The climate change brouhaha

Adamant takes note:

“Like the generally dormant volcano that it is, the scientifically astute Real Climate website has erupted into high political dudgeon at the reluctance of the National Science Teacher’s Accociation to make a disaster movie of Biblical proportions starring a former Senator, “part of the standard curriculum’ as have some European nations.”

If you look at the comments supporting the need for the NSTA to show the video, you see diatribes about ‘stupid Republicans’ and ‘evil corporations’ and similar. That method of argument in itself is sufficient to raise skepticism about the quality of the position being argued.

In this same light, New Scientist reports on how Climate change unites science and religion.

Today’s announcement follows the showing of An Inconvenient Truth, former Vice President Al Gore’s documentary on global warming, in thousands of churches across the US in recent months.

Again, you have to wonder what the method is saying about the issue. When advocacy becomes promotion that then becomes a passion, the fundamental tenets of scientific inquiry are being set aside. Subjectivity rules and objectivity suffers.

Then there is the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works:

The Weather Channel’s most prominent climatologist is advocating that broadcast meteorologists be stripped of their scientific certification if they express skepticism about predictions of manmade catastrophic global warming.

You can also find stories by those who advocate human caused climate change claiming that they are the ones being censored. This method of claiming to be the victim of what one is trying to do to others is also something that should create a great deal of skepticism.

Alan Caruba is asking has America Goes Insane Over the Weather?

To make matters worse, people are being told and actually believing that what they do or not can affect the weather in ways to keep the seas and temperatures from rising. It is no longer the domain of the sun, the oceans, volcanoes and clouds. These puny things are nothing compared to what kind of car you drive or what you use to heat your home.

That is a definition of insanity. It is so far removed from reality that Hollywood has to conjure up films showing New York under miles of snow or so-called documentaries demanding that industry must come to a stop in order to save the Earth.

The behavior of argument is a first good clue as to the quality of argument. Stories such as these obfuscate the issues at hand and make it much more difficult to determine relative risk, degree of confidence in measure and conclusion, and how we know what we think we know. This is what prompted James Lewis to describe why he thinks global warming is probably a crock.

Now imagine that all the variables about global climate are known with less than 100 percent certainty. Let’s be wildly and unrealistically optimistic and say that climate scientists know each variable to 99 percent certainty! (No such thing, of course). And let’s optimistically suppose there are only one-hundred x’s, y’s, and z’s — all the variables that can change the climate: like the amount of cloud cover over Antarctica, the changing ocean currents in the South Pacific, Mount Helena venting, sun spots, Chinese factories burning more coal every year, evaporation of ocean water (the biggest “greenhouse” gas), the wobbles of earth orbit around the sun, and yes, the multifarious fartings of billions of living creatures on the face of the earth, minus, of course, all the trillions of plants and algae that gobble up all the CO2, nitrogen-containing molecules, and sulfur-smelling exhalations spewed out by all of us animals. Got that? It all goes into our best math model.

So in the best case, the smartest climatologist in the world will know 100 variables, each one to an accuracy of 99 percent. Want to know what the probability of our spiffiest math model would be, if that perfect world existed? Have you ever multiplied (99/100) by itself 100 times? According to the Google calculator, it equals a little more than 36.6 percent.

The Bottom line: our best imaginable model has a total probability of one out of three. How many billions of dollars in Kyoto money are we going to spend on that chance?

That’s why human-caused global warming is an hypothesis, not a fact. Anybody who says otherwise isn’t doing science, but trying to sell you a bill of goods.

The strength of the argument for a position should match the strength of the measures for that position and the strength of the significance of that position. When these don’t match, it creates dissonance that should lead to skepticism. That means to look for other variables that are influencing the debate and to find out what is really going on.

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