures increased further because of this factor. This is the first time where CO2 has been leading as it is a human caused contribution to the atmosphere. These increases in CO2 concentrations have been shown to be essential to accurately model the temperatures. In other words, models which ignore human components of CO2 fail to recover the temperature trends, models which include it do.

See for instance http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attrib[…]imate_change

See also this page at Woods Hole Fig 2 for instance http://www.whrc.org/resources/onlin[…]evidence.htm

So we have

1. Causal link between CO2 and warming 2. Observations of human caused increases in CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere 3. And a direct link that these increases in CO2 are responsible for a large part of the increases in temperatures.

Let’s not be confused about the poor “science” by global warming deniers. There seldomly is much.

More on the Swindle and some excellent rebuttals of the poor science presented.

RealClimate: Swindled! http://www.realclimate.org/index.ph[…]03/swindled/

Addresses some of the more common misrepresentations

In the Green Deconstructing Channel 4’s Great Global Warming Swindle: http://inthegreen.typepad.com/blog/[…]ucting_.html

The documentary had plenty of big names, and much name-dropping of institutions and awards. The content, however, was riddled with old half-truths and some straw man arguments thrown in for good measure. The main content is summarized below, and annotated with comment and links for better info. I would be happy to discuss any of my comments here - feel free to make corrections, improvements, additions below.

Stoat: The use of Damon and Laut http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2007/[…]and_laut.php

Thanks to BG, we have a screen capture of the solar graph from the silly “Swindle” prog; I’ve inlined it. Now this is nice, because it says S+C as source. Which means we can look-up the ever useful Damon and Laut. First off, notice that the data plotted *isn’t* solar variation directly, but an index of solar cycle length. There was speculation that it might be related to solar variation, but this was never clear. Now notice that the solar graph stops in 1980. Why could that be? Look at D+L’s figure 1c: when the correct data is used, the upturn after 1980 disappears and the correlation with temperature disappears. Oops. Best not mentioned.

The Guardian: Noxious emissions Apparently I’m part of a great swindle, peddling the myth of climate change. If only. http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk[…]virocon.html

MediaLens:: PURE PROPAGANDA - THE GREAT GLOBAL WARMING SWINDLE http://www.medialens.org/alerts/07/[…]anda_the.php

Deeply Deceptive

The film presented viewers with an apparently devastating refutation of the “theory of global warming”. And these were not picky, esoteric criticisms. Durkin insisted that the world’s climate scientists are guilty of the most fundamental error imaginable: increased atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) is not the cause of higher temperature, as the experts claim. Quite the reverse: increasing atmospheric CO2 is itself the result of rising temperature.

PvM, Look I’m not trying to get in an argument. I’m not a climatologist I’m a civil/structural engineer so I have some background in the hard sciences and I can understand scientific theories. But I read and hear things that make me question today’s theories and or so-called facts.

A couple of non related things I’ve read that makes me question the experts.….….

One major volcanic eruption produces more CO gasses then all of mankind has since the industrial revolution.

In about 800 AD Vikings lived and farmed in Greenland because it was warm enough to raise sheep and grow crops. Two hundred years later they were gone. It became too cold and they couldn’t adapt but the Inuits (native Indians) used animal skins and could survive. It’s funny but I remember in high school that we were told that the Vikings gave Greenland it’s name because they were doing a sales job and trying to get people to settle the area to produce wealth. Well it turns out that at one time Greenland was warmer than it is now and that’s how it got it’s name.

The ice caps on Mars are melting, which to me says that our weather is mostly regulated by the sun.

The ice caps on earth are getting thicker (at the north or south poles or both, can’t remember which).

Nobody denies that there is global warming or that man adds to the CO gasses, but the question is does man really effect the weather to the degree that there is a problem or is the effect minimal? Is global warming just cyclical? Al Gore will not debate his views in public with anybody and all I ever hear him say as to the validity of his information is that it’s the “consensus”.

One last thing. I know it is probably impossible but it would be nice if the name calling and the political innuendos would cease and we could just agree to disagree and then try to back up our position with facts. You don’t hear physicists calling each other names or threatening each other with death when it comes to discussing quantum physics——-which by the way is science.

Les Schulz Wrote:

One major volcanic eruption produces more CO gasses then all of mankind has since the industrial revolution.

Source? I got the following data

Gerlach (1991) estimated a total global release of 3-4 x 10E12 mol/yr from volcanoes. This is a conservative estimate. Man-made (anthropogenic) CO2 emissions overwhelm this estimate by at least 150 times.

Source

and

The initial carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of the young Earth was produced by volcanic activity; this was essential for a warm and stable climate conducive to life. Volcanic activity now releases about 130 to 230 teragrams (145 million to 255 million short tons) of carbon dioxide each year.[8] Volcanic releases are about 1% of the amount which is released by human activities

Source

Les Schulz Wrote:

In about 800 AD Vikings lived and farmed in Greenland because it was warm enough to raise sheep and grow crops. Two hundred years later they were gone. It became too cold and they couldn’t adapt but the Inuits (native Indians) used animal skins and could survive. It’s funny but I remember in high school that we were told that the Vikings gave Greenland it’s name because they were doing a sales job and trying to get people to settle the area to produce wealth. Well it turns out that at one time Greenland was warmer than it is now and that’s how it got it’s name.

Also known as the Medieval Warm period. Your point being? Remember, noone is denying that there can be other important factors to global climate.

Les Schulz Wrote:

The ice caps on Mars are melting, which to me says that our weather is mostly regulated by the sun.

Ever occurred to you that there may be other reasons for the ice caps on Mars to be melting? Something as simple as the concept of seasons?

Like Earth, Mars has seasons that cause its polar caps to wax and wane. “It’s late spring at the south pole of Mars,” says planetary scientist Dave Smith of the Goddard Space Flight Center. “The polar cap is receding because the springtime sun is shining on it.”

Source

Les Schulz Wrote:

The ice caps on earth are getting thicker (at the north or south poles or both, can’t remember which).

Yes, an actual prediction of global circulation models, but you have to dig deeper to understand the larger picture of land versus sea ice, ice shelves and the impact on sea level.

Nobody denies that there is global warming or that man adds to the CO gasses, but the question is does man really effect the weather to the degree that there is a problem or is the effect minimal? Is global warming just cyclical? Al Gore will not debate his views in public with anybody and all I ever hear him say as to the validity of his information is that it’s the “consensus”.

Since it requires adding human components for models to recover the temperature records observed, the answer seems simple. Forget about Al Gore, do the hard work and find the original research.

Les Schulz Wrote:

One last thing. I know it is probably impossible but it would be nice if the name calling and the political innuendos would cease and we could just agree to disagree and then try to back up our position with facts. You don’t hear physicists calling each other names or threatening each other with death when it comes to discussing quantum physics——-which by the way is science.

Hear hear. Let the facts speak. May I invite you to walk the walk?

In about 800 AD Vikings lived and farmed in Greenland because it was warm enough to raise sheep and grow crops. Two hundred years later they were gone. It became too cold and they couldn’t adapt but the Inuits (native Indians) used animal skins and could survive. It’s funny but I remember in high school that we were told that the Vikings gave Greenland it’s name because they were doing a sales job and trying to get people to settle the area to produce wealth. Well it turns out that at one time Greenland was warmer than it is now and that’s how it got it’s name.

Well, according to Jarod Diamond, the problem the Norse had in Greenland was that they tried to live on sheep and other traditional Norse sources of food that were not suited to Greenland. The Inuit survived mainly on seals, which the Norse apparently had a cultural resistance to. Your high school was pretty accurate. Eric the Redd was a master of naming land in ways to make it more appealing than it really was. Thus we get Vinland with no grapes, and Greenland which is not green.

The ice caps on Mars are melting, which to me says that our weather is mostly regulated by the sun.

And the fact that there are many many more variables that are different on Mars vs Earth matters not to you?

Al Gore will not debate his views in public with anybody and all I ever hear him say as to the validity of his information is that it’s the “consensus”.

Science is not decided by debate. It is decided by analysis of experimental data. It is not a dodge to note a consensus on that.

One last thing. I know it is probably impossible but it would be nice if the name calling and the political innuendos would cease and we could just agree to disagree and then try to back up our position with facts. You don’t hear physicists calling each other names or threatening each other with death when it comes to discussing quantum physics——-which by the way is science.

Of course it is, as is the evidence backing the theories of man-caused global warming. You’ll notice that basically the only people in the world denying global warming are American political conservatives. So who is dealing with facts and who is making things political?

Look I’m not trying to get in an argument. I’m not a climatologist I’m a civil/structural engineer so I have some background in the hard sciences and I can understand scientific theories. But I read and hear things that make me question today’s theories and or so-called facts.

I have no background or training in engineering whatsoever, but I’m a smart guy and I saw a TV show about it once. That’s why I read and hear things that make me question the claims that today’s engineers make.

I trust you will take my opinions seriously, and be prepared to throw out everything you already think about engineering?

I remind everyone that RealClimate is easy to find, offers threads presented by practicing climatologists, with comments (and occasional replies by the thread originator(s)) by well-seasoned amateurs, novice amateurs (like me), and also the credulous…

There is a series of useful side-bar links such as the AIP series on the history of climatology.

Well it turns out that at one time Greenland was warmer than it is now and that’s how it got it’s name.

No, actually, it turns out that you’re spouting BS. While it’s true that Greenland was once warmer, there’s no evidence that “that’s how it got it’s (sic) name”.

The ice caps on Mars are melting, which to me says that our weather is mostly regulated by the sun.

Neither you nor anyone else knows why the amount of snow at the Martian south pole is declining, and yet it says to you that the cause of effects on a totally different planet have the same cause that you pulled out of your ass? Perhaps, at the very least, you should learn the difference between weather and climate.

Nobody denies that there is global warming

On the contrary, many people deny that.

the question is does man really effect the weather to the degree that there is a problem or is the effect minimal? Is global warming just cyclical?

Those questions have been answered by climatologists.

Al Gore will not debate his views in public with anybody

That’s not true.

all I ever hear him say as to the validity of his information is that it’s the “consensus”

That too is not true.

try to back up our position with facts

As Gore, as well as the community of climatologists, does, and you don’t.

Ever occurred to you that there may be other reasons for the ice caps on Mars to be melting? Something as simple as the concept of seasons?

Like Earth, Mars has seasons that cause its polar caps to wax and wane. “It’s late spring at the south pole of Mars,” says planetary scientist Dave Smith of the Goddard Space Flight Center. “The polar cap is receding because the springtime sun is shining on it.”

It’s not that simple: http://www.space.com/scienceastrono[…]11206-1.html

In the other study, led by Michael C. Malin, features at the south pole were observed to retreat by up to 10 feet (3 meters) from one Martian year to the next. The odd shapes – circular pits, ridges and mounds – were first photographed in 1999. Since then, the features have eroded away by up to 50 percent. The pits are growing, the ridges between them shrinking. Caplinger and Malin caution that a year’s worth of data does not reveal when this erosion began or how long it will continue. Yet they speculate that the features could have been created in a Mars’ decade and may erode away completely within one to two decades. “We know that the pits we see at the surface today are not very old, and that they will not last very long,” Malin said.

Oh, there’s also the fact that

Scientists have known since the 1970s that some of the ice in the north is water ice. There may be water ice in the south, too, but there is no firm evidence. Both poles are covered in a veneer of carbon dioxide ice, popularly called “dry ice” here on Earth.

But the fact that Mars is very different from the Earth doesn’t seem to stop Mr. Schulz from making the most absurd possible leap to a conclusion about the “regulation” of “weather” on Earth, a leap that he seems to find more credible than making an inference from a consensus among climatologists. But it’s not hard to see where he’s coming from; in the comments at http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=192 we read

I had just been in a discussion of climate change on a messageboard where someone had triumphantly put up links to various blogs (including one that you noted here) drawing conclusions about the cause of the global warming here on earth on the basis of these recent measurements of Mars’s south polar cap! Thank you, RealClimate, for once again coming through to provide real scientific information to counter the ill-informed conclusions emanating from those people whose goal is to misuse and misinterpret scientific results to fit their own preconceived conclusions!

That’s people like Mr. Schulz (except he doesn’t even bother to provide links).

You’ll notice that basically the only people in the world denying global warming are American political conservatives. So who is dealing with facts and who is making things political?

Indeed; Mr. Schulz writes “ I read and hear things that make me question today’s theories and or so-called facts”. Looking at the RealClimate page above, we can discern what Mr. Schulz has been reading:

These are based on observations of regional change around the South Polar Cap, but seem to have been extended into a “global” change, and used by some to infer an external common mechanism for global warming on Earth and Mars (e.g. here and here). But this is incorrect reasoning and based on faulty understanding of the data.

The “here” and “here” where this incorrect reasoning and faulty understanding are to be found are, not surprisingly, instapundit.com and powerlineblog.com. Is it just a coincidence that Les Schulz reached the same conclusion? Is it possible that he did this independently, from his own ability to understand scientific theory, rather than just parroting wingnut talking points put forth a year and a half ago? Not bloody likely.

Look I’m not trying to get in an argument. I’m not a climatologist I’m a civil/structural engineer so I have some background in the hard sciences and I can understand scientific theories. But I read and hear things that make me question today’s theories and or so-called facts.

Let’s just say that to anybody who has seriously followed the issue, you sound like the guys who occasionally show up here, saying, “I’m not a biologist, but…” and then follow up with a series of hoary creationist talking points (“Doesn’t evolution violate the second law of thermodynamics?”). After a while it gets pretty tiresome to rebut the same old misconceptions, and just as one tends to refer those guys to www.talk.origins.org, the best thing I can say to you is to go to a site like www.realclimate.org where you can readily learn about the scientific consensus on the matter, and find answers to all of the questions that you have been raising.

Al Gore will not debate his views in public with anybody and all I ever hear him say as to the validity of his information is that it’s the “consensus”.

Public debates are probably the worst possible forum for discussion of complex scientific issues. Few scientists are any rhetorical match for a skilled debater. Moreover, serious scientists tend to be very cautious in their phrasing and interpretation, and this puts them at a major disadvantage versus an opponent who is willing to just make stuff up. There is rarely enough time to cover the issues in any depth, and an unethical debater can throw out all kinds of misinformation which cannot be adequately rebutted without producing large quantities of documentation and data. Al Gore would be at an even more severe disadvantage. He’s a very well-informed layman, and has done a remarkably accurate job of presenting a complex issue, but he still lacks the scientific expertise to confront complex pseudoscientific arguments on the spur of the moment. Even if one debater is representing the overwhelming scientific consensus and the other is an utter crackpot, the audience will almost inevitably be left with the mistaken impression that “the scientists disagree,” and “the truth must be somewhere in the middle.”

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on March 18, 2007 10:59 PM.

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