Think

Maybe we should demand a higher level of scientific certainty (rather than political consensus disguised as science) before we destroy civilization as we know it to save society as we know it.

Rather than put this in comments, I am making it part of the post:

Our society and many of the industrialized societies run on fossil fuels. Fossil fuel combustion creates CO2 and adds to the earth’s temperature according to the climate change theory.  

I have read that transition needn’t be painful. That depends on what numbers you use for estimating (kind of like climate change itself) and what methods you adopt for achieving CO2 reduction. According to CO2now.org, 33/4 billion tons of CO2 comes from fossil fuels and cement, 3.3 billion from land use changes across the globe each year. We are at 395 ppm approximately on CO2. Some articles said if we pass 350 ppm, we have passed the tipping point and changes will be irreversible for 1000 years.

Most sources I checked said a 2 degree increase is the maximum increase before climate change is “irreversible”. What CO2 concentration yields that? 450 ppm was the highest concentration I found as the limit before catastrophe strikes. At 395 ppm, we can only add 55 more ppm before it’s too late. The world adds over 2 billion tons of CO2 per year, so at current rates, we have maybe 25 years to get emissions in check.

If we were to replace fossil fuel generated electricity with nuclear plants, that would be a significant reduction. Unfortunately, it would also be very expensive and rabidly opposed in many places. The smaller thorium plants may provide a way around the “fear factor” but I am not sure at what cost. If currently approved nuclear plants can be modified to use thorium, that would help hold down the expenses.

Replacing coal with natural gas significantly reduces emissions. If we replace older coal plants with natural gas plants, this would be a way to decrease CO2 without extreme expense. People’s fear of fracking will have to be overcome for this to work. Plus, according to Michael Mann, “We may be reducing our CO2 emissions, but it is possible that we’re actually increasing the greenhouse gas problem with methane emissions.”

Another idea is to increase automobile mileage. Cars getting 60 mpg does not appear feasible unless safety is seriously compromised or a very clever engineer finds a way to make a light-weight car that doesn’t crunch. Trucks cannot be made to get that kind of mileage. As far as I can tell, the only lower carbon option is railroads. To switch to rail would be expensive and material intensive. One would also lose the truck driving jobs, which rail would only replace a few of. All changes can cause job loss, but on the scale of changing from trucking to rails, it would be a very large number of losses. It would make those 37,000 jobs the US was going to lose in wind energy if the PTC did not pass look like nothing at all.

Renewables” like wind and solar are too variable to replace fossil fuels, not to mention expensive. People could use these on their homes with battery backup and not tied to the grid, but there would be a training curve as people learned how these work. (That I know from experience.) If one wants to run expensive electronics using wind, a very high quality sine wave inverter is needed. I do not know if your 60” HD television can run off battery-backed wind power.

The only true solution to climate change seems to be zero carbon usage. This will require the globe to rework every aspect of modern life. WE will need new electricity generation methods, new transportation methods new home heating methods. We will need new construction techniques that avoid cement (a source of CO2), planned communities, nature preserves, new ways to farm (electric tractors anyone?) and on and on. This is the only way to stop the change permanently.

Even if we don’t do zero emissions, to stop the rise in 25 years seems impossible without draconian government intervention on a global scale. Turning off my lights when I am not using them does virtually nothing. One country alone does virtually nothing. Worldwide cooperation or worldwide forced compliance? The former has not been successful to date.

To maintain pre-industrial CO2 levels of around 300 ppm, we would have to cut CO2 output by a minimum of 1/3, not counting any previous build-up, half-life or other similar factors. Some countries might be able to cut somewhere in this range without serious economic damage if allowed a long enough period.

However, we are constantly told this is a crisis—the oceans will boil if we don’t do something. Al Gore had a child burn a Barbie doll in a science fair to illustrate how serious the threat is. If climate change is that serious, we will need to make changes in our lifestyles that go beyond the easy and convenient. Nuclear power will be foisted upon people, bicycles for transportation, or buses, not personal cars, etc, etc. The EPA declared CO2 damaging to human health. That is serious. It calls for drastic measures and drastic measures translate into a major overhaul of the lifestyles we live now.

If China and India and other developing nations continue to spew CO2 into the air, then what? China pollutes more than the USA. How do we stop the climate change then?

Most of the difficulty in this whole climate change debate is the multiple versions of how serious it is, how much we have to cut CO2 and how fast. When we figure this out and come down to one number, then perhaps a better estimate can be made. We must also deal with the reality that many countries are not going to go along with this without the infusion of large quantities of cash or forceful intervention. How much can the “rich”countries pay the poor countries to stop polluting? Who are the rich countries? What kind of price tag to get India to stop burning coal—or Germany, for that matter? What about Greece, where cutting forests is rampant because people cannot afford fuel? This is a massive undertaking, massive.

Note: James Hansen states ZERO carbon is the solution, so that is what I went with in saying we would have to destroy the lives we have to avoid destroying the lives we have. Zero carbon is a total global revamping.

 

Argument from Authority

Much of the power of the CAGW position relies on argument from appropriate authority.

As of 1978, the word appropriate was not in the term.  Appropriate was added in the hopes of making a logical fallacy valid.  I have searched but cannot find where the change originated.  Since most frequently I see the term used when discussing CAGW, I suspect that may be the origin of the change.

What does the insertion of “appropriate” do for science or any other discipline (Carl Sagan said there were no authorities in science)  CAGW is supposed to be so complex only a climate scientist could understand it.  A condescending remark at best.  Basic science is understood by many.  Poor experimental design, name-calling, bullying–many people recognize this as not science.

For now, I will ignore the truth/falsity of the claim and go with the idea that there is an appropriate authority.  What is a climate scientist?  Consider the following scientists, based on actual scientists out there today:

Scientist A     PhD in physics and geology               Scientist H     PhD  in paleontology

Scientist B     PhD in atmospheric science            Scientist I     PhD in meteorology

Scientist C     PhD in meteorology                       Scientist J   PhD in environmental science

Scientist D    PhD in meteorology                       Scientist K      PhD in Ecology/Climatology

Scientist E     PhD in physics                                 Scientist L      PhD in applied mathematics

Scientist F     PhD in meteorology                            Scientist M     PhD in physics

Scientist G     PhD in theoretical physics

Which of these are climate science experts?  Which are climate scientists?  One could inquire about their GPA, the subject and content of their master’s and doctoral thesis in an effort to find the most qualified in their field.  The best and the brightest should be the appropriate authority, right?

That was not the choice of CAGW followers.  The criteria chosen was how many peer-reviewed articles each scientist had published.

First question:  How does writing a paper indicate who is brilliant and who is not?

Second question:  Who determines which journals qualify as peer-reviewed?  (Hint–it’s the same people who benefit from the classification of said journals.)

So the definition of the authority is independent of degree, schooling, thesis subject, and so forth.  It depends entirely on how many articles are published in approved journals.

I cannot find any justification for defining an expert as someone who can get a small number of peers to give his paper a thumbs up.  The small number of papers published versus papers written would also indicate a great deal of luck in getting the paper published.  Name recognition probably helps.  In addition, there are a lot of papers that are quite good that will never see the anointed status of “peer-reviewed” even though they were excellent papers with no errors in them.  Unless someone can empirically prove that publishing papers makes you smarter, faster and cooler than the guys with the exact same degree and education, this is not proof of expertise.  It’s an arbitrary definition that allows CAGW to choose whom they want to call authorities and control the story line.  One would also need to explain why a PhD in physics supporting CAGW with publishing in peer-reviewed journals makes you a superstar while the same degree means nothing if you disagree with the CAGW and are not published.  The education is the same–the knowledge of math, computer modeling, and so forth should be easily understood by the unpublished physicist.

The argument from appropriate authority is just an attempt to convince people that a logical fallacy can be altered to produce a desired outcome. Cleverly adding words to a logical fallacy does not make it any less a fallacy.  It’s still argument from authority and it’s still invalid.

One response I have seen to the authority question is concerning doctors.  You don’t go to a cardiologist for dentistry and vice-versa.  You don’t go to a cardiologist for treatment of dental problems, but cardiologists can and do recommend trips to the dentist.  Dentists and hygienists are trained to look for signs of heart disease and diabetes, mouth cancer, etc.  They don’t treat the problems but they can recognize the need for someone trained in another field to take a look.  One would hope if a patient went to a cardiologist on the recommendation of their dentist, the cardiologist would not tell them the dentist is overstepping his bounds and send them home.

Also, specialists in medicine look for what they are trained in.  Go to a infectious disease specialist for treatment of thrush and you may end up with months on an anti-fungal medicine because the thrush won’t heal.  The thrush was diagnosed, so the treatment is applied and applied.  Give up, try a periodontist and an otolaryngologist and it turns out the problem is an auto-immune disorder.  Had you gone with the specialist because he was the “authority” and stubbornly stuck with him, how long would a correct diagnoses have taken?  Would it ever have occurred?  Narrow fields of study may prevent a scientist from seeing anything outside their fields.  It may well be the answer lies outside their field–and dismissing anyone outside the field as “not an appropriate authority” is destroying any chance of the truth being found.  That’s why there are no authorities in science, only data.

The  latest in peer-review:   Flatulence on airplanes: just let it go  (Abstract only–paper is pay-walled)

http://journal.nzma.org.nz/journal/abstract.php?id=5532

Obama: Follow the science

WtD has a post on Obama, renewed hopes and Obama saying he will “follow the science”. This is construed at being new hope for environmental issues.

Obama made the same claim in his first term. Some results:

  1. Obama* kept the morning after pill a prescription for girls under 17 in spite of science saying the pill was safe at any age and should not require a prescription.
  2. Obama refused to go along with the EPA plan for stricter ground level ozone levels. (The EPA says the science supports this.)
  3. Allowed forest supervisors to “ignore the science” when making decisions.
  4. Would not endorse cap and trade
  5. The EPA refused to protect against nitrous oxide and sulfur oxide, in spite of claims the science shows there is a problem.
  6. Supports wind and solar in spite of the lack of scientific evidence these are workable energy options
  7. In a “reverse” complaint, Obama is being urged to ignore the science and ban fracking
  8. Allowed the EPA to mandate use of cellulosic biofuel, in spite of the fact there are no commercial suppliers (A small amount was exported in entirety to Brazil last year)

Looking at the Obama record, the “follow the science statement” is just rhetoric. Words without action. There really seems to be no reason for hope. Not to mention “follow the science” is obviously a meaningless statement with so many versions of the “correct” science out there. Just typical Obama.

*Obama equals Obama and/or Congress and the cabinet

The 350.org protesting in DC reportedly has monetary ties to the Rockefellers, rather than being “grassroots”. Interesting funding source?

(If you want verification, type 350.org Shuman Rockefeller into the Google search box)

I want change and I want it NOW

I found this headline and photo yesterday and cringed.

Sandy Survivors to Obama: Our Power is Out, But You Have the Power to Stop Climate Change

crockett-1

Do these protestors truly believe Obama can in less than 4 years stop hurricanes, blizzards and tornadoes, single-handedly? He can’t even get their lights on. (Of course, having no lights and heat could help climate change, if Obama had not hopped on Air Force One shortly after promising action and gone on the campaign trail…..)

This is a truly frightening direction. No climate change scientist says we can stop hurricanes, tornadoes and blizzards. Cooling may decrease the frequency or intensity of these weather phenomena, but there are only probability calculations concerning how much effect CO2 decrease will have on the planet.

As an aside, on WtD, there was a writeup on more frequent blizzards in the Midwest and Northeast. There was NO mention of the west or northwest. Right now, the winters in Wyoming have become much less snowy and the summers very dry. There is NO extreme weather of any kind. Why leave out half the country in the data?

Returning to the disturbing headline and photo. I sincerely hope these individuals are prepared to be disappointed, not to mention to be flooded and snowed on many, many more times in the future. Even if we stopped fossil fuel usage tomorrow (which would cause worldwide war) the climate will not snap back immediately. Climate scientists talk of carbon dioxide “half-life”, meaning CO2 in the air takes time to clear out. Also, to maintain any kind of industrial society with even a moderate decrease in CO2 would require the use of nuclear power, something the protestors would be back picketing also.

Climate change has become a cause that is destined to fail with this sensationalism. Let’s say we do cut emissions. If the next ten years, the blizzards and storms still increase (for whatever reason) there will be questions. The claim can be made that more time is required for the climate to return to “normal”. However, if cutting emissions was accomplished through unreliable electricity (or cost-prohibitive), reduced driving, higher unemployment, and other sacrifices, the public may be very unhappy with the lack of results. This will damage the public’s confidence in science. Science demanded change, changes were made, and the results were nil. People are not very patient these days.

The way climate change has been presented, the disaster is imminent and we must change. If we change and the bad things still happen, the public blames science. One can only spin things so far–”believers” expect miracles. Shut down CO2, the storms go away, we still have lights, cars, industry—there’s just no way to deliver all of that.

Magical thinking—encouraging it is always a mistake. If science doesn’t make clear there is no magic, it risks losing credibility permanently.

He Said/ She Said

 

Skeptic/denier Warmist/alarmist
Deniers are shills of the Left (USA) Skeptics are shills of the oil industry
CO2 is/may be a greenhouse gas CO2 is a greenhouse gas
Humans create CO2—effect unknown Humans are the main source of CO2
Warmists are leftists and socialists Deniers are right wing free market nuts
We need to study possible future direction We must act NOW and cut CO2 doing whatever it takes
Warmists hijacked the media and government Deniers are trying to hijack the media and government
Skeptics care about science Deniers care about science
Warmist claims are exaggerated and wrong Warmist arguments are the only rational ones
Climate scientists have the same degrees as meteorologists, etc Only climate scientists know about climate science
A degree does not endow the holder with special knowledge A degree and published research are the ONLY measures of valid climate scientists
Satellite pictures show Arctic ice is just fine Satellite pictures show Arctic ice is melting
50 years is to short a window for climate calculations 50 years is enough to pronounce the east coast blizzards as increasing
Climate and weather are not the same/Weather events taken individually do not prove climate change Weather isn’t climate but weather can prove climate change (even when very localized)
Weather is getting not more extreme Weather is getting more extreme and we are to blame

These are some of the claims I have found on various climate websites. It is a partial list. For now, I am not addressing the correctness of any of the claims. 

In trying to separate the hype from the fact, one finds very little useful data out there. I have found I if produce names of those who worked in climate science and now do not believe many of the warmist claims, there is always an ulterior motive for their defection rather than the science just did not make sense to them anymore. If I note that Al Gore’s film was actually the catalyst that pushed people into investigating and then rejecting AGW (as one commentor noted), I am told Al Gore is not a scientist. Many times I find the only definition for a climate scientist is one who agrees with AGW. The term “cherry picking” comes to mind, though I also see both sides abuse that term. Much of the AGW argument seems to be based on the argument from authority (the word “appropriate” was inserted at some point to allow people with advanced degrees to become authorities that had to be listened to. I am unable to find at what point, though prior to 1978, when I graduated college, the term was not included.) This is basically endorsement of scientific truth by popular vote. I have a problem with that. It also requires blind faith in your authority, since you have no possibility of understanding the issue. 

How does one sort this out? If we believe warmists, the only option is to go along with experts because they know best. Historically, this has not proved to be a certainty. Theories were rejected due to going against the “consensus” at the time, because one lacked the proper degree and sometimes just belief in hoaxes. Once commentor made a very astute observation on another thread: One solution to this is for researchers to keep plugging away at getting papers published and getting one’s idea accepted. It could be a long and painful process, but if skeptics are right, they need to persevere. That is what is happening, but it is a slow process.

What to do? In future posts, I will discuss the precautionary principle, the reality of trying to curb warming by basically wiping out industrialization and pushing it as the ONLY solution, fun with numbers and graphs, and what effect lack of transparency has on science. Also, after I slog through more sites, I will present my own totally unscientific look at conspiracy theories and AGW/skeptics. For entertainment only, of course.

Direction

Where this blog is heading (subject to derailment, of course)

I have been scouring through WtD to address some on the issues presented. Some of these are:

The science is settled.

The scientific debate ALWAYS remains open. It is a characteristic of science. If quantum mechanics were treated the same way climate science is, when the CERN researchers found a particle that they believed to be going faster than the speed of light, they would have shredded the data because the settled science said particles do not move faster than the speed of light. Science is ALWAYS an ongoing search for knowledge. If it’s “settled”, it it NOT science.

Equating “deniers” with conspiracy theorists is a logical fallacy and baseless. At best, it’s a shady marketing technique—like the tomato company commercial where a speaker tells the female shopper that other tomato brands are chemically peeled. While she may be horrified, the science says such a practice is safe. Still, using the word chemical frightens the woman and keeps her from asking if the chemical peel is safe. Now, when she looks at other brands, she sees CHEMICAL PEEL. Associating something bad to other tomatoes is in no way a valid, scientific process. It’s cheap shot marketing. So is trying to tie “deniers” to conspiracy theories.

Peer-reviewed scientists are the only authorities

I had a friend tell me I should not use certain soaps because the soap turned litmus paper dark. She had no idea what the reaction with the paper meant, just that it was bad. She based her beliefs on what authorities told her, in virtually every decision. I could explain something in detail, then a month later her doctor would tell the same thing and she would then believe it. A surgeon talked her into back surgery when she came in for something totally different. She refused to get a second opinion—her doctor was all the authority she needed. This is anecdotal but is does indicate my point—how you choose and authority has a huge impact of the outcome of your choices. The definition of authority directly affects the conclusion reached.

Your coworkers and friends are suspect

Who people know has nothing to do with the accuracy of scientific theory. Unless you are a hermit, you probably know a few people with some unconventional beliefs. Attempting to push “guilt by association” is NOT acceptable. For years, I did not put my name on my blogs because WHAT I wrote was all that mattered, not who I was. People who read my pages were expected to do research and see if the viewpoint or theory presented was correct. Ideas are separate from the speaker.

“Follow the money”

  1. I do not know any skeptics who get payments from “Big Oil”, though I do know several who would like to. This is falsehood designed to make people think all skeptics are in the pocket of some huge, mean industry. Most skeptics write for the same reason believers do—they feel they need to give voice to science.
  2. Environmentalists and climate scientists are funded. Yet skeptics are vilified on the basis of possibly be being funded. Not reasonable.
  3. “Big Oil” benefits from wind and solar subsidies, yet I have not read climate scientists to outlaw oil companies and oil money (anyone whose income or inheritance can be traced to oil companies) from receiving the subsidies. Why not?

Follow the money does NOT disprove or prove anything. It’s a rule of thumb for a place to start looking. It has been misused and abused by many, many people. There are many more factors that must be considered. (Al Gore sold his TV station to an oil nation—follow the money? He’s financed by oil. Right?)

I will address these issues in more depth in future postings. I do read your comments and check out the links presented. I want to be thorough in my research and that takes time.

Six Aspects of Climate Belief

Six Aspects of Climate Belief  (in response to Six Aspects of Denial on “whatchingthedeniers”)

1.  Never question the science.  Just state you and everyone who is not a climate science cannot understand.  This then becomes “taking it on faith” or believing in something you cannot prove or do not understand because certain people deemed smarter than you said it’s true.  Stick with the “consensus” line and hope the listener will be bullied into going along.  Intimidation is what science is about.

2.  Maintain blind faith in the motives and integrity of climate scientists.  This appears to be a somewhat naive view.  Do we have evidence being a scientist makes you moral or holy, above the temptations of the world?  These are humans beings, but treat them as gods and maybe others will go along with the idea.

3.  Ignore any scientist who speaks out against climate change.  Denounce him as “not qualified”, even if he has credentials identical to your climate scientist.  Few people will check.

4.  Ignore the cost of “remediation” for climate change.  Accept that the only solution for climate change is stopping industrialization.  Repeat often that humans can NOT adapt.

5.  Appeal to “the greater good”.  Emphasize sacrificing comfort, the economy and anything else required for the cause.  Emphasize “do as we say, not do as we do” should any deniers mention the globetrotting nature of climate change conferences.  Remind individuals we all sacrifice at different levels.

6.  Acceptance reinforces the believers key philosophy.  Climate change is to socialists as cat nip is to cats–they get high on it.  It elevates scientists to the omniscient level of gods, allowing no dissent in one’s move to save the world and make it a socialist utopia.  Wealth and industry threaten this dream and must be stopped at all costs.  Most importantly, people need to be told what is good for them and what they need to do.  The are not smart enough to be trusted with saving the world on their own.