Saturday, August 04, 2007

Typing In The Dark

I quick glance at The Blogging Tories website, reveals a great deal of wasted energy denying the undeniable. One blogger mocks global warming, another genius thinks he has uncovered a graph that explains it all away. Another blogger scours the globe, looking for any exception to a general warming trend. Someone claiming to be a doctor(back of matchbook), attacks environmentalism. All this nonsense, without even mentioning Small Dead Animals. Another day in the flat earth society.

A very interesting synopsis of the denier movement, that shows the historical pattern to confuse and fog the debate, giving fuel to the sheep that so what to ignore. A good article, some highlights:
As she left a meeting with the head of the international climate panel, however, a staffer had some news for her. A conservative think tank long funded by ExxonMobil, she told Boxer, had offered scientists $10,000 to write articles undercutting the new report and the computer-based climate models it is based on. "I realized," says Boxer, "there was a movement behind this that just wasn't giving up."

Since the late 1980s, this well-coordinated, well-funded campaign by contrarian scientists, free-market think tanks and industry has created a paralyzing fog of doubt around climate change....

they are emphasizing a new theme. Even if the world is warming now, and even if that warming is due in part to the greenhouse gases emitted by burning fossil fuels, there's nothing to worry about. As Lindzen wrote in a guest editorial in NEWSWEEK International in April, "There is no compelling evidence that the warming trend we've seen will amount to anything close to catastrophe."

What a shame that many Conservative bloggers invest all their passion attacking a truism, desperately attaching themselves to any rogue tidbit to justify their irrational stubbornness. Measurable science has somehow been bastardized into mere opinion. You can offer a thousand examples of glaciers in retreat, but all we hear is Gore was wrong about Kilimanjaro. Warming trends everywhere, but they focus on a cold season anywhere they can find one on the globe. For every dissenting paper, a thousand in support, yet they cling to the denier, as though a balance exists. I'm all for debate, all for not stifling opinion, but I'm also of the mindset that every lunatic doesn't merit a podium. Apparently, common sense isn't so common.


Karen said...

For every dissenting paper, a thousand in support, yet they cling to the denier, as though a balance exists.

Worse yet, the dissenting papers are not peer reviewed.

You're quite right in your close. Just because you have a different opinion, in a scientific context, that does not and should not, gain you equal status in a debate such as this.

If you want to debate intangibles, so-con issues, go nuts.

It's clear to me, that deniers feel that they should have a voice in all venues. Not so.

Stockwell Day may well think he deserves a debate about when dinosaurs roamed. He does not.

It is disturbing to me that the US is showing more and more of these org's. Deniers, coupled with religious fanatics denying fact, are put out there as if they actually have something to contribute. It's rare to see the theories shot down...they are just out there. For the incredibly un-informed, perhaps they are palatable notions.

This is when the counter is important, the factual counter...but they never seem to do that.

Steve V said...

"For the incredibly un-informed, perhaps they are palatable notions."

Knb, you know what is the really sad part? You read these denier sites, and they talk about concern for the environment as though it some leftist scheme, people that "believe" part of some pseudo religion, and they are the ones that see through the propaganda and constructed hysteria. Their heads are buried in the sand, and yet they are under some illusion that they see the light. At this point, it's a pathetic debate.

Red Tory said...

Steve — As you may know I’m still a bit of a skeptic about the matter (and might always be because that’s my nature), but I’m most certainly not a denier. Those who deny AGW and who subscribe to the notion that it is nothing more than a highly elaborate, massive wealth transfer scheme devised by the Left (or “one world” advocates, or whatever), or that it has some other purely political or nefarious ulterior motive need to have their heads examined. We should all start referring to them as exactly what they are: conspiracy theorists. If you examine their thinking I believe you’ll find it’s no different at all from people who are usually — quite justifiably — dismissed as kooks and nuts.

northwestern_lad said...

Steve... good piece.... I have to admit those that think that climate change is a joke just need to go to the north and see the effect. Just to give you an idea of how bad it's getting in our own country, I have a little story.

This year I drove home at Christmas to visit my parents in Kenora, in Northwestern Ontario. While growing up there in the 80's and 90's, we'd normally get our first real snowfall in mid to late October, and we would normally have snow until mid-april or so. It was a common thing to buy your halloween costumes huge so that you could fit your snowsuit under it, and when it came time for high school soccer season, we were usually practising indoors until almost the end of May because we couldn't get on our snow-covered fields. In fact, one year (95 I believe) we played in a tournament with a couple of feet of snow on the ground, in early May.

Anyway, I digress. When I was driving home this Christmas, I drove up there travelling through the United States, mostly because I don't like to drive the North shore of Lake Superior in the winter because it's normally so rough. Leaving from Brockville, it was raining and going towards freezing rain. We drove through New York, to Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, up through Wisconsin and then Minnesota, where we crossed back into Canada at International Falls, Minnesota. Along that whole drive, we did not actually see any snow on the ground until we hit Duluth, Minnesota, which is a port city on the Southwest shore of Lake Superior, only 3 hours south of Thunder Bay.

I have taken that drive many times, and never seen so little snow so far north at that time of year. Even when I got to my parents place in Kenora, there was very little snow.

In my return trip after New Years, I had to drive back on the Canadian side because I was taking back some deer meat with me (MMMMMM... gotta love it). We drove east along the Trans-Canada, and when we hit Thunder Bay, there was almost no snow. We kept on driving further east along the normally rough north shore of Lake Superior and the only predominant colour to be seen was green, because there was no snow to be seen. That persisted for the whole drive back to Southern Ontario.

All those climate change deniers can say what they like, but I've been seeing many more winters like that one than I have of the ones I experienced growing up in the North. This is a serious issue that we must deal with, and stop the arguing over if it is happening or not. It's here, get used to it connies.

Anonymous said...

Here's a peer reviewed paper that guts the heart of your argument.
The saddest, sickest thing about you people is how much you WANT man to be responsible for global warming.

Anonymous said...

Whether it is real or not - logic would tell you that if don't clean up the lakes, the air, etc. something is going to happen. You can't live in the pollution, melting ice, sudden diseases of animals, new insects destroying trees, etc. and not do something about it. It would be obvious to anyone with a brain that something is happening - denier or not.

We need to clean up.

My elderly aunt - 96 years old when she passed on and would be 100 now - said when the population get overcrowded new diseases, etc. surface and that it's natures way of keeping things in control When she was a kid there were diseases like diptheria, consumption, etc. that would take lives, floods, droughts, etc. May should a little simplistic on her part but that's what she believed. Mind you, she was extremely religious and believed that how God handled it.

Whatever - something has to be done.

Steve V said...

"The saddest, sickest thing about you people is how much you WANT man to be responsible for global warming."

Mike, in the future history students will laugh at your ignorance. BTW, you link doesn't work, shall I provide a hundred for a counter?


There is a big difference between honest scepticism and what these people pander as truth because of partisan consideration. There are open questions, and I don't mean any slight with people who do look at things critically. I'm just tired of reducing science to hack based propaganda, attacking the messanger, which the intention of confusion the message.

Anonymous said...

Mike M:

The paper is garbage. Thankfully, they HAVE submitted to a public venue, where their work can be properly criticized. It is NOT, however, properly peer-reviewed in the same way that the Journal of Physics A and B are.

Here are a few valid criticisms that have been raised:

"the website’s inclination is immaterial (though indicative), but the paper falls simply because it lousy physics. The planetary albedo is apparently a mystery to the authors, as is the ratio of Earth’s disc to it’s surface area, and they take exception to energy balance diagrams 'because they do not fit in the Feynman diagrams in quantum field theory'. This is bunkum of a high order."

With relation to the points brought up in the abstract of the paper:

"[[(a) there are no common physical laws between the warming phenomenon in glass houses and the fictitious atmospheric greenhouse effects,]]

Duh. They’ve pretty much known it was a bad analogy for over a century. But because “the greenhouse effect” is a bad name for it in no way proves that the effect doesn’t exist.

[[ (b) there are no calculations to determine an average surface temperature of a planet, ]]

Wonder how they did it, then? The original poster doesn’t know much about elementary physics. A temperature can be defined for any material object, and the Earth is certainly a material object. I’d say if you take a large sample of the point temperatures all over that surface, correcting for any relative-area bias, you come as close to the average temperature as you need to come. The figures I’ve seen are 287 K for Hadley and 288 K for the US standard atmosphere.

[[(c) the frequently mentioned difference of 33 C is a meaningless number calculated wrongly, ]]

It’s the difference between the surface temperature (288 K) and the equilibrium emission temperature (255 K). The figure is derived by the mathematical technique called “subtraction.” And the figure is certainly meaningful; it’s a rough indication of the magnitude of the greenhouse effect on a given planet with minimal geothermal sources. 505 K for Venus, 33 K for Earth, 4 K for Mars. That pretty much gives the relative strengths of their respective greenhouse effects.

[[(d) the formulas of cavity radiation are used inappropriately,]]

You mean actual radiation by gases is in lines and isn’t gray? Does this guy honestly think climatologists don’t know that you can’t apply the blackbody Stefan-Boltzmann law to all objects? Again, you can apply it and be accurate enough in a demonstration of how the greenhouse effect works. Nobody is claiming that that’s the whole story. In short, this point is a straw man argument.

[[(e) the assumption of a radiative balance is unphysical, ]]

At the top of the atmosphere it damn well is physical, unless this guy knows some other source and sink of terrestrial energy which roughly match one another. N-rays, perhaps?

[[(f) thermal conductivity and friction must not be set to zero,]]

Nor are they in a serious model, but for a simple model to illustrate how the greenhouse effect works, you can ignore them. The average radiative flux received by Earth’s surface is about 170 watts per square meter from Solar energy and 324 watts per square meter from the atmosphere. Conduction and convection between them amount to about 24 watts per square meter. So you’ll get roughly the right answer even if you ignore conduction and convection.

Does this guy really think “friction” is a serious term in Earth’s thermal energy budget? Does he think the atmosphere lags the surface in rotation time or something? Didn’t Galileo figure this one out?

[[the atmospheric greenhouse conjecture is falsified.]]

As long as you don’t actually learn about it."

"In their greenhouse refutation, the german guys go so far as to have a whole section on Magnetohydrodynamics as the main “physical foundation of climate science”, including citations to some books on astrophysics!!!! Maybe they are talking about the climate on the surface of the Sun."

Personally, as a graduate student, I see nothing interesting about the paper. The theory is all re-hased undergraduate thermo and stat mech with some kookery about processes that aren't even related to any reasonable climate models.