Friday, November 21, 2008

There’s a lot of rich people backing this cause

Climate realists often are dismissed as "deniers" and smeared as being deluded in their perspective by bribes from Big Oil.  It is common for AGW advocates to wave away all questions of their theory with a casual wave of innuendo and a claim that all questions are fueled by corruption, veniality and stupidity.   No matter what the facts and no matter have often realists personally account for their motives, the smear is repeated often and LOUDLY so it must be true -- much like AGW theory itself in fact.
In response, here is an excellent review of Christopher Horner's new book on big business, climate advocacy and the inside story on who is funding what and why.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Two-Mile-Deep Antarctic Ice Core Reveals Stupidity of AGW Catastrophism

The image above comes from a post detailing the recently concluded conference on Quaternary Climate, entitled Epica 2008 in Venice, Italy. The image shows temperature variations, iron fluxes and carbon dioxide concentrations for the past 800,000 years from the deepest ice core ever extracted from Antarctica. Analysis of the core indicates that:
  1. the Earth's climate has been wildly oscillating between cold and warmth for at least 800,000 years, long before any sizable man-made intervention
  2. during that period, the record minimum has been reached around 20,000 years ago (10C less than today's); that's before agriculture
  3. the record maximum still belongs to around 120,000 years ago (15C more than today's); and that's before agriculture, too
  4. the concentrations of CO2 have depended on the amounts of iron in dust, with higher availability of iron resulting in lower amounts of atmospheric CO2
  5. and whilst temperatures have been at times warmer than today's, and at other times much colder, corals, mammals, birds, trees and the rest of the biosphere have chugged along nicely (in a relative way)
These results have potentially far reaching implications as they imply that the present high levels of increasing carbon dioxide may be less a function of excessive emissions and more the result of insufficient carbon sinks, deficient in iron dust.

The original source documentation summarizing the Epica 2008 conference is in Italian: not one of my languages. Since I have not (and can not) read the original for myself, I will restrict this post to what is above and hope that in the coming months the implications stemming from these ice core results inform the wider science of climate change and their implications discussed in more detail.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Fact and Fiction

A number of people had nice tributes this past week to the author Michael Crichton. This one by Jennifer Marohasy stands out because it identifies the heart of Crichton's best writing: that he challenged our understanding of what is fiction from what is fact. Crichton wrote:
  • The greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda. Perceiving the truth has always been a challenge to mankind, but in the information age (or as I think of it, the disinformation age) it takes on a special urgency and importance. We must daily decide whether the threats we face are real, whether the solutions we are offered will do any good, whether the problems we're told exist are in fact real problems, or non-problems. Every one of us has a sense of the world, and we all know that this sense is in part given to us by what other people and society tell us; in part generated by our emotional state, which we project outward; and in part by our genuine perceptions of reality. In short, our struggle to determine what is true is the struggle to decide which of our perceptions are genuine, and which are false because they are handed down, or sold to us, or generated by our own hopes and fears.
Crichton famously identified much of contemporary environmentalism as being more akin to religion than science, resplendent with dogma rather than evidence and solid methodology.

West underscores the power of narrative in embedding an event or activity within current consciousness. History often is interpreted and explained through contempary lenses, not the context within which it occurs. Fiction becomes fact, accepted and popularized by narratives within the dominant dogma of contemporary media.

In this manner, multi-causative, dynamic and complex climate change becomes the AGW of climate orthodoxy and carbon hysteria. Fiction as fact.

Crichton will be missed by all who appreciate free thought, self-determination and books that entertain while they provoke reflection and consideration.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Questions every journalist should ask about global warming

Tom Nelson's excellent site provides this link to a series of questions posed by Ross McKittrick, for anyone seeking to form an opinion about AGW.

Advocates presume that realists are in denial about changes in climate. They accuse realists of being generally ignorant and, more specifically, of being ignorant of the facts on climate change. As Ross' questions indicate, climate realists are not in denial, neither are they ignorant of the facts: it is precisely because we have looked at and questioned the data that skeptics are climate realists.

  • Are humans modifying the climate? Of course we are, particularly in the changing land use of most places and the micro-climates of urban centers.
  • Does this constitute a crisis? No.
  • Is the human modification of climate the same as global warming? No.
  • Should climate change constitute the principal focus for environmental policy of any government, anywhere? No: both poverty reduction and continued improvements in health standards are far more pressing environmental issues.
But then again, why let science and human need determine policy when hysteria, politics and ideology are so much more fun.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Climate Science: Is It Currently Designed To Answer Questions?

Richard Lindzen has written a stimulating new paper which reflects upon the politicization of science and posits the question:

  • has global warming alarm become the goal, rather than the result, of scientific research?
Lindzen examines the shift in scientific paradigm away from a dialectic of theory and observation towards a reliance upon a convergence between simulation and monitoring. His paper discusses
  • ...the origin of the cultural changes and with specific examples of the operation and interaction of these factors. In particular, we will show how political bodies act to control scientific institutions, how scientists adjust both data and even theory to accommodate politically correct positions, and how opposition to these positions is disposed of.
Lindzen is one of my favourite climate scientists because he seeks to inform people about the science of climate, how things work and what we do and do not understand and why, without wrapping up his narrative in jargon or disguising ideological intent behind disciplinary authority.
What adds to his commentary is both his own undisputed expertise in the atmospheric physics of climate, but also his in depth knowledge of the institutional politics he describes as afflicting the topic of climate research. His critique and insight are as depressing as they are alarming to any who care about truth, the ability of knowledge to be transferred into political policies and the effective implementation of positive change.
He concludes:
  • Although society is undoubtedly aware of the imperfections of science, it has rarely encountered a situation such as the current global warming hysteria where institutional science has so thoroughly committed itself to policies which call for massive sacrifices in well being world wide.
  • Past scientific errors did not lead the public to discard the view that science on the whole was a valuable effort.
  • However, the extraordinarily shallow basis for the commitment to climate catastrophe, and the widespread tendency of scientists to use unscientific means to arouse the public’s concerns, is becoming increasingly evident, and the result could be a reversal of the trust that arose from the triumphs of science and technology during the World War II period.
  • Further, the reliance by the scientific community on fear as a basis for support, may, indeed, have severely degraded the ability of science to usefully address problems that need addressing.