- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Examine the data; the truth is out there...

Posted by: Gideon Hallett ( UK ) on August 20, 1999 at 23:30:02:

In Reply to: One comment...after another posted by borg on August 18, 1999 at 00:32:28:

: : : What about this?

: : : Can so many "experts" be wrong?

: : Yes. Exactly how much of the meteorological and earth science community do you think that represents, Borg? 2%? 3%?

: I don't know. Apparently you don't either so why the
: speculative question?

OK. I studied at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, at which there were 3-4 professors in related subjects. Now, Mullard isn't the biggest lab around, but my guess is that there are over 3000 professors worldwide in related subjects (meteorology, climate science, remote sensing and geology); in fact, that's a conservative estimate. So if you manage to get 100 profs to sign a declaration, that's by no means a large fraction of the community; it's around 3%, like I said.

In any rate, it's not a valid method of argument; it goes on the reputation of the people involved; not their presented data. Singer is a classic example of this; as I pointed out, his experimental method has more holes than a watering can; yet people still tout his evidence because he opposes the greenhouse theory.

: : I'm not saying that there isn't a debate going on about whether global warming is taking place; but the majority conclusion is that it is;

: Sources for determining it's a majority? And even if it is
: what are the odds of the Consensus Meme? It's also common
: knowledge that anyone that steps 'out' of the consensus will
: have a hard time due to peer group pressure.

Except in this case; where people who step out are funded by political groups and oil companies. There is no corresponding funding by Green groups of climate change advocates; one side is funded by corporations, the other is funded by the regular scientific process (that of funding bodies and the review board).

Incidentally; in saying "so what if it is a majority?", you're trying to argue both ways; on one point you're saying "how can this many people be wrong"; on the next you're saying "well, the fact that it is a majority doesn't make it right".

I'm not talking majorities; a majority can be wrong. The early quantum physicists were heretics, but their theories agreed better with the observed data, which is why the theories like the theory of the luminiferous aether died out. This doesn't mean that majorities are automatically wrong; the theory of gravity is still only a theory; yet every one of us stakes our life on it at some point; and anyone challenging that theory (as distinct from refining it, as relativity did) would have to produce some pretty astounding evidence...

: Is 100 years of data enough to determine whether or not the
: data is part of a longer cycle?

Look at the evidence. Now, this is the matter of debate; since the question is whether humans can affect their climate. As such, the palaeoclimate isn't terribly relevant; since humanity has only really been making a mark on the world in the last 50 years. Certainly, we existed before then; but it is only since WWII that humanity has started to consume in excess quite so dramatically.

(Still, if you would like to peruse climate change data, you can find it at this link in the NASA Global Change Master Directory (GMCD); a resource with a lot of papers on the subject (the main page is here).

I'm not saying that the mean surface or atmospheric temperature has never been higher; we know this to be untrue. The point is that the rate of climate change has never been higher in human history; and as my previous WMO graph shows, the rise coincides with the post WWII CO2 production boom. Our climate is changing faster than ever before. The quibbles come in because making measurements in these criteria are necessarily imprecise; they are dealing with physical properties, which are impossible to measure perfectly. The more rational school of opposition to the greenhouse theory are saying "yes, it's happening, but is it as bad as all that?"; my view is that we are dealing with potential mass human misery as a direct result of the First World's overconsumption; as such, it is inhumane to continue polluting in the hope that it will all work out.

I disagree with those who maintain that hurting the world economy will cause more suffering than the greenhouse effect will; examine the conclusions of people like Myers and Kent and you can see that global warming could have a catastrophic effect on the global economy anyway; we are talking fiscal costs running into trillions in terms of flood damage and vector-borne medical problems; the global economy can't maintain this high-consumption, high-pressure activity in the long term and we should regulate our consumption of non-renewable resources now; rather than letting people die and doing it when we are forced to.

: : We *know* the greenhouse effect exists as a phenomenon; we've observed it many times both here and on Venus; that much is not under dispute. The crunch question is whether humans can influence the climate.

: Of course. So until that question is answered most proposed
: "solutions" are like throwing darts in the dark.

Not quite; you can usually guess the trends in data without perfect data sets; estimates are not by necessity inaccurate. It was not proven until comparatively recently that smoking was harmful to health; however, there was a pretty definite suspicion that it was; simply because of the experimental evidence.

No-one needs to smoke, physically speaking. And lo, if you stop smoking, you're less likely to die from smoking-related diseases. That's not a tricky concept to grasp, is it?

: Oh, well. Back to square one.

Never back to square one; we learn from our mistakes; or we would be extinct. We might yet be, if we don't learn to control our greed.


(back from a few days holiday visiting a friend in Iceland and watching aurorae.)

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