Why Facts Don’t Matter

By Keith Kloor | February 21, 2013 4:53 pm

In a perfect world, every conversation we have about childhood vaccines, GMOs, alternative medicine, and global warming would be based on a set of facts agreed on by a majority of scientists working in those spheres. But we don’t live in a perfect world, so many conversations on the aforementioned subjects are often driven by emotion, ideology and politics.

For example, when I talk to some really smart friends who are opposed to biotechnology, I hear about Monsanto and how GMOs are not natural. I try to have a calm, rational, evidence-based discussion with them, but nothing I say really matters.

I have a similar experience with those who embrace unproven alternative health therapies. If they have already started dabbling in that world, then the chances of us engaging rationally in a science-based discussion are virtually nil, for reasons that Steven Novella explains here. (If you want me to save you time, the short answer is the power of personal experience.)

Sure, there are plenty of people in the respective anti-vaxx and anti-GMO orbits who point to various studies that back up their beliefs. It doesn’t matter that such research has largely been badly skewed, called into question, or taken out of context. It’s the veneer of science that counts.

The dynamics that govern most discussion of climate science are no different. Yet there is this persistent hope that one day reason will win over those who cling to the belief that man-made climate change is a manufactured issue. Matthew Herper, who covers science and medicine for Forbes, recently expressed this hope:

We have reached the point where every rational person who believes in making decisions based on science and available data should, if not fully believe that human beings are warming the planet by releasing greenhouse gases, at least recognize that this is what the data seem to suggest and that it is what the vast majority of scientists who study weather believe is the case.

He directs his plea to the last group of holdouts in the United States: Republicans. Herper goes on to methodically rebut the main objections he has heard from “conservative friends who do not believe in global warming.”

It’s good stuff. His one mistake is thinking he can have a rational, evidence-based discussion with those who are predisposed to thinking that Al Gore, climate scientists, and liberals are using climate change as a pretext to advance a political agenda. Thus, Herper will likely make no more headway on climate change with his conservative friends than I have on GMOs with my liberal friends. (There is a common denominator.) Both of us may have the facts on our side, but the naysayers have something even more powerful: “Motivated reasoning.”

Why are many conservatives inclined to dismiss climate change as a legitimate concern? On a recent post of mine that discussed climate adaptation, a reader sarcastically shot back:

Plan for preventing climate change: Embrace progressive values.

Plan for adapting to climate change: Embrace progressive values.

This is just one comment, but it is emblematic of how conservatives view climate change. People staunchly opposed to GMOs wear a similar ideological lens. That’s why facts don’t often matter in debates on climate change and biotechnology.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    did joshua win a bet with you Keith ;) ? fwiw, my personal discomfort with GMOs stems more from a distrust of large multinationals to act in a manner that is consistent with broader notions of sustainability. small is beautiful. discuss.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Skip-Nordenholz/100003613616195 Skip Nordenholz

      Only large multinationals can bring GMO to the market because of all the legal barriers to GM, if GM had the same barriers as product genetically manipulated by other means, for example you can bombard a plant with radiation or chemical to produce random mutation and sell the offspring of that as organic, then small companies or even universities could sell GMO products. Universities often create lots of usefully GM product but they are left on the shelf, for example a banana was developed that could deliver medicines useful to the third world which they current have trouble getting because they have to be refrigerated.

      • http://twitter.com/matthewherper Matthew Herper

        The GM papaya wasn’t made by a multinational.

        • Hominid

          Should we tell folks that they’ve been consuming GM foods for a few thousand years now? Nah!

    • http://twitter.com/matthewherper Matthew Herper

      So what? Why single out GMOs? I’d be way more worried, for instance, about pesticides. Yet nobody is arguing that we should have labels to tell us what pesticides we should have on our food.

      • Marlowe Johnson

        i agree. and fwiw, i think it’s unhelpful to single out GMO technology because it detracts from the other, more important issues that come with industrial scale agriculture.

      • MichaelRattner

        Ok… DDT has likely saved more lives than any other chemical invented by mankind, except for maybe bleach. The number of people harmed and killed by malaria is far greater than those who have suffered from the overuse of DDT. Of course there are better chemicals available now.

        Where are you seeing this increase in death or sickness due to pesticide usage? (Other than farmworkers, who should be better protected.)

        • dogktor

          Would you care to back that assertion with ….oh, I don’t know–citations, maybe?

        • Hominid

          C’mon, man – everyone knows it’s BEER!

      • dogktor

        If your definition of pesticides is insecticides and herbicides, then the currently commercialized GMOs have both, which is one of the reasons the consumer gains no benefit while rightly perceiving a risk. The insecticide is bt ( cry proteins) which science has shown to be sufficiently immuno-reactive
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10354369
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10353588

        as to be considered as an adjuvant for vaccines

        (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15271892
        http://www.vkm.no/dav/0dea17091d.pdf )

        thus engendering a risk of intestinal inflammatory disorders.

        No clinical studies have been published examining associations between ingestion of cry proteins and inflammatory bowel disorders to date as the pro-GMO camp is married to the hypothesis that there are no mechanistic risks to the exclusion of backing the theory with clinical data..

        As well, if your definition of pesticides includes herbicides, now that weeds are evolving resistance to glyphosate ( which there are scientific reasons to believe is not as safe as claimed–would you like links to facts?) harsher herbicides( 2,4-D and dicamba + some newer ones- “the fops” of which the only available science is a single case report of cholestatic/hepatocellular liver Injury http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2022636/
        and another I suspect men care more about-elevated risk of hypospadias http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1626392/

        If you are bored or if you, unlike Keith, believe there is indeed value in FACTS, I’ll copy and paste more links on the wonders of 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic
        acid (2,4-D) in Dows GMOs flowing through the APHIS regulatory pipeline presently.

    • ChrisFahlman

      Is your television made by a large multinational? How about your computer? Your car? The wood that makes up your house? Does it discomfit you to use all those things?

      • Marlowe Johnson

        no but then i don’t regularly eat my house…some sandboxes are ok for big capital to play in. others not so much.

        • Marlowe Johnson

          although, even then that isn’t really the source of my discomfiture. it’s not so much a personal health concern rather than a concern about the socio-economic impacts of industrial agriculture. i’m confident, nonetheless, in predicting that we won’t have a fruitful conversation on the topic.

          • jh

            I don’t understand why you believe there must , from a philosophical point of view, be negative socio-economic impacts from industrial scale agriculture.

            Industries “industrialize,” or scale up, because it reduces the cost of production. The more the product is a commodity, the lower it’s profit margin and the greater the need to scale up to reduce costs to stay profitable.

            Scaling up increases efficiency, so I’m not sure why that’s a bad thing. But it has other advantages. As companies scale up, they have more capital. That capital can be and often is used to advance technology. And that technology produces even greater gains in efficiency.

            None of this can be done by small farms.

  • http://twitter.com/matthewherper Matthew Herper

    Hey, I feel like I’m making slow, steady progress on GMOs with my lefty friends…. thanks for the link. At least we’re having fun.

    • http://dystopianpresent.wordpress.com Chris Oestereich

      After reading a pile of research on GMOs, I’ve moved from a position of precautionary principle on all counts to thinking they’re probably safe for human consumption. That said, I think there’s much still to learn about ecological impacts. I’ll follow wherever good science leads from here.

      • dogktor

        Let me see your pile of research. Having read much of it, I can tell you quite confidently that it consists of ZERO clinical DATA.
        PS…actual science doesn’t survive on this blog,

  • Nullius in Verba

    I’m not sure why you think Herper is “good stuff”. Every point he raises has been dealt with in depth here over the years.

    The standstill in global warming isn’t just because of the 1998 El Nino. Numerous alternative explanations based on plausible physics have been offered. Fourier, Tyndall, and Arrhenius got the mechanism of the greenhouse effect wrong. (As physicists like Angstrom pointed out at the time.) Mars has more CO2 in its atmosphere than Earth does. (Although I agree the greenhouse effect is the reason for the planetary temperatures.) Scientists have admitted to making stuff up, and the idea that climate scientists could get better paid jobs in industry assumes industry would take them. Al Gore tells more than a few “over-exaggerations”, but his version of the science isn’t the issue. There are no new techniques that allow them to connect weather to climate. And we’ve got photos of climate sciences’s thermometers sat next to hot aircon vents and trash burners.

    It would take mere minutes for any well-informed sceptic to demolish any of those arguments. And anyone who’s spent any time debating sceptics would know it, probably knowing all the arguments just as well. Why would anyone publish this, or pay any attention to it?

    The answer seemingly appears part way through, when Professor Wuebbles is cited, who has recently made some very strange statements related to climate. They’re trying out their “climate communication” techniques – find voices conservatives will listen to, separate the science from the proposed solutions, reduce the threat to ideological identity, figure out compromise positions, take small steps. There’s obviously another publicity campaign on.

    It’s probably the right idea, the problem with it was that they didn’t find an actual conservative climate sceptic to craft the message – it looks more like it was constructed around what a progressive believer thinks a sceptic believes, and what an orthodox climate believer would think the rebuttals were. The arguments and the way they’re presented don’t quite ring true.

    If you wanted to find common ground between sceptics and climate science, you could. You could take a lot of the heat out of the fight that way. But ultimately, you’re only going to be able to persuade by taking the issues sceptics raise seriously, and doing something to fix the problems. Clean up the science by withdrawing bad results, opening up the data and methods, introducing quality standards, spend some time presenting the entire argument clearly and accessibly in detail in one place. Throw out the bad apples. Improve the instrumentation. And put honesty over effectiveness.

    That would not only get you a serious hearing from sceptics, but it would improve the science too. People like Curry, Edwards, and Betts are showing you the way. But the activists and campaigners are blinded by their own beliefs to what needs to be done.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Skip-Nordenholz/100003613616195 Skip Nordenholz

      1998 was an El Nino year followed by two volcanoes that added a lot of fine particle to the upper atmosphere. ‘Numerous alternative explanations’, numerous explanations have been given as to why big foot hasn’t been found either, so what, the quality of climate change scepticism science is pathetic, we are talking papers that claim global warming is against the laws of physics because heat can’t move from the upper atmosphere to the lower, nobody said it was, the rate of heat lose from the lower to the upper has slowed.
      Mars doesn’t have more CO2 than the earth, it might have a higher percentage, mars atmosphere is extremely thin. ‘Scientists have admitted to making stuff up’, ‘As physicists like …’ science is a community exercise, cherry picking scientist that give you the answers you want is not science. Al Gore is not a scientists. There are plenty of people willing to pay climatologist who they think will give them the answer they want, the Koch brother have done this regularly, most recently failing when the scientist who original was a skeptic come to the collusion in a study paid for by the Koch brothers that, yes the earth is warming. Clean up the science by withdrawing bad results, why would you want to withdraw bad result, you should publish all the results so they can be studied. Opening up the data, Climatogist don’t own the data, they get the data from others under NDA and so the data is not made public until the owners of the data have finished there science. ‘And we’ve got photos of climate sciences’s thermometers sat next to hot aircon vents and trash burners’ anecdotal evidence is worthless, the quality of the data has been debated repeatedly, a climate change sceptic gave a list of the sites he considered good and the results from them only where just the same, climate change is about change, a thermometer that is located in a bad location will be consistently above or below average and will not reproduce an increase, satellite images also confirm global warming. CO2 driven global warming predicts greater increase in temp of the lower atmosphere to the upper which has come true, it predicts the pole will be effect more than the equator, that has come true increases in snow during the winter is because there is more water moister in the air. There are conservative climate scientist who accept global warming google it. ‘issues sceptics raise seriously’ the issues raised by sceptics are repeatedly answered, they just ignore the answer and continue to raise the same issue with out address why the answers they have gotten are not acceptable.

    • Keith Kloor

      NiV,

      Who has dealt with Herpers’s points in depth? You? And by that, do you mean in comment threads. Or do you mean other climate skeptics at their various blogs?

      What I see from your comment is a mishmash of sweeping statements, grandiosity (“It would take mere minutes for any well-informed sceptic to demolish any of those arguments”) and rank speculation about motives (which I’ve noticed you tend to fall back on).

      To reaffirm a central point of my post, the issue isn’t how well-informed climate skeptics are–I’m sure many are! The issue is how their particular worldviews influence the information they choose to agree with and that they don’t.

      I realize that is a sore subject for such self-styled rigorous-minded climate skeptics such as yourself, BH and Watts. A shame you guys are in denial over this. As I’ve said before, if climate skeptics were true skeptics, I’d see ample evidence of it at the most popular climate skeptic blogs. Instead, I see the opposite.

      I’d find you a more credible voice if you emulated someone like Mosher, who is not afraid to call bs on anyone in the two camps at the opposite ends of the spectrum.

      • Tom Scharf

        This just seems like a convenient excuse (errrr…..I mean social science) to shut down any debate with someone who has a conservative viewpoint. You are trudging through the same gutter of not debating the facts, but instead debating the politics of the opposing side.

        The proposed policies to combat global warming are legitimately viewed through one’s political perspective. Almost all proposed solutions from the left embrace a progressive view of centralized government control of the energy sector and taxes, subsidies, and more taxes. These policies would not even appear to be effective in tackling the problem. And yet you are surprised these aren’t embraced by the 47% of people who voted Republican?

        Motivated reasoning is a draw. Both sides have it in spades. It’s barely worth discussing.

      • Nullius in Verba

        Keith,

        The points have been dealt with multiple times both here in comments and at other climate blogs, by me and others. You rarely if ever actually address any of the actual scientific issues in the posts themselves.

        And there is a certain grandiosity in declaiming on “Why Republicans should embrace the reality of Climate Change”. As he says: “We have reached the point where every rational person who believes in making decisions based on science and available data should” believe as we do. And he tells you what he believes, and why all the reasons he thinks Republicans don’t believe don’t matter, and misses half the story.

        The issue, as you say, isn’t about who’s science is right. It’s about how the worldview of liberals influences the information they choose to agree with too, but liberals don’t see it, and persistently believe they’re immune to Republican-style irrationality, that all their beliefs are true, and their own worldview does not distort their own selection of facts to believe.

        Every such appeal to end the polarisation and return to rationality always goes on to list the standard liberal position as the ‘rational position’ we are all to return to. Being liberals, you obviously see liberal positions as rational, but you never seem to get that conservatives don’t. Conservatives think liberals are irrational.

        The guy lists a bunch of conservative climate tropes, and responds with his own list of shallow liberal tropes in return, most of them wrong. How is this supposed to persuade anybody? Why is this “good stuff”?

        It is an improvement in one way, in that it uses some of the suggestions pf the ‘science of science communication’ to reduce the adversarial element slightly. But they still need to work on the factual content.

        • jh

          The issue, as you say, isn’t about who’s science is right. It’s about how the worldview of liberals influences the information they choose to agree with too, but liberals don’t see it, and persistently believe they’re immune to Republican-style irrationality, that all their beliefs are true, and their own worldview does not distort their own selection of facts to believe.

          Thanks, NiV, that’s bang on. I thought it was worth highlighting.

  • Zola

    fwiw, I recently was in a conversation with a man who stated he “didn’t believe” in global warming. I was shocked–this is a smart, successful businessman. I tried a different tack and first joked that I didn’t know that global warming was up there with fairies and Santa Claus, but then I said “Even if emissions aren’t causing global warming, do you REALLY think we should be spewing that crap into the air?”

    Astonishingly, he said “No, we shouldn’t” and we got into a good discussion on alternative energy sources.

    This might be a better way to approach a climate skeptic

    • ChicagoJohn

      But doesn’t that kinda pop the bubble of the theory that the people who disbelieve in AGW are solely self-interested?

      And doesn’t it lend credence to the idea that those of us who are highly skeptical of AGW aren’t automatically for pollution?

      • Zola

        And exactly what is wrong with that? I personally don’t think that scientific fact should be a matter of belief, but I’m a pragmatist. It’s more important that people get on board with the idea that we shouldn’t be burning massive quantities of fossil fuels, for many reasons, not just global warming.

        If you can’t reason with someone, you need to try a different tack if you want to get past debate and into any kind of productive action.

        • jh

          Well, I’m not like your friend. Fossil fuels have generated massive benefits for society. I’m not interested in replacing them just because they produce CO2. Now, if a cheaper technology comes along, great. But I don’t share your certainty that AGW is a looming catastrophe. In fact, I’m pretty sure it ain’t, and the science is increasingly turning in that direction.

          • http://profiles.google.com/staraffinity Martin Bergström

            “n fact, I’m pretty sure it ain’t, and the science is increasingly turning in that direction.”

            Is it? Where can I read more about that?

  • Tom C

    Keith and Mr. Herper –

    Would both of you kindly stop using the strawman of the person who “doesn’t believe” in global warming. The issue is whether there is cause for alarm. Al Gore and a select group of climate scientists most certainly do advance their political agendas by falsely claiming alarm. Even James Annan, a pretty committed “Team” member recently said as much about the IPCC. The facts are on the side of us sceptics, who continue to claim, on the basis of the science, that there is no cause for alarm.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Etienne-Manderscheid/4301233 Etienne Manderscheid

      Maybe alarm is strong word. How about: a modern society should be able to manage its externalities on the basis of scientific evidence? Clearly were having trouble with that. I’m not saying we’re all going die. Ecosystems will be disrupted, desertification will intensify, people will be displaced, food prices will increase and unstable regions will further be destabilized. We don’t really know how bad it’s going to be, but it’s not going to be good. We also know there no reversing it over the near-term. Don’t you think we should get our act together and work with other nations to limit our carbon emissions and invest in alternative energies? Cap and trade, something like that? How is it that the richest country on earth can’t afford to work towards a better future for the planet?

      • jh

        “We don’t really know how bad it’s going to be, but it’s not going to be good.”

        Correction: We don’t know how it will be, good, bad, or neutral.

        Whatever the outcome, one thing is clear. For climate change activists, climate change is a religion, not a science.

  • Tom Scharf

    Wow, I’m honored to have my comment highlighted. A brilliant insight I must say, ha ha.

    You are conflating belief in global warming (yes, the globe has warmed, I admit it, I guess that makes me an independent) with being a critic of attribution, climate model projections, and of the proposed policies to combat said global warming. That is where the debate goes off the rails.

    • Hominid

      The most reliable data on average global atmospheric temperature began in 1979 with satellite recordings – the data prior to that were collected in a methodologically unsound way or extrapolated (they don’t actually exist). The data 1979 to 2012 indicate NO trend either upward or downward – Earth’s average atmospheric temperature HAS NOT WARMED.

      The models that predict global warming are immature and seriously flawed – they fail to take into account several relevant variables.

      There has been no empirical evidence that links human activity to global temperature change – it’s a surmise.

      One of the tricks the global warming types have been using is to try and link warming to evolution and other well-established scientific theories by writing essays like the one above. It’s a cheap card trick – much the same as claiming that commonplace weather events are unprecedented and attributing them to warming.

      • Buddy199

        Is there a global warming trend? How accurate are temperature data collected 100 years ago at primitive weather stations or inferred from from ancient tree rings or ice cores? And how do we measure “warming”? Do we use raw yearly data or, since climate refers to time spans of at least 30 years, should we use 5, 10 or 30 year moving averages? From the majority of the data it does seem to me that global warming is a real phenomenon; in light of the above I emphasize “seem”. Of course, if you torture teh data enough it will confess anything you want it to. Why, how and especially what to do about it are still open questions.

        • Hominid

          Keep in mind that the Earth’s average temp constantly fluctuates over ANY timeframe you care to examine – like the stock market. If the Earth warms for a decade or a century, that does not imply it will continue to do so tomorrow. Even trend lines are useless for prediction because they too change direction. Climate ‘science’ is too immature – like cosmology – to accurately predict the future.

          Science has faired poorly at dealing with hypercomplex dynamic phenomena – like climate, ecosystems, brains, societies – in large part because there are too many interactive variables many (or most) of which are poorly understood (or even unknown) and cannot be controlled in experimental designs.

          • BBD

            Keywords not understood by the early primate above:

            – energy balance

            – radiative forcing

            – change of

          • Hominid

            Perhaps you could invest your post with some coherence??

          • BBD

            ‘Climate responds to the net change in forcings over time.’

            Happier now?

          • Hominid

            Absolutely happier now that YOU have made a pronouncement, hippie . . . even if it doesn’t make any sense.

          • BBD

            That’s the sound of knuckles dragging ;-)

          • http://twitter.com/erbbrian Brian Erb

            I love the tacit assumption that if one believes in global warming (an EMPIRICAL question!) that one must be assumed to have a whole host of other ideologica commitments. Again, this is projection by the denier crowd – since their empirical beliefs are captive to pre-existing ideologies, then everyone must be. Liberals do this too, of course, in areas like hman biodiversity, evolutionary psychology, etc and conservatives are eagle-eyed in perceiving it while being utterly blind to when they do it.
            Why would the empirical facts about global warming have anything to do with a person’s political commitments or orientation toward big government? How hard it is to get these are separate questions?

      • BBD

        The most reliable data on average global atmospheric temperature began in 1979 with satellite recordings – the data prior to that were collected in a methodologically unsound way or extrapolated (they don’t actually exist). The data 1979 to 2012 indicate NO trend either upward or downward – Earth’s average atmospheric temperature HAS NOT WARMED.

        Rubbish.

        • Hominid

          You make a positive assertion that the Earth’s average atmosphere has warmed since 1979. Now provide the data.

          • BBD

            Raw data for graph linked above here.

          • Hominid

            LOL

          • BBD

            The only LOL I can see is watching some knuckle-dragging buffoon state that:

            The data 1979 to 2012 indicate NO trend either upward or downward – Earth’s average atmospheric temperature HAS NOT WARMED.

            Then watch them implode in the face of the evidence demonstrating that they are *completely wrong*.

            You do realise that the graph compares satellite and surface temperature reconstructions, don’t you?

          • Hominid

            Stop weaseling, BVD – your own citation refutes your position. There has been NO significant trend in mean temp. You stupid hippies deny reality because you’re perverts who want to believe want you want to be true actually is. Liberalism should be a neuropsychiatric diagnosis.

          • BBD

            ‘BVD’

            We’ve met before, Mr Sock! What were you calling yourself last time? I can’t remember.

            The rest of what you say is simply crazy. Have you actually looked at that graph yet? Or are you very, very drunk perhaps?

      • StarCityFan

        Wrong. Even the satellite data shows warming since 1979: http://www.drroyspencer.com/2012/12/uah-v5-5-global-temperature-update-for-november-2012-0-28-deg-c/ (and this is from a skeptic site).

        • Hominid

          Did you read your own citation? It shows accurately that for the past 16 years the trend has been ZERO, dummy. Without error bars (they’re not given), a trend line cannot be computed, but it obviously cannot exceed 0.2 degrees. The Hominid stands by his assertion!

          • StarCityFan

            You didn’t say anything about the last 16 years (conveniently since the biggest El Nino of our lifetime). Your claim was that there’s been no warming since 1979 (33 years). The graph clearly shows there’s been 0.5 degrees of warming since then.

          • Hominid

            0.5 degrees over any time period is nothing but normal fluctuation, dummy. What’s the baseline and how is it selected? Lemme give a clue – there isn’t one, it’s arbitrary! What’s the standard deviation from the mean for the data points (means) presented on the graph? They’re not given because they obliterate the tiny 0.5 variation in the graph. You dupes are pathetically ignorant – you’ll believe anything that supports your fantasies.

          • BBD

            The amplitude of *short term* natural variability is not the same thing as the multi-decadal trend. This is a serious confusion.

            The baseline stuff is irrelevant. For example, in the graph I did for you earlier, everything is re-baselined to 1981 – 2010, as used by UAH. This simply aligns the curves for easy visual comparison. I could just have easily re-baselined to 1951 – 1980 as used by GISTEMP but the result would look exactly the same.

            Remember that the choice of baseline doesn’t make any difference to the trend.

          • Hominid

            Where are the error bars? There is NO statistically significant trend. The variation is (1) miniscule and (2) well within the range of normal variation for average atmospheric temps. There is NO EVIDENCE of warming!

          • BBD

            Hominid

            For someone claiming serious scientific credentials you are oddly clueless.

            The trends for HadCRUT4, GISTEMP, UAH (TLT) and RSS (TLT) from 1979 – present are all statistically significant:

            – GISTEMP trend: 0.159 ±0.047 °C/decade (2σ)

            β=0.015941 σw=0.00069269 ν=11.606 σc=σw√ν=0.0023599

            – HadCRUT4 trend: 0.155 ±0.043 °C/decade (2σ)

            β=0.015536 σw=0.00064367 ν=11.093 σc=σw√ν=0.0021438

            – UAH (TLT) trend: 0.139 ±0.073 °C/decade (2σ)

            β=0.013913 σw=0.00089044 ν=16.855 σc=σw√ν=0.0036557

            – RSS (TLT) trend: 0.132 ±0.072 °C/decade (2σ)

            β=0.013173 σw=0.00087565 ν=17.050 σc=σw√ν=0.0036157

            You are completely wrong on all four counts.

            Buffoon! Again!!

            This is not WUWT. I think you might be happier spouting your rubbish elsewhere.

          • BBD

            And since you clearly failed to understand a very basic point the last time around, I am obliged to repeat it:

            The amplitude of *short term* natural variability is not the same thing as the multi-decadal trend. This is a serious confusion.

            You are so far out of your depth it’s not even very funny.

      • http://twitter.com/erbbrian Brian Erb

        I take it you have a pre-existing dislike for government intervention so your emotional tail is wagging your rational dog in that anything that might given an excuse for bigger government is defacto not true? Science and your ideological political commitments should be separate questions. Why can’t it be that both humanity is causing global warming AND that bigger government is problematic. Find me one global warming denier who isn’t also a “small government” conservative – these should be completely separate issues. Reminds me of vegetarians who don’t eat meat for moral reasons, but will also insist it is unhealthy – completely separate questions.

        • http://twitter.com/erbbrian Brian Erb

          Global warming deniers show their cognitive processes when they act like those that believe in global warming have a primary agenda of big government and that is just a way of getting there. By assuming this, you are demonstarting how global warming deniers think – the pre-existing ideology frames interaction with evidence. This isn’t how science works because it has a process that weeds out bias. It is the only game in town for finding truth.

          • Hominid

            The fatal flaw i your logic is that you have it backwards. The question isn’t how science ‘works,’ it’s how Leftists ‘work.’ Man-made global warming is politically driven, not supported by rigorous science.

          • http://twitter.com/erbbrian Brian Erb

            This is how the right works – anti-global warming ideology is also politically driven. Obviously! You don’t like bog government or a very expansive definition of the public good, global warming might be construed as problematic to that view, ergo it can’t be true. No different than religious evangelicals denying evolution – it contradicts their ideological commitments. No different than liberals who defact attack any science that might indicate innate mean gender difference or godforbid ethnic differences. The ideology drives interaction with the evidence. All of these things may be true or false, but pre-existing ideological commitmens being such a strong predictor of what a person believes about an empirical fact shows the cognitive problem.

          • Hominid

            You just made my case – global warming is NOT a scientific issue – it’s apolitical issue.

        • Hominid

          I have no ideology – being a scientist, I’m an empirical pragmatist. I’m also not guided by my emotions.

          • BBD

            Spare us the self-aggrandising nonsense please. The rest of what you post is painful enough.

          • Hominid

            PhD from MIT, MD from Harvard Med. What are you’re creds, hippie?

          • BBD

            I’m the King of Old Siam.

            You utter, utter buffoon.

            ;-)

          • Hominid

            That’s what I thought.

            Down to screechin’ like a lil girl now are ya BVD.

          • BBD

            No, wait! I’ve changed my mind! I’m a PhD from MIT with an MD from Harvard Med!

            Yeah! That’s right. See – I’m just as clever and well-qualified as you are!

            Buffoon!

          • Hominid

            Except that mine are real – yours are imaginary, Lib. Getting the idea yet?

          • BBD

            Q:

            How can a real PhD (and and MD too boot – woo!) misunderstand a straightforward graph as you have done not once, but several times?

            A:

            They can’t! You are a bluffoon!

          • Hominid

            It’s you who can’t read the graph, bozo – not mention what more is needed. I’ve wasted enough time – I’ll sign off now.

          • BBD

            On reflection, I think tonight I’ll be a full professor of Quantum Bogodynamics at the University of Gondwanaland.

          • Hominid

            There ya go – there’s no limit to your fantasy world! Just stay out of reality.

          • BBD

            Witness the power of the ‘sceptical argument’!

  • Sam Gilley

    I don’t think that the argument is whether or not climate change exists. I don’t even think the argument is with what is causing global warming. The argument arises when someone asserts that the American government can some how fix the problem of “Global” warming by taxing American car owners or power companies. How does a tax cool the planet? How long would taxes and government policies take to cure our planet? To what degree would it be cured? In 10 years will everything be back to normal and then the taxes and policies will go away. 20 years? 100 years? Never? Someone says there’s a problem and that we need money to fix it, but there has been no word on how long it will take or what it will cost. Its just a request for a blank check in perpetuity without an idea of the good it will do.

  • jh

    Keith,

    The climate activist lobby has relentlessly pounded this equation into the public mindset:

    Climate Change = Catastrophic Climate Change = Massive Federal Regulatory Intervention
    The common refrain is that 97% of climate scientists believe in global warming, so we need to stop burning coal, oil and natural gas immediately to stop the planet from frying tomorrow!

    Not much room for compromise there!

    If I were a Republican I’d avoid the topic altogether and work from a different angle: the budget. And – surprise! – that’s exactly what Republicans are doing.

    But the beauty of this circumstance is that it shows once again how the climate activist lobby’s all-or-nothing positions have been destructive to their own goals. They’ve achieved virtually nothing in 25 years. They’re as pathetic as the Republicans.

    It’s raining or snowing across the entire severe-drought region today. If Obama wants to take credit for saving the climate, he better move fast.

  • RagnarDanneskjold

    Climate change is a whole separate issue. It is really political in nature, not scientific. Sure there are climate change skeptics, but even if you agree, well now you get economists disagreeing on the impact, which includes those who see it as a net positive. Don’t get started on geo-engineering. And even the climate change crowd is starting to say that all the alarmism has backfired.

    Climate change is an example of abuse and politicization of science. It is funded by politicians and used to push a political agenda. Climate change advocates aren’t calling for an immigration halt from less developed countries, and they aren’t calling for development of thorium reactors. In fact, all their energy solutions produce far less energy than will be needed in future, while hiking taxes to slow the economic growth. So it’s clear the agenda is about something other than protecting the planet while keeping economic growth strong. In fact, given that taxes won’t do much and will do nothing to slow emissions growth from China, India, Indonesia, etc., it looks like a giant scam to many people.

    Now, vaccines, GMO, flouride, etc. are all more interesting because the main complain is science based and all are involving taking things into our bodies.

  • ESNYC80

    Your diagnosis of why conservatives often refuse to believe in climate change is right, but part of the problem is that liberals often use climate change to advance a political agenda. The agenda and climate change are both real; some on the right conflate the two in opposition.

    Pro-growth advocates should instead point to the fact that rich countries better handle climate issues. The Aral Sea was destroyed by poverty – poor countries will destroy the environment to feed the hungry while rich countries can afford to worry about long term climate. Carbon sequestration, conversion of CO2 into nanotubes, graphene, and other useful products, and new methods of energy generation will lead to clean energy and the ability to regulate climate. This will all be useful when we begin to colonize other planets, as we can learn about terraforming right here at home. Climate change is real, but if we cannot discuss it without politicizing it, those of us who believe in free markets must begin to counterpose a pro-climate, pro-growth agenda.

  • ESNYC80

    Our universe, our planet itself, and our own activities all pose threats to the climate and our survival. We should pursue solutions to all three threats, rather than focusing on taxes and regulations that will only ineffectively address one climate threat. CO2 is a trace gas. Humans contribute to global warming, but it is more complex than CO2, and emitting slightly less of it will not make it go away. 2nd millennium technology caused the human component of this problem and 2nd millennium governance will not solve it. 3rd millennium technology can and will. The climate changed many times before the anthropocene, and if it reverted to the extremes of hot or cold it experienced in the past it could destroy civilization. We should develop global climate control so we can correct both those problems we cause and those beyond our control, such as those that could arise from the impact of a large asteroid, a megavolcanic eruption, or a massive solar flare. A carbon tax that only slightly decreases the rate at which CO2 levels increase is as effective as handing out toilet paper to save the lives of soldiers being killed in trench warfare. It does not adequately address one minor problem as it fails to even acknowledge more severe threats.

  • Buddy199

    One of the main reasons why conservatives are skeptical of the hyster-media, quasi-religious fervor and rigid group think of AGW proponents is the solution they offer:

    Larger and more intrusive government, more regulations and of course more government spending and higher taxes.

    Oddly, the same solution liberals offer for poverty, hunger, poor public education, gun violence and presumably male pattern baldness.

    To say that climate change is the latest vehicle that liberals have hitched their wagon to to advance their ideological agenda is far from fringe paranoia.

    That said, is global warming a real scientific phenomenon? It does seem so. Is it primarily driven by human activity? No one can accurately quantify that until there is a more thorough understanding of the interaction of ocean currents, solar irradiance, cloud physics and other factors. Is global warming causing extreme weather? The objective scientific consensus is No. Should we completely upend our industrial society based on a theory is far from fully fleshed out? Conservatives say no, liberals say yes.

    • jh

      Quasi-religious? :) I’d say climate change activism is a full-scale religion, complete with prophets preaching morality and doom.

      • http://twitter.com/erbbrian Brian Erb

        Unlike conservatives worship of the “free market”. I love how conservatives accuse liberals of doctrinaire beliefs, bur remain silent at the silliness of the source of the metaphor – actual religion. Anyone who thinks God engages in pagan theatrics by rising people from the dead to save sins has nothing meaningful to say in empirical questions.

        • jh

          Hilarious.

          Anyone who thinks the planet is doomed because the hubris of man will cause Gaia’s health to collapse also has nothing meaningful to say on empirical questions.

          Anyone who thinks their health can be affected by whether or not a gene was bread into or inserted into an animal or plant has nothing meaningful to say on empirical questions.

          There’s plenty of religion on both sides of the aisle.

          • dogktor

            Reflection:

            Anyone engaging in rhetoric while eschewing the scientific method, involving tons of tedious empirical DATA, can’t call themselves a scientist. You can argue philosophically, morally, ethically, but what you can’t do is pretend to be a scientist, while discarding the scientific method.

    • http://twitter.com/erbbrian Brian Erb

      Ah, but isn’t the flipside of this that conservatives deny an empirical fact (evolution, global warming) because they are afraid of some ideological solution it might lead to? Separate questions!
      Conservatives are tone deaf to the idea that the public good/social cohesion underwrites all freedoms and nitpicking over mostly consumer rights, while giving freedom in the short-run, might lead to less freedom in the long run. Of course, “social issues” conservatives seem able to perceive this in moral issues, but can’t see the same thing might be true in economic ones. Perhaps the arms race of “freedoms” involves added costs for all, but benefits for none as most status/wealth concerns involve “realtive” rather than “absolute” gains.

      • Buddy199

        Socialism has been tried. It does not work unless carried on the back of a strong capitalist system. “Too big to fail” crony capitalism doesn’t work either although it continues as government policy to this day. The public good is best served by a thriving economy, not by a pauperized citizenry fighting over government scraps in the name of “social justice”.

        • http://twitter.com/erbbrian Brian Erb

          But what does any of that have to do with whether human caused global warming is true?

      • cken

        There are empirical facts to suggest both evolution and global warming may be true. However, it’s like a puzzle with only a small fraction put together and not enough empirical facts to get an idea of what the whole picture looks like.

        • http://profiles.google.com/staraffinity Martin Bergström

          Definitely not any puzzle peices missing for evolution. What kind of evidence do you want to “get the whole picture?” Also, if we bring up milions of years of fossilized fuel and keep pumping the gases burning this fuel it into the atmosphere 24/7, isn’t it reasonable to think this eventually affects the climate on the planet?

          • cken

            Start with inter-genus evolution and reproduction of primordial soup. It is equally “reasonable” to think it doesn’t effect the climate.

  • ESNYC80

    The left often disregards science when it doesn’t help promote scare tactics in pursuit of a progressive agenda. While global warming is real, it will not increase the frequency or intensity of severe storms, yet I see such a fear promoted all the time, often by otherwise reputable scientists. That must be politics, as scientifically it makes no sense for 2 reasons:

    1) From the perspective of thermodynamics, storms are essentially heat engines, and the winds and movement are forms of “work”. Storms are caused by temperature differentials between two heat reservoirs, in this case between the warmer air and water around the equator and the cooler air and water at the poles. The amount of energy available for this engine is equal to the differential between the two thermal masses. Warming is happening much faster at the poles, decreasing this differential and thus the available energy, and therefor decreasing storm frequency and intensity. This will become more and more true as there is less polar ice and the less reflective land and water at the poles can absorb more solar energy rather than reflecting it into space, further reducing the delta between the equator and poles and further reducing the amount of energy available to do “work” in the form of storms.

    2) The efficiency of a heat transfer engine, the amount of “work” it can do given the amount of energy available (the temperature delta), is dictated primarily by the temperature of the “cold” side. The simplified equation is: Efficiency = 1- absolute temperature of cold side/absolute temperature of hot side. All else being equal, a planet with an 80 degree kelvin temperature delta between its equator and poles (about what ours is) will have more severe storms when the overall average temperature is lower, because the temperature of the “cold” side is the numerator, and the closer it is to 0, the more efficient the “engine” will be in performing “work” like hurricane winds and coastal flooding. This is why the biggest and most powerful planetary storm in the solar system is the Great Red Spot on Jupiter, despite the fact that Jupiter is far colder than either of our poles.

    Thus, as global warming progresses, the temperature delta between the equator and poles will shrink, making less energy available to perform work in the form of a storm. Not only will there be less energy, the efficiency of storms in converting what energy does exist into storms will diminish because the poles will be warmer. There will be more rainfall – that much is true – because evaporation will increase, but there will be fewer and less severe storms as global warming progresses.

    Those who claim storms will be more frequent and intense are directly refuted by the second law of thermodynamics. They are either ignorant of or actively promoting junk science in pursuit of an agenda, but clearly those using storm-intensity scare tactics to promote progressive politics are more interested in politics than science, because the science says the storm claim is absolutely wrong.

    • http://twitter.com/erbbrian Brian Erb

      This is too silly to be believed. The second law applies to a CLOSED SYSTEM. Hmm, if only the earth had a giant outside source of energy which changing conditions on the earth could increase the retention of. Hmm, what might that thing be?
      Accoording to your logic, solar panels shouldn’t work. The hood of my car shouldn’t heat up in the sun (it isn’t doing so at th expense of other parts of the earth!)
      You remind me of evolution deniers who say the second law makes evolution impossible (as if no scientist had thought of this possibility) – they accept a dumb argument on its face because they already have a belief that has nothing to do with evidence and everything to do with ideology that pre-existed evidence.

      • jh

        The difference being that acceptance/denial of evolution doesn’t cost anyone anything, while the activist position on climate change is a very, very expensive proposition indeed.

        • http://twitter.com/erbbrian Brian Erb

          But what does that have to do with whether it is true or not? Isn’t it conceiveable that a person can believe it is true, but also share a conservatives apprehension at an activist slate of solutions?

  • harrywr2

    it is emblematic of how conservatives view climate change

    Sorry Keith…it is emblematic as to how conservatives view progressive problem identification and solutions.

    I.E. Everything is a crisis that can only be solved by embracing progressive values…

    We can just look to Germany

    1) Climate change is a crisis

    2) Solve by closing nuclear plants and replacing with coal and solar power.

    3) Declared problem solved

    A rational person, examining the solution would conclude that climate change was not the problem…nuclear power was the problem.

    Here is the Sierra Club making life difficult for nuclear power in Georgia….

    http://action.sierraclub.org/site/MessageViewer?em_id=282585.0&dlv_id=236860

  • mhollis

    Well, well. The comments I see here are very much akin to the religious wing-nut commentary on scientific paleontology websites discussing fossil evidence of dinosaur predation. The wing-nuts quote biblical reference that suggest the Earth is about 4,000 years old.

    Most rational people agree with the scientific evidence that the earth is older than 4,000 years. So why is it that these wing-nuts are trolling in the comments on these publications devoted to Science and not pseudo-science?

    They do this to reaffirm their “faith.” They actively SEEK OUT scientific journals so that they can engage in arguments. They do this so that they can “count coup” when they return to the congregation of their fellow believers, who will happily reinforce their (just plain wrong) beliefs.

    This is also why religions and cults send out new adherents to prosthelytize and try to convert “the unbelievers.” This reinforces their new belief system, because, when they report about how doors were slammed in their faces, how many disagreed, refused to listen and called them names, their co-believers shower them with praise and reinforce their “faith.”

    Science is currently facing a coordinated attack from non-scientists (who used to be called Luddites) who have been elected to school boards and other elected offices. And you see officials trying to change how Science will be taught in schools, so that religion pre-empts Scientific Methodology (the basis for all Science)

    • ESNYC80

      Clearly you haven’t read the comments. I went through them after reading yours and couldn’t find a single comment referencing the Bible or suggesting the Earth is only 4,000 years old. If you want to claim there’s a Luddite-led coordinated attack and disparage commenters, you might want to read the actual comments before refuting claims they haven’t even made.

      • mhollis

        I HAVE read the comments. And they’re all about perpetuating factually-incorrect garbage like “the earth is some 4,000 years old.” Or, “if a woman is the victim of ‘legitimate’ rape her body secretes some substance that just shuts the pregnancy down.”

        Science would beg to differ. Science is about recording ACTUAL observations and coming up with conclusions based on those observations, not on airy-fairy nonsense, or statements like, “it’s only a theory,” or “there has never been any causal agent proven to cause cancer from smoking.”

        The comments are all about trolling by the climate change deniers and other Luddites who want to inject confusion into the discussion so that “their point of view” is sustained. But Science is not about a “point of view.” Every hypothesis in Science must state how to repeat an experiment and how the hypothesis may be DISproved. When Einstein stated his hypothesis about gravitational lensing, he actually fashioned an experiment (that required observations of stars during an eclipse) to prove or disprove his statement. When what he suggested was borne out by actual observation, scientists began referring to his hypothesis as a “Theory,” which is a hard standard to meet in Science.

        In conversation, “theory” can be disproved, but in Science, “Theory” is a hypothesis that has been repeatedly proven by the experimentation and observations of many Scientists. Anyone who actually DOES Science knows this.

        What I see here are comments by NON-scientists who want to operate in the realm of pseudo-science, like “Creationists” and believers in “Intelligent Design” and people like Aiken who think “the female body just shuts it down,” despite actual Scientific observation that rape DOES result in pregnancy.

        • ESNYC80

          WHERE did you read those comments? On this page? I can’t find ANY that say what you claim they say. Yes, there are crazy people like Aiken, but you seem just as crazy when you claim people on this page are saying things that I CAN’T FIND ON THE PAGE. You can’t argue against points no one is making and then claim they’re the ones who are crazy.

          For the record, I think global warming is real, the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old, and women who get raped don’t have any magical way to shut that down. I also think your comments make you seem like as much of an ideologue as any of the people who believe those things, because just as there’s no evidence that the world was made 4,000 years ago, there’s no evidence that lots of people on this page are trolling with those crazy theories. READ THE COMMENTS. If you want to bash crazy people for posting crazy things, go to a page where they’re posting, not here.

          • mhollis

            OK, how about this pseudo-science:

            “The most reliable data on average global atmospheric temperature began in 1979 with satellite recordings – the data prior to that were collected in a methodologically unsound way or extrapolated (they don’t actually exist).”

            NOT True. Posted by a troll who calls himself “Hominid.”

            How about this one:

            “The left often disregards science when it doesn’t help promote scare tactics in pursuit of a progressive agenda.”

            Climate change has nothing to do with your political persuasion. My in-laws own a beach cottage. Just off that cottage, there’s a large rock that was (according to Science) deposited there in an Ice Age. The only way anyone could budge that now would be to use a lot of explosives because it is truly massive and goes underground. It’s about three times the size of a football field. My father-in-law spent summers at that beach in that cottage. He tells me that the water never used to cover the end of that rock at high tide. Now it does. This is a sea-level change. And this sea level change has NOTHING to do with how you prefer to vote. It is observable. The observations are repeatable. Meet me in Westbrook, CT and I’ll show you. Repeated observations are Science.

            Claiming one’s political viewpoint can, somehow, lower the depth of water is NOT Science.

            Here’s the argument on GMOs. They’re dangerous, they’ll spread so fast that they’ll crowd out other grains. They’ll hurt butterflies. They’ll cause a mass extinction event.

            Here are the facts:

            Humans have been monkeying around with plants for millennia.The exploitation of wild barley has been dated to 23,000 BCE and many people say that wheat was probably “domesticated” around that time, too. We have scientific evidence showing wheat cultivation in modern-day Turkey dating to 9,000 BCE.

            We select grain that grows well and, in doing so, we change it. We cause it to ripen faster (or slower) by selecting and re-planting the seeds that do that. We cause it to be more fruitful, having more grains on a common stalk, by planting those that have more. If drought decreases crops, that natural selection tends to favor the drought-resistant seeds. Our actions have significantly transformed these plants that used to, essentially, be grasses on a savanna.

            Now, since we know the DNA of this plant we’re creating something different? Really? If so, then Gregor Mendel created Super Peas that have taken over the world (back in the 1800s).

          • Buddy199

            The left often disregards science when it doesnt help promote scare tactics in pursuit of a progressive agenda.

            ——

            For example, disregarding the objective scientific consensus that extreme weather events of late are NOT causally linked to global warming.

          • mhollis

            Extreme weather events are what’s called “weather.” And they happen. And always have. Science talks about “100-year storms,” and, oh, by the way, that’s backed up by insurance companies, which calculate their frequency and adjust rates accordingly in a scientific way.

            The _increased_ _frequency_ of extreme weather events may be caused by global warming. In other words, as we start getting “100-year storms” every 50 years, THAT says something.

            This is where one looks at the Farmer’s Almanac and counts the frequency of actual occurrences and maps changes over time. Where a “100-year storm” hits twice in 100 years, three times in the next hundred and four times in the subsequent, you realize that something has changed.

            The amount of carbon dioxide we have, as inhabitants of our planet has increased exponentially since the 1970s. 100 years has not passed since then. But we are on track for having “100-year events” every 50 years and less.

            This isn’t a “scare tactic.” As we watch the Great Barrier Reef off the East Coast of Australia die because of oceanic warming, we realize that we really can’t do anything about that. We can hardly add ice to the water there and change anything in a meaningful way. One thing we are doing is creating artificial reefs off the coast of the US—especially Florida—by sinking stuff into the ocean. But a sunken boat or plane harbors fish. It does not convert carbon dioxide into oxygen and sequestered carbon.

          • jh

            “But we are on track for having “100-year events” every 50 years and less”

            What kind of “100-year-events”, would you say? I mean, the IPCC itself says we’re not experiencing increased tropical storms, not experiencing increased tornadoes, not experiencing increased flooding, not experiencing increased non-tropical storms.

            So, which 100-year events, exactly, are becoming more frequent?

          • mhollis

            Flooding in zones that only flood in 100 years. Extreme droughts that only occur in 100 years or so.

            Take drought. In the 1930s, the Dust Bowl was created when man altered the land in the TX-Oklahoma panhandle region. Prairie was plowed up and planted in hard winter wheat. Plowing methods did not follow the contour of the land. When the drought hit, the Dust Bowl was created. Read “The Worst Hard Time” by Timothy Egan. There had been drought there before, but the prairie was tough and survived.

            Presently, that same area is experiencing the same conditions. You could say this is an 80-year drought. OK, fine. It follows in the normal cycles. But, if in 40 years we get the same drought, you’re looking at climate change.

            If you look at temperature variability, we have had an awful lot of “hottest years on record” since 2000. That doesn’t agree with natural variability, and neither does the ice melt in the Arctic (which has been recorded since the 1600s) and the Antarctic.

            Go ahead, believe in your pseudo-science. Real Science says differently.

          • ChicagoJohn

            “If you look at temperature variability, we have had an awful lot of “hottest years on record” since 2000.”

            On record is the key phrase.
            That’s what I genuinely hate about current climate science. Its taking less then 50 years of KNOWN “global” temperature readings, and then saying, “holy sh*t! This is the hottest global temperature on record!”

            What it leaves out is how little actual global temperature data we have. Or that so much of the proxy data is based on assumptions that tree rings will let us know what the average temperature in any year was? Seriously?
            Its bad science. Its really, really, really bad science.

          • mhollis

            “Current Climate science [is] taking less than 50 years of known global temperature readings..”

            Not true. Ben Franklin was taking them in the 1700s. The Royal Observatory has since before that. That’s what Faux “news” has been saying, quoting climate change deniers (so it MUST be true, just like how Romney won Pennsylvania and over 300 electoral votes in the last election and is now our President

          • ChicagoJohn

            mhollis;
            You’re not reading what I wrote, you don’t understand, and you’re jumping to seriously silly conclusions.
            My basis for saying that we have 50 years of GLOBAL temperature data is that we have 50 years of GLOBAL temperature data, at best.
            Ben Franklin taking temperature data in the colonies is one data point. It didn’t include the midwest, the west, or any other part of the US. You’re arguing that one data point (or heck, let’s pretend like it was a dozen) in the US gives us a good idea what the average temperature was in the US. Or that a few dozen temperature readings around the world (in population centers) with thermometers that may, or may not, have been synchronized…. would give us an accurate reading of global temperatures.
            It does not.

            My knowledge of this comes from actually being into weather when I was a kid, and following it since then.
            I don’t know what “faux news” is saying, because I don’t have cable. But that won’t change you’re ability to blame someone’s informed opinion on Fox, I’m sure. In fact, based on your previous answer, I’m sure you haven’t even read this thoroughly.

            Read. Research. Don’t just believe what you’ve been fed.

          • jh

            Well, at least we’ll know what the weather was like in London and Philly. Whew. That’s good data.

          • notanotherskippy

            No, real science is based in nothing the that the CAGW community spouts. Real science can be replicated. Real science is based on observations and not simulations. Real science has nothing, repeat, nothing to do with popularity. Science is not an election. Most importantly, real science is falsifiable. Do you understand the implications of that statement?

            Instead we are told that drought is caused by global warming. Flooding is caused by global warming. Lack of snow is caused by global warming. Snow is caused by global warming. Tornadoes are caused by global warming. Lack of tornadoes are caused by global warming. In short, no matter what is observed, it must be global warming. Here’s a simple question that any true scientist should be able to answer: what data falsifies your hypothesis? I doubt you can get an answer from Mann, Jones, Hansen, et. al. because it’s an article of faith for them and not genuine science.

            But here’s the real problem that the catastrophists cannot handle: there has been no statistically significant global warming in over a decade. What’s worse, even with CO2 emissions being “worse than we imagined” global temps as reported by no less than HadCRUT are running below the lower confidence interval of the model ensemble. Now of course the Earth has been gradually warming since the Little Ice Age, but the fact that the models have failed in their predictions indicate that something is seriously flawed within their current formulation. Why on Earth would we base our policy decisions on models that have been falsified? Perhaps an article of faith on behalf of our liberal friends? We are quick to impugn the integrity of anyone associated with “Big Oil” or any established industry, but we are to blindly accept the doomsaying of Big Insurance, or Big Green, or Big Research Grant?

            “It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong. -Richard P. Feynman

          • jh

            He tells me that the water never used to cover the end of that rock at high tide. Now it does. This is a sea-level change.

            What you are witnessing with your big rock is a
            relative sea level change. Relative sea level is
            what all tide gauges and other coastal markings measure.

            Relative sea level comprises the combined effects of subsidence, compaction, true sea level variations, tectonics, and sedimentation changes.

            You’d have no way of knowing what proportion of each of the above factors contributes to the disappearance of your rock. But it’s almost certainly a combination of subsidence, compaction, sediment starvation, and sea level changes.

            And there’s one more effect.

            Ever looked at a cobble in the tidal zone? What happens to the sand on the seaward side of the cobble? Riiigghhhttt – as the tide flows back, that sand washes away leaving a hole on the seaward side of the rock. Then the next wave digs a bit more sand out from the seaward side. You get the picture.

          • BBD

            jh

            You may well be right here, but that’s why global averages are so useful.

          • jh

            Aye, BBD. And I have no doubt that global average sea level is rising.

            Nonetheless, you can’t measure sea level rise from a rock on the beach, and that’s my point. Sea level is surprisingly complex.

            Not long ago we had a great story here in the local paper – the seas will be washing over Seattle by 2050! The writer and pundits were concerned, because the “King Tides” of 2012 exceeded the record King tides of 1983 – by 0.02 inches. That 0.02 inche rise of the King Tide in 30 years doesn’t square with 8 inches / century sea level rise. Yes, there are complicating factors, but as it happens this year, the King Tide peaked in the midst of a very strong onshore wind, so it should be quite high.

            The problem is that sea level in the PNW is falling according to world sea level maps. I suspect the Juan de Fuca plate is sinking faster than sea level rise just by the geography of the bullseye for falling sea levels, but it’s a wild guess.

            So here we see again how complicated it is to measure sea level. Even with satellites doing multiple triangulations, it ain’t a piece of pie.

          • BBD

            jh

            Nonetheless, you can’t measure sea level rise from a rock on the beach, and that’s my point. Sea level is surprisingly complex.

            Which is why satellite altimetry is the preferred method these days. Calibration is exhaustive and meticulous. Biases are removed (some information on methodology summarised here).

            Certainly measuring global average sea level is challenging but it is a challenge that has been surmounted. All four groups working independently on this problem now arrive at almost-identical estimates of the rate of SLR:

            AVISO: 3.2 ± 0.6 mm/y

            CSIRO: 3.2 ± 0.4 mm/y

            University of Colorado: 3.2 ± 0.4 mm/y

            NOAA: 3.1 ± 0.4 mm/y (with glacial isostatic adjustment)

          • jh

            I balanced my brokerage accounts recently and found a one-cent discrepancy – well below 0.0001% of my accounts. Nonetheless, in attempting to find the source of the discrepancy, I found two much, much larger offsetting errors. Shit happens.

            Here you quote an error of >±12.5%. That’s quite a bit, especially considering that it’s probably exaggerated to begin with.

            I have no problem accepting these numbers as suitable for basic research. But I wouldn’t bet the farm on them for a century or even a decade.

            And as my example from Seattle shows, global sea level rise is meaningless on a local level. What good is it for Seattle to know GSL is rising at 3.2mm/yr when local MSL is falling at 5mm/yr? :)

          • BBD

            jh

            Here you quote an error of >±12.5%. That’s quite a bit, especially considering that it’s probably exaggerated to begin with.

            – Here we quote modest uncertainty in four independent analyses with results in very good agreement

            – When you say ‘it’s probably exaggerated to begin with’ I take you to mean the rate of SLR, not the bounds of uncertainty for those four independent analyses that are in very good agreement ;-) Yes?

            – If so, on what do you base the claim that the SLR estimates derived from satellite altimetry are ‘probably exaggerated to begin with’? Where is that in the literature?

          • mhollis

            Were this relative sea change, my father-in-law would have witnessed it, on occasion in the past. The rock is not buried in dirt. It sits on bedrock. There is nothing that can move it or undermine it. And it is, essentially, a small peninsula on the shoreline.

          • jh

            “Were this relative sea change, my father-in-law would have witnessed it, on occasion in the past.”

            Kinda doubt it. Depositional shorelines, like beaches, have a very strong tendency to subside. About the only thing that will make them do otherwise is tectonic or isostatic uplift.

            Tectonic plates can rise or fall at rates of 5mm/yr. So at that rate a rocky shore could move 8 inches vertically relative to mean sea level in 40 years. You could easily get rates of 1-2mm/yr from other smaller structures and aseismic slip.

            You did say the rock was so deep it couldn’t be moved. If that’s the case, how do you know it’s sitting on bedrock? :)

          • mhollis

            This is not a deposititional shoreline. It is a massive rock sitting on bedrock. And 100% of the lawn that sits on it closer on shore was trucked in. It prevents the cottage (and two next to it) from being converted to year ’round because it prevents the installation of leach fields.

            You are assuming nobody knows anything about the dimensions and configuration of this rock, and you, from where you sit, never having seen it, know more.

          • Nullius in Verba

            We don’t know anything about your rock, but we do know a thing or two about vaguely described second-hand anecdotes on the internet. :-)

            Not sure what date range you’re talking about, but over the last 60 years sea level has risen about 4 inches. Over the last 30 years about 2 inches.

            So if your rock was previously an inch above sea level at high tide, around 30 years ago say, and is now an inch below, then that’s entirely plausible. It would be difficult to tell if there are any waves that vary in height by more than an inch, but it could be in a very well-sheltered bay, in calm weather, and ignoring all that stuff about the metonic cycle and air pressure…

            But if you’re talking about more than inches, then we have to believe the sea is being heaped up in your neighbourhood, far higher than globally. This can of course happen by many means – currents and tidal streaming can change, as the water sloshes around near the shore. You can get more low pressure systems passing over. Greater freshwater inflow from nearby rivers. There are probably all sorts of means.

            But in my experience, when people tell me anecdotes about how beaches have vanished and landmarks have been submerged, it is almost always due to long-term erosion or subsidence processes, and the tendency of casual reporters to fit the observed facts to the explanation they know to be true.

            Stage magicians say that if you ask an audience member to describe a magic trick they’ve seen to another magician, the trick will often be impossible to do. The reason is that people only see bits of what actually happened, and their brains fill in the gaps without them noticing. Magicians take advantage of that. It’s just the way brains work.

            So you see, we’re in the position of listening to somebody describing a magic trick they’ve seen, and trying to figure out how it was done. No, we haven’t seen your rock. But unless you’re talking about a few inches or a very long time, it can’t be global sea level rise either.

          • mhollis

            Amusing, how you take a fact stated clearly by my father-in-law and twist it to fit your hypothesis.

            Science doesn’t work that way (which is my point). It relies on observable facts. Now, you could have actually done your homework here about Westbrook, Connecticut (by looking it up on Google Maps), whereupon you would see just how incredibly idiotic you sound.

            And we are talking about a few inches of global sea level increase. So what could be causing that? Maybe, in your world, the moon is getting closer, or gaining mass because of meteorites hitting it. Or, maybe the sun is getting heavier. Maybe the planets are lining up in a grand conjunction (which actually took place on May 31, 2000, not now, with the next one in December 2020).

            So there are lots of scientific reasons why the level of water in the Long Island Sound in Westbrook might be higher but the only plausible one that Scientists agree on is the massive melting of ice occurring in the arctic and antarctic regions of this planet. And they also agree that the only agent that could be causing this is (you guessed it) Global Warming.

            Nothing magic here. No trick, just daily observations of a man in his 70s. But I suppose you’ll claim it’s something else, which is all about ignoring the preponderance of actual scientific evidence that has been accumulating for something like 40 years now. And that scientific evidence has been gathered from measurements that go back another 200 years.

            Additionally, Scientists (and not deniers, like yourself) have also created computer modeling to try to explain what has been happening. Computer modeling is used to determine the efficiency of new designs for jet engines, airplane wings, boat hulls, planetary creation, the formation of galaxies and the stars in them, whether or not a rocket engine will sufficiently power launch vehicle into a particular orbit, whether or not a heat sink on a microprocessor is going to cool it sufficiently, and whether or not a tire will sufficiently push away snow and water from the surface of a road to maintain traction in your car. Computer modeling has been showing us lots of things and is beginning to explain the facts that we see on a planetary scale that explains the trend towards a hotter, drier planet that we humans are creating.

            It was computer modeling that explained the “la niña” and “el niño” weather patterns in the Pacific—but these patterns always existed before the computer modeling happened.

            Of course, planetary computer modeling requires supercomputers. And our supercomputers are just barely fast enough to explain a few factors—but you dismiss all of those and all of that research and all of the peer-reviewed papers cranked out monthly as “magic,” or “erosion” or “subsidence” NOT because you are a scientist, but because you just don’t agree with what all of the evidence is pointing to.

            After all, you’re a lot smarter than these Scientists. You KNOW it’s a magic trick. You have all the evidence! You have studied all of these Scientific papers and you know everything.

          • Nullius in Verba

            You seem to be making a lot of assumptions about what I think or don’t think. :-)

            I am a scientist. I’m citing the official mainstream scientific measurements in this case. The official science says sea levels have risen 2 inches in 30 years, so unless your father-in-law can measure mean sea level to an accuracy of inches – something that’s a challenge even for professionally-run tide gauges – your anecdote is contrary to the science.

            And I’ve got no problem with using scientific models for designing jet engines and boat hulls. Those models are validated. Climate models are not.
            (And incidentally, models of star motion in galaxies don’t work either, which is why they invented dark matter. But that’s another story…)

            Computer modelling didn’t explain El Nino/La Nina, and most climate models don’t reproduce them.

            And yes, I’ve read the science papers, and I do understand what they’re doing, and that’s exactly why I’m sceptical. A lot of what they’re doing is simply bad science. I’m not the only scientist to think so, either.

            I don’t really expect you to believe me about anything I say, but you could at least have checked what scientists say the global sea level rise was, to see if the claim is credible or not. But as we’ve all been saying, facts don’t matter, and the believers are as affected by their political worldview as the disbelievers in what they choose to believe, while being just as convinced that they’re not.

          • mhollis

            You may be a scientist, but this is not your field, else you would have participated in and read the journals, all of which are peer-reviewed.

            And there is general agreement within the community of Scientists studying climate change that it is man-made, that the increased levels of greenhouse gasses (man-made) are the main contributor and that ocean levels are rising because of that.

            As to galaxy modeling, please see: http://burro.astr.cwru.edu/Talks/AAAS/AAAS02.html

            and, for something more visual, please see: http://phys.org/news/2010-11-collisions-galaxies-andromeda-video.html

            This last is a model carried out on high performance computers and used around eight million particles to simulate gas, dark matter, and stars to simulate the formation of the Andromeda Galaxy.

            Oh, but they don’t do that because of dark matter.

            You proclaim your ignorance with every argument you make.

          • Nullius in Verba

            What makes you think I haven’t? :-)

            About 85% of climate scientists think the observed warming is manmade, about 40% of meteorologists, and about 20% of Earth scientists. Scientists in general haven’t been surveyed, that I am aware of. Most keep their heads down.

            Yes, I know about the galaxy modelling. But it’s circular reasoning. They use the observations to determine the dark matter distribution to simulate to match the observations. So it’s really just feeding the observations in, and getting the same observations out, and saying “Ta Da!”

            That’s the difference between understanding what they’re doing and just listening to what they’re saying.

            But do keep going. This is quite entertaining.

          • BBD

            And here was me, all this time thinking you were a retired physics teacher. My apologies, N, old chap.

          • Nullius in Verba

            Nope. Not retired. But that’s alright. I’m generally careful not to say.

            The people I work for have rules about participation in the internet, and I’m still mindful of that 10:10 video… :-)

          • BBD

            Nullius, International Man of Mystery.

            That eff-awful video haunts me too.

    • Buddy199

      You’re the perfect example of the AGW fundamentalist railing against the infidels.

      • mhollis

        No, I don’t troll Science websites in order to add confusion because of my beliefs in non-Science.

        I think it is fascinating to see the trolls come out like roaches from a grease-laden kitchen on Science sites to spread FUD. And I’m happy to ask them what they’re doing here.

  • jh

    Keith,

    Another area where facts don’t matter are many of the recent proposals on gun control. Personally, I support a simple ban on assault weapons.

    But many of the left’s favored solutions have been repeatedly demonstrated to do absolutely nothing to deal with the problem. Gun buybacks are one of the worst offenders, since mostly they get unused guns. Background checks aren’t likely to do much either, since most guns involved in crime are obtained illegally. For example, both the Aurora and Newtown shootings use legal assault weapons which could have been obtained with background checks.

    Nothing that has been proposed would have much impact on crime in places like Chicago, at least as far as I know.

    • Buddy199

      A lot of people don’t know the difference between actually solving a problem and engaging in pointless behavior that just makes you feel better.

  • Tom Scharf

    Which is more likely to garner conservative support?

    1. We need to protect our infrastructure from harm.

    2. We must protect our infrastructure from the damages of global warming.

    This is just an example of how global warming has become toxic politically. Conservatives will have a knee jerk negative response to anything linked with global warming.

    Liberals see these statements as identical. Conservatives see the second statement as politically loaded with inherent blame and will immediately become defensive.

    Moral of the story: It is not wise to link your pet cause to global warming if you want actual progress. The people in the abortion debate learned this and all kinds of euphemisms popped out to attempt to de-politicize things in the name of progress. “Women’s Health Centers”.

    What has been curious is that the greens do the opposite, they double down on the toxicity of the debate, they ramp up the apocalyptic language even after it hasn’t worked for decades. Spinal Tap’s turn the volume up to 11 always comes to my mind.

    • Tom Fuller

      Perhaps one of the problems is that my fellow liberals don’t just want to win on green issues, they want to beat the opposition. Our confusion of ends sometimes muddles our means.

      • Matt B

        Absolutely right but the bigger problem is that both sides need to “win”. And it is the absolute obstinance on both sides that is both appalling and fascinating.

        If you think higher CO2 will cause significant issues going forward yet oppose nuclear energy, I have trouble believing you really care about greenhouse gasses.

        If you don’t agree that making a significant change to the CO2 % in the atmosphere poses possible risks, I have trouble believing that you reached that conclusion backed by science.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mparkhur Matt Parkhur

    Yes, because only conservatives possess such ‘lenses’ and biased ideology.

  • RogerSweeny

    On way to attempt to break the conservative conflation of belief in global warming with wanting to make governments bigger and more powerful is to propose ways of dealing with warming that involve less regulation, taxes, etc. My suggestion for a first step: get rid of all subsidies for the production of and all requirements for the use of ethanol.

  • Tjduffy

    Just reading the title I knew what this article was going to be about climate change deniers. These people are so easy to identify

    • ChicagoJohn

      Just reading the title, I knew it was going to be about “climate change deniers,” because as a AGW skeptic, I know what the sermon is going to be about by the title.

  • Joshua

    I must say, this thread is a classic. One the one hand we have “skeptics” saying that “skeptics” don’t doubt that the Globe is warming (only how much and to what degree it is anthropogenic. And on the other hand we have “skeptics” saying that there is no valid evidence that the globe is warming.

    Hilarious.

    Same ol’ same ol’.

    • BBD

      Usque ad Mortem Bibendum

      • Joshua

        Thanks for that. Had to look it up on Google. Interestingly enough, I had already started (had a nice wine with dinner).

  • David Young

    Keith. You are going a bridge too far here. Republicans as a group do not deny that greenhouse gases warm the planet. Despite the political rhetoric, which all our politicians engage in, their scientists are guys like Roy Spencer or Richard Lindzen who are certainly serious scientists. A far more pertinent question is why liberals tend to gravitate to the most dire consequences which are now looking increasingly unlikely. They do in fact use these things to promote their values, as do Green groups. So there is a grain of truth in what Republicans say.

  • EM10

    Science is about how nature works, not what we should do about it.
    The latter always involves non-scientific judgments, of a moral or political
    kind.

    If we could simply focus on what the climate data tells us, it
    would be a difficult scientific problem but a solvable one, where facts
    certainly would matter. But the climate “debate” is populated by
    fundamentalist believers and non-believers who see each other as either
    indifferent to evil or trying to inflict evil upon us.

    Suppose the climate is warming. Suppose even that man’s activities are causing it. All you have to say is “so what?” to have the supposedly “scientific” environmentalist turn purple in the face and start calling you
    unspeakable names. What facts could matter to a fanatic who believes any
    question is a threat to his whole value system and must be shouted down
    or eliminated as heresy at all costs?

    • jh

      A most excellent post.

      And not to mention the fact “the SCIENCE” isn’t a set of hard facts, but a set of evolving ideas. The fact that many scientists are convinced certain bits of knowledge are irrefutable has no bearing on what will actually be refuted in the future.

  • ChicagoJohn

    Not too ironically, conservative skeptics have been pointing out for at least a decade that global warming scientists act as if global warming was a religion, rather then a science.

    My personal skepticism is based on the holes in the theories, the propensity to believe the strangest of proxy data (tree rings, anyone???) as indicators of *average temperature* (except at those points where it disagrees with our known temperature readings), the want and frequency of “adjusting” data, and the constant revisions to predictions when they don’t come true.
    But my favorite reason for skepticism is that whenever I start asking question… global warming polemicists fall back into blaming conservative sources for my common sense questions. There’s nothing like asking a common sense question – having someone tell you that you didn’t actually think of the question on your own – to make you believe that you might actually be onto something. Particularly when they can’t answer the question.

  • Guest

    Ya cause Monsanto has never done anything ethically questionable.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=645310303 Lyndon Perry

    Ya cause Monsanto has never done anything ethically questionable ^^ Not to mention GMO’s actually AREN’T natural so your “liberal” friends are actually completely on point and you should take your own advice and pay a little heed to the facts.
    Seriously if you want to make a point of how people fear monger over GMO’s you should have gave some examples that weren’t simple truths.

  • Jos Verhulst

    The opening sentence of this essay is a blooper. Facts are facts. A fact remains a fact, whether or not it is agreed on by a majority of scientists.

  • Chris Ahlbrandt

    There is certainly a great deal that is not known in this debate and I am no scientist. But it seems that there is evidence pointing towards no trend or in one direction (warming), but definitely not in the other direction. Given this information, it seems prudent to be moderately proactive now while we collect more information, that to wait and possibly be forced to be massively reactive at a future date. If it turns out that global warming is nothing but a natural environmental trend has any actual harm been done?

    • Nullius in Verba

      “If it turns out that global warming is nothing but a natural environmental trend has any actual harm been done?”

      Yes.

      Measures to mitigate and adapt cost money, and require the diversion of resources away from things like ending poverty and disease. People pay carbon taxes instead of buying food. Food is diverted to producing ethanol for fuel instead of feeding people. Rainforest is cut down to make way for biofuel plantations. Mines spill toxic waste to produce the metals for magnets in windmills, which sprawl across miles of once-beautiful wilderness chopping up eagles. Electricity becomes more expensive, as subsidies are paid to the inefficient renewable industries and the elderly shiver in unheated homes, unable to afford their skyrocketing fuel bills. More people die in the cold than the heat. Goods become slightly more expensive in the shops, and wages are lowered, as the cost of manufacturing and transporting goods are raised by energy and fuel prices.

      We pay directly, we pay in lost opportunities, we pay in reduced resilience against other risks from being less prosperous. All life is a trade-off.

      And we lose freedoms as more of life becomes regulated and controlled – taxed, licensed, rationed, tied up in red tape, and banned outright.

      There is a way it could be done without any of that – and that is for all the people who believe in AGW catastrophe to simply stop purchasing fossil fuel entirely, and everything produced using it.

      That would:
      1. Instantly reduce emissions.
      2. Show the world you truly believe it.
      3. Show that it can be done, and how.
      4. Create an instant market for non-fossil energy, funding its development, which will eventually lead to its adoption by everyone else.

      5. Release energy generation capacity for the developing world, lowering costs.

      6. Require no subsidies, laws, regulations, taxes, coercion, or persuasion of the unconvinced.

      No offsets or carbon credits allowed. You all simply stop using it.

      The great thing about it is that it’s already within your power to do. You can do it immediately. Now. Today.
      No waiting. No campaigning. No lobbying for legislation.

      So why doesn’t it happen? Because everybody knows how personally harmful it would be, and they don’t want to pay the price for it themselves. They always want somebody else to pay the price, while they reap the benefits.

  • http://www.facebook.com/paulcshipley Paul Shipley

    I love this. An article that says about emotive reasoning, polictical beliefs and the responses are all about climate change and political views. Proves its own relevance that it doesn’t matter who’s right just who’s loudest.

  • DENIER

    A lot of rhetoric, but little proof or solid/indisputable data and no mention about variable output of the sun (e.g. sunspot cycle), the earth’s precession on its axis over thousands of years, variations of its tilt on its axis, variations of the earth’s orbit around the sun, etc., etc., etc. All of which can have a much greater affect on the temperature of the earth’s atmosphere then any amount of man-made gas. There are also hundreds of other variables like ocean currents, reflectivity of earth’s surfaces, amount of dust (e.g. from volcanoes, sand storms), which can drastically affect earth temperatures.

    There are various calculations about the sun’s energy reaching the earth, but they all come to the same conclusion: The energy from the sun reaching the surface of the earth in a single day, week, month, or year is thousands of times the the entire energy output from all human generated sources. For example the energy from the sun reaching the earth’s surface in a single month, if captured, could meet the entire earth’s energy needs for 100,000 years. So how anyone can come to the conclusion that global warming (if it truly exists) can be attributed to man in consideration of all the possible variables (the sun’s energy output being a major one) is just incomprehensible from a real scientific stand point.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Herb.Barbolet Herb Barbolet

    Sorry but climate change and GMOs are not similar issues and to conflate them is unscientific.

    GMOs are made in labs, not in Nature.

    And, GMOs are not the same as what farmers have been doing for thousands of years. No farmer ever stood in his or her field and inserted a gene from one species into one of another species.

    The issue with GMOs is that it is presently impossible to prove that they are safe OR not safe. But, because corporations are people and the US Patent Office approved life patents, corporations selling GMOs for profit are allowed to use the human species as guinea pigs in the worlds largest experiment and do so without labeling them so we have no choice.

    Don’t give up on the Precautionary Principle.

  • Will Boyd

    There are more reasons why facts do not matter. They have a half-life( S. Arbesman). Look at climate science 10 years ago. How many of those facts are now deceased? Look at climate science 10 years into the future and you will see a similar attrition. Newton and Robert Boyle didn’t need op eds to save their bacon. Time did. Real science does not need a bulldog, it needs honest humble scientists who acknowledge the limitations of their trade including acknowledging that causality is elusive. This is especially the case where each subsequent report from the IPCC contains even more variables and brings reams of new research to the table.

  • OdinsAcolyte

    Climate does change. It is called weather and it is also the unstoppable evolution of out Earth and its atmosphere. The truth is that life adapts. The truth is the atmosphere has changed throughout the history of this world. It shall continue to do so. Mankind is mortal and doomed. Study a bit of historical geology and put your fears into context. Climate change is not bad.Climate change is inevitable and life on the Earth does better in warmer climates. Shall you change the sun? It alone is the major engine of our climate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.zabrocki.355 David Zabrocki

    Facts change. So every assessment of facts must look at what the facts were, what they appear to be now, and our forecast of how the facts will change in the future. Experience tells us that things tend to stay the same. Experience tells us that dramatic forecasts — good or bad — are overstated. Experience also tells us that a good indicator of imminent change to a fact is near universal agreement in its truth.

    Science brought us the changes that moved society from subsistence to our modern state. Every advancement made was made by a scientist who was certain of the value of the benefits of his contribution and who was certain that the side-effects were minimal. They all thought they were right in the same way that we all think we are right today. But, today we look back and see how wrong these past scientists were. I suspect that scientists in a few hundred years will look back at us and shake their heads over how wrong we were.

    The concept of facts in flux and the abuse of certainty probably makes me appear to be a “facts don’t matter” kind of thinker. It certainly effects my views on all of the current issues but may best be demonstrated on the subject of GMO foods.

    I am sure that it is safe to eat franken-food. We will not sprout horns via its consumption and GMO food won’t kill us any faster than the rest of the food we eat. The world as a whole benefits by the production of stable abundant food stuffs. The stable abundance may even allow us to return agricultural lands to nature. However, I am reminded of the unforeseen or under-weighted consequences of our past advances. Consider how our introduction of energy lead to climate change. Consider how our advances in agriculture, sanitation and health have allowed our population explode. Consider how past introductions of species to foreign environments has always lead to regret. When I consider these lessons from history, I have to conclude that the production of GMO foods is not worth the potential risks. It looks like I am ignoring the facts….if you do not consider history, and a meta-concept or evaluation of science to be facts. They are facts and they do matter to decisions.

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Collide-a-Scape

Collide-a-Scape is a wide-ranging blog forum that explores issues at the nexus of science, culture and society.

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.

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