Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Climategate

with 12 comments

Climategate. I haven’t written about climategate yet. In fact I haven’t written about global warming at all for awhile. There’s reasons for that, but it is an important topic, so it deserves the occasional glance. Important, but depressing. OK, climategate. In short, someone hacked into a major centre of climate research, stole a vast amount of stuff including email, and published it. Some of the emails are pretty embarrassing, careers may be hurt or ruined. And there’s certainly evidence that some scientists engaged in less than ethical conduct to prove the case that human caused global warming is a problem. People sceptical of AGW (anthropogenic global warming, the idea that human activity is warming the globe) are making this out to be a very important development, some have even gone so far as to claim that this is the final proof that AGW is a hoax.

Before I go further, I have a problem here. If I understand it correctly, the sceptics are claiming that essentially the entire field of climatology is conspiring to “hoax” the world about AGW, presumably in order to keep the research grants coming. This alone gives me pause, has there ever been a case in history where an entire scientific discipline conspired to mislead the planet?  We’re talking tens of thousands of people in every country on Earth, and we  are talking all of them. Climatologists, the scientists who have actually spent their entire lives studying climate, are essentially in 100 percent in agreement that AGW is a reality. I find it very difficult to swallow that an entire branch of science is so corrupt and/or ignorant that they would perpetrate and/or fall for a hoax on this scale. Finding even a handful of people to conspire with is a tricky business, but thousands of them? Now maybe I’m overstating my case, but for the sceptics to be right, the entire field of climatology has to be wrong. Right?

Back to Climategate. I have a problem here too. Climategate isn’t about the science.  IE Even if we grant the worst case scenario, that a handful of scientists used unethical (and possibly illegal) means to promote their case, what does that have to do with the science? Well, nothing. The stolen and released emails do not show that any data was falsified or  that any studies need to be withdrawn. So no matter how damaging they are to the authors of the emails, what the stolen emails don’t address is the data and science itself. So what, exactly, does Climategate tell us about AGW? Nothing. I’d go more into the nuts and bolts of the whole mess, but others have done it better. In fact as far as I can tell, the AGW sceptics are operating the same way that a lot of people who have “maverick” beliefs are operating. They latch onto anything that appears to support their case, and claim that it discredits everything that doesn’t support their case. Um, one can support any belief in this fashion.

Moving right along, I’m actually not even going to address AGW, because it doesn’t matter. that’s right, it doesn’t matter if AGW is proved beyond any doubt. This is because whether or not one believes that humans are changing the climate, there isn’t any doubt whatsoever that the climate is changing. Even worse, the changes are much worse than the models predicted just a few years ago. The ice caps are melting, the glaciers are melting, and sea ice is disappearing at a much greater rate than anyone predicted. The evidence for this is documented in hundreds of studies world wide, by scientists from every country. Sea levels have risen an inch and a half in the last decade alone, and the rate of change is actually accelerating. These two links both address the actual science and its relevance to Climategate. I highly recommend them: What happened to the evidence? and The Reality of Climategate. I also find it interesting that the global warming sceptic’s position could have been written by the PR department of any major oil company. Interesting company to keep.

Another point that rarely gets mentioned, is that the people who think that human produced CO2 is part of the problem aren’t advocating “doing something” about it. They are advocating that the people who are doing something, slow down what they are doing. IE the sceptics who claim that CO2 isn’t part of the problem need to demonstrate that what is being done is perfectly safe. By dumping CO2 into the atmosphere at an unprecedented rate,  we are conducting the greatest scientific experiment in history using our own planet as a guinea pig! Um, if there is even a 1% chance that AGW is a reality, isn’t this a terrible risk to take? I wish some of the sceptics would explain just why they think we should conduct this sort of planetary experiment, what, exactly, is the point?

Which leads us to my last point, what, exactly, is so wrong about cutting CO2 emissions? Making things less polluting is going to create plenty of jobs, it’s not like the environmental movement of the 60s and 70s shut down the planet’s industries. Eating less meat, relying more on walking and public transit, recycling, buying locally produced products, growing a vegetable garden … this is not exactly waterboarding now, is it? In fact I would venture to say that most people either wouldn’t notice the difference, or would actually be healthier and happier if these changes were to take place. Even if the oil companies and car companies make fewer profits, it’s not like the money is vanishing, it just means it’s circulating somewhere else in the economy. And pretty much has to be circulating somewhere lower down by definition, nu?

Lastly, the final point, and the reason I don’t write about this very often. (Well, aside from the fact that I don’t think any of the remaining AGW sceptics are particularly interested in debate, but I digress.) The reason I don’t write about AGW much is that we aren’t going to do anything until it is way too late. The governments of China, the USA, and  Canada are completely suborned by corporate/business interests, and their is zero chance they will do anything to inconvenience their masters. The rich and the powerful have historically always pursued their own interests at the expense of everyone else, that’s how you get to be rich and powerful in the first place. Global warming may be the second greatest threat the human race has ever faced, but as long as the planet’s wealth is ever flowing upwards, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for change.

And anyhow, at this rate I’ll be living in a beach front apartment soon enough. I can live with that. Coming soon, why I hate Al-Jazeera.

(I believe the above image originated with NASA and is thus public domain under US copyright law. In any event it’s not being used for profit and its use here is central to illustrating the post. It’s an illustration of just one of the many dramatic changes that have taken place on Earth in juts the past few years. Yes folks, the canary in the coal mine is stone cold dead.)

Written by unitedcats

December 7, 2009 at 11:18 am

12 Responses

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  1. Jesus is coming again, man! Repent or perish!

    Slarti

    December 7, 2009 at 11:58 am

  2. And the first AGW sceptic weighs in … with a completely irrelevant ad hominem attack. Thanks for illustrating why I think it’s pretty much a waste of time to debate this issue with the remaining AGW sceptics, I can only hope that another sceptic can do better.
    — Doug

    unitedcats

    December 7, 2009 at 1:28 pm

  3. I think they have known about global warming for years and now the EU lobbyists are duping everyone into the mind set of saving the planet. If you look at a map of Glacier Bay in Alaska you will see that most of the ice melted from the 1700’s to the 1800’s. The ocean warming isn’t necessarily due to CO2 and that is data these pseudo-scientists had faked. People will notice the difference in their gas and electric bills if Cap N Trade passes. The ugly secret of this whole scheme is the money comes from you and me not from the oil companies or utilities. When these bills go up the first thing to go will be trees being burnt in fireplaces and wood stoves. Ask yourself who is going to make all of the money from this scheme and it is another Wall Street banker bonanza in the making.

    Mike

    December 7, 2009 at 2:29 pm

  4. Government and industry always conspire to pass the costs on to consumers. The fact that they are trying to do so in the case of AGW is no surprise … and has no bearing or relevance to the issue at hand, is AGW real? If you could be more specific about who, exactly, you are calling a pseudo-scientist, and what particular scientific studies you say contain fake data I’ll look into it further. As it stands, I’m underwhelmed by the AGW sceptic response at this point.

    unitedcats

    December 8, 2009 at 8:02 am

  5. Hey Doug, glad you did a post on this!

    I’m kind of split on this one, I do believe global warming is occurring, I do not know for certain that Co2 is directly causing it.
    What if its something we do not yet know about causing global warming, or if its not just Co2? what if Co2 rise is a symptom not a cause?
    No doubt we should stop/lower Co2 emissions but, is the cure worse than the sickness?

    The way Co2 specifically is being demonized and used for massive profits bothers me. I’m more concerned about all the other horrid chemicals being dumped, compared to them Co2 is a joke. Yes, there should be regulations on Co2, but targeting Co2 as a major point of concern is just a tool (like religion) being used (by whoever wants it) to scare and manipulate the public.

    There should be massive global pollution regulations(for obvious reasons other than Co2) but who will enforce them?
    What is the only way to get all nations to totally submit to environmental regulation?…..
    Answer-Setting up a global regulatory agency with the ability to provide positive and negative incentives, a.k.a. taxes and tax breaks.
    If this could be done by the right people it might work, but I’m afraid this will be the framework for a Global Gov. set up by the Elites.
    And the controls to such a beast will be hard to take from the them if they get to set it up….

    Peace

    Pyrodin123321

    December 8, 2009 at 3:57 pm

  6. Nature will self correct from global warming in the future. The self correction will probably not be too pleasant to humans and other current species but in a few hundred thousand years, new species will evolve and life goes on. There have been previous mass extinctions of life on earth so this is nothing new. There was an article in Scientific American a few years ago where a scientist thought that when CO2 gets to 500 ppm, the warming ocean would allow hugh deposits of methane gas to be released from the ocean floor. This would make it tough to breathe. Already decomposing tundrra in Siberia is releasing methane. Atmospheric CO2 is now at 375 and growing about 1.7 per year. Consequently we will reach 500 at about 2090 AD.

    ken

    December 8, 2009 at 4:29 pm

  7. Now the governments of the world have a new revenue source ! carbon taxes

    Just in time.. wall street going gaga on carbon derivatives. Im telling you, this is made for Wall Street. Time will bear this out.

    Any taxes paid will be squandered in the machine of government.. maybe a few trees will get planted , certainly infomercials will be made with the money displaying the appearance of stewardship, with the word ‘green’ being used 20 times in 30 seconds, im sure it will have nice cinemaphotography !

    ET

    December 9, 2009 at 6:32 am

  8. Good for a laugh….

    “It’s A Climategate Christmas”

    http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=2a6_1260441024

    Peace

    Pyrodin123321

    December 10, 2009 at 10:00 am

  9. […] up on the last post, I notice a common theme. Woven through a lot of conspiracy theories seems to be the idea that if […]

  10. “Climategate” started out when there appeared on the Internet a collection of e-mails of a group of climatologists who work in the University of East Anglia in England. These documents reveal that some climatologists of international preeminence have manipulated the data of their investigations and have strongly tried to discredit climatologists who are not convinced that the increasing quantities of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere are the cause of global warming.

    It is true that a majority of the scientists who study climatic tendencies in our atmosphere have arrived at the conclusion that the world’s climate is changing, and they have convinced a group of politicians, some of whom are politically powerful, of the truth of their conclusions.

    A minority, however, is skeptical. Some believe that recent data that suggest that the average temperature of the atmosphere is going up can be explained by natural variations in solar radiation and that global warming is a temporary phenomenon. Others believe that the historical evidence indicating that the temperature of the atmosphere is going up at a dangerous rate is simply not reliable.

    Such lacks of agreement are common in the sciences. They are reduced and eventually eliminated with the accumulation of new evidence and of more refined theories or even by completely new ones. Such debates can persist for a period of decades. Academics often throw invective at one another in these debates. But typically this does not mean much.

    But the case of climate change is different. If the evidence indicates that global warming is progressive, is caused principally by our industrial processes, and will probably cause disastrous changes in our atmosphere before the end of the twenty-first century, then we do not have the time to verify precisely if this evidence is reliable. Such a process would be a question of many years of new investigations. And if the alarmist climatologists are right, such a delay would be tragic for all humanity.

    The difficulty is that economic and climatologic systems are very complicated. They are not like celestial mechanics, which involves only the interaction of gravity and centrifugal force, and efforts to construct computerized models to describe these complicated systems simply cannot include all the factors that are influential in the evolution of these complicated systems.

    All this does not necessarily indicate that the alarmist climatologists are not right. But it really means that if global warming is occurring, we cannot know exactly what will be the average temperature of our atmosphere in the year 2100 and what will be the average sea level of the world’s ocean in that year.

    It also means that we cannot be confident that efforts by the industrialized countries to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere will have a significant influence on the evolution of the world’s climate.

    Alas, the reduction of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere would be very costly and would greatly change the lives of all the inhabitants of our planet–with the possibility (perhaps even the probability!) that all these efforts will be completely useless.

    Harleigh Kyson Jr.

    hkyson

    December 12, 2009 at 12:44 pm

  11. Very Informative Post. You made some good points. I especially liked it. Keep up the good work.

    Thanks
    with regards

    Sudipta Kumar Sarkar

    July 1, 2010 at 6:14 am


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