Global Warming, Conditional Truth, and the Rights of Heretics

By Chuck Spinney

[DNI Editor’s note: An increase of even a few degrees in world average temperature over the next several decades could drown populous coastal regions, reduce the world’s stock of arable land, and perhaps accelerate the rise and intensify the effects of pandemics. Any of these could increase the likelihood of armed conflict between states and could lead to the disintegration of marginal states. Solutions, however, based on an inadequate understanding of the world meteorological system could damage economies without solving the problem. So it is important that we think logically and act scientifically when formulating policies to deal with global warming.]

I have been an avid sailor for over 25 years and that experience tells me the climate has changed, seeming to become warmer and certainly more unstable, but I do not like being stampeded into conclusions by slick Pentagon style briefings like the maudlin exercise in self-referencing that got Al Gore his Nobel Prize.

Global Warming, specifically the idea that it is a product of mankind’s activities, has now achieved iconic status in public discourse. Yet, it is a theory based on extensions of scientific knowledge that are problematic at best and science fiction at worst. Nevertheless, thanks in part to the syrupy musings of Gore, it is becoming more and more difficult to have a debate based on the principles of science over the question of global warming because nefarious motives are now attributed to anyone who disagrees with the consensus view.

But the essence of scientific discourse is to question the consensus view. Science revolves around the idea of conditional truth and the principle of falsification — that is to say, the idea that any scientific hypothesis, be it a consensus view or a radical departure from that view, must be framed in such a way that it can be falsified by observation, testing, and/or analysis. If a legitimate hypothesis can not be falsified in a given experimental effort, then the theory predicting the outcome specified by that hypothesis can be accepted as conditionally true, but never absolutely true.

Viewed from the perspective of science, therefore, the theory of Global Warming is not a fact nor is it a truth. At best, it is a theory that is conditionally true, and then only if scientifically legitimate hypotheses derived from this theory can not be disproved by critical observation, testing, or analysis. And this condition can occur only if such hypotheses are constructed in such a way that they can be disproved by a logical contradiction or via anomalous observations or experimental results, should they occur.

For those readers who think this is too high a bar, consider, please, fact that this is, after all, the same scientific standard that Isaac Newton’s theories of cosmology had to meet. And when the anomalies like the test results of the Michaelson-Morely experiment began to crop up and raise the doubts the veracity of Newton’s theory, the principle of falsifiability intervened to force open the door to the advancement in knowledge now known as Einstein’s cosmology. Never, however, did it reflect poorly on the ability of Newton or the elegance of his work.

Indeed, it is clear from the study of the history of science that the principle of falsifiability is the engine powering the great leaps forward in science and the growth of knowledge. And in this context, it is important to remember also that boundaries of knowledge are limited by the suite of falsifiable hypotheses accepted to date — i.e., those that have be subjected successfully to critical observations/tests/analyses. Any attempt to predict or to construct a vision beyond these boundaries falls into the categories of speculation or faith, not science.

So, with these thoughts in mind, lets look at how the question of Global Warming through the scientific lens of conditional truth.

Freeman Dyson, one of our nation’s most esteemed scientists, analyzes this question in the a recent thought provoking essay. His open attitude of intellectual tolerance also illustrates the kind of mentality that produces real science, not bad power point briefings. I urge you to read it carefully.

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Filed in Uncategorized | 40 responses so far

40 Responses to “Global Warming, Conditional Truth, and the Rights of Heretics”

  1. maximilliangcon 19 Dec 2007 at 5:35 pm 1

    As Chuck mentions in his opening, warming, or change in the climate is something I have
    empirically experienced over the last 30 years.

    The change has been dramatic, and very noticeable. It’s here, it’s real, I see it, touch it, feel it, and experience it.

    I find myself doing things in the middle of winter, like riding my motorcycle, that I’d never have imagined as a kid.

    I’ve seen the ski and snow boarding season foreshortened to a period of weeks, instead of months.

    The further north in lattitude you live at, or travel, the more pronounced and obvious the effect.

    Don’t believe me, ask someone in northern Canada or Alaska.

    I’m seeing more extremes in the variance of weather, the frequency of catagory 5 and lesser storms, recording breaking high and low temperatures.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071204121949.htm

    The text books and teachers I had back when all told me that in a dynamic system as large as the entire earth, that it takes thousands of years to climate change to take hold, not decades. These people are still with us, and they were not stupid, then, or now.

    Deniers, of climate change now remind me of the “cigarettes don’t cause cancer” crowd.

    “Something” is going on.

    Is the sun getting hotter ?

    Is the massive quantity of kinetic energy being released by human activity warming the planet ?

    Politics, and vested interests aside.

    In either case, or both combined, it’s very bad news, overall for human civilization, and the plants
    and animals we depend on.

    MaX

  2. gracaton 19 Dec 2007 at 5:47 pm 2

    Hi all,
    I’m glad to hear from Chuck again. Got to admit some of this is over my head being poor at the sciences. But, I think I have good instincts and get the gist of what Mr Dyson is saying

    Technology and politics muddy the water. I keep going back to the OODA loop specifically Orientation which seems the most powerful part of the loop to me. As in some people are going to buy what the people they like say even if they know they are wrong.

    D.

  3. exomikeon 19 Dec 2007 at 6:02 pm 3

    Hi Chuck,
    First, with all due respect (a boatload) and in your defense:

    “Culture, Incorporated”
    In this 1989 book, Herbert Schiller says:

    “It is not a matter of people being dupes, informational or cultural. It is that human beings are not equipped to deal with a pervasive disinformation system — administered from the command posts of the social order — that assaults the senses through all cultural forms and channels.”

    That said,

    This reminds me of when Col. Hackworth fell into the sway of David Horowitz and the Court of the Fox Noise Machine on matters other than Military. Fortunately, the Col. recovered before he died.

    Yes, the global warming factor is overblown but only as a specific part of the relentless attack on the life support system of spaceship earth. There is a solid consensus of relevant scientist who are qualified to contribute to the consensus in this area of study. Michaelson-Morely experiments did not end the usefulness of Newtonian Physics. My rifle still recoils and I still drop an anvil on my toe at 32ft per sec.². Rather M.M showed exceptions to Newton that matter little to the average carbon based life form living on the surface of this planet…, unless of course some neocon based low life form finally gets to pop his nuke.

    The Global warming “debate” is in the main carried on by the likes of well-funded Exxon “Scientist” and public relations firms and their bought and paid for media sycophants. Unfortunately statements like Dyson’s (which a careful reading will show include value judgments and political opinion) will be taken out of context and trumpeted to the high heavens by the best propagandists that big money can buy (American Public Relations Firms) as a full refutation not only global warming but the very real destruction of the echo-sphere by human over-population and ruthless energy based plunder economics.

  4. genehaon 19 Dec 2007 at 8:00 pm 4

    There is undeniable evidence that CO2 in the atmosphere has been been rapidly increased by human activity and that there is rapid increase in global temperature. We’re not sure they’re related (just as we can’t prove that the dead man on the toilet at Graceland wasn’t a clone) but it’s a solid hypothesis. Other theories depend on precedented causes (solar activity, random variation, etc) for unprecedented change. I would be delighted if solar flares faded and the Earth cooled to 1970s levels, but it seems less likely.

    What’s the danger if we do act? What you present is a theory that the economy will collapse, without any facts to back it up. Which country has seen GDP collapse because of increased energy efficiency? I don’t think any respected economists blame any of Europe’s or Japan’s historical economic problems on their energy policy. In fact, since Kyoto they’ve been going ahead with increased energy efficiency, but our economy is the one stuck in neutral.

    You seem dubious of one theory, but take the other for granted.

  5. maximilliangcon 19 Dec 2007 at 9:02 pm 5

    “You seem dubious of one theory, but take the other for granted.”

    Comment by geneha — December 19, 2007 @ 8:00 pm

    That’s an American issue. It’s a widely held belief amoung Americans
    that Global Warming is a consperacy to rob the United States of it’s wealth.

    Almost Laughable as the median US income is something like $ 40,000.
    inflated and continously depreciating dollars per year. Hardly
    an embarassment of riches, unless you compare it to the very poorest
    amoung third world.

    Hence the rejection of Koyto, wich was seen by many Americans
    as a consperacy to re-distribute wealth, from those who earn it,
    (American middle class) to those who don’t.(emerging and 3rd world)

    Fear of any kind of change also lies at the nucleus.
    Consider the plight of the US automotive manufacturing
    industry who’s collective fear, and resistance to change has gotten
    it to where it is today.

    However, that “attitude” prevaids a large sector of the
    US population, that “the world is always out to get them.”

    It’s all fear based, particuarly since 9-11
    as is America’s military posture.

    A line for the “Rocky” movie franchise, I quote from memory
    characterises it and serves as a perfect metaphor for the whole
    sorry mess.

    “What are you telling me Adrian ? What are you putting me through ?
    You want to break me down ? Ok, ok,! I’m afraid ! for the first
    time in my life I’m afraid !, that someone might take what I got !”

    MaX

  6. gdonovan54on 20 Dec 2007 at 4:32 am 6

    Good Ole Chuck Spinney

    I’ve always thought that war and science were kindred endeavours. A kind of natural selection operates upon both of their practictioners. In the long run, unsuccessful warriors are killed in battle or are defeated. Unsuccessful scientists promulgate theories that have a life, but ultimately do not produce succeeding generations of advocates.

    The stringent test of battle is mirrored in the contest of scientific controversy. Both produce actors who are finally tested in a reality that is uninterested in their intentions and ambitions.

    When I was in high school, I was taught that science was a matter of making testable, falsifiable predictions about physical reality that counld be be confirmed by repeatable experiments. The products of this process were accorded a high interest and respect because they were reproducable by any competent scientist — however ugly or unpopular — in a process of consensual validation. This process was very different from the simple forming of a consensus, which was merely the agreement of large numbers of people, however highly qualified. What passses for “science” today is very different frm my high school learning.

    Today, layers of federally and internationally funded bureacuracies employ armies of credentialed workers that churn out the mountains of peer-reviewed research constituting the corpus of what we refer to as “scientific knowledge.” Most of the data that are created by means of this funding are never published. Except for the occasional research that supports controversial or useful conclusions, the underlying experiments are never reproduced. The majority of papers that are created have only the purpose to secure funding.

    The survival of the modern scientific practicioner is the survival of the beauracrat. This is not not say that there are not real scienticsts. Far from it. It is to say — for the most part — that we do no know their names.

    Good strategy in war submits to the same kind of test as good science. War, as history amply demonstrates, can be sucessfully prosecuted by anybody, however much they might fail the test of human goodness. The truism that great generals are defeated by trying to win again their last successuful war refers to the debilitating effect that the approbatrion of ones fellows for a successful campaign has on ones future engagements. In the long run, wars are won by hungry men. The winners can be profitably advised only by defeated soldiers who can remember, and learn, from their losses.

    If you look in horror at the way in which the institutional rot that has infected our war-making capability by large, moneyed creations such as the Pentagon (renamed by me the Department of Procurement), you can be equally discomforted by the same violence that Big Science done to the search for whatever truth science has on offer.

    War, like Science is prosecuted by men, not collectivities.

    Dyson reminds us the the whole subject of Global Warming is a conjecture, not a conclusion. It’s advocates will yield to the the implacable reality to which all good soldiers and scienticists are subject.

    Attention should be paid to Boyd, Spinney, Dyson and the countless other renegades who raise their voice in protest.

  7. jayinbmoreon 20 Dec 2007 at 3:14 pm 7

    But the essence of scientific discourse is to question the consensus view.
    This statement is patently false. The essence of scientific discourse is simple intellectual honesty; if a theory fails to square with observation, you must be willing to admit so and change (or junk) the theory. Good scientists do this all the time, and the consensus view being questioned is simply incidental. Sometimes modifying the theory reinforces the consensus view, sometimes it causes the current consensus view to be replaced.

    Dyson reminds us the the whole subject of Global Warming is a conjecture, not a conclusion.
    Dyson says nothing of the kind. What he says is that the dire predictions about the results of global warming may be wrong, and that solutions to problems caused by global warming may exist if we look. Unfortunately he buries this in a bunch of self-satisfied mumbo-jumbo about being a heretic. Heresy for its own sake is as useless as conformity for its own sake. While it’s true that it a scientist should have the intestinal fortitude to shrug off being called a heretic, heresy in and of itself is not the point. What the debate about global warming (as any scientific debate) requires is that people draw conclusions based on evidence and reason – not on their preference for what should be true. Paraphrasing Richard Feynman: “You don’t like that nature is this way? Tough. So far as we know now this is how nature works, and nature doesn’t care what you think.”

  8. fabiusmaximus2000on 20 Dec 2007 at 3:18 pm 8

    There are many good sites to watch the battle over anthropologic global warming. One of the best is Climate Audit, at http://www.climateaudit.org/.

    Just to clarify, there is wide agreement that the earth has been warming over the past few hundred years. The debate concerns not just causes, but climate changes over several different timescales.

    1. Global temperature over the past one or two millenia. Was the Little Ice Age (ICA) a global or only regional event? This centers on the debate over the various proxies to measure tempertures. Such “cherry picking” the data, selecting data (on all scales, from specific trees to specific proxies) that show warming.

    2. The 20th century warming. Caused by industrial CO2? Rebound from the ICA? Caused by other factors, such as solar? This centers on the network of surface temperature measurement stations. Examination of individual sites shows that they are probably not capable of the precision required for climate studies, at least as their data has been used (see http://www.surfacestations.org for more on this).

    3. The past few decades, the “divergence problem.” CO2 levels continue to rise, but have global temperatures? Note how many studies end in the early 1980’s, one way of dealing with the problem.

  9. rogelio007on 20 Dec 2007 at 3:32 pm 9

    It does not matter whether global warming is anthropologic or not. If New York City is underwater fifty years from now the residents – or former residents – of Manhattan are not going to care whether the cause was man-made CO2 emissions or a natural climate change.

  10. fabiusmaximus2000on 20 Dec 2007 at 4:03 pm 10

    For a non-technical summary of the debate over anthropologic global warming, see:
    “Global Warming: Man-Made or Natural?”
    S. Fred Singer, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia
    URL: http://www.hillsdale.edu/news/imprimis/archive/issue.asp?year=2007&month=08

  11. deichmanson 20 Dec 2007 at 5:27 pm 11

    Well said, Chuck.

    I too have a problem with the lack of tolerance in open dialogue — and with the funky “weighting” factors in the IPCC “models” (for instance, why does methane get a 1.1 factor while CO2 gets a 1.5?).

    Is the climate changing? Certainly.

    Are human beings the cause? I don’t think so.

    For “geneha”: You correlate “rapid increase in greenhouse gases” (actually about 10% in the past 40 years, from 325ppm when I was born in 1967 to about 360ppm today) and the concomitant increase in global temperatures. But that’s weak logic: one can similarly show a correlation between sunspot number and the number of Republicans in Congress, so there MUST be a link, right? :-)

    If GHGs are the cause, then why isn’t there an increase in atmospheric temperatures to coincide with the increase in surface temperatures?

    If the IPCC is so confident of their models and their data, then why deny hundreds of critical scientists admittance to Bali recently?

    This topic is too important to NOT study with the fullest integrity and commitment to the principles of science.

  12. maximilliangcon 20 Dec 2007 at 5:39 pm 12

    S. Fred Singer, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia

    Skimming the piece, not one single word,
    no mention what-so-ever of deforestation,
    the disappearance of plankton and krill,
    etc.

    MaXimillian

  13. maximilliangcon 20 Dec 2007 at 10:49 pm 13

    Mad Mikey

    Well Mikey,
    You pretty much covered it.
    Apart from all that though, the guy has a point

    You could have also added,
    “you can fool some of the people, some of the time, but …”
    :0)
    MaX

  14. maximilliangcon 20 Dec 2007 at 11:33 pm 14

    I think, the Professor (FM) was
    testing us.

    Most of the class flunked.

    MaX

  15. fabiusmaximus2000on 21 Dec 2007 at 2:51 am 15

    A note on deforestation and plankton… there are many possible causes. Attribution analysis is a difficult problem in biological systems. During the 1980’s biosystem changes were too-often quickly (i.e., before the necessary collection of data and analysis) attributed to pollution; later other actual causes (often multiple) often found. We might be seeing this today with climate change (whether anthropologic or not), where every bad change (seldom the good ones) gets tagged as a result of global warming. (The US is re-foresting, not de-foresting. If I recall correctly, the nadar for our forests was in the 1920’s).

    Back to Spinney’s article: the current attempts to steer the American people through fear goes back to the 1960’s. Race wars, resource shortages (Club of Rome, Peak Oil), global cooling, malfunctioning atomic plants (the China Syndrome), nuclear winter (Prof Sagan), pollution, global warming, etc. Unfortunately for our elites, the hype over AGW has had (so far) astonishingly little impact on public opinion. Perhaps the appeal to fear has lost its effectiveness through overuse. By now the Boomers have lived to see several predictions of the world’s end proved false — an enlightening experience.

    Are these attempts to control national policy by stoking fears a form of 4GW, as non-state entitites are the major actors?

  16. maximilliangcon 21 Dec 2007 at 4:12 pm 16

    “Are these attempts to control national policy by stoking fears a form of 4GW,
    as non-state entitites are the major actors?”
    FM

    “That’s an American issue. It’s a widely held belief amoung Americans
    that Global Warming is a consperacy to rob the United States of it’s wealth.”
    MC
    Let’s just change the motto on the dollar bill to
    “In Exxon/Mobil we trust.”

    Non state 4GW entities, corporations are exactly that,
    putting their short term (profit) interests ahead of the country
    and humanity professor ? I’ve never heard of such a thing!

    Here are some links to several US based crackpot lunatic left wing organisations that are out to ruin the country. (sarc)
    MC

    http://www.nationalgeographic.com/eye/deforestation/effect.html

    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Library/Deforestation/

    http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2006/1000385/index.html

    http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science/global-warming-faq.html

  17. fabiusmaximus2000on 23 Dec 2007 at 8:11 pm 17

    I looked at just the first two links, about deforestation. The causes of deforestation are evident. The section at the end of the NG article, about reduced forest area upsetting the Earth’s carbon cycle, looks like speculation. Not my field, so I do not know the effect of replacing forests with farmland. Nor do I see that the NG author has any idea about this, either. The NASA article does *not* mention global climate change as a consequence (harmful local changes from deforestation are well-proven).

    I am familiar with both sides of this issue. If you are not, you might start with the link given above to surfacestations.org — as their information is immediately understandable by a layperson. Analysis of the other two datasets used to support the global temperature record — proxies and (for the past few decades) satellites — is far more complex and still unclear. This is being debated by experts from multiple disciplines, but the rest of us can watch it on many forums. Science magazine gives a nice ringside seat; I also use climateaudit.org.

    Theories about Anthropologic Global Warming rely almost totally on large Global Climate Models. There are many reasons to be skeptical of these. (This is not a complete list).
    * First, there has been no external “audits” by relevant experts — they are just black boxes which we’re told to trust.
    * Second, their forecasting record has not been good in the past.
    * Third, there is considerable basis on which to believe their back-testing success results from “tuning” of parameters (which might explain their poor success at forecasting).
    * Fourth, modeling such a large, complex, and poorly understood process as global climate evolution is possibly beyond the current state of the art.

    This is a young field, advancing rapidly. Note the poor record of quantitative modeling in the financial markets — a few years of success, then expensive failures — despite ample funding and hiring of the best talent money can buy.

    All aspects of climate science are advancing rapidly. We will probably know much more in a few years. We will know much more if the standard practices of science are followed in climate sciences to a greater degree than we have seen in the past ten years. Perhaps most important is archiving data so other scientists can replicate. This has been the bane of climate science so far. These violations of government and journal policies have attracted increasing attention, so we can hope for better compliance in the future. Without this the process is not “science” as usually defined, no matter how credentialed the participants.

  18. exomikeon 23 Dec 2007 at 10:39 pm 18

    Perhaps this will cure Chuck’s case of Gore Derangement Syndrome.

    http://www.davidkowalski.com/

    Nah! ;-)

    Merry Whatever,
    Mad Mikey

  19. maximilliangcon 24 Dec 2007 at 4:46 pm 19

    Of course FM is absolutely right about the science
    being imperfect, consider the basics of simple
    localised weather forcasting. All that applies
    of course to both sides of the equation.

    I can relate to both sides of this argument however,
    and the recent warming trend is something that
    I have personely experienced, I feel it, see it,
    it’s affecting my life, at the lattitude where
    I spend most of my time.

    If global warming is bogus, it will be one of
    the greatest scams ever perpetuated in modern history.

    MaXC

  20. fabiusmaximus2000on 26 Dec 2007 at 1:45 am 20

    I wonder how you have experienced global warming, rather than long-cycle regional cycles. Global changes are by all accounts quite small, esp realtive to the poor data quality (aka error bars). That is, they are difficult to extract from the record of the past 50 years, even with high-tech instruments and computers (i.e., the sat. data shows no warming w/o extensive adjustments).

    Over longer horizons, a century or three, I do not believe any experts doubt global warming — just the causes.

    As for the “greatest scam”, I doubt that even if a scam, it would be in the top 10 (or 100. It depends on your definition of “scam”). Consider the long history, well described by Stephen Gould, of science showing strong differences among races. Or for a different scale, consider the history of hell — perhaps the single greatest & longest imaginative project in all of history (going back to ancient Egypt and perhaps before). How many billions of people have guided their life to avoid it? For more on this read Alice K. Turner’s “The History of Hell.”

  21. exomikeon 26 Dec 2007 at 2:10 am 21

    New Highly Funded Global Warming Institute

    http://z.about.com/d/politicalhumor/1/0/x/t/1/bush_global_warming_santa.jpg

  22. maximilliangcon 27 Dec 2007 at 5:36 pm 22

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20071213/lf_nm_life/arctic_ice_life_dc_2

    http://www.newstatesman.com/200712190004

    http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/climate-change/dn12794-polar-expedition-to-record-shrinking-arctic-ice.html?feedId=climate-change_rss20

  23. fabiusmaximus2000on 28 Dec 2007 at 3:29 pm 23

    Max, thanks for these articles. They nicely illustrate how, with a suitable target population, skilled propaganda can be fashioned from almost anything to lead them using fear and ignorance. Consider just one line from the New Statesman article about the melting of the arctic ice cap.

    “It was an ominous summer for the Arctic region, where for the first time in recorded history, ships sailed across the Arctic Ocean in water that had been part of the polar ice cap, said Donald Perovich of the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in New Hampshire.”

    The “recorded” expeditions started (more or less) in the 16th century, as the world (or perhaps just the northern hemisphere) chilled into the Little Ice Age (by then the Norse Colony in Greenland had frozen to death a century earlier). It is neither surprising nor ominous that the arctic ice recedes as we warm out of the LIA. If the European Powers had sought a NW Passage during the high Middle Ages — the warm spell known as the Medieval Optimum — who knows what they might have found?

    Note how these articles carefully avoid mentioning any natural climate cycles, implicitly encouraging the belief that the Earth’s climate has been stable until now. That requires massive ignorance of history, as climate cycles are a major driver of geo-pol history (e.g., rise and fall of the Anasazi and Scots). But modern pedagogy is up to this challenge.

    More interesting is that “open-source” campaigns like AGW have become so common and powerful. No central committee or even organization, yet they operate to gain control and wield key institutions (e.g. the IPCC) — channeling funding and surpressing dissent — as efficiently as though they followed the Leninist textbook. Perhaps John Robb’s next book will discuss this…

  24. maximilliangcon 29 Dec 2007 at 2:56 pm 24

    Max, thanks for these articles.

    My pleasure.
    M

  25. maximilliangcon 29 Dec 2007 at 3:03 pm 25

    “I wonder how you have experienced global warming, rather than long-cycle regional cycles.”

    One argument is that the current RATE of climate change is far more rapid than anything seen before, or that can be extrapolated, by various means.

    The larger is also, why is a notion of any reduction of atmospheric pollution in general, so reviled, feared, and mis-trusted by Americans ?

    I know the answer, it’s economics, and the status quo being the path of least resistance.

    Europeans, by contrast embrace pollution reduction as a means to forward
    new technology, and foster innovation.

    To bring this debate full circle,
    The USA sadly clings to the Military Industrial Complex as a surigate.

    MC

  26. fabiusmaximus2000on 29 Dec 2007 at 7:12 pm 26

    Long climate cycles occur over centuries and millennia. Most (not all) of the proxies used to measure past temperatures either do not go back far enough to show many long cycles or lack the resolution to show rates of change over decades — which makes comparison with the theory of modern AGW difficult (not impossible). Discussions about current vs. past rates of climate change often rely on global climate models (GCC), which are both in their infancy and as yet largely untested. We’ll know much more about all of this in another decade or so. More and better data will get collected, our understanding of atmospheric and oceanic dynamics will improve, and the GCC’s will become both more sophisticated and validated.

    Early stages of new sciences are often distinguished by claims – sometimes made with great confidence – of powerful findings that later look foolish. This is an major theme of Stephen J Gould’s books. It’s human nature, so a bit of skepticism is perhaps appropriate.

  27. maximilliangcon 31 Dec 2007 at 1:11 am 27

    Spinney is correct though, there’s plenty of hype,
    and plenty to go round on ALL sides in this case.

    There’s no denying that the USA along with several
    others has a vested interest in first, denial, it’s happening at all, and second, if first world lifestyles and industrialisation is to blame.

    It’s not an issue that will be settled or concluded
    right here and now.

    Time will tell.

    MaX

  28. exomikeon 31 Dec 2007 at 9:31 pm 28

    Yeah, “Time will tell.” Time will tell us it’s too late when we, as a species, finish the debate or the debate finishes us (whichever comes first – Mileage may vary.) In keeping with the initial post I present the Savage’s view point since he is a master debater.

    28 Dec 2007 05:00 pm

    http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2007/12/the-envelope-pl.html

    The Malkin Award for 2007 goes to … Michael Savage for this:

    “You know, the Gore-leone crime family is now the number one crime family in the world, when you think about it. He’s about to pull off the biggest scam in the history of the world. It’s bigger than any bank heist, bigger than any drug deal. It’s bigger than any counterfeiting scheme, and he’s doing it all nice and natural with a little help from the socialist perverts in Norway, who gave him a Nobel Prize. Why do I call them socialist perverts? Answer: because they are. By and large, 90 percent of the people on the Nobel Committee are into child pornography and molestation, according to the latest scientific studies.”

  29. rogelio007on 01 Jan 2008 at 4:44 am 29

    Wow. This Michael Savage character sounds as crazy as Ann Coulter. They must both buy their LSD from the same drug dealer.

  30. Fabius Maximuson 02 Jan 2008 at 5:29 am 30

    Michael Savage in my opinion used to be a sensible, if extremely conservative, radio shock jock (political). But he seems to have drifted into crazy-land. If I recall correctly, he was talking about nuking our enemies after 9-11 — which is deeply nuts imho. Ann Coulter is just another smart political clown. Both sides of the political spectrum have such jesters to entertain the faithful and distract them from noticing that they have near zero influence on their parties. They get paid well, so I believe calling them “crazy” is not competely accurate.

  31. exomikeon 03 Jan 2008 at 12:39 am 31

    “Wow. This Michael Savage character sounds as crazy as Ann Coulter. They must both buy their LSD from the same drug dealer.”

    Psychopharmacologically speaking, Michael Savage’s rantings are hardly the type behavior induced by Lysergic acid diethylamide. Furthermore his personality type does not indicate use of the drug. If anything studies have shown that subjects given the drug tend to become introspective and show great awe towards the beauty and complexity their natural environment.

    Dr. Albert Hoffman might be spinning in his grave right now if he’s been reading DNI.

    It is of note that most of the MKULTRA records on the CIA’s experiments with LSD were deliberately destroyed in 1973 much like the CIA torture tapes of today. Most of the records of the tests by U.S. Army Biomedical Laboratory (now known as the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense) located in the Edgewood Arsenal at Aberdeen Proving Grounds were also destroyed.

  32. maximilliangcon 03 Jan 2008 at 2:39 pm 32

    “Psychopharmacologically speaking, Michael Savage’s rantings are hardly the type behavior induced by Lysergic acid diethylamide.”

    Persueing this along the lines of face to face
    casual conversation,

    I don’t believe he meant that reference literally,
    there is a tendencey, in case anyone hasn’t noticed,
    increasingly to use hyperbolie and exageration,
    to get attenetion in the media. Of that example
    these extream viewpoints are typical.

    Thanks never the less for the information, Mike,
    you come across as somewhat of an expert on that
    particular point.

    Good tie in with the disappearing torture videotapes
    of the current fiasco as well.

    What goes around sure as heck comes around.

    MaXimillian

  33. Fabius Maximuson 05 Jan 2008 at 6:32 pm 33

    Not relevant to the scientific basis of AGW, but in the spirit of Spinney’s post … an article in the 28 November Christian Science Monitor about the fate of the Norse colony in Greenland:
    http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/1128/p13s01-stgn.html?page=1

    Articles like this are significant b/ they tell people of an important fact omitted from most mainstream media articles on global warming: Earth’s climate has varied throughout recorded history, not just over geological history. We are not living in a climatic Eden which human activity might spoil, in which every change is necessarily for the worse.

  34. maximilliangcon 05 Jan 2008 at 11:19 pm 34

    “Earth’s climate has varied throughout recorded history,
    not just over geological history.”

    Links to related opinions from similarly reputable sources.
    Max

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/11/1110_041110_antarctic_ice.html
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/warnings/stories/
    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Study/Paleoclimatology_IceCores/
    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Study/Paleoclimatology_Evidence/paleoclimatology_evidence_2.html

  35. maximilliangcon 06 Jan 2008 at 12:19 pm 35

    Links to Global Warming 101.
    MC

    Good Site, provides info on both sides of the debate.

    I find the denial side to be generally highly politicised in it’s arguments.
    A lot of their sources have apparent Conservative/Neo-Conseravtive bias, and origins.
    Since they’ve been WRONG on EVERYTHING regarding US FOREIGN & MILITARY policy, I
    DO NOT TRUST what they have to say on Global Warming either.
    But that’s just me, I also can’t get past the blatantly obvious short-term
    vested economic motives to sustain the status quo.
    The whole position reminds me of the Military Congressional Industrial Complex,
    scenario, of we which most of us fully appreciate, particularly our
    revered and dear friend, Mr. Spinney.

    http://www.nationalcenter.org/Kyoto.html

    -Other respectable sources.
    Just basics, well written.

    http://www.nasa.gov/worldbook/global_warming_worldbook.html

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/12/1206_041206_global_warming.html

    http://epa.gov/climatechange/science/stateofknowledge.html

  36. Fabius Maximuson 06 Jan 2008 at 4:37 pm 36

    Those are all good articles, but not quite the point I was making. Few articles discuss climate changes during *recorded history.* That is, the past 3 thousand years. Doing so brings home the point that climate routinely varies sharply (at least, by human standards) over short (a few generations) periods. This is incompatible with the master AGW narrative, and so seldom mentioned.

    Ice cores show climate changes over LONG periods with low precision. From an agitprop perspective, articles about them communicate a different message.

    This is all quite different than the more important but longer-term question of the actual science of climate change. That will resolve itself eventually as we collect longer and more accurate data about the past (climate proxies), understand the meaning of the proxies better, develop better Global Climate Models, etc.

    It’s all about time, on many levels.

  37. maximilliangcon 28 Jan 2008 at 4:37 pm 37

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/20080127/sc_livescience/humansforceearthintonewgeologicepoch

  38. maximilliangcon 19 Apr 2008 at 5:50 am 38

    The winds of change,

    We now have such a farm, also in Northern NYS.

    Initiative from one the swredest (re; ruthless) bussinessmen
    in the entire world.

    Kinda makes a mockery of all the alternative energy nay-sayers,
    kinda..

    MC

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080418/us_nm/usa_oil_pickens_wind_dc

    Billionaire Texas oil man makes big bets on wind By Chris Baltimore
    Fri Apr 18, 9:00 AM ET

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Legendary Texas oil man T. Boone Pickens has gone green with a plan to spend $10 billion to build the world’s biggest wind farm. But he’s not doing it out of generosity – he expects to turn a buck.

    Next month, Pickens’ company, Mesa Power, will begin buying land and ordering 2,700 wind turbines that will eventually generate 4,000 megawatts of electricity – the equivalent of building two commercial scale nuclear power plants – enough power for about 1 million homes.

  39. maximilliangcon 28 Apr 2008 at 7:37 am 39

    Linked from Lew Rockwell where the commentary
    is consistantly sceptical over Global Warming.
    M

    http://tinyurl.com/43z6r6

  40. […] maximilliangc wrote an interesting post today on Comment on Global Warming, Conditional Truth, and the Rights of …Here’s a quick excerptLinked from Lew Rockwell where the commentary is consistantly sceptical over Global Warming. M. http://tinyurl.com/43z6r6. […]