Stepping off the narrow path of reality

By Phil Plait | March 22, 2010 1:15 pm

I’ve said here before that the path of reality is razor-thin: there’s only one way to be right, but an infinite number of ways to be wrong.

The thing is, that narrow path is like a single, unbroken strand, but each path of unreality leads to every other. If you can chuck reality into the dustbin, then all manners of silliness seem equally plausible. You might think that believing in Santa Claus is a lot sillier than believing in homeopathy, but really they’re the same: they’re both fantasy.

For support in this thesis of mine, I present to you an article in the New York Times about how politicians who attack evolution legislatively are now also attacking global warming. This doesn’t surprise me at all, for two reason. One is that I’ve already written about dumb legislation in South Dakota and Utah trying to resolve away climate change, resolutions filled with nonsense and ridiculous assertions that fly in the face of what we know. That’s empirical proof that politicians are willing to try to legislate narrow partisan beliefs into reality.

But the other reason I’m not surprised is that, over the past decade or so in particular, we’ve seen the far right promote fantasy over reality. Abstinence-only education, creationism, global warming denialism, defunding stem cell research, the mocking of volcano research, fruit fly research, planetarium star projectors.

It shows to me that once you buy into one flavor of candy-coated nonsense, they all start to taste pretty good. But we have to be adults here, and understand that you can’t live on candy. In fact, too much makes you sick. And that’ll make walking that narrow path that much harder.

Comments (93)

  1. Katharine

    The more ruthless side of me thinks that there should be an IQ requirement to vote.

  2. IVAN3MAN AT LARGE
  3. Gary Ansorge

    ,,,and on this very subject I submit that delusional thinking is dependent caused by a very specific type of brain damage:

    http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/123326316/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0

    “Neuroimaging studies in this context suggest that the region of the brain specifically involved in hypothesis evaluation (and therefore, according to the two-factor theory, impaired in people with delusions) is the right lateral prefrontal cortex.”.

    Very cool research.

    Gary 7

  4. Chris

    Imagine someone educated by their standards and tries to go out into the world. Oy.

  5. John Powell

    “Reality has a well known liberal bias.” – Stephen Colbert, White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, 4/29/2006

  6. Uncle Bob

    Having spent a fair bit of time looking into Anthropogenic Global Warming I’ve come to the conclusion that both sides have lollipops firmly crammed in their mouths. It’s become a game that both sides want to win, and neither side really cares about the truth of the issue. Both sides cling to their dogma, neither side willing to reason about the facts. Both sides tell lies, and fudge the data. Both sides play on emotion and fear. It’s frankly disgusting.

    Are temperatures climbing? Probably, though it has been warmer in the past, and will likely be cooler in the future too. There _may_ be a long term warming bias once you pull the signal out of the noise; but I think we’re a long way from proving it.

    If temperatures are climbing, are humans responsible? Probably in part. CO2 _does_ trap heat. On the other hand, there are many other factors at work in the climate, and it’s not likely that humans have a significant influence over those other factors.

    Aren’t we racing towards the “tipping point”? No. The climate has been here before, and it didn’t tip then. It’s not “tipping” now. Fear mongering (on either side) simply clouds the issue and makes progress impossible.

    Shouldn’t we do _something_? Sure. We should conserve. We should wean ourselves from fossil fuels. We should clean what can be cleaned. But we should do these things responsibly, and calmly; paying attention to fiscal issues as well as environmental issues. We should not ignore the issue, but we do not need to quickly invest in highly expensive programs. We are not about to destroy the planet.

    And remember, for the last million years. the climate has oscillated ten times between 10 thousands years of relative warmth, and 90 thousand years of frigid ice age. The last ice age ended 14 thousand year ago. So we’re due for a cold snap.

  7. rob

    “It’s such a fine line between stupid, and clever.”

    David St. Hubbins, 1984

  8. What really needs to be talked about is the state of science education in regards to the practice of homeschooling. The overwhelming number of homeschooled children receive the most unscientific, dogmatic religious view of science. And the number of homeschooled childen are increasing.

  9. Ok. Love your sentiment here and agree 100%. But really, did you not pause and give me a little credit? I mean, just last week I composed and entire blog post on apologetics for Santa and here you go without even mentioning the obvious influence it had on your composition of this post. We all know that you have tons of free time which you spend carefully examining every obscure skeptical blog any one of your fans may happen to put up. So ignorance is no excuse. Just know that I feel deeply hurt and wronged at this blatant omission of a reference.

    Seriously, this post is a good, reasonable, and concise summary of the problem with ascertaining reality in this country. The ability to present it without an expletive laden rant is quite a gift. I applaud you, Mr. Plait. You thieving knave.
    The Southern Fried Skeptic. :)

  10. Tim

    I sent you an email on this very topic on Friday! You should definitely read those Slacktivist posts if you get the chance.

    Good quote from the post: “Bearing false witness turns out to be kind of like eating pistachios. You just can’t seem stop after the first one.”

  11. Daniel J. Andrews

    delete comment. Too early in the week to be so cynical. sorry.

  12. April

    I’m really getting tired of feeling ashamed of my state and specifically its legislators. There are things I really like about Salt Lake City, but I wish it wasn’t in Utah.

  13. Rob

    While I agree with the sentiment of the article (rather strongly), reality is still about perception. Occasionally we do need to throw current perceptions in the dustbin to come up with the right (or better) answer.

    It’s worth noting that a lot of people who make outrageous claims think of themselves as more in line with Galileo, that they’re simply arguing against an incorrect consensus rather than reality itself. It comes down to the rest of us to just ignore them and move on.

    The obvious problem is that no scientific method is being employed, Galileo did do this. But he needed to have the ideas before finding the proof. And a lot of things we have very little proof for, but that doesn’t make string theory completely out there and whacked out.

    None of us have a perfect grasp on reality and we should be careful in labelling others in such a manner; just in case they actually have good ideas in the future.

  14. jcm

    I always find it surprising that politicians (particularly those in the far right) are always decrying government intrusion unless it serves their nefarious deeds.


    I’ve said here before that the path of reality is razor-thin: there’s only one way to be right, but an infinite number of ways to be wrong.

    It is like walking in a tightrope. One wrong move and you’re history.

  15. @ Rob- but let’s be clear, there is a difference between a concept of reality guided by consideration of the best available data vs a subjective reality guided by conformation to ideology. That’s really the heart of the problem. Maybe the reality is subjective in both cases, but the approach to determining the reality is an objective consideration of all the data in the case of science, or a subjective selection of such data as fits in with pre-existing beliefs in the case of those who manipulate findings on the basis of political or religious ideology.

  16. The more responsible side of me says there should be an IQ requirement to run for office.

  17. Jones

    Most objections are over funding, not over the validity of the subject. It’s true, Santa and homeopathy are both fantasy. But, the study of volcanoes and the study of malt-liquor usage in Buffalo, NY are BOTH SCIENCE…. but is someone anti-science if they think tax dollars should only be used for one of those two topics?

  18. Dear Phil:

    For your readers’ sake, you should reformulate your ‘thesis.’ As a matter of fact, Santa Claus does, indeed, exist. My legal name is Santa Claus; and, I’m a Monk, as St. Nicholas was many Centuries ago. I serve as a full-time advocate for the 2 million children in the U.S. annually who are abused, neglected, exploited, abandoned, homeless, and institutionalized through no fault of their own. I believe that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ, not the crass, commercial, secular spectacle it has become in many places, and that the greatest gift one can give is love, not presents. If you still believe I’m a ‘fantasy,’ visit TheSantaClausFoundation dot org and learn about the plight of millions of vulnerable children in dire straits in our great nation.

    Blessings to all, Santa Claus

  19. ITYM “The Creepy Candy Coating”. :-)

  20. Markle

    That’s a nice little metaphor Phil.

    11. Daniel J. Andrews Says:
    March 22nd, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    delete comment. Too early in the week to be so cynical. sorry.

    I’m sure it’s not. I’ll give it a try: It’s 8 AM in Melbourne people. Only 1 hour to discuss this before the walls o’ text descend upon us.

    Rev. Jim Ball:

    …deniers feel that “it is hubris to think that human beings could disrupt something that God created.”

    It’s kind of an anti-hubris really. It’s traditionally played off things like “Oh, we humans couldn’t possibly compete against those big huge volcanoes”. That and a basic misunderstanding of compounding effects. Look at the number of people who get themselves in trouble with credit card debt.

    Edit: he became #11

  21. Duane

    I’d like to invite anyone who’s not sold on the facts of evolution and global warming to hold an anvil above his foot (about waist high will do), and say to himself “the fact that scientists can’t answer every single question we have about gravity will shield me from the consequences of losing my grip.”

  22. Charlie Young

    Though I do lean to the right a bit, this article in The Economist has a pretty reasonable break down of the whole global warming issue and what the participants in the arguments are thinking.

    http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15719298

    It all comes down to taking a look at what the evidence might be saying and brushing aside your personal biases.

  23. Ron1

    @20. Duane …

    Thank you – you’ve helped me define my birthday wish.

    This year I’d like to grant all the world’s denialist one hour of time to be spent with Wil e Coyote in his quest against Roadrunner – anvils supplied, parachute not supplied. Their world view should be compatible.

  24. Uncle Bob:

    Having spent a fair bit of time looking into Anthropogenic Global Warming I’ve come to the conclusion that both sides have lollipops firmly crammed in their mouths. It’s become a game that both sides want to win, and neither side really cares about the truth of the issue. Both sides cling to their dogma, neither side willing to reason about the facts. Both sides tell lies, and fudge the data. Both sides play on emotion and fear. It’s frankly disgusting.

    Does anyone fancy a sweep-stake on how much of Uncle Bob’s “fair bit of time” was spent looking at peer reviewed papers?

    I bid “zero” for $200.

    Any takers?

  25. Gary Ansorge

    The whole point we should be making is that knowledge derived by the scientific method actually works, as opposed to other “theories” that result in nothing of value.

    Science is democratic; no special connection required.

    There may be an infinite number of theories about the way reality works but only a miniscule number actually allow us to do anything useful. I could dance around a fire all night to make it rain, but simply seeding clouds with silver nitrate could actually result in water from the sky.

    One approach works and the scientific method is the ONLY approach we’ve ever developed that does allows us to determine which theories are valid.

    Poor, brain damaged sods. I really feel sorry for them. I guess it’s not their fault someone dropped them on their heads.

    Gary 7

  26. bandsaw

    Legislating against reality has a long tradition in this country. Indiana in 1897 tried to define pi as 3.2

  27. Uncle

    “The climate has been here before, and it didn’t tip then.”

    No one says otherwise. The problem is twofold. It didnt get here this quickly before, and there were no humans civilizations before. Further, every other time previously, there was no one pulling out trillions of tons of heat trapping gases year over year in a monotonic upward trend.

    Using geologic history and the previous survival of the planet itself is hardly a good case for the future status of human civilization. This time its different and there is no reason to pretend that it isnt. No one is really worried about the planet itself, it’ll be around for a few billion years.

    True, we are doomed one way or another, by why should we accelerate it?

  28. Katharine

    “The more responsible side of me says there should be an IQ requirement to run for office.”

    That’s a good first step.

  29. Anyone who thinks that the solutions being advanced by the left for Global Warming ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^ Climate Change are anything other than a political power grab are crazy. They probably think that ‘Inconvenient Truth’ is something more than political agi-prop.

    The ‘non-deniers’ data is flawed, their predictions are inaccurate, their solutions to whatever problem actually exists would not solve the problem. If there is a problem.

    Admit it, ‘non-deniers’. You have a religion, a faith that goes beyond evidence. You use the same language as the more nutty religions as you proselytize your ‘non-denier’ faith. You are the Pope, the ‘deniers’ are Galileo.

  30. Gary Ansorge

    27. Katharine:

    It really has nothing to do with IQ. It DOES have to do with the inability to differentiate between delusions and this reality that can break your leg(as in; gravity sucks). There are plenty of high IQ folk who are delusional. There are many folk of average IQ who understand that science really works.

    Gary 7

  31. Ron1

    @6 Uncle, @28. Jim Howard

    Enjoy your time with Wil e Coyote …. Poof

  32. Hypocee

    And many more high-IQ folk with no moral compunction about lying for personal gain.

    I do actually disagree with the thesis, or at least the central metaphor, of the post – that unless you’re standing on the razor’s edge truth all manners of silliness are equally plausible merely because they’re connected. There are degrees of wrong. “When people thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together.”

  33. Jim Howard, you seem to have mixed up politics and science.

    It is true that environmentalism has been partially hijacked by morons with a misanthropic, primitivist agenda, but that doesn’t alter the fact that carbon dioxide is a strong absorber of infrared radiation.

    It is true that many of the “solutions” are feel-good nonsense, but that doesn’t alter the fact that we are releasing vast amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

    The troposphere is warming whilst the upper atmosphere is cooling, which is precisely what climate scientists predicted would happen. Attacking Al Gore will not change this fact.

  34. Brian Too

    Reality is falsifiable.

    FTR, I know I’m short-cutting here, but it’s clever and needs to be short enough to fit on a bumper sticker!

  35. Chris Winter

    Jim Howard wrote: “The ‘non-deniers’ data is flawed, their predictions are inaccurate, their solutions to whatever problem actually exists would not solve the problem.”

    Oh. Well, now that’s settled, we can turn our attention to…

    “If there is a problem.”

    Wait, what?!

    You mean you don’t know? You haven’t decided, you aren’t sure?

    Sheez, even dogmatists aren’t being dogmatic these days.

  36. STM

    Great discussion…good to see so many intelligent minds using fun and a bit of sarchasm mixed in with different interpretations of empirical data, which can be slanted…

  37. Prolix

    “You might think that believing in Santa Claus is a lot sillier than believing in homeopathy, but really they’re the same: they’re both fantasy.”

    I applaud your abuse of logic in asserting all false statements are equivalent to one another. Almost as good as Ionesco in Rhinoceros:

    “All cats die. Socrates is dead. Therefore, Socrates is a cat.”

  38. MartinM

    The ‘non-deniers’ data is flawed

    Prove it.

  39. Josh

    @35 Prolix –> Language is not the same as modal logic. Extrapolating that when Phil uses the word “same” he is talking about direct equivalence is an inappropriate interpretation. By saying “they’re the same” Phil was saying that the two propositions have the same consequent.

    “All cats die. Socrates is dead. Both Socrates and and cats are the same in that they’re both mortal.

  40. Adam

    Phil’s use of the narrow path analogy is apt. Interpreting the world around us is very difficult. But there are many paths, and we can walk down several paths at once, because we’re not being literal, are we? One can valiantly march on the path of one important truth while wandering miles from the path of an even more necessary truth.

    It took me a long time to accept evolution, for example. Accepting man-made climate change was never much of an issue because it has nothing to do with faith. I see my own people, Christians, championing a cause that is flawed. Once you see evolution, once you really grasp it, you can see it proven almost everywhere in the natural world. Much like how artists took centuries to understand the principle of perspective: Once you see it, you see it everywhere, and it’s thrilling!

    However, the believers marching off and fighting for Creationism are discrediting their Savior, and that is absolutely tragic. Is it so strange that He who taught with so many parables and metaphors should begin His book with one? Granted, it is a parable that was taken literally until we entered the modern world, but when you participate in the love of God, and when you see how it is expressed in the world around you, faith in Christ is not difficult.

  41. Jeffersonian

    So we’re at the point where Climate Change Denialist = Religious Right?
    The Climate Denialists used to complain when they were compared to Holocaust Deniers but since the latter are also Xtian Rightwingers, sounds like a fair cop to me. Full circle.

    Some 20 years ago, Outside magazine ran an article explaining why the Christian we’re anti-environment. Guess things wouldn’t have changed in just 20 years. To say “we can fix things” is, to them, the opposite of saying “God will fix things”; which they just can’t have! This conveniently ignores the fact that since God does not fix earthquakes and tsunamis (nor do anything to prevent them – but that applies logic), why would he fix the atmosphere? Xtianity is such a lazy freaking philosophy and so demeaning to mankind.

    @6
    Two fallacies present:
    “It’s a political issue and there are only two sides”
    and
    “It’s all happened before”
    As for the latter:
    There are many indicators that it has not happened this way before (among them, the given feedback mechanisms per era) but even if it had, there are now 6,800,000,000 humans on Earth.

    @12
    Exactly! (except for the thriving kinky sex underground)

    @28
    Reductio ad absurdum/false continuum
    Calling climate science a “religion”.
    Also the Hitler fallacy-
    “Since I don’t agree with you, you must be like Hitler” or, in this case, the pope.
    Also, since you suggest that all followers of climate evidence are Al Gore acolytes, can I assume your heroes are Glenn Beck and Michele Bachmann?

  42. Astrofiend

    Prolix got mad outlogic-ed.

  43. There’s a lot of human nature in people. Includes the ability to self-delude into ignorance. Thankfully, but slowly, evolution works.

  44. TheBlackCat

    Aren’t we racing towards the “tipping point”? No. The climate has been here before, and it didn’t tip then.

    Actually, it did. Google “Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum” to see the sort of effects that a a positive climate feedback cycle can have. Note that “it has happened before” is not a good argument in this case, since that event is the largest marine mass extinction since the dinosaurs died out.

  45. TheBlackCat

    There’s a lot of human nature in people. Includes the ability to self-delude into ignorance. Thankfully, but slowly, evolution works.

    “It has yet to be proven that intelligence has any survival value. ”
    -Arthur C. Clarke

  46. ET NL

    It’s rather interesting to see that countries like China, India and even Iran are making tremendous scientific and technological progress by simply leaving religion out of the labs and stick to science. I mean… even Iran.

    In my youth the US was modern. This was 30 years ago. Now it seems like a scary biblebelt right from a book by Stephen King. Seriously. Watching people like O’Reilly and Beck gives me the creeps.

  47. Robert

    29. Katharine Says:
    March 22nd, 2010 at 4:07 pm
    “The more responsible side of me says there should be an IQ requirement to run for office.”

    That’s a good first step.

    =================
    Make that Common Sense and I’ll elect you!

    Oh, and throw in a test before every Congressional vote. Question bank and number of questions variable by formula fed by number of pages and cost.

    Get an 80, or your constituents don’t get their voice in Congress today.

  48. fernando

    …basically is ‘soft thought’ and then anything goes…

  49. Loony Eachus

    If I can inject a hint of doubt that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, then maybe Phil will come round to my denialist, er I mean skeptic stance on so called global warming. I’ll have to refer to numerous denialist, er I mean skeptic websites and try to ignore anyone that tells me that I’m ignorant of science. Maybe then Phil will fall for my twaddle.

  50. Uncle Bob

    @TechSkeptic you said:

    | It didnt get here this quickly before, and there were no humans civilizations before. Further, every
    | other time previously, there was no one pulling out trillions of tons of heat trapping gases year over
    | year in a monotonic upward trend.

    Actually there have been recent warmings that have been both deeper and faster than the current one. The end of the younger dryas 10,000 years ago saw a 7 degree C rise in about half a century. That’s many times quicker than our current warming. The start of the Roman Warm Period (2200ya), and the Start of the Medieval Warm Period (1100ya) both had warming spurts that rival our current warming. In general, gradual change seems to be more of an exception than a rule.

    As for trillions of tons of heat trapping gasses, it’s hard to rival some of the vulcanism events of the last few thousand years.

    It’s not sufficient to say: “we’re here, so it must be us.” We live in a dynamic system that has experienced significant changes without the help of humans. The change we are seeing now is not really atypical in any sense other than that we are here and that we are dumping CO2 into the air. If we were not here, the current temperature spike would not be considered particularly abnormal.

    Again, I’m not saying that our emissions aren’t having an effect. But I think we have to be careful about making a type-1 error.

  51. uudale

    @#20 et al:

    As an argument against those religious folks who think it’s arrogant on the part of man to believe that we can’t possibly destroy God’s creation, just point them to their own book, the Bible, Revelation 11:18, where it says something about God destroying those who destroy the Earth.

    Did the same argument apply to nuclear weapons? Think not.

  52. Thameron

    “You might think that believing in Santa Claus is a lot sillier than believing in homeopathy, but really they’re the same: they’re both fantasy.”

    Au contraire they not the same. They are similar in that they are both flawed reality models unsupported by the evidence, however their effects are no where near the same because the decisions that you make based on those models are not the same. All nonsense is not created equal. If you believe in Santa then one day per year you sit by your chimney with warm milk and cookies hoping to see him and receive gifts and are disappointed. No big deal. You drink the milk, eat the cookies and go to sleep. If on the other hand you believe in the efficacy of homeopathy then you might very well turn to it instead of evidence based medicine for a life threatening condition and die as a consequence. Not the same at all. Flawed reality models which lead to severe real life consequences are not the same as those that don’t. No one martyrs themselves for the Easter Bunny.

    Oh, and I have a Thameronian Evolution rule that quite clearly states that – Everything Becomes Candy. Prominent Examples – Graham Crackers, Granola Bars, Television.

    As for the AGW and reality view the only issue is – does the evidence support the conclusion? If it does go with it. If it doesn’t then either abandon it or at the least reserve judgment as I have for String Theory for which there is no evidence.

  53. Tom K

    “…there’s only one way to be right, but an infinite number of ways to be wrong.”

    This is so true. And that’s why I dread it when my wife asks me a question.

  54. Avery

    The Earth continues to thaw from the last ice age. It shall not be changed.
    The Earth shall continue to thaw until we enter a new ice age.
    Fact. Period. This is truth and climate “experts” (no such thing) are liars.

  55. BILL7718

    First of all @55 (Tom K): You and I are on the same page for sure!

    Second, it frustrates me to no end that conservative fiscal ideas get labelled as crazy and liberal fiscal ideas get labelled as sane just because conservatives ARE crazy when it comes to social/moral/religious/science issues. I’m not saying this because of any posts on this thread, but I’ve found that often people who like most of what a group they associate with says also buy into ideas they may not have normally supported.

    Third, it is great timing for this thread to come up. I’m reading a book called “Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me)” that talks about cognitive dissonance and why people who believe in something justify that belief in the face of overwhelming contrary evidence. Its a fun read and is available on Kindle.

  56. Marcus

    Uncle Bob: I think you need to check your science: “As for trillions of tons of heat trapping gasses, it’s hard to rival some of the vulcanism events of the last few thousand years.”

    Ah, yes. Those vulcanism events. What is your evidence that these vulcanism events changed atmospheric concentrations of GHGs in any significant fashion?

    Current CO2 concentrations exceed anything in 800,000 years of ice core records (and according to Tripati et al. 2009, using B/Ca proxies, anything in the last 15 million years). This is unambiguously due to human emissions. Vulcanism just can’t compare.

    (now, if we’re talking _cooling_ substances, then yes, occasionally volcanoes do a decent job of shooting stuff into the stratosphere that can cause pretty dramatic cooling for a year or two…)

    -Marcus

    ps. As far as rate of warming, you might want to check the differences between local warming and global warming as to rate of change. But yes, there have been historically fairly extreme rates of change. That doesn’t make future high rates of change easier to live through, and it doesn’t necessarily mean anything about attributing the causes of the current changes – those past changes were mostly forced by orbital, solar, volcanic, or other such obvious causes, and we can look around and note that none of the usual natural actors are pushing the system in a warming direction, leaving, unsurprisingly, GHGs as the only legitimate explanation for the majority of the warming of the last few decades.

  57. Plutonium being from Pluto

    I’m waiting for a couple of consecutive years of global temperatures rising above the level they peaked at in 1998 globally (& 1934 in the USA) before I’m willing to give the AGW scare campaign any credence at all.

    Human Carbon dioxide emissions rise all the time continously & and have been doing for decades. (Incl. some fairly cool ones like the 1960′s & 1970′s.)

    Planetary temperatures seem to be, at best inconclusive – just possibly warming very slightly or, more likely, either stabilised or cooling and not rising anywhere near as alarmingly as the Alarmists would predict.

    Furthermore, geological records show that CO2 levels were much higher in the past, many times current levels, and do NOT corelate with planetary temperature.

    Q.E.D.

    The Anthropogenic Global Warming scare fails the most basic test of the scientific method.

    Why do so many supposedly smart & skeptical people here (incl. the BA) fail to understand this truth?

  58. Daffy

    Anyone who refers to AGW stance as a “religion” has no opinion worth listening to; their views are clouded by emotions and are worthless for evaluating anything.

  59. Didn’t take long for the same old trolls to crawl out with the same old garbage.

    (Yes, I understand the irony of me saying that.)

  60. Plutonium being from Pluto

    Also there is so much we don’t understand about our climate and so many factors besides just CO2 that we know have an effect – vulcanism, natural cycles in geology, biology and astronomy, solar varuations, cosmic rays and their effect on cloud formation, etc ..

    There are so very many uncertainties about the still very youthful & poorly fathomed “science” of “climatology” & a just a few clear facts

    1. It just isn’t only *carbon* that affects climate which is any case a most common and essential element. Water vapour and other gases such as methane are far more important than CO2 which is less than 1% of our atmosphere in total – let alone the human contribution to this tiny percentage. Most Co2 comes from natural sources such as wetlands and forests. (If folks are really that worried about “carbon footprints” maybe they should try to utterly destroy the Amazon and Everglades? ;-) )

    2. *If* the planet is warming it is unclear that this is actually a problem. Comparing warmer Interglacial thermal optimums (Holocene Optimum, Eemian Optimum, Roman warming, Medieval Warm Period, etc ..) with Ice Age or intra-interglacial cooler spells (Pleistocene Ice Age, Snowball Earth epochs, The Little Ice Age, etc ..) shows that life generally as well as human civilisation specifically flourishes and relishes the warmer climate. Life, the environment and ourselves all do better in the warmer periods. So are we really supposed to mess our pants in fear at things being nice & warm? :roll:

    3. *If* it is warming & *if* this turns out to be a bad rather than good thing then we will use technology and science to fix it. Not taxes, not legistalation, not going back to live miserably in caves. The recent Copenhagen fiasco proved that the environmentalists preferred solutions – taxes, laws and reversion to less “sinfully” developed & advanced rich world quality lives – cannot work and will never be adopted.

    India, China and the Developing World will never agree to cease their development & quest for their people having happy, prosperous lives. People in First World Western democracies will NOT accept massive taxes, giving up their cars and quality of life either. Environmentalists “solutions” won’t & can’t work – the sooner they face that reality and give up the better for everyone.

    IF the problem really turns out to need fixing science and technology will be developed to fix it.

    Again, this is all such fairly basic and obvious stuff I really struggle to understand why intelligent people like the BA and some commenters here haven’t grasped it and why they still cling so tenaciously to the Gore’s Bull Warming religion in the face of the contradictory science, evidence & common sense.

  61. Plutonium being from Pluto

    @61. The Panic Man Says:

    Didn’t take long for the same old trolls to crawl out with the same old garbage.

    You referring to yourself there then Panicky? :roll:

    Way to show your inability to argue for your faith & reveal how very little you actually have to contribute as usual.

    IF my arguments were “garbage” then you’d be able to point out why and where – not just name-call.

    @ 60. Daffy Says:

    Anyone who refers to AGW stance as a “religion” has no opinion worth listening to; their views are clouded by emotions and are worthless for evaluating anything.

    No – you’ve got that the exact wrong way round. Here, let me correct that for you ;-) :

    Anyone who refers to the AGW ideology as “scientific” has no opinion worth listening to; their views are clouded by emotions and are worthless for evaluating anything.

    It is now a matter of public record that Climate Change “scientists” behaved in deplorably unscientific ways to exaggerate, spin, sex-up & generally decieve everyone. The leaked Climategate emails and IPCC retractions have dealt the AGW paradigm a mortal wound and it is slowly dying as we speak.

    Those that refuse to face this truth are the *real* “deniers” of what most in the public are already starting to wake up to.

    The gig for the likes of “I’m calling this press conference to complain I’m being censored”> Jim Hansen, “Hide the Decline” Phil Jones, “Can’t find the predicted warming & its a travesty we can’t” [but Shh.. don't tell the world this -better to delete your emails instead!] Kevin Trenberth & the rest of the Alarmist club is up.
    Their credibility is gone. With good reason. And its never coming back.

    Especially as the global temperatures continue to cool or, at best, stay stable rather than rise alarmingly as predicted.

    AGW is fast becoming history – another dud scare like swine flu and Y2K and science has cried wolf enough times to be in trouble when it comes to the public taking them seriously. Next time they tell me something is going to be an apocalyptic calamity there’d better really be one! ;-)

    I just hope genuine scientists haven’t been too badly tarred by association and real science won’t be too damaged by the exposure of this worst scientific fraud of our modern age. :-(

  62. Gary Ansorge

    62. PBFP:

    “Again, this is all such fairly basic and obvious stuff I really struggle to understand why intelligent people like the BA and some commenters here haven’t grasped it and why they still cling so tenaciously to the Gore’s Bull Warming religion in the face of the contradictory science, evidence & common sense.”

    Methane release and water vapor increases are promoted by a slight rise in global temps, which is part of the positive feed back mechanism. SO ANY increase in CO2 is a de-stabilizing influence. Our civilization is very dependent upon maintaining a stable environment. We can adapt(socially) to a slow change, but moving a billion people away from flood zones, providing food for billions of people, etc, takes time, which is something we have little of in this climate change scenario.

    Gary 7

  63. Thameron

    “IF the problem really turns out to need fixing science and technology will be developed to fix it. ”

    Just like science and technology gave us – nuclear power too cheap to meter, flying cars, cars that get mileage orders of magnitude greater than those of 30 years ago, and lastly let’s not forget that cheap, clean, renewable energy source which enables us to not use the same filthy fuel they shoveled into the hungry maws of locomotive boilers when Thomas Jefferson was president. Let’s all give a big cheer for the plucky power of science to save us from the consequences of our actions. Now if only we actually encouraged people to become scientists rather than making them social outcasts for having an interest in the objective world. Gosh darn it.

    So feed, breed, shoot and pollute as much as you desire. Remember your enjoyment of life is in direct proportion to how much energy you waste and how much space your possessions are able to take up in the landfill.

  64. Daffy

    Plutonium and Gary…sorry but reasonable people can disagree. Your notion that anyone who disagrees with you is clinging to a “religion” is childish at best…and a blatant Rush Limbaugh parrot at worst. If you want to get your point across, stop using infantile hyperbole and stick to the facts.

  65. When you get a chance, take a look at this post,
    http://modernatheist.org/2010/03/20/an-atheists-essay-on-civil-expedience/
    and my instructive slogan:
    “Straight and Narrow Be The Way — but MATH is the Path” ;^)

  66. saint leibowitz

    Phil, I really think you are missing an opportunity to understand the world better.

    The controversies that you talk about are not really about science–they are about valuing things differently. Even if people were convinced about the science, they would not change their minds–they would simply use different arguments.

    People are only (mis)using the science to justify a difference in value judgement. Even if everyone agreed on the science there would still be choices on which people legitimately differ:

    AGW: Is it better to spend money on preventing climate change or on other pressing needs? Is it better to force people to give money for a good cause or better let them freely give it (even if it sometimes goes to bad causes)?

    Sex education: Some people value traditional morals more than decreasing teen pregnancy. They would rather live in a world in which teen-sex is stigmatized (at the cost of more teen pregnancies) than a world in which sex is safe, but teen-sex is common. We may disagree strongly, and we should vote our preference. But science cannot yield an answer.

    Creationism: We teach our kids facts as well as fantasy. For example, it is not really true that everyone is special and that everyone has the potential to be anything they want to be. But we teach that small lie because it leads to a better outcome. Creationists desperately want to believe that humans are God’s creation. And they want to teach their kids that humans are God’s creation because they believe it leads to a better outcome.

    Stem cell research: Would you kill a stranger to save your own life? Would you kill a blue whale to save your own life? Would you kill a dog? Would you kill a fly? We each place different value on different life-forms–people who value fertilized human eggs are no different.

    Homeopathy: OK, I can’t defend this. Those people are just idiots! :)

    My point is that on these kinds of topics, unlike everything else you write, you have stopped asking questions. And there are so many interesting questions:

    Why do we as a society have these difference in value judgement? How do they compare with other societies? How have these differences changed over time? What is the best way to reach a compromise? Does demonizing the other side increase or decrease the difference? Does compromise lead to a slippery slope? Etc.

  67. Marcus

    Plutonium: “Also there is so much we don’t understand about our climate” While this statement is true for science in general, it appears that you are going above and beyond in not understanding…

    1) For global warming, the radiative effect of the gas is what is important: so saying that CO2 is less than 1% of the atmosphere is irrelevant. Water vapor does contribute more than CO2, but methane does not (you may be confusing the GWP of methane with the total contribution) – CO2 contributes between 10 and 30% of the greenhouse effect depending on how one measures it. And most natural sources of CO2 are, in net, neutral or absorbing. The 30% increase of CO2 in the past couple centuries is almost entirely due to human emissions (see previous comment about 800,000 years of ice core data).

    2) You have confused the equilibrium state of things and the transient state: a world 4 degrees warmer or 4 degrees colder is not really much better or worse _in equilibrium than the current state of the world. But the transition from one state to the other can really suck. For example, sea level rise will suck for coastal residents. The transition of great pine forests in the midwest into savannah will not be too pleasant as great stands of dead, rotting trees and subsequent wildfires will suck. Towns built on permafrost will have to be relocated. Most of our society has developed while the climate has been relatively stable over the past 10,000 years… it isn’t clear how well it will adapt to massive changes. And ecosystems will undergo massive changes as the climate stresses on top of the other anthropogenic stresses will likely favor invasive species which, for the most part, humans aren’t as fond of as existing mature ecosystems (eg, kudzu, rats, weeds, and so forth are much better at being the “first adapters” to changed environments: only with time do new mature ecosystems with the more charismatic megafauna and flora establish themselves).

    3) Taxes _are_ a route to using science & technology to fix things. Take some economics, read up on “externalities” and “Pigovian taxation”. By adding a price for otherwise unpriced actions (dumping waste in the environment that hurts everyone else) incentives are created to shift from behaviors that create a lot of that waste towards ones that don’t. Technological fixes (solar cells, hybrid vehicles, carbon capture) become much more profitable in such an environment.

    Unless you’re talking about “fixes” like “geoengineering” which, unfortunately, may need to become an option on the table – but if you think we don’t know enough about climate in order to know that we’re causing the planet to warm, I don’t know why you’d think we’d ever know enough about climate to decide to loft sulfates into the stratosphere or make space mirrors or do iron fertilization of the oceans.

    To sum up: Your arguments == garbage.

    -Marcus

  68. Gary Ansorge

    66. Daffy:

    “Plutonium and Gary,,,stop using infantile hyperbole and stick to the facts.”

    It’s pretty silly for YOU to say such a thing, when you’ve included no statement of mine to which I can respond.

    Gary 7

  69. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    @ Uncle Bob:

    both sides

    Drop that, it ain’t science. The science question is, is science undecided on this matter?

    No, it is not, the climatologists have confirmed that GW is a fact and AGW is the science theory predicting it. Contrary to what you say there is no longer any contenders. (I believe the last one, solar irradiation as predicting the GW, dropped out last year or so.) You can read about these facts in IPCC 2007, which reviews all the science “pro and con”, and later reviews.

    Timely, there was a WISE paper published Mars 5th, that showed that now models predict the observed heat trend with 95 % certainty. That is, without competing theories as per above, noise can only add up to the signal in 5 % of the cases.

    This is considerably up from IPCC -07, which claimed 80 % certainty (and had 60 % models showing GW). It is interesting to estimate the rate.

    It is a non-linear problem of two overlapping areas of similar distributions (noise and AGW+similar noise) diverging over time. An estimate can be found by studying the area of one tail with the same area of a distribution, approximated as the normal distribution as it applies a priori to multi-source noise.

    Considering that the material is reviewed from the earlier report -01, and eyeballing the Wikipedia probit curve of how a response goes on the normal distribution I find 0.8 probit/decade. Another decade at the same rate and we will have 98-99 % certainty (see the curve), or the same 3 sigma as any physical theory is commonly tested with.

    That is the lower bound, but I give you low odds that the next IPCC review 2014 will have 3 sigma from the science, as the GW rate likely will accelerate as it has earlier.

    we’re due for a cold snap

    Not true. The reason why earlier moderate temperatures stopped has been identified with that the Indian tectonic plate, that pressed up carbonate rocks before it, hit the Asian plate and stopped ~ 34 Ma. That was the tipping point to the ice age cycles.

    Climatologists have estimated that the tipping point back to absence of ice ages goes somewhere between CO2-eq 350 to 450 ppm (2-4 K temperature increase), sustained over some decades. We are now at 385 ppm and climbing.

    Unless we scale back to below 2 K increase in a few decades we can’t be certain not to hit the tipping point. The observed increase is 0.8 K. The politicians are looking for 2-2.5 K as a compromise, but that will mean a risk.

    Here I wouldn’t even give even odds. Look how some of you in the public is stalling! We will likely tip the climate, sooner than later. And it will cost us dearly. UN prognosis are ~ 1 billion poor refugees from environmental changes 2050. Even if we don’t pay (for them), we pay.

  70. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    @ Plutonium:

    I’m waiting for a couple of consecutive years of global temperatures rising above the level they peaked at in 1998 globally

    Well, unless you partake in the science, you should – because that single year is weather (noise), not climate. In fact, climate as measured by climatologists are measured over 30 years.

    So look over a 30 year period and come back with that ‘peak’ – you won’t find it. The trend is rising.

    In fact, even though there has been a record solar minimum so absence of solar forcing which is of the same magnitude as the 5 % AGW forcing in setting the temperature, the last decade has had the 5 warmest years on record. And last year is expected to have been warmer than 1998 – the jury is still out, but expect some data soon.

    Furthermore, geological records show that CO2 levels were much higher in the past, many times current levels, and do NOT corelate with planetary temperature.

    As I mentioned in the previous comment, plate tectonics changes things. Thus, the last 2 My is considered to be the actual climate baseline, where things can correlate. This is the fastest temp increase there have been during that period, and it is the fastest CO2-eq increase ever observed.

    Your comprehension of science method fails the most basic test of the scientific method.

  71. Utakata

    If they’ve been reading anything Phil has wrote, Daffy of #66…I believe he was pointing anti-AGW position as being religious. That is, one based on faith and not really of any sound evidence.

    I don’t think Phil was referring to his straight and narrow path of reality as a bunch of false dichotomies, saint leibowitz of #67. Rather a path that we take where our minds should stay frosty, grounded in real evidence and science.

  72. Marcus

    Plutonium – one more rebuttal:

    “Furthermore, geological records show that CO2 levels were much higher in the past, many times current levels, and do NOT corelate with planetary temperature. ”

    1) Yes, CO2 levels have been significantly higher in the past (where “past” in this case means more than 15 million years ago, or long before any homo sapiens were on the scene to experience it)

    2) CO2 levels actually correlate fairly well with planetary temperature, once you take into account other major forcers such as orbital changes. I recommend to you Richard Alley’s seminar at http://www.agu.org/meetings/fm09/lectures/lecture_videos/A23A.shtml if you actually want to learn something about this fascinating area of science.

    (note that temperature reconstructions and CO2 reconstructions going back before the ice core record get much harder, so there are a couple time periods where it isn’t clear yet whether there may be a disconnect between CO2 and temperature, but so far, it looks pretty good for there being good correlation for all of reconstructed history)

    -Marcus

  73. Red Eye on FNC which regularly challenges the religion of Global Warming, featured one of your diatribes on astrology. I thought this was funny from both sides.

  74. Don Gisselbeck

    What about the unfunded externality of wars? Shouldn’t the entire cost of the two gulf wars and the cost of maintaining our fleets come directly from taxes on oil? That alone ($7-$10 per gallon?) would put a big dent in CO2 productinon.

  75. Alareth

    My favorite thing are the handfull of creationists I’ve come across that attempt to disprove gravity because if you show something scientific to be wrong, then ALL science is wrong and proof that goddidit.

  76. Plutonium being from Pluto

    @ 64. Gary Ansorge Says:

    62. PBFP: … Methane release and water vapor increases are promoted by a slight rise in global temps, which is part of the positive feed back mechanism. SO ANY increase in CO2 is a de-stabilizing influence. Our civilization is very dependent upon maintaining a stable environment. We can adapt(socially) to a slow change, but moving a billion people away from flood zones, providing food for billions of people, etc, takes time, which is something we have little of in this climate change scenario.

    But are things actually changing that fast and is the global temperature rising at a rapid rate or is this currently at best unclear?

    Look at the facts – scroll down & see this graph (the second one) found here :

    http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/GlobWarmTest/A6c.html

    which shows that Co2 is NOT a major factor at all. That source observes these key points :

    Carbon dioxide is such a small component of Earth’s atmosphere (380 parts per million or 0.038%) [lessthan 1/10th of 1% -ed.] … Most CO2 comes from natural terrestrial and ocean biologic activity, and compared to former geologic times, Earth’s atmosphere today is arguably “CO2 impoverished.” There has historically been much more CO2 in our atmosphere than exists today. For example: During the Jurassic Period (200 mya), average CO2 concentrations were about 1800 ppm or about 4.7 times higher than today. The highest concentrations of CO2 during all of the Paleozoic Era occurred during the Cambrian Period, nearly 7000 ppm — about 18 times higher than today. The Carboniferous Period and the Ordovician Period were the only geological periods during the Paleozoic Era when global temperatures were as low as they are today. To the consternation of global warming proponents, the Late Ordovician Period was also an Ice Age while at the same time CO2 concentrations then were nearly 12 times higher than today– 4400 ppm. According to greenhouse theory, Earth should have been exceedingly hot. Instead, global temperatures were no warmer than today. Clearly, other factors besides atmospheric carbon influence earth temperatures and global warming.

    @ 66. Daffy Says:

    Plutonium and Gary…sorry but reasonable people can disagree. Your notion that anyone who disagrees with you is clinging to a “religion” is childish at best…and a blatant Rush Limbaugh parrot at worst. If you want to get your point across, stop using infantile hyperbole and stick to the facts.

    I don’t think calling belief in the AGW paradigm “religious” to be “hyperbole” when that’s very much how I see it. Its just the truth as I see it. (& yes reasonable people can & do disagree, agreed.)

    Btw. I’ve never seen Rush Limbaugh’s show & am an Aussie not a US citizen. I’m not a right-wing extremist but a centrist (as independently assessed by the “Nolan chart” survey someone posted here before) who *used* to be quite left-wing. I support a womans right to choose abortion, homosexual folks rights to equal marriage and civil rights, am agnostic & hate creationism. Which, btw. I see as quite similar to the AGW faith in that both decide what their conclusions will be in advance & then change the evidence to suit their views rather than deciding – & if need be changing – their conclusions based upon the evidence etc ..

    Don’t stereotype me just because I disagree with the AGW orthodoxy here based on doing my own research on both sides notably actually looking at the case against the AGW idea via Ian Plimer’s comprehensive book ‘Heaven + Earth : GlobalWarming – The Missing Science’ debunking it. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heaven_and_Earth:_Global_Warming_%E2%80%94_The_Missing_Science )

    I am an amateur astronomer and many of my fellow amateur astronomers are also completely convinced by reading and hearing Plimer that AGW is utter humbug.

    Maybe instead of insulting the messengers & sticking to the pre-set ideological AGW line you should take a look at what the climate skeptic side is actually saying and the case they are actually making & re-consider things for yourself?

    PS. I’ve seen the other replies – thankyou all – & will respond later – have to go out now.

  77. Daffy

    Plutonium,

    Well, I see your defense of the word “religion” in this context as indicating that you are aware your arguments taken by themselves are flawed; facts are not enough—emotionally charged insult words must be used. That’s how I see it, and by your “logic” that makes it true.

    I am a musician and many of my fellow musicians feel AGW is likely to be true. Which is, by inference, evidence that it IS true. Circular logic now?

    Do you even read what you write before posting it?

  78. Plutonium being from Pluto

    @65. Thameron Says:

    [Me] “IF the problem really turns out to need fixing science and technology will be developed to fix it. ”

    Just like science and technology gave us – nuclear power too cheap to meter, flying cars, cars that get mileage orders of magnitude greater than those of 30 years ago, and lastly let’s not forget that cheap, clean, renewable energy source which enables us to not use the same filthy fuel they shoveled into the hungry maws of locomotive boilers when Thomas Jefferson was president. Let’s all give a big cheer for the plucky power of science to save us from the consequences of our actions. Now if only we actually encouraged people to become scientists rather than making them social outcasts for having an interest in the objective world. Gosh darn it. So feed, breed, shoot and pollute as much as you desire. Remember your enjoyment of life is in direct proportion to how much energy you waste and how much space your possessions are able to take up in the landfill.

    Dunno about you but my possessions are NOT going in the landfill. ;-)

    Oh & you forgot to add vaccines to cure formerly lethal diseases, new ways to grow crops to prevent starvation, computers, spaceships to the Moon and planets, the pill to stop women being victims of unwanted pregancies & enable them to control their own lives, the Hubble Space Telescope, flushing toilets to prevent disease, safer and safer buildings, cars, planes etc .. etc ..

    Why are you here on a science blog whinging about science, Thameron? How are you able to communicate and post your comments here? See the irony there? :roll:

    Nuclear power may well be one way out of trouble as may genetic engineering and, hopefully, nuclear fusion and who knows what else.

    I would certainly trust science and technology to come up with answers a lot more than I would trust the anti-life, anti-capitalist, new Green Puritans & their preferred solution of taxes, laws and denial to impoverish all our lives.

    The Copenhagen summit fiasco showed that the Green way will never be adopted and all they can do is cost Western jobs and make people’s lives miserable. China & India will reject them & thus any Western reductions will be futile and just self-destructive. Their cause is already lost.

    @ 79. Daffy Says:

    Plutonium, Well, I see your defense of the word “religion” in this context as indicating that you are aware your arguments taken by themselves are flawed; facts are not enough—emotionally charged insult words must be used.

    No, as I’ve said I came to my asessment by analysing the actual evidence after looking at both sides. Have you so? Calling a religion a religion is like calling a spade a spade. It is what it is.

    The Scientific Method says AGW is wrong, temperatures are NOT warming as predicted because of human Co2. Period. AGW is a religion – its followers are fanatical, not driven by evidence but by their beliefs, repressive and intolerant and change the facts to suit their conclusions not vice-versa.

    That’s how I see it, and by your “logic” that makes it true. I am a musician and many of my fellow musicians feel AGW is likely to be true. Which is, by inference, evidence that it IS true. Circular logic now?

    In your case – yes. ;-)

    In mine -no. :-P

    Pleraes note astronomers are aware of how science works in a way that musicians (with due respect to them) are not.

    Do you even read what you write before posting it?

    Yep, all the time. ;-)

  79. Plutonium being from Pluto

    @72. Torbjörn Larsson, OM Says:

    @ Plutonium: “I’m waiting for a couple of consecutive years of global temperatures rising above the level they peaked at in 1998 globally”

    Well, unless you partake in the science, you should – because that single year is weather (noise), not climate. In fact, climate as measured by climatologists are measured over 30 years.

    The graphs show that 1998 was the peak the point at which the Late 20th Century Warming stopped and plateauxed or started to decline. The single year of 1998 is indeed climate – a data point in a climate chart – when charted against other years and is not just weather or noise.

    So look over a 30 year period and come back with that ‘peak’ – you won’t find it. The trend is rising.

    Is it? 1998 was the hottest year on record – the peak you ask for – and that was twelve years ago now. That’s over a decade without a rise.

    (& no, I do NOT buy Hansen’s ’2005 was hotter’ figure. I do not class Hansen as a scientist anymore but rather as a partisan political activist. Besides even Hansen’s figure wasn’t more than the merest smidgin over 1998 & is now 5 years in the past. So where is the alarming warming we’re told is happening?)

    In fact, even though there has been a record solar minimum so absence of solar forcing which is of the same magnitude as the 5 % AGW forcing in setting the temperature, the last decade has had the 5 warmest years on record. And last year is expected to have been warmer than 1998 – the jury is still out, but expect some data soon.

    Okay, I’ll be very interested to see what the data for last year is especially given record cold snaps in much of the northern hemisphere incl. several record-setting cold & snowfall figures. My guess is that 2009 will turn out to be a cool year & another indicator that the warming has peaked and is receeding.

    “Furthermore, geological records show that CO2 levels were much higher in the past, many times current levels, and do NOT corelate with planetary temperature.” As I mentioned in the previous comment, plate tectonics changes things. Thus, the last 2 My is considered to be the actual climate baseline, where things can correlate. This is the fastest temp increase there have been during that period, and it is the fastest CO2-eq increase ever observed.

    Hang on, are you saying fastest *ever* or fastest in the last 2 million years there?

    2 million years is a geological eyeblink.

    Your comprehension of science method fails the most basic test of the scientific method.

    Why do you say this? Far as I’m aware and, as I understand it following the Scientific Method leads to, well the conclusion I’ve stated numerous times here – AGW is humbug.

    Scientific Method :

    1. Form hypothesis to explain event X.
    2. Test hypothesis by seeing if it makes accurate predictions through observation or experiment.
    3. If hypothesis is supported by evidence then it is *tentatively* supported & provisionally accepted – subject to further tests, ie. the science is NEVER totally settled. If not it is falsified (rejected as false) & its back to the drawing board to step 1 for a new hypothesis.

    Right?

    Now in this case :

    1. Hypothesis – AGW says that Human co2 emissions are causing our planet to warm up.

    2. Test -

    a) Observe planetary temperatures over a long period of time & see whether more human C02 emissions = hotter temps.

    b) Records kept, Co2 does not seem to co-relate with temperatures accurately.
    (See graph linked -scroll down from first link in comment # 78 above.)

    c) Human co2 levels rise constantly over many decades but temperatures peak and fall independently of that, ie. 1998 peak & subsequent cooling or stabilising of temps.

    3. Conclusion – AGW is falsified, back to the drawing board with that idea eliminated as false.

    So where exactly there is this a science comprehension “fail” please???

  80. Daffy

    Plutonium,

    If you take the time to actually read what I wrote, you will see no indication of my own stance on AGW. You jumped to a conclusion based on no evidence (although I admit I set you up)…now who is following a “religion?”

    My argument is with your style of debate. I am actually on the fence more or less…I think the preponderance of the evidence indicates AGW is real, but there is definitely room for doubt; your emotionally charged debate tactics lead me to believe you think that, too. Otherwise you wouldn’t need to resort to childish name calling.

  81. Plutonium being from Pluto

    @ 82. Daffy Says:

    .. Otherwise you wouldn’t need to resort to childish name calling.

    I do NOT think I have resorted to name-calling. Expressing things as I see them sure. But where do you think I’ve resorted to “childish name-calling”? Characterising AGW as “religion” or ideology not “science” and why I think this is something I’ve already covered in my comments # 80 & 81. The Scientific method says AGW is wrong thus believing in it despite this is religious or ideological & not scientific in nature.

    @ 69. Marcus Says:

    Plutonium: “Also there is so much we don’t understand about our climate” While this statement is true for science in general, it appears that you are going above and beyond in not understanding…

    Sorry I don’t understand what you are getting at there.

    Are you trying to say we do understand everything and there are no uncertainties or very nearly so? Or are you just saying *I* don’t understand because I keep pointing out those truths inconvenient to the AGW faith?

    1) For global warming, the radiative effect of the gas is what is important: so saying that CO2 is less than 1% of the atmosphere is irrelevant. Water vapor does contribute more than CO2, but methane does not (you may be confusing the GWP of methane with the total contribution) – CO2 contributes between 10 and 30% of the greenhouse effect depending on how one measures it. And most natural sources of CO2 are, in net, neutral or absorbing. The 30% increase of CO2 in the past couple centuries is almost entirely due to human emissions (see previous comment about 800,000 years of ice core data).

    So is that an admission from you that Co2 is NOT causing 90 -70% of Global Warming?

    Which would seem to rule out AGW at least from Co2.

    2) You have confused the equilibrium state of things and the transient state: a world 4 degrees warmer or 4 degrees colder is not really much better or worse _in equilibrium than the current state of the world.

    An Ice Age world is a lot worse and harsher for us and other animals and ecosystems to survive in than a warmer world. What sustains more life -a rainforest or a glacier?

    But the transition from one state to the other can really suck. For example, sea level rise will suck for coastal residents. The transition of great pine forests in the midwest into savannah will not be too pleasant as great stands of dead, rotting trees and subsequent wildfires will suck. Towns built on permafrost will have to be relocated. Most of our society has developed while the climate has been relatively stable over the past 10,000 years… it isn’t clear how well it will adapt to massive changes. And ecosystems will undergo massive changes as the climate stresses on top of the other anthropogenic stresses will likely favor invasive species which, for the most part, humans aren’t as fond of as existing mature ecosystems (eg, kudzu, rats, weeds, and so forth are much better at being the “first adapters” to changed environments: only with time do new mature ecosystems with the more charismatic megafauna and flora establish themselves).

    Yes, but the transition is inevitable anyhow. Climate changes all the time with or without our input. Better if its warming than cooling but both are bound to happen eventually whatever we do. It can’t be avoided and we just have to adapt to it.

    3) Taxes _are_ a route to using science & technology to fix things. Take some economics, read up on “externalities” and “Pigovian taxation”. By adding a price for otherwise unpriced actions (dumping waste in the environment that hurts everyone else) incentives are created to shift from behaviors that create a lot of that waste towards ones that don’t. Technological fixes (solar cells, hybrid vehicles, carbon capture) become much more profitable in such an environment.

    Taxes might be one route but they’re also a bad one which hurts people and costs jobs and the “cure” is far worse than the very dubious disease here.

    Unless you’re talking about “fixes” like “geoengineering” which, unfortunately, may need to become an option on the table – but if you think we don’t know enough about climate in order to know that we’re causing the planet to warm, I don’t know why you’d think we’d ever know enough about climate to decide to loft sulfates into the stratosphere or make space mirrors or do iron fertilization of the oceans.

    Yes, if it becomes clear that we have a problem *then* carefully considered “geoengineering” may well be a necessary fix. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it & when we know more and by then we will have better technology too. :-)

    To sum up: Your arguments == garbage. – Marcus

    Why? What’s “garbage” about them? Is it just that you disagree? Must be – I see no factual or logical problems in anything I’ve said.

    @ 74. Marcus Says:

    Plutonium – one more rebuttal: “Furthermore, geological records show that CO2 levels were much higher in the past, many times current levels, and do NOT corelate with planetary temperature. ”

    1) Yes, CO2 levels have been significantly higher in the past (where “past” in this case means more than 15 million years ago, or long before any homo sapiens were on the scene to experience it)

    2) CO2 levels actually correlate fairly well with planetary temperature, once you take into account other major forcers such as orbital changes.

    That’s simply NOT what the graphs and evidence I’ve seen and pointed y’all to show.

    Also those other major factors – if they were important before then what’s to say they’re not still important now?

    Don’t you think shouting “its all Co2′s fault! Co2 alone!” is rather badly over-simplifiying and focussing things a lot too narrowly? Co2 may play some role but the climate is a very complex & chaotic thing & a whole lot of other factors are at play too. Geological cycles and constant variation is at work here. Our Earth is emerging from the Little Ice Age which ended in 1850, we’ve had hotter & colder decades in all centuries, there seems to be some natural oscillation and so no, its not as simple as just “humans put C02 in = planet warms up.”

    I recommend to you Richard Alley’s seminar at [link del.] if you actually want to learn something about this fascinating area of science.

    Alright -thanks. I’ll take a look at that. And I’ll also check on Alley’s credentials and whether he’s a valid scientist or an Alarmist “scientist” activist like Hansen, Mann, Jones etc .. as well. Can’t be too too careful when checking on your sources reliability given the Climategate capers.

    (note that temperature reconstructions and CO2 reconstructions going back before the ice core record get much harder, so there are a couple time periods where it isn’t clear yet whether there may be a disconnect between CO2 and temperature, but so far, it looks pretty good for there being good correlation for all of reconstructed history -Marcus)

    I disagree but then we’ve probably seen different graphs presented by different sides.

    The fact that more Co2 emissions have NOT led to clearly higher temps certainly suggests a major Co2-Temperature “disconnect” as does the Climategate clubs *need* to alter, manipulate, hide and lose their supposedly so solid & unequivocally settled data.

  82. Messier Tidy Upper

    Australians now have a Climate Skeptics party which contested the recent South Australian state election & will be contesting the Aussie federal election coming up later this year too.

    See : http://www.climatesceptics.com.au/index.html

  83. Marcus

    Plutonium: “So is that an admission from you that Co2 is NOT causing 90 -70% of Global Warming? Which would seem to rule out AGW at least from Co2.”

    Um. No. What I said was that CO2 is not causing 70 to 90% of the total greenhouse effect. CO2 and the other GHGs (CH4, N2O), along with the H2O feedback, _is_ responsible for the majority of the warming in the past several decades.

    “Yes, but the transition is inevitable anyhow. Climate changes all the time with or without our input. Better if its warming than cooling but both are bound to happen eventually whatever we do. It can’t be avoided and we just have to adapt to it.”

    In the past thousand plus years (and probably much longer), global temperatures have not changed more than 2 degrees Celsius (see the NRC report in 2006, or the IPCC 4th Assessment report Ch. 6, WGI in 2007). We expect temperatures over the next century to increase between 1 and more than 6 degrees Celsius. At the upper end of that range, that will be more temperature change in a century than has been seen in at least thousands of years, and possibly millions of years.

    “I disagree but then we’ve probably seen different graphs presented by different sides.”

    Yeah. You believe blog-science graphs and Ian “I don’t even believe CO2 concentration records and keep using graphs that have been retracted by the people who made them” Plimer, I pay attention to the peer reviewed literature and major assessment reports.

    Also you strawman horribly: “shouting “its all Co2’s fault! Co2 alone!”” when you quote me as talking about orbital factors and other factors. Methane, aerosols, black carbon, albedo, water vapor feedback, N2O, clouds, internal variability, solar, and orbital factors all matter. But the radiative forcing increases due to human GHG emissions alone are larger than any natural variability…

    So, yes, your arguments and data are garbage.

    -Marcus

  84. Jim

    Fat, stupid and lazy is no way to go through life.

  85. Undeniable

    @ 86. Marcus:

    “…We expect temperatures over the next century to increase between 1 and more than 6 degrees Celsius.”

    Is that the current century that started in 2000 and is therefore already 10% through, or an arbitrary century starting some time in the future? If the former, the predicted increase is yet to occur.

    PS: Your closing sentence is rude and insulting.

  86. A. James

    Saying that because some people who oppose Anthropogenic Global Warming also attack evolution, is a logical fallacy known as ‘Guilt By Association’.

    http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/guilt-by-association.html

    Most people who oppose AGW do not oppose evolution. There are also many who support AGW who oppose evolution.

    Guilt by Association is a fallacy in which a person rejects a claim simply because it is pointed out that people she dislikes accept the claim.

    “You think that 1+1=2. But, Adolf Hitler, Charles Manson, Joseph Stalin, and Ted Bundy all believed that 1+1=2. So, you shouldn’t believe it.”

    The fallacy draws its power from the fact that people do not like to be associated with people they dislike. Hence, if it is shown that a person shares a belief with people he dislikes he might be influenced into rejecting that belief. In such cases the person will be rejecting the claim based on how he thinks or feels about the people who hold it and because he does not want to be associated with such people.

  87. “What really needs to be talked about is the state of science education in regards to the practice of homeschooling. The overwhelming number of homeschooled children receive the most unscientific, dogmatic religious view of science. And the number of homeschooled childen are increasing.”

    Indeed. Phil, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. When libertarianism meets reality, reality should win. Come out as strongly in favour of MANDATORY vaccinations as you do against the anti-vaxxers. Come out strongly in support of banning home-schooling. Libertarianism is killing rationality. Put a stop to it. It’s your chance to save the world. (Gee, I sound like Kirk talking to the bearded Spock, but the feeling is real.)

  88. I remember back when I was a kid I was so scared of the impending ice age, which was being forced down our throats by the media. Thankfully that never came true.

  89. dessy

    Hmmm I wonder if Plutonium Being from Pluto will come back and explain how the Arctic ice cap is getting progressively smaller and the Earth is not warming.

    Hang on – getting some pop corn!

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