Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"Science stupid...science lies."

Back in November when the story broke that private e-mails from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom had been stolen, my first thought was that the climate change deniers would have a field day with it. I was right. The fine *journalists* at World Net Daily were on it like stink on a skunk and it spread like wildfire across the blogosphere.

I figured it would probably turn out to be much ado about nothing but decided to keep an open mind and await more information. I know...what a concept! I have no ax to grind in this debate. As I've written here before, while I do think the scientific evidence for climate change is convincing and that it is at least partly caused by human activity seems likely, there is no doubt that humans are causing pollution and the actions being recommended to halt or at least slow global warming are the same as the ones needed to reduce pollution.

So, I began reading anywhere from a couple to a dozen articles per day about what had quickly been dubbed "Climategate". (Side note: In addition to world peace, what I really want for Christmas is an end to the practice of using "gate" as a suffix on Every. Single. Conspiracy. Theory.) I was careful to read from a wide variety of sources. I even held my nose and read from sources which are little more than an online version of a supermarket tabloid. I'm not a scientist and I make no claims to have superior understanding of the intricacies of climate change science. Of course, that doesn't seem to stop others from pontificating about something way beyond their expertise.

I kept waiting for "the smoking gun" but unless there is something else that hasn't been made public yet, I just don't see it. Sure, some of the scientists involved showed themselves to be petty at times. But I have yet to see anything that hammers the "final nail in the coffin" of global warming.

I think the denier argument that I find most humorous is the idea that independent scientists working all around the world are in collusion to perpetuate this giant hoax in order to make money. "Follow the money!" they cry. Yeah. University scientists are padding their pockets and environmentalists around the world are just raking in the big bucks. Big oil companies (who pay the salaries of some denier scientists) certainly wouldn't have anything to gain by discrediting climate change science, would they? No, of course not. They simply have our best interests at heart.

The following video says it all so much better than I can:

If you are interested in reading more, here are the links to a small fraction of the articles I've been reading:

United Nations to probe climate e-mail leak

The Swift-Hack Scandal: What You Need to Know

Climategate - should it matter?

Historic EPA finding: Greenhouse gases harm humans

UN: 2000-2009 likely warmest decade on record

Skeptical Science: Examining Global Warming Skepticism

Common Arguments Made By Skeptics and Deniers

Climate Change 'Scam' Debunked

The Dirty Dozen of Climate Change Denial

IPCC Statement on Stolen E-Mails

1,700 UK scientists back climate science

FactCheck.org "Climategate"

There's No Conspiracy in the "Climategate" Emails

Obama advisers grilled over hacked e-mails

SciAm: Seven Answers to Climate Contrarian Nonsense

Okay, that ought to keep you busy awhile. ;) And now for a bit of humor...

Watch more CliPal videos on AOL Video



Lisa Sharp said...

This is great mom!!! Guess this is why people should do their research before freaking out. :)

ryansblogspot said...

I watched the video, and understand those two quotes were taken out of context, but I still don't under stand why some of those emails discussed ways to keep contradictory scientific studies out of peer reviewed journals, when that itself contradicts good science. (not to mention the jokes they made about scientist on the other end of the spectrum who had recently passed away).

Why is there no middle ground on this issue? Al Gore says it's a cased closed debate, and the founder of the Weather Channel is suing him, and claiming no matter what data you put into these formulas, they always result in a drastic spike in temperature (refering to that one graph Gore always points to). I'd see if what this guy says is true if I didn't feel like it was a huge waste of my life. Heck, I feel even thinking about this is a waste of my life. This whole thing reminds me of George Bush's infamous, "You're either with us, or you're with the terrorists" quote. Except now, the options are to: 1) Trust Al Gore, or 2) be deemed a "flat earther and holocaust denier." Why can't there be a huge group of people campaigning for, "Humans don't know what the hell is exactly happening, but think we should reduce pollution and take care of the planet"? Because I would join that group.

ryansblogspot said...

Obviously, anyone who denies climate change is an idiot. Climate change has been going on for 4-billion years, and will continue to go on whether man tries to play a part in it or not. I believe we should reduce pollution, and that pollution is probably contributing to a little climate change, but I don't buy into the fact that our pollution, which makes up 1/2,000th of the atmosphere, is going to be the end of humanity. There is lack of historical data to really be able to prove or disprove anything. Even the raw data itself is up for debate. Some organizations have collected data that shows a warming trend, and point out that 27% of the arctic polar icecaps melted in 2007. others a cooling trend, who point out that these polar icecaps have grown back by 24%, and some claim no significant change over the past decade. So it's an extremely opinionated matter with no way to really prove or disprove things, and it ultimately depends on researchers' analysis of different data collected by different methods which aren't always consistent. So there's a lot of flaws in the whole thing.

Now I realize natural disasters are happening around the planet, but extreme weather events have been happening for millions of years. So for us to all of a sudden point the finger at ourselves in the past thirty years for 280 years worth of somewhat warming, when we don't really know EXACTLY what the hell is going on (my perspective), seems a lot like old civilizations blaming the weather on the "Gods" - which most people consider foolish today.

In summary: I think jumping to a conclusion is ridiculous now when the science is not settled, even though Al Gore would like to believe it is. I think we should all take care of the planet and move to cleaner energy. I think Obama should have spent the bailout money on clean energy infrastructure which would have provided millions of jobs, and secured a clean future. I think we should get the hell out of these oil-rich countries when we're not even going to be using oil in a few hundred years. I think history always makes previous generations look really dumb, uneducated, etc., and I think this whole debate might turn out to be one of them.

And finally, I think I should quit thinking about this because I'm never going to figure it out. From here on out, I'm taking the long view by realizing the earth has been through much worse things than us: ice ages, plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanoes, world wide fires, world wide floods, continental drifts, solar magnetic flairs, the magnetic reversals of the poles, and the fire I started when I was six years old etc. The earth is going to be just fine. It's going nowhere, except during a supernova, but we're the ones that are someday going to go, whether its through the rapture, or extinction, just like 90% of all the other species that have ever been on this planet.

Deanna said...

Ryan, since I really MUST get my tree decorated today and finish ordering Christmas presents, I'll limit my response to just a couple of your points, but come over the next time I make jambalaya and we'll talk. ;)

1. My understanding is that the studies being kept out of journals were the ones that didn't pass muster in the peer review process. It's very important that what finally makes it into respected journals be credible, otherwise they become a source of propaganda. Apparently some truly *junk* science was denied publication.

2. I don't know any environmentalists who are suggesting we "trust Al Gore". I'm pretty sure they'd say to trust the science. ;)

I do completely agree with you about the "middle ground". I think that we all would be much better off if the public message involved pollution control rather than trying to explain the intricacies of climate change to lay people.

And I'm with you 100% about getting out of the oil-rich countries and focusing on green energy. Failure to do so will be our demise.

Lisa Sharp said...

Ryan: You should hear Ed Begley Jr. talk. He never says Al Gores name but I'm guessing that is what he is saying. He says (OFTEN, including when I saw him in person) to read peer reviewed studies and to look for people with PhD after their name not him or any other environmentalist but the climate scientist and respected journals.

In all honesty I do the think science is in. BUT in the same breathe I don't think it matters. How I live wouldn't change one bit if tomorrow everyone decided climate change had nothing to do with people.

Al Gore is an activist not a scientist. That is how he should be treated. I think he is doing some amazing things and that is what I focus on. The man started Repower America which has really done some great things and is a wonderful cause that people on both side can stand for. Some people want to change how we get and use power in America for security reason, some for the environment and many for both.

He is often a turn off because he focuses on the bad. This is why I love Ed Begley Jr. he focuses on the good as well as being very honest that you can't do it all in a day. He often says to pick the lowest hanging fruit and work your way up.

I think Copenhagen is important (or could be, we will see what comes out of it) because all countries need to be talking about what we can all do together to fix this. What China is doing effects America. I know we want to believe we are in a bubble but we aren't, their pollution is here and ours is there.

Anyway, the most important issue is the pollution, the loss of natural resources, all the animals we are losing, the people that are losing their homes, etc... Fixing those things will fix climate change if it's really human caused.

What I always say is that if we do all these things to fix climate change and I'm wrong we end up with a cleaner planet. If we do nothing and I'm right we are screwed!

ryansblogspot said...

Like I stated, I believe the climate is always changing, I think we should do what we can to clean up the planet and move to clean energy, but I'm just not buying into the hype.

I understand Al Gore is the messenger for ICCP group of 3,000 scientist who are the "leaders" on the issue. I'm also glad he's not the King of this movement, because I don't trust the guy for certain reasons. I think he is sincere about his beliefs. He has to be, or he would suffer from severe cognitive dissonance. I understand he has nothing to do with the science. I'm sorry, but I'm just not buying all this hype. 30 years ago scientist from Universities were claiming there was going to be an ice age, the media was hyping it up, and now the consensus is that we're all going to melt and die. All while other scientists are pointing to a rising temperature on Mars, and its melting ice caps (in peer reviewed journals)

I guess I've just been listening to this guy: The founder of the weather channel who is suing Al Gore, along with 9,000 other scientists with Ph.D.'s


And Lord Monckton too much:

I don't have all the time in the world, just like anyone else to research this all day, but I also don't just jump on ship with something when I hear there is a consensus. I have a ton of reasons why, but for me to elaborate on that would require typing a response as big as my previous reply. I'm not denying anything. I'm just not buying into the hype.