Skip to comments.The Desultory Climate Change Debate ["With all due respect Mr. President, that is not true"]
Posted on 04/01/2009 11:19:32 AM PDT by Tolik
On Monday, the Cato Institute published an open letter [see below] to the president regarding climate change. In that letter which appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and elsewhere over 100 scientists questioned Barack Obamas assertion that "Few challenges facing America and the world are more urgent than combating climate change. The science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear."
Given that it was a big media week for those scientists not ready to cash-in their life insurance policies just yet (the New York Timess profile of legendary physicist Freeman Dyson, who likewise is skeptical that the end is near, ran on Sunday) I thought it would be interesting to see what those on the other side of the scientific divide had to say. My chosen hunting grounds were RealClimate (Climate Science from Climate Scientists) where I found threads here and here, Climate Progress (edited by physicist and policy bombardier Joe Romm) where I found threads here and here, and the relevant blogs and comment boards (here and here) over at the New York Times, which often attract scientists interested in commenting on the stories covered by the Gray Lady.
While I did learn a few things about the scientific debate between the panicked and the not-so-panicked, the key word here is few. I came away more convinced than ever that those shouting the loudest about the need to do something about climate change are not the people we should be listening to. Why? A summary of the most common rejoinders to the skeptics and the logical problems associated with those rejoinders follow.
So-and-so receives corporate funding So what? Even profit-hungry corporations may be right about some things on some occasions an observation that environmentalists implicitly accept in the course of other policy discussions. The point here is that motive is not a reliable indicator regarding whether an argument is correct or incorrect.
So-and-so does not publish in this field So what? The fact that a scientist does not undertake original research on subject x does not have any bearing on whether that scientist can intelligently assess the scientific evidence forwarded in a debate on subject x.
So-and-so works for an ideologically-charged organization So what? The exact same issues associated with the complaint about corporate funding apply here.
So-and-so lacks sufficient credentials to be deemed an expert on this matter and we should only be listening to the experts Didnt stop them from giving Al Gore a Nobel Prize, did it? Besides the simple observation that this objection is obviously used erratically and only at convenience, it ignores the fact that highly credentialed experts are as often found to be wrong as less credentialed individuals.
More experts disagree with so-and-so than agree So what? Not only is this a variation of the argument above, it also assumes that truth can be reliably determined by a show of hands. Nothing especially in science could be further from the truth.
An arguments merit has nothing to do with the motives of the arguer, the credentials of the arguer, or the popularity of the argument. Full stop. No exceptions.
Judging an arguments merit by these criteria reveals one of three things about the person doing the judging, none of which inspires confidence in their ability to play role of plaintiff, judge, jury, and/or executioner in the climate debate:
They are too lazy or too unintelligent to sort out the claims being made so they repair to these dubious intellectual short-cuts to arrive at or justify their opinion.
They cannot tell the difference between a logical argument and an illogical argument.
They understand full-well the illogic of the argument they are forwarding but think that you dont. For them, the ends (persuading you to accept their argument) justifies the means (using bad arguments).
I dont mean to suggest that climate alarmists are (necessarily) any more prone to this sort of thing than any other policy crusader populating the blogosphere. But I find it rich to see these people loudly tell me that theyre the smart experts whose judgment should govern when even at the most fundamental level they cant seem to think straight.
Full-page Ad Rejecting Obama's Climate Change "Consensus" : http://www.cato.org/special/climatechange/cato_climate.pdf
Few challenges facing America and
the world are more urgent than combating
climate change. The science is beyond
dispute and the facts are clear.
PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA, NOVEMBER 19, 2008
With all due respect
Mr. President, that is not true.
We, the undersigned scientists, maintain that the case for alarm regarding climate change is grossly overstated. Surface temperature changes over the past century have been episodic and modest and there has been no net global warming for over a decade now.1,2 After controlling for population growth and property values, there has been no increase in damages from severe weather-related events .3 The computer models forecasting rapid temperature change abjectly fail to explain recent climate behavior.4 Mr. President, your characterization of the scientific facts regarding climate change and the degree of certainty informing the scientific debate is simply incorrect.
Syun Akusofu, Ph.D
John Ferguson, Ph.D
Joel Kauffman, Ph.D
Former Director-General, NZ Dept. Scientific And Industrial Research
Co-Chair, Ipcc Hydrology And Water Resources Working Group
Dick Morgan, Ph.D
PAID FOR BY THE CATO INSTITUTE, WWW.CATO.ORG
1. Swanson, K.L., and A. A. Tsonis. Geophysical Research Letters, in press: DOI:10.1029/2008GL037022.
2. Brohan, P., et al. Journal of Geophysical Research, 2006: DOI: 10.1029/2005JD006548. Updates at http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature.
3. Pielke, R. A. Jr., et al. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 2005: DOI: 10.1175/BAMS-86-10-1481.
4. Douglass, D. H., et al. International Journal of Climatology, 2007: DOI: 10.1002/joc.1651.
There is an AP photo in today’s Orange County Register showing “Carbon Dioxide from the coal-fired Pawnee Power Plant near Bush, Colo.” The picture has an immense cloud of white colored gas spewing from a plant ...
The problem is that ... carbon dioxide is colorless — meaning that it is invisible to the human eye.
Why does this make them less credible than those who get their funding from from a left-wing foundation? ;-)
So-and-so works for an ideologically-charged organization
Like what? The most ideologically-charged organizations I can think of at the moment are the EPA and the UN IPCC.
Both these arguments are at best a wash!
99.9% water vapor (OMG!! Just realized - water vapor is a GREENHOUSE GAS!!!!)
So what indeed!
As demonstrated recently, no "corporate funding" can compare in magnitude to the unlimited taxing powers of goevernment; which funds all or most of the "warming alarm" groups.
Self interest includes, above all else, the ability to live and to enjoy a national podium without actually having a meaningful and productive real job.
... whch is totally unaccounted for in all the computer models on which the "global warming" apocalypse is based...
Ping me if you find one I've missed.
I'm not sure if this is the same photo, but this is the Pawnee Station, and that immense cloud is 100% water vapor coming off the plant's cooling towers. The smaller plume coming from the short stack in the center would also be 100% water, in this case, reject steam.
The CO2 and other flue gases would only come out of the very tall stack, but you can't see any of it.
J-school grads are mostly idiots and easy prey for eco-hustlers.
It appears (99.99% confidence — the newspaper copy is black and white) to be the same photo. And I agree with you on the imbecility of non-scientific graduates coming out of universities and colleges.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.