Posts Tagged ‘Global Warming’

‘Climate dice’ now dangerously loaded: leading scientist

From Yahoo! News:

PARIS (AFP) – Evidence for global warming has mounted but public awareness of the threat has shrunk, due to a cold northern winter and finger-pointing at the UN’s climate experts, a top scientist warned Wednesday.

“That gap has increased substantially in the last year,” Hansen told a press conference during a visit to Paris.

“While the science was becoming clearer, the public’s perception became less clear, in part because of the unusually cold winter in both North America and Europe, and in part because of the inappropriate over-emphasis on small minor errors in IPCC documents and because of the so-called Climategate.”

Full article here:

Climate Change and the Integrity of Science

From Skeptical Science:

Climate Change and the Integrity of Science: a letter to Science

A letter Climate Change and the Integrity of Science has been published in the journal Science. It’s written by 255 members of the US National Academy of Sciences, including 11 Nobel laureates (here’s the complete list plus their university affiliations). I recommend reading the entire letter but here is an excerpt:

There is always some uncertainty associated with scientific conclusions; science never absolutely proves anything. When someone says that society should wait until scientists are absolutely certain before taking any action, it is the same as saying society should never take action. For a problem as potentially catastrophic as climate change, taking no action poses a dangerous risk for our planet…

… The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other scientific assessments of climate change, which involve thousands of scientists producing massive and comprehensive reports, have, quite expectedly and normally, made some mistakes. When errors are pointed out, they are corrected. But there is nothing remotely identified in the recent events that changes the fundamental conclusions about climate change:

  1. The planet is warming due to increased concentrations of heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. A snowy winter in Washington does not alter this fact.
  2. Most of the increase in the concentration of these gases over the last century is due to human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.
  3. Natural causes always play a role in changing Earth’s climate, but are now being overwhelmed by human-induced changes.
  4. Warming the planet will cause many other climatic patterns to change at speeds unprecedented in modern times, including increasing rates of sea-level rise and alterations in the hydrologic cycle. Rising concentrations of carbon dioxide are making the oceans more acidic.
  5. The combination of these complex climate changes threatens coastal communities and cities, our food and water supplies, marine and freshwater ecosystems, forests, high mountain environments, and far more.

Much more can be, and has been, said by the world’s scientific societies, national academies, and individuals, but these conclusions should be enough to indicate why scientists are concerned about what future generations will face from business-as-usual practices. We urge our policy-makers and the public to move forward immediately to address the causes of climate change, including the un restrained burning of fossil fuels.

The scientists are the members of the NAS most familiar with climate science, as explained by lead signer Peter Gleick:

It is hard to get 255 members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences to agree on pretty much anything, making the import of this letter even more substantial. Moreover, only a small fraction of National Academy members were asked to sign (the signatories are all members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences but were not speaking on its behalf). Because of a desire to produce a statement quickly, the coordinators of the letter focused on those sections of the NAS most familiar with climate science and the ongoing debate. But the NAS (and Academies of Sciences and other professional scientific societies from dozens of other nations) has previously published a long set of assessments and reviews of the science of climate change, which support the conclusions laid out in the Science essay.

Lastly, here is a link to the National Academy of Science’s Policy advice, based on science, to guide the nation’s response to climate change.

Misconception: Scientists Disagree on Everything

Another excellent article rom Recovering Fundamentalists in their misconceptions about science series:

This misconception is frequently alluded to in Christian circles in an attempt to discount the findings of the scientific community as merely “one man’s opinion.” While there is a constant hum of debate among scientists, Christians seem to think that no one agrees on anything, and that there are no theories that aren’t questionable.

This is not true. The body of accepted scientific knowledge is vast and elegantly interwoven. But this is only accomplished through dialog and criticism.

The Paranoia of Beck and Limbaugh

From Watching the Deniers:

The paranoid  style of American politics:  Beck, Limbaugh claim oil spill deliberate sabotage

To quote Limbaugh:  

But this bill, the cap-and-trade bill, was strongly criticized by hardcore environmentalist wackos because it supposedly allowed more offshore drilling and nuclear plants, nuclear plant investment. So, since they’re sending SWAT teams down there, folks, since they’re sending SWAT teams to inspect the other rigs, what better way to head off more oil drilling, nuclear plants, than by blowing up a rig? I’m just noting the timing here.”  

In short, the Obama administration deliberately sabotaged the Deep Horizon oil rig to create a disaster that would allow them to… I’m not sure. Provide an excuse for the cap-and-trade legislation? Blunt efforts for more offshore drilling of the coasts of the US?  

I call this the “I’m just saying…” approach to conspiracy theory making. In short, you don’t need to present evidence.  You simply connect two (or more) unrelated events and hint at a connection.  

Such conspiracy making is almost impossible to refute, as the accuser retreats to the fall back “Yeah, but I’m just saying…”  

It’s really quite amazing why anybody would believe anything these two say.  It’s also quite frightening that there are a lot of people who do believe what these two have to say.  Just goes to show that some people will believe anything no matter how irrational or incredible the source.

Science as Faith?

From Recovering Fundamentalists:

Misconception #2: Theories Require “Faith” to Believe.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that scientists have just as much faith in their theories as religious people do in their dogma. It frustrates me every time. Anyone who says this is defining theory, faith, or both, incorrectly.

Faith has multiple definitions.

1. Confidence or trust in a person or thing
2. Belief that is not based on proof
When Christians make the statement that science requires faith, it seemingly defines “faith” under definition #1, but the implication bleeds into definition #2. The statement implies that just as Christian principals [sic] haven’t been proven, scientific theories haven’t been proven either. One implication, for example, that the Theory of Evolution is “just a theory” and therefore should not be believed.

The word “Theory” also has multiple definitions. Here are two:
1. A coherent group of general propositions used as principles of explanation for a class of phenomena
2. A proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact.

Christians often think the scientific use of the word “theory” falls under definition #2. That is incorrect. Science uses the word as defined in definition #1. Evolution is a theory that explains the developing complexity of life. Gravity is a theory that explains physics. If a person doesn’t believe in either theory, then they are faced with the daunting task of refuting the mountains of data that support them. Simply saying, “well, gravity is just a theory” is a very weak argument against gravity, and reveals an incorrect usage of the word “theory.”
So if someone says it requires faith to believe a theory, they are being slippery with definitions and implying something absolutely wrong.

Evolution and Global Warming are frequently referred to as religions by fundamentalists.  Its misleading and dishonest and nothing more than a desperate attempt to undermine science that threatens their preconceived notion of how the world should work.  Read the rest of the article here.

 

Artic Heating Up in a Snowball Effect

From the New York Times:

Now climate researchers have detected such a feedback loop at work in the Arctic. It is well known that the region is warming faster than anywhere else on Earth. Yet scientists have yet to agree on why. Some have theorized that warmer air from the south was responsible, while others blame a change in cloud cover.

Read the full article here.

Climate Change and Climate Certainty

From the New York Times:

April 27, 2010, 2:05 pm

On Climate Certainty and Climate Credibility

By ANDREW C. REVKIN

In 2003, Judith Curry, a climate researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology, wrote the following passage in a submission to a federal effort aimed at charting how to reduce uncertainties in the science pointing to a growing human influence on climate:

“Reducing uncertainty” is probably not the appropriate goal; we should instead focus on “increasing credibility.” (Read the rest.)

She weighed in on this issue long before she became embroiled in what has become an ongoing battle with many colleagues over how to get climate inquiry back on track following controversies involving the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the unauthorized release of some climate researchers’ email messages and files. Curry alludes to her 2003 essay in  a remarkable exchange with the journalist Keith Kloor on his Collide-a-Scape blog. I urge you to explore his posts there over the last week or so involving Curry, along with the ongoing exchanges in the comment stream and on  other blogs.

If only more researchers had listened to her back in 2003, perhaps there might have been less turbulence in the discourse over global warming in the last year or so. Scientists always want to find ways to reduce the uncertainty in findings, but — in the heated arena where climate research meets climate decisions — they have not always been quick to state clearly when they are certain that some aspects of the climate challenge won’t be easily clarified any time soon. This is the arena of “ known unknowns” so awkwardly laid out, in the context of Iraq policy, by Donald Rumsfeld a few years back.

To my mind, the tendency by many climate campaigners and some scientists to downplay, run away from — or, at the very least, ignore — the real complexity and uncertainty surrounding many points of climate science gave easy ammunition to some of those I call “stasists” in their efforts to undermine public credibility even in the basics.

Any case for action that downplays the durable and (unmanufactured) uncertainty surrounding vital aspects of global warming science is bound to fail in the end.

Unfortunately for policymakers and the public, while the basic science pointing to a rising human influence on climate is clear, many of the most important questions will remain surrounded by deep complexity and uncertainty for a long time to come: the  pace at which seas will rise, the extent of warming from a certain buildup of greenhouse gases (climate sensitivity), the impact on hurricanes, the particular effects in particular places (what global warming means for Addis Ababa or Atlanta). Continue reading