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Friday, October 22, 2010

Global Warming, Skepticism, and the Liberal Mindset

I was recently part of a sadly predictable exchange in the comments of a friend's Facebook. She had posted a link to a New York Times article titled, "Climate Change Doubt is Tea Party Article of Faith." I found this phrasing ironic, since it is my experience that many liberals treat anthropogenic and dangerous global warming (AGW) as an important tenet in an environmentalist religion. (What distinguishes political faith is that the believers don't acknowledge that they rely on faith rather than proof. There are, of course, religious people who do feel the need for supporting argument, or at least are adept at producing it -- e.g. C.S. Lewis, a great Christian apologist -- but a great many believe in faith without proof as a virtue or a religious necessity.)

The New York Times article gave short shrift to the disagreement in the scientific community about the extent, causes and dangers of global warming. I ventured to say as much. It wasn't long before another commenter asked me if I had been "following the 'scientific debates' over evolution and whether or not the earth revolves around the sun, too?" (I would link to this and the following exchanges, so that readers could check context, but I don't believe it's feasible or permissible to link to Facebook posts.)

I got a bit testy, and suggested he "look in the mirror and see the elitist snobbery that keeps you from recognizing the intelligence and humanity of those who disagree with you." He replied, "I guess if I'm adamant in my deeply-held beliefs that the sky is blue, the grass is green and 2+2=4 then that's arrogant, elitist snobbery." Apparently the extremely complex and multidisciplinary subject of global climate change may be equated with the simplest of arithmetic. It speaks volumes about this mindset that its adherents can imply such an equation and feel smugly intellectual while doing so.

Below are a number of links demonstrating the ongoing scientific debate about global climate change, as well as the developing cracks in the AGW edifice. I'll preface them with a summary by my husband, the Hoosier Gadfly, a computer scientist with deep and broad knowledge in many scientific and technical areas. (He doesn't typically use all-cap words, but he's kind of exasperated where AGW is concerned.)

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Here is what SCIENCE really says about anthropogenic CO2:

(1) Satellites possess the only instrumentation sensitive and accurate enough to show a measurable CO2 effect on temperature today.
(2) Those temperatures are LESS than the predicted (from 1895 by Svante Arrhenius and still used up until the late 1980's) 1.1 C (2 F) [degrees] from doubling CO2 (we are only about halfway to the doubling).
(3) The IPCC and alarmists claim 4 and 5 degree C from a doubling based upon their models -- models such as the one developed by CRU [see links for info re the limitations of computer modeling, problems with CRU's software, etc.].
(4) The relationship of CO2 to temperature is NOT linear, it is logarithmic, which means that with around 1/2 of the CO2 increase having occurred, MOST of the effect should have already occurred. In other words, the satellites should be showing much, much higher temperatures [if the IPCC-etc. predictions are correct].
(5) There is evidence of a variety of NEGATIVE feedbacks that explain the satellite data. The IPCC, etc., posit only POSITIVE feedbacks and the data do not support that.
(6) I suppose I should throw in that ice core data that [in the early '80's] I said was "dispositive" of the CO2-temperature connection, upon further analysis showed that CO2 concentration LAGGED temperature changes by 800 to 1000 years. Causes do not follow events.

So, the fact is that, although there is no disagreement concerning [some] CO2 effect on temperature, the skeptical position is that the other side has not only exaggerated the effect way beyond what the data support, the other side has in some cases engaged in scientific fraud to make their case. (I should note that I never assumed actual fraud prior to "Climategate" - I attributed everything to bureacratic groupthink and cognitive dissonance. Scientific fraud on the scale I've seen [in "Climategate" and related events] has been a profoundly disillusioning experience for me.)

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Thanks, hon!

Here are the promised links:

100 Scientists' Letter to the United Nations on Global Warming, December 13, 2007

Letter of Harold Lewis, Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara, October 6, 2010, resigning from the American Physical Society

U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Minority Staff Report, updated 2009 (supported by more than 700 identified scientists)

"Heretical Thoughts about Science and Society," Freeman Dyson, August 8, 2007

International Climate Science Coalition website (check, among other links, the "Who We Are" link, including the advisory boards, and "Climate Change 101")

"Empirical Evidence for a Celestial Origin of the Climate Oscillations and its Implications," Nicola Scafetta, Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, 2010

Czech President Vaclav Klaus' inaugural Global Warming Policy Foundation lecture, October 21, 2010 (hot off the presses!)

Links to research articles by Dr. Roy Spencer, climatologist, author and former NASA scientist

Middleburg Community Network primer on global warming titled "Editorial: The Great Global Warming Hoax?" -- long, very detailed exploration of AGW claims, with an informal, irreverent tone combined with an enormous amount of information

Re "Climategate":

--"Open science and Climategate: the IPCC/CRU needs to take a leaf out of CERN's Book," Gary Richmond at Free Software Magazine, December 16, 2009

--"Climategate Computer Codes are the Real Story," Charlie Martin, Pajamas Media, November 24, 2009

--"Climate Change Data Dumped," Jonathan Leake, Environment Editor, Sunday Times, November 29, 2009

--"Climategate Stunner: NASA Heads Knew NASA Data was Poor, Then Used Data from CRU," Charlie Martin, Pajamas Media, March 10, 2010

--"Climategate U-turn as scientist at centre of row admits: There has been no global warming since 1995," Jonathan Petre, Mail Online, February 14, 2010

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Another shot in the foot

The Obama administration is pretty hard on feet these days -- either putting them in mouths or just shooting them. Latest example: AG Holder's declaration that the feds will "vigorously" enforce federal laws against marijuana possession and use, even if California legalizes same.

Let's see, now. What big state has hard-fought races for Senator and Governor, this election cycle?

And how important will GOTV be for the parties in those races?

And what issue might bring otherwise-apolitical, but Democrat-leaning, voters to the polls?

Just how much sense does it make to discourage those potential voters by claiming that even if they show up to vote for pot legalization, it won't make as much difference as they're hoping?

Sheesh.