html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: More climate change thoughts.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

More climate change thoughts.

I can't do justice to the fantastic presentation by the guy from PG&E, who seriously knew his shit. Here's a slightly older paper of his. Maybe y'all are right that companies that sell things have incentives to know their systems and innovate. But the part I loved best was that he pulled up his first slide and started "California has basaltic faults in the northeast, metamorphic granites throughout the Sierra and [something or other] in the southern Sierra." I nearly wriggled with happiness, because I love being validated.

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I don't read this stuff because I meant it when I swore off arguing with climate change denialists. (I also meant it when I swore off arguing with libertarians. My traffic has halved, but I will not be an internet cliché.) But The Poor Man linked the type of post I don't read, so I saw it anyway. A sample:
[T]here is no way I am going to buy into global warming as anything but a blatant attempt to control industry, take freedom away from the people and put political power into the hands of a bunch of elitist wimps who would like nothing better than to tell America what to do, how to think and how many trips they can make to the bathroom every day.

People, this is nothing but a bald faced power grab using flawed science and scare tactics aided by a lap dog media and opportunist politicians and globalists who see a way to squeeze America a little more.
Whatever. Sure. But here's the thing I wonder. How do people who deny climate change reconcile that with guys like this, who are spending entire careers on teasing out really non-dramatic aspects of climate change? This guy is not measuring carbon concentrations in oyster shells for the glory. There are thousands of these people, dorkily and steadily piecing out the causes and predicting effects.

If it is all a conspiracy and nothing is happening, how do denialists conceive of these guys? Do they think these monotonous nerds who talk in jargon (don't take that the wrong way. I'm sexually attracted to every one of them.) are making it up to promote the conspiracy? Like, they spend the morning thinking up esoteric ways of measuring wave energy by sand lost at different gauges around the state, and the afternoon faking their data so they can please Al Gore? They've done this now for ten years and they plan to make an entire career out of making up the detailed groundwork for fake climate change? All of them? On nothing? Imagine the secret conferences they must hold to synchronize their stories and settle on an allowable variance between the made-up river data, the made-up precipitation data and the made-up ocean data. Besides the groupies, WHAT FOR?

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That reminds me that I haven't answered all those emails you guys send me, begging for an open thread to discuss this climate change seminar series. Not all of them have been as dramatic as the really excellent overview, but there have been definite high points along the way. Here's your chance to talk about those.

Some pretty pictures, while we're at it.

10 Comments:

Blogger Dan said...

Just curious, why do you assume good faith by the denialists?

8:58 AM  
Anonymous ed said...

Obviously, all those scientist types do that painstaking work so they can get ginormously wealthy off the grant money. Heh.

9:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I remember something about a bunch of scientists saying smoking isn't really bad for you, or addictive.

And, I keep reading about this Dr. Hayne guy doing autopsies in Mississippi.

Oh, and then there was that whole, the Earth is flat and the center of the universe thing, that all the experts of the day promoted.

Sorry, but people do things for money, power, and just generally to fit in.

Someone researching something mundane that supports your view of the world isn't validation of your view of the world.

Justin

12:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or, maybe a better way of putting it:

Maybe these guys really truly believe in what they're doing, and someone else is willing to pay for them to do it.

Again though, belief isn't proof.

Theory, and projections aren't proof either.

Experimental evidence is proof. Taking a model, making specific predictions, then experimentally finding them to be accurate, into the future, not just against past data.

And that's what you're missing.

I keep saying this, I don't know where this stands, and I don't care. The facts won't care what any of us believe either.

But, until there's actual experimental proof, and a working model, I would not advocate major changes.

You're too hung up on it fitting into your world view, and wanting everyone to change. You're starting there and working backwards.

Justin

12:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know where this stands, and I don't care.

Great; then just stay out of the way. You can thank us later.

9:53 PM  
Anonymous Ennis said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:12 AM  
Blogger Louis said...

I'm a skeptic.

The reasons have to do with solar activity, the the absorption lines of CO2, and historic (pre-historic) levels of CO2 on earth, among other things. (namely, it's a weak greenhouse gas)

I fully support further research as long as it is intellectually honest. I believe that most scientists on both sides are intellectually honest, and doing their research in good faith. I also believe that this research is often distorted in the press.

This attitude isn't any good though:
Great; then just stay out of the way. You can thank us later.

It'll cost me a boat load of money and inconvenience. Me and just about everyone.

I might respond to that statement with "When you're wrong, you can mail all of us skeptics a check for the cost of all these ridiculous programs and regulations".

I don't think that this is reasonable though. I don't hold it against folks for being worried about this. We really do need people to concern themselves with the state of the environment and the planet. I'm fully aware that the earth may be warming due to man, and even if it isn't it was good that someone was paying attention to the possibility.

Advocates should be happy that there are skeptics out there too. If you can't think of why, maybe you should think a little harder.

Just to make it clear:
1) I do value the environment
2) I do support very drastic measure to prevent humans from doing wide scale and irreparable damage to the environment.

I'm just not convinced that we are (in this case).

The environmental movement has a horrible record of hyperbole that is potentially very expensive for the rest of us. We didn't run out of oil by 2000. There aren't worldwide famines due to overpopulation. etc...

From my perspective, the global warming advocates have the burden of proving that:
1) there is a problem
2) any proposed solution will either fix it, or help it in a noticeable way.

I remain skeptical of both the problem and the popularly proposed solutions.

12:01 PM  
Blogger Pete Warden said...

Louis, when you say CO2 is a weak greenhouse gas, do you have evidence that this paper is wrong?
http://www.atmo.arizona.edu/students/courselinks/spring04/atmo451b/pdf/RadiationBudget.pdf

It gives figures of 32Wm2 for CO2, second only to water's contribution of 75Wm2. The source of these figures and the assumptions behind them are gone into in painful detail in the paper. I will eagerly devour any refutations of their work, but until I see one, I'm taking them as the best facts we have.

Combine that with measured CO2 concentrations that have gone up from 288 ppm to 370 ppm over the last 150 years, and even if we knew nothing else, there's obvious reason to be concerned.

It's easy to get lost in the arcana of climate models, but there's some pretty basic science throwing up warning signals, and you don't get to be taken seriously as a skeptic without producing some evidence that the basic science is wrong.

4:04 PM  
Anonymous yoyo said...

"Making up theories and making eyes with Megan" sounds like a great make-believe world to me...

I think people mostly learn about the outside world by projection; ideological motivation is more important for them than biological systems, so they can't imagine it otherwise for other people.

6:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No worries here. I think the polar ice cap has just gone on vacation to Florida. It'll be back up north in the summer, right?

Global warming or not, the real reason we should be weaning ourselves from fossil fuels is because of all the hidden costs in blood and treasure used to fight, and prepare to fight, wars to protect our access to sources of oil. If we needed less of it (or none?) we'd be a lot more secure.

8:41 AM  

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