Lunch Links

Monday, August 29th, 2011

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127 Responses to “Lunch Links”

  1. #1 |  SamK | 

    No Elliot, the real question is: If there is a problem can we make a change that positively influences the end result?

    It’s important to also question whether the problem is important enough to require us to make changes and how much we can affect it. The suggested issue (warming followed by flooding and changes to weather patterns) would be a significant problem and could have repercussions for the survival of the species. Can we make a change that influences the end result? Yes. Is it enough? Hell, I don’t know, but if my couch is on fire and I have a glass of water in my hand I’m not going to just drink it while I watch the blaze grow because I don’t think I can find a hose.

    I read the CERN release and commentary did not support the suggestion that the anthropogenic factor was to be minimized. I’ve only seen that conclusion in the media. If I’m wrong and CERN stated this as a definite conclusion I’m more than happy to read it, but I specifically looked and did not find such information though I did find where they stated that the data was not precise enough to draw a conclusion about the degree of contribution from cosmic radiation to global warming, only enough to say that it definitely was contributing. Makes it damned hard for me to believe that it’s a good reason to minimize the AGW influence.

    I’ve read some of Warren Meyer’s works. I don’t find him terribly convincing on the science, though he does write well. Perhaps I failed to read the papers containing actual analysis of actual data but I never saw any of it in his writings. Everything I see from him seems to fall back on expectations of political motivations and re-stating general concepts. It’s not science, it’s a political statement in and of itself. Also perfectly happy to read some real analysis of data (not policy) if you feel like pointing it out.

  2. #2 |  Elliot | 

    Lloyd Flack (#94): “Far too often I hear denialists say progressives claim
    that AGW is real so it has to be wrong.

    This is the stereotype that Al Gore and his ilk are pushing—a caricature of a bull-headed
    “religious right” dimwit who simply denies anything the “libruls” say. I’ve only seen a handful
    of those people in real life.

    The people who matter, the people whom Al Gore fears, are the informed skeptics who will dig
    through charts and graphs to find faults. Those who point out the absurdity of making policy
    based upon a guy seeing a few dead polar bears, one time, from an airplane, or another guy making
    a remark about the glaciers in the Himalayas from his limited experience of mountain climbing.
    Those people aren’t “deniers” who reject facts and reason. They are people who look to facts and
    reason to challenge the alarmists when the alarmists are lazy or dishonest.

    Far too many on all sides of politics find it comfortable to believe that their
    political opponents have malicious motives rather than different moral
    priorities.

    Could you explicate the “different moral priorities”? It’s easy to say lots of people with
    differing viewpoints are hasty. But that ignores important distinctions between those who
    have good reasons to fear their opponents obtaining political power and those who have vague
    suspicions and caricatures.

    As for “moral priorities”, I’d say that the tendencies of some (note this is a small
    subset, keep reading) of the more shrill alarmists
    to promote political “solutions” to AGW which mirror Marxist “solutions” demonstrates to me that
    their “moral priorities” are more about centralizing government power and tearing down capitalism
    than an honest attempt to save future generations. Perhaps some of these people are true
    believers in catastrophic AGW (CAGW) as well as Marxists at heart, making their beliefs
    symbiotically reinforcing one another. But I think many of them, in their heart of hearts,
    knowingly sell their snake oil as a means to accomplish their political and economic goals, not to
    mention helping themselves (carbon markets) and hypocritically exempting themselves from the
    deprivations of the proles, as the commissars and nomenklatura did.

    Beyond those people, there are people who earnestly buy the hype, many of whom are, effectively,
    useful idiots. Then there are people who aren’t as shrill, who are more cautious about the
    evidence. Many of the latter have good intentions.

    Too many will not try to understand how someone of integrity and decency might
    oppose them. They would rather deny a danger than recognize integrity in an opponent. I’ve seen it
    too often. This demonization of political opponents is in my opinion the main reason behind most
    climate change denialism.

    If you’ve “seen it too often” then perhaps you should stop getting such information from the
    rough-and-tumble of blog comment sections and start reading more careful arguments by less
    politicized skeptics. Your use of loaded words like “climate change” (the Earth’s climate has
    changed since the planet formed, it’s never been constant, so “climate change” is a meaningless
    term—stick to the actual point of contention: AGW) and “denialism” (as opposed to skepticism,
    which is a fundamental aspect of the scientific method of inquiry). But the “main reason” why,
    outside the ignorant flame wars of blog comment sections or political stump speechifying, the CAGW
    skeptics are skeptical has nothing to do with “demonization of political opponents.” It has
    everything to do with math, science, and simple caution to be factually correct before leaping off
    the alarmist cliff of kneecapping human industry out of hysterical fear that runaway GW will swamp
    the coastal cities.

    On the other hand, the alarmists make arguments like Al Gore’s comparison to racists. Other
    politicians and entertainers have likened skepticism to historical villains. The 10-10 project in
    the UK even made a video in which teachers literally blew up children into puddles of blood and
    gore if those children simply didn’t want to participate in their “green” efforts. That sort of
    sick fantasy and abject demonization of skeptics belies your portrayal. In most cases, the
    demonization is exactly backwards of what you argue.

    I think libertarians have an aversion to compromise.

    What sort of compromise?

    You want to negotiate what we have for lunch, I’ll be willing to compromise and agree to a
    restaurant that most other people in the group find acceptable.

    You want me to compromise on principles of individual rights, then we’re at war. When you want
    people to change their behavior to be more “green”, then you need to persuade them with
    arguments. Don’t use force, even if you find it to be more expedient. Legal prohibitions, tax
    incentives, tax subsidies are all forms of force. Convince people via reason instead.

    I think they fear that if they admit that they are wrong on one thing they they
    will have to admit that they are wrong on everything.

    Save the psychobabble. I’ve been convinced that I was wrong on a whole host of political and
    scientific matters. I can’t speak for all self-described libertarians, but most that I know are
    far more open minded than the “conservative” or (American) “liberal” types.

    If the proponents of CAGW would knock of their “settled science” crap, lay all of their data on
    the table (including source code), and have a good faith debate with skeptical scientists—which is
    how every other branch of science is handled—I would have no aversion to considering their
    evidence. If they provided the numbers and made their case, refuting the skeptics, then I’d be on
    board with their conclusions. No, I would still disagree with the political “solutions” that many
    would take from that. But I wouldn’t be afraid to admit they were right, if they actually were.

    Note that them being right doesn’t mean that I’m wrong, because I don’t assert that the global
    temperature won’t rise to catastrophic levels. I simply assert that many of their methods are
    unscientific. Even bad science can accidentally be correct.

    I think this is because they try to logically construct an ideology by looking at
    the consequences of a few principles. Other political groups try to constuct ideologies in a
    messier way by ballancing a lot of competing considerations. Thus they are usually more willing to
    give way on single issues.

    The more intelligent libertarians I read and know are quite a bit more nuanced than your
    caricatures. On the other hand, “giving way on single issues” can be a very bad thing if
    that means compromising important principles. Sometimes, the pragmatic choice to be
    expeditious allows the camel’s nose under the tent. Once Congress got away with abusing
    the commerce clause on minor things, that opened the floodgates to all manner of disgusting
    uses.

    Climate change is something that the property rights framework preferred by
    libertarians does not handle well.

    Again, the meaningless “climate change” when the issue is CAGW. If you can’t address ecological
    challenges without violating the property rights of others, then either you’re being lazy and
    not wanting to do the hard work necessary to persuade people via reason, or your goals are
    untenable unless you choose to be unethical. So the “does not handle well” actually means
    property rights don’t allow for the expediency of authoritarian diktats.

    It is more than external costs. It is costs that are deferred for generations but
    will come home with a vengance.

    You obviously don’t understand the concept of “external costs” if you think time somehow makes
    something no longer an “external cost”.

    So, the CAGW alarmists predict that the effects “will come home with a vengeance” but other
    information, such as the recent CERN data, the weakness of computer models, the nonsense of
    “runaway” “tipping points”, and the sloppiness of assuming mostly positive feedbacks, makes me
    say, “Wait a minute.” I’m not willing to destroy human industry on such flimsy arguments.

    Convince me. Don’t just try to scare me by stating: “with a vengeance.”

    The danger is real and denialists are engaging in willful blindness.

    So you claim. And yet, there are plenty of reasons to doubt you.

    They do not try to understand.

    That’s a damned lie.

    I’ve spent quite a bit of time trying to understand.

    Other people I read, such as Warren Meyer have put in
    much more time evaluating the evidence.

    You’re bashing a straw man, pretending that anyone who doesn’t fall for the snake oil sales pitch
    is willfully ignorant. That’s your caricature and almost nobody you’re describing fits it.

    They look for reasons to believe it is not happening. And future generations are
    going to curse them if they get their way.

    Future generations will curse those who kneecapped human industry and spent their money via
    deficit spending. And, in all likelihood, people will laugh at the alarmist theories like we
    laugh at those who predicted a coming ice age, or people who persecuted Galileo for his heresy in
    denying the geocentric “settled science”. If global warming is as bad as CAGW alarmists predict,
    I think it will only be by chance.

  3. #3 |  Kirby | 

    Wow. I can’t believe there are still so many people that believe in AGW.

    I thought all the fraud committed by AGW supporters would have been enough to convince most people of the game being played.

    It isn’t about changes in the weather. It about global taxation. It’s about control. Pure and simple.

    I guess all the changes in climate over thousands of years was caused by dinosaurs driving SUVs.

    Sometimes I wonder if many of the comments are left by paid shills working for foundations funded by people like Gore and Soros. Either that are there really are more uninformed people that I ever imaged.

  4. #4 |  Elliot | 

    Samk (#101): “No Elliot, the real question is: If there is a problem can we make a change that positively influences the end result?

    Any question which begins with “if” cannot be “the real question” until you settle that predicate.

    It’s important to also question whether the problem is important enough to require us to make changes and how much we can affect it. The suggested issue (warming followed by flooding and changes to weather patterns) would be a significant problem and could have repercussions for the survival of the species.

    You’re begging the question. You’re accepting a priori that the alarmist predictions are accurate and attempting to make the discussion what we do about the problem, without even establishing the accuracy.

    Can we make a change that influences the end result? Yes. Is it enough? Hell, I don’t know…

    If the CAGW alarmist predictions are accurate, then the only way that human beings can influence the end result would be to destroy nearly all industry and move into grass huts. The “green” solutions which are pushed by politicians are insufficient to “save the planet” if their assumptions are correct. They are nothing more than symbolic and may come at great cost to the people whose rights are violated in pursuit of the central plan.

    …but if my couch is on fire and I have a glass of water in my hand I’m not going to just drink it while I watch the blaze grow because I don’t think I can find a hose.

    In this case, the analogy would be that a spark from a forest fire ignited your roof and either the firefighters will get to your home in time or it will be destroyed. Your symbolic glass of water won’t put out the fire. Curbs on human industry will not have the power of your garden hose, in this analogy. They will only have the power of a glass of water.

    I read the CERN release and commentary did not support the suggestion that the anthropogenic factor was to be minimized.

    No, they took a hands-off approach, warning people not to jump to conclusions.

    But the data does contradict the assumptions built into just about every computer model to date. Garbage in, garbage out.

    I’ve read some of Warren Meyer’s works. I don’t find him terribly convincing on the science… Everything I see from him seems to fall back on expectations of political motivations and re-stating general concepts. It’s not science, it’s a political statement in and of itself.

    Read the section “Past Favorites” in the right hand column. There’s a video and a “layman’s guide”.

    He and his son did science experiments measuring temperatures based upon distance from downtown Phoenix. They surveyed the weather stations to document proximity to heat sources and urban heat island effects. He explained the mathematics behind “tipping points” and positive vs. negative feedbacks. How you see any of that is merely political is beyond me.

    But I invite other readers to go read his website and decide for themselves.

  5. #5 |  random_guy | 

    AGW is a funny issue. It’s funny because its happening and its demonstrable. Multiple years with record breaking heat waves. We’re getting so many hurricanes a year we’re going to start running out of names. Persistent drought and record breaking monsoons on the other side of the globe. The northern ice cap is becoming a puddle every summer, which has been noticed by the major energy concerns that are looking to break into the “virgin” sea for natural gas deposits. The ice on Kilimanjaro is practically gone, as well as half of the glaciers in mountainous parks around the world. Oh and the fact that there is more CO2 in our atmosphere right now, than can be observed in the last 650,000 years of earths history through antarctic ice core samples (which covers a period of eleven ice ages and warming eras).

    It’s really simple, when you spend two hundred years digging up and burning hundreds of millions of tons of coal, oil, and natural gas, and dump the waste in the atmosphere its going to have an effect. Our weather is based on a series of feedback loops that involve the composition of our atmosphere, the way in which the sun warms the earth, and how that changes throughout the year. Dramatically altering the composition of the atmosphere has a litany of effects regarding heat retention, evaporation, precipitation, wind and tidal currents. We are seeing those effects now, every day. And you know what, even if you could get every single person on this planet to agree that its happening, I don’t think it would matter at all. It’s too damn big for most people to care about or prepare for.

    I just can’t for the life of me figure out why conservatives and libertarians are fighting the idea that its even happening with tooth and nail (obviously I’m speaking in generalities, I’m not ascribing the following to every single member of the above groups). Well maybe conservatives, their mostly religious fundamentalists so its a coin flip as to which side of an issue they are going to be fervently for or against, I thought they would have embraced the whole global warming thing as another aspect of the “End of Days” scenario. But I guess they think only god can kill the earth and that the concept of humans changing the environment is somehow blasphemous in that regard.

    Libertarians on the other hand are usually pretty rational. I agree with the libertarian position on most issues. But I think its because they are so concerned with property rights that they can’t wrap their head around AGW. Its essentially the biggest “tragedy of the commons” problem we’ve ever encountered. How the hell do you manage the air itself in a free market fashion? You guys buy into economics but not AGW, well this is the ’29 crash for the environment, and we as a species are gonna sit back and watch it happen. Just like we’ve sit back and watched every single economic disaster unfold for the past hundred years. A few people always saw it coming, tried to warn others, but in the end they could only look out for themselves because the rest of the species is just too damn short-sighted.

  6. #6 |  Elliot | 

    random_guy (#104): “[AGW is] happening and its demonstrable.

    Global temperatures have increased since the industrial revolution. Arguments that human industry contributed to this increase are convincing, to an extent. However, you cannot demonstrate how much of the increase in temperature is anthropogenic and how much is due to natural causes, part of cycles which have driven the Earth’s climate from ice age to warm periods for billions of years.

    Simplistic assertions that AGW is demonstrable are contradicted by inconvenient facts like the increase in the 1990s not being matched by a similar increase in the last decade, however.

    Multiple years with record breaking heat waves.

    So if the record which was broken was set in 1910, why was there a heat wave in 1910? AGW doesn’t explain that.

    Also, you’re mixing weather with climate, trying to use them interchangably. Local conditions which fall outside recent historical observations are not the same as average global temperatures, atmospheric and oceanic.

    We’re getting so many hurricanes a year we’re going to start running out of names.

    False. Each year, they start with A and go to Z. 2006 made it to “Isaac”, 2007 to “Olga”, 2008 to “Paloma”, 2009 to “Ida”, and 2010 to “Thomas”.

    Alarmists predicted that AGW would cause more and more intense storms. However, since 2005 (Katrina), the US has not had a major hurricane make landfall until Irene, which was certainly not a historically large storm.

    Persistent drought and record breaking monsoons on the other side of the globe.

    Where? And, what about the places where conditions are not outside the norm? Statistically, in any system with such variablity, there will always be localized extremes. That’s weather, not climate.

    The northern ice cap is becoming a puddle every summer, which has been noticed by the major energy concerns that are looking to break into the “virgin” sea for natural gas deposits.

    Actually, it isn’t. The arctic sea ice extent has not shrunk since the 2007/2008 minimum. Satellite measurements date to 1970, so to call 2007/2008 a “record” is disingenuous. Other data and historical accounts from sailors indicate that the arctic sea ice may have been much less centuries ago, making the 2007/2008 a non-record.

    The ice on Kilimanjaro is practically gone, as well as half of the glaciers in mountainous parks around the world.

    Meanwhile, many other glaciers are growing. The Earth’s climate changes and has been doing so for billions of years.

    Oh and the fact that there is more CO2 in our atmosphere right now, than can be observed in the last 650,000 years of earths history through antarctic ice core samples (which covers a period of eleven ice ages and warming eras).

    I don’t know about that, but even if it is so, there are a few problems with the catastrophic AGW (CAGW) assertion that CO2 drives global temperature. Historical data shows CO2 lagging temperatures, not predicating temperature changes. Also, laboratory experiments show a logarithmic relationship between CO2 and temperature. So, if you double the CO2 in the atmosphere, it will raise the temperature about 1C, according to standard models. But, to raise it another 1C, you have to double it again, i.e., 4 times the starting point. For 3C, that means 8 times. So, the more radical alarmist predictions of several degree changes in the next century are not based upon CO2 volume alone, but on positive feedbacks. Except, natural systems generally have negative feedbacks which tend to create equilibrium.

    And you know what, even if you could get every single person on this planet to agree that its happening, I don’t think it would matter at all. It’s too damn big for most people to care about or prepare for.

    It is too big for all the “green” “solutions” to make a difference. That makes them mostly symbolic, which is really stupid if you consider the cost. A few technologies and strategies are economically feasible and worth pursuing, if not for “saving the earth”, for actually reducing the likelihood of economic ruin.

    I just can’t for the life of me figure out why conservatives and libertarians are fighting the idea that its even happening with tooth and nail…

    I’m a libertarian and a skeptic of CAGW. I have studied the subject enough to have solid doubts based upon science and math. I am willing to consider new evidence, though. So, as far as establishing truth, I’m not fighting the alarmists “tooth and nail”. Rather, I’m holding their feet to the fire and demanding they act like damned scientists with principles, instead of playing political games and spouting “settled science” like some idiot Church inquisitor shouting down Galileo.

    Besides the issue of seeking the truth, I do fight the political efforts to deny people their individual rights for the sake of expediency, using scare tactics to panic people into ceding their rights (and those of their neighbors) for an illusion of safety. Any ethical solutions to ecological dilemmas must be accomplished by persuasion through reason, not force.

    But I think its because they are so concerned with property rights that they can’t wrap their head around AGW. Its essentially the biggest “tragedy of the commons” problem we’ve ever encountered.

    So you claim. Show me the evidence.

    I’d say communism, colonialism, slavery, and the like were far worse than anything likely to happen because of AGW in the next century. By far.

    I can wrap my head around the issue just fine. Regardless of how much humans contribute to global warming, rights are rights. They aren’t conditional privileges, any more than conscription isn’t slavery if there’s a war on. The draft is wrong, end of story. Violating individual rights for the sake of polar bears is wrong, end of story.

    How the hell do you manage the air itself in a free market fashion?

    You handle such problems like any other: you persuade people to find solutions via reason, without resorting to aggressive force. There are no guarantees.

    You guys buy into economics but not AGW, well this is the ’29 crash for the environment, and we as a species are gonna sit back and watch it happen. Just like we’ve sit back and watched every single economic disaster unfold for the past hundred years. A few people always saw it coming, tried to warn others, but in the end they could only look out for themselves because the rest of the species is just too damn short-sighted.

    If we were in the same room, I’d bet you a new car that in 20 years, alarmists will be mocked.

  7. #7 |  Julian | 

    Excellent! I take pride in being the liter who coined the phrase.

  8. #8 |  albatross | 

    A couple nitpicks to earlier comments:

    First, a discussion of what can be done about AGW assuming it is real makes sense, regardless of whether we know for sure it’s happening. That’s because we could end up in one of two states that make it almost irrelevant whether AGW is really happening, in terms of our decisions:

    a. There’s some extremely low-cost solution that removes or massively diminishes the risk of AGW. In this case, even if AGW is very uncertain, we should probably go ahead and do it. For example, if we get a non-carbon-emitting energy source that’s cheaper in practice than fossil fuels, then we’ll address AGW concerns for free, in much the same way that nobody worries too much today about the health problems caused by all the horse droppings in the roads of big cities.

    b. There’s no solution we can plausibly reach that removes or massively decreases the risk of AGW. If that’s true, then that also gives us an answer–we should spend whatever resources we have to spent on mitigation of damage rather than prevention, because it’s simply beyond our abilities to fix.

    Second, I think what we care about is less the expected outcome of climate change, and more the tail risk. What we care about is not actually a 1-2 degree C rise in global temperatures on average over a century that is expected based on current models–that’s something human civilization is obviously capable of handling just fine. The risks we care about are very large catastrophic changes–a big change in oceanic currents that makes northern Europe uninhabitably cold, big changes in rainfall patterns that makes farming impractical in places that currently produce a lot of food, really large temperature rises that happen quickly, glaciers melting fast enough to cause a big, fast rise in ocean level. My sense is that climate models and the current understanding of the world offered by climatology is simply not up to telling us much about those tail risks. (My not-too-informed understanding is that, for example, nobody can really account for where all the emitted CO2 goes–I gather a lot is apparently absorbed into the ocean in processes that aren’t all that well understood yet. To talk about the tail risk, the really bad stuff that might happen, I think you’d need to know a lot about stuff like those processes.)

    FWIW, I think if we are going to address AGW in practice, it will be by finding alternative energy sources that move us into situation (a), above. It will be cheaper or better in various ways to use non-CO2-emitting energy sources, and so everyone will convert over as quickly as possible. If nuclear power was cheaper, we’d probably be a long ways along that path now–everyone would be building new nuclear plants to replace coal and oil power plants.

  9. #9 |  Elliot | 

    albatross (#108): “…a 1-2 degree C rise in global temperatures on average over a century that is expected based on current models…

    The “current models” are severely flawed, for a long list of technical reasons. They have built-in assumptions, some of which are proving to be demonstrably false as more data is collected.

    I can write a simulation to get you the results you want, so long as I can fiddle with a few constants. I’m astounded at the level of faith people put into these computer programs.

    “The risks we care about are very large catastrophic changes–a big change in oceanic currents that makes northern Europe uninhabitably cold, big changes in rainfall patterns that makes farming impractical in places that currently produce a lot of food, really large temperature rises that happen quickly, glaciers melting fast enough to cause a big, fast rise in ocean level.”

    Hollywood loves a good disaster movie, whether it’s asteroids, volcanoes, earthquakes, The Day After Tomorrow (absurd plot, but source material for Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth), or supernatural apocalypse. The one thing in common with nearly all movies: they get the science wrong. You can’t blow up an asteroid with a nuclear bomb, for example.

    Before the Earth is roasted by a dying sun, there will be more ice ages, more unbearably hot eras, asteroid and comet strikes, supervolcano eruptions (Yellowstone caldera), La Palma island Mega Tsunami wiping out east coast of US, and perhaps a gamma ray burst which wipes out all life in a matter of seconds. Except the last, all of those are inevitable disasters. (Well, asteroids and comets can be diverted by gravity tractors, if detected early enough.) The only comfort we can take is that they are so infrequent, the odds of them happening in our lifetimes is extremely small.

    Certainly, humans can mitigate the impact of industry on the environment. Except, we can’t do much about natural phenomena which may have a far greater influence.

    It’s not honest or helpful to paint nightmare pictures of worst case scenarios if you’re going to do that in lieu of accurate measurement and analysis. Sign over half your wealth to me and I’ll build asteroid detectors and gravity tractors. Otherwise, you’re like a racist who wants all people of color to be exterminated by an asteroid impact. How do I know how much money I need? How do you know that the risk warrants the cost? Hey, watch those movies and look at the output of my simulations. Isn’t that enough to scare you? Do you need actual facts?

    “If nuclear power was cheaper, we’d probably be a long ways along that path now–everyone would be building new nuclear plants to replace coal and oil power plants.”

    Nuclear power isn’t expensive. People simply don’t want power plants in their back yards. Many other countries have abundant sources of power from nuclear plants, but the politics in the US have stymied any new production.

  10. #10 |  JOR | 

    CPS, I disagree. I think both things are important. The ‘norming’ of homosexuality of course helps everyone else to see gays as actual individuals with rounded personalities. That makes bigotry very psychologically difficult. I note that as someone who hates cops for purely philosophical reasons, I have a great deal of difficulty thinking badly of individual cops when I actually encounter them as people (I’ve noticed the same thing in dealing with people I know to be violent freelance thugs, as well). The pride parades and the like (and even “normal” people like to let it all hang out on occasion) aren’t for the benefit of sympathetic heterosexuals. They’re really not there “for” anyone but the participants – as has been noted, they’re not political rallies, they’re parades. But to the extent that they are intended as a statement it’s one of defiance. There are people who will never be swayed by the reason or appeals to empathy, either because of sheer personal hatred or (misguided) philosophical or religious scruple. Gays can ignore them, of course. Most of the time even the most flamboyant of them do, out of practical necessity. But sometimes, I reckon, it’s just a lot more fun to give them a face full of unapologetic, leather-clad ass. Maybe you feel sorry for the bigots and assholes who are the targets of these displays of obstinate defiance, but if so, I’d say your sympathy is misplaced.

  11. #11 |  Lloyd Flack | 

    Elliot (# 106),

    In entering or leaving glacials CO2 acts as an amplifting feedback not as a forcing. A forcing is something outside the climate system that cause the climate to change e. g. solar variation. A feedback is something inside the climate system that modifies a change in the climate, e. g. albedo will change in response to temperature changes leading to further temperature change. As we understand it now insolation changes brought about by orbital and rotational cycles trigger albedo changes which bring about large temperature changes. These temperature changes lead to uptake or emission of CO2 from the ocean amplifying the temperature change. But most of the CO2 is in the deep parts of the ocean and it takes centuries for the ocean to overturn. The dely that you mention is exactly what one expects from a delayed amplifying feedback.

  12. #12 |  Elliot | 

    @ Lloyd Flack (#111):

    1) In An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore presents the temperature and CO2 graphs over geological time and overlays them. But he doesn’t mention that the CO2 lags. This is as dishonest as using CGI images of melting ice from the ridiculously unscientific movie, The Day After

    2) Since historical cycles have had CO2 increase lag temperature increases, before the industrial revolution, it’s further dishonest to use such data to imply that anthropogenic sources of CO2 are analogous to historical warming periods. That’s apples and oranges, unscientific and untruthful.

    3) Positive feedbacks intensify the reaction of a particular cause. Negative feedbacks dampen them. In studying complex natural systems, you’ll find that negative feedbacks tend to dominate any system which has cycles. With only positive feedbacks, you get no cycles. You get the “tipping point” and “runaway” warming from which there is no recovery. Considering that Earth has been much hotter in the past, followed by ice ages, isn’t it silly for Al Gore and other alarmists to throw around these terms? Those are not supported by any scientific data. They are nightmare scenarios intended to evoke fear and panic, to scare people into willingly ceding their money and their individual rights to the wise leftists who will solve our problems with “green” solutions and save us from the dreadful “runaway” warming.

    4) So far, quite a few of the “green” solutions touted by politicians, subsidized by tax money and industry protectionism (rent seeking) have turned out to be boondoggles. As in the “green jobs” which the Spanish government admits were a failed program, or the Massachusetts-based Evergreen Solar Inc. which went bankrupt after sucking up tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money. And, the carbon markets, cap and trade, and other schemes tossed about by alarmists as solutions turn out to be methods for speculators to rake in money from suckers, not lifting a finger or producing anything of value, but simply rigging the system in their favor. So, when politicians and “experts” try to scare you into doing something to “save the planet”, remember that many of them are going to have fat bank accounts and still drive around in limos and fly private jets while you sacrifice.

    Intelligent people need to take a sober look at the data, separated from political considerations, and find what is true. Throw away anything by political hacks and grant whores, including the politically motivated people who deny AGW not for scientific or mathematical reasons.

    When we look to the scientific method of inquiry as our basis for seeking the truth, it will be the more radical alarmists like Al Gore who ought to be shunned from polite society (though I wouldn’t push the racist analogy, since it’s so obnoxious and ignorant). And, anyone who cites Christian scripture should be discounted as irrational, as well.

  13. #13 |  Lloyd Flack | 

    Elliot, you completly ignored what I said about the CO2 lags. The albedo changes are not enough to explain the difference intemperature between glacials and interglacials. The effect of the changes in CO2 and water vapout are necessary to explain the total change. In fact the Last Glacial maximum provides a good independent estimate of climate sensitivity to CO2. And there are others.

    And “grant whores”? You make my point for me about unwillingness to recognize integrity in political opponents.

  14. #14 |  Lyn | 

    About the article with “weatherman needlessly reporting from the middle of a dangerous storm” it’s good for a laugh.

    In Sept. 2004 I was in Pensacola for Hurricane Ivan. For a while we wasted our time listening to a local TV weather dolt broadcasting from a downtown nightclub that stayed open. We had already lost our electricity so we couldn’t watch him on TV. Anyway he’d go inside from time to time and they kept playing REO Speedwagon “Ridin the Storm Out” in the bar. Then he’d go outside and we could barely hear him. I wish I could have seen it. I’m sure he looked stupid.

    Over the next few days we saved our radio batteries to listen to more important – for us – programming like Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. Got sick & tired of weather and local news experts telling us the storm had been bad. We already knew that.

    By the way it’s hard to just listen to Wheel of Fortune and solve the puzzles.

  15. #15 |  Elliot | 

    Lloyd Flack (#113): “Elliot, you completly ignored what I said about the CO2 lags.

    No, I didn’t. Skeptics have pointed to the lag as an example of Gore’s duplicity. From what I’ve read, the defense of Gore boils down to: we don’t know why there is a lag, so don’t jump to the conclusion that CO2 doesn’t play a part after it is released due to warming by other natural processes.

    What brought Earth out of ice ages in the past? It wasn’t human industry or flatulence of cattle. Natural processes warmed the climate, before CO2 rose.

    So, why assume that simply because there is human industry, these natural forces which caused warming in the past, suddenly quit having an influence?

    And “grant whores”? You make my point for me about unwillingness to recognize integrity in political opponents.

    You do realize that you just classified scientists who receive government grants who echo the unscientific mantra of “settled science” as political opponents, correct?

    I would not disagree. And, the reason I question their integrity is because they are supposed to be goddamned scientists, not political activists. Their job is to find the truth through testing, retesting, answering skeptical challenges, and retesting. It isn’t to vote to squash debate, but to foster more debate. It isn’t to treat “denialists” like racists, to fantasize about murdering them with buttons which turn them into pools of blood and gore.

    It’s to act responsibly and objectively in the pursuit of knowledge, not polls.

    Writing a computer program to simulate climate, as sophisticated as it may be, is useless if you have a long list of fixed constants (since you don’t know, in reality, how these factors influence climate) and you ignore external variables out of ignorance. Like I said, if I’m permitted to fiddle with the constants in my lab, and don’t share my source code to reveal such information, I can tweak them to produce desired results.

    Knowing this about simulations, I question the integrity of alleged scientists who use such methods and present them as a basis of certainty to the public.

    There are scientists who take measurements, test hypotheses, and report their findings without involving themselves in politics. Those men and women are not my political opponents. They are simply people who seek the truth as objectively as possible. Unfortunately, due to the political climate, such people are only welcome to conferences so long as their conclusions don’t conflict with the political narrative.

  16. #16 |  Lloyd Flack | 

    I should have said that they perceive as political opponents. Most scientists, to the extent that they are politically interested at all, tend to be a bit left of center. The reasons for this are partially to do with the nature of science and partially to do with the academic environment. This does not make their opinions on politics more likely to be correct than those of anyone else.

    But if they are working on a project and they discover a danger then they have the same obligations as anyone else to alert others to the danger. If they urge particular actions then sometimes they will urge solutions that might not work or might have costs and consequences that they do not take sufficient account of. Their politics is likely to affect the proposed solutions much more than the warnings of danger.

    Why do people get into science at all? Almost always the primary motives are curiosity, interest in the subject and a love of problem solving. If these aren’t the primary motives then they are unlikely to go very far in their fields. Their personal reputation for integrity and the reputation of their field are very important to most scientists. If they fabricate evidence or allow non scientific matters to affect their judgment then someone will prove them wrong sooner or later. That is the nature of the universe and of science. If they are right then there will almost always be other lines of evidence agreeing with their conclusions. This is called the consilience of evidence and is what scientists want before they have a lot of confidence in conclusions, The conventional understanding of climate does have this consilience. The sceptical interpretations do not.

    I am a scientist and have worked with other scientists. I know what drives them. And the smears that come from people who do not want to believe something that they find uncomfortable to believe offend me even though I am not the target.

    As for the lag in CO2 in glacials isn’t it a funny coincidence that it the same size as the time required for the oceans to overturn? It is the size that we would expect it to be if our understanding of climate is correct.

    I’ve seen the climate system described as an ornery beast that over reacts to small provocations. How do you think we end up with a glacial cycle? The trigger, the Milankovitch Cycles is too small to do the job unless it it is greatly amplified.

    Because your judgment is warped by politics you assume that the judgment of others is also. I do not believe that you have examined climate science from the desire to understand. I think proving your political position right is your main motive. And if many freely chosen choices lead to consequences that harm most then the libertarian position is undermined. The market does not necessarily lead to the best outcome for most people. I think it usually does but not always.

  17. #17 |  Elliot | 

    Lloyd Flack (#116): “Most scientists, to the extent that they are politically interested at all, tend to be a bit left of center. The reasons for this are partially to do with the nature of science and partially to do with the academic environment.“

    From my observations, I would guess that the collectivist/statist leanings of academics are about 90% due to living in a sheltered environment, dependent upon government largess (i.e., the money the government takes from producers to give away like Halloween candy to those who kowtow to the authorities). The other 10% comes from a lack of real empathy, whether it’s the nerdy egghead who is a high-functioning autistic (Asperger’s) and thus truly lacking in theory of mind, or the narcissist who has had an easy time being at the top academically, getting awards, etc., and thinks that his or her intellectual superiority entitles him or her to make decisions for the mundane.

    I’ve been acquainted with a number of intellectuals whose disregard for individual rights made my blood run cold. The worst I’ve encountered were East Europeans (who defected to escape communism, but were nevertheless brainwashed to despise capitalism, stupidly unable to grasp the major lesson blazened across their own lives) and Brits (who were locked into the mindset of the dutiful subject, borne of a culture rife with all the contradictions of an enlightened colonial power). American “liberals” in academia strive to plunge to that depth of depravity, but only the most radical achieve that sort of disdain for the freedom of others.

    In a recent essay by Penn Jillette, published on CNN, entitled, “I don’t know, so I’m an atheist libertarian,” Jillette recounts his experience with a Nobel Prize winning physicist. What impressed the magician was the scientist’s willingness to admit that he didn’t know something. Penn argues that when we acknowledge that we don’t know the answer to difficult questions, like how did the universe become what we see, not only is it only rational to be an atheist, but also to be a libertarian. (Elsewhere, Mr. Jillette has described himself as an anarcho-capitalist.) The reason for an honest person to take an individualist political position is simple: I don’t know more than you do what’s best for you and how best to utilize your productive efforts to that end. And, the “leftist” approach wouldn’t even be for me to improve your life by making decisions for you, but to take what you produce and pass it out like Halloween candy to show how caring and generous I am (with your money).

    The engineer side of me understands the temptation to want to fix a system which is riddled with problems and corruption, to see peope making stupid decisions and realize that I could do things better. But the scientist and philosopher (inasmuch as all human beings who employ reason to decide what is right an wrong is engaging in philosophy) in me recognizes that the “system” of human activity is far to complex for even the wisest to behave in a dictatorial fashion to improve, and that the goal of the “common good” is a lie, since forcing people to do things my way will, no matter what, do harm to at least some.

    This does not make their opinions on politics more likely to be correct than those of anyone else.

    Nobody who has “leftist” political opinions is “correct”. Nor are “conservatives”, or the more radical factions simplistically dubbed extreme “left” or “right”, since the difference in how they implement more authoritarian collectivism is mostly cosmetic.

    The scientist who makes a bona fide effort to do experiments and address skeptics and intellectual counterarguments, and who refrains from tainting his or her research with a political (or other subjective) agenda, has my respect. Even if I disagree with their conclusions or methodology, but recognize that they have the integrity to admit they were wrong should they be presented with contradictory evidence, I accept them as honest scientists.

    But whenever a scientist “spins” a slight result to exaggerate the significance, or uses deceptive interpretations to squash more careful analysis for fear of being wrong, that person has abandoned the scientific method of inquiry. Putting a contentions matter up to a vote, to argue truth based upon “consensus” is the appeal to popularity fallacy, coupled with the appeal to authority fallacy. Whenever a scientist utters the words “settled science” and refuses to have an earnest debate with skeptics, that person has abandoned the role of scientist.

  18. #18 |  Elliot | 

    Lloyd Flack (#116): “Their personal reputation for integrity and the reputation of their field are very important to most scientists. If they fabricate evidence or allow non scientific matters to affect their judgment then someone will prove them wrong sooner or later. That is the nature of the universe and of science. If they are right then there will almost always be other lines of evidence agreeing with their conclusions.

    When the panels which review papers or choose participants in conference have a stacked deck, scientists with integrity are stymied if they offer sound experimental evidence which contradicts the prevailing political agenda. Those who don’t share the political agenda, but who see the cost to those who rock the boat, compromise their principles and elide anything which those in authority deem verboten. There, the “reputation” is decided on high from biased judges, and those who are principled and happen to disagree with the “common wisdom” have their reputations unfairly tarnished. Not because they violated scientific principles, but because they didn’t give in to pressue.

    Do you realize that Al GOre and most of the alarmists absolutely refuse to engage in sincere debate with skeptics? They refuse to allow their research to be presented.

    Does this happen amongs anthropologists, quantum physicists, biochemists? Not that I’ve seen. If anything, in those circles it’s more about personalities than politics. My anthropology professor, who tried to get me to change majors because I was so enamored with the subject that I would speak with him after class for long periods of time, spoke of conferences in which scientists who had differing opinions on the nutritional sources for an ancient tribe, turned beet red when he heard his rival speaking. There, the reputations depended upon how convincing the arguments were. Perhaps there were biases amongst those who reviewed journal entries.

    I am a scientist and have worked with other scientists. I know what drives them. And the smears that come from people who do not want to believe something that they find uncomfortable to believe offend me even though I am not the target.

    I’m exactly the same, except I see the alarmists as being uncomfortable accepting the heresy of skeptical challenges to ideas which are based upon scant evidence (relative to the scope of the problem), filled with many unknowns, and which rely far too much on computer programs with which I have some familiarity—enough to know that the proclaimed accuracy for which we are supposed to have confidence is exaggerated and even an outright lie in many cases.

    Like I said, if an honest scientist addressed the skeptics’ counterevidence and presented scientifically sound arguments (beyond simulations) to establish a strong correlation for AGW, I would have no problem with accepting that argument. It doesn’t make me uncomfortable to believe that, if true. You’re thrashing away at that strawman, wasting your time.

    Address what I’ve written, not what you wish I wrote.

    As for the lag in CO2 in glacials isn’t it a funny coincidence that it the same size as the time required for the oceans to overturn? It is the size that we would expect it to be if our understanding of climate is correct.

    Here is an excellent example of an irrational argument. You assert that the time period for CO2 to be drawn from the oceans matches the lag. First, how were these time periods measured and what is the degree of accuracy? Were they tested using other experiments? Were the experiments retested independently? (Or was it the one guy who saw dead bears from a plane which triggered the EPA to declare CO2 a harmful gas, without even tracking bear populations in a methodical manner?)

    Second, such a lag only means that whatever caused the warming (which wasn’t CO2 levels) did release the CO2. You’re still stuck with explaining the warming under lower CO2 levels.

    Third, since CO2 increases in the past century are suspected to be mostly due to human industry, attempting to link the influence of CO2 on global temperature to past periods of warming, which started during lower CO2 concentrations, is highly disingenuous. This lag does not, in fact, support AGW theories, since the prehistoric record does not include anthropogenic anything.

    Fourth, declaring that “our understanding of climate is correct” because of one alleged confluence of numbers is completely impertinent. Who is “our” in that statement? Even the proponents of AGW have some variations in their “understanding of climate”, and the scope and complexity of AGW issues far surpasses the ability of one data point to have that much meaning in the grand scheme of things.

    I’ve seen the climate system described as an ornery beast that over reacts to small provocations. How do you think we end up with a glacial cycle? The trigger, the Milankovitch Cycles is too small to do the job unless it it is greatly amplified.

    Note that there are cycles, not “tipping points” and “runaway” heating or cooling, reinforced by predominately positive feedbacks. Cyclical changes mean negative feedbacks outweigh positive feedbacks, which runs directly contrary to the assumptions of the climate models cited by the alarmists.

    Because your judgment is warped by politics you assume that the judgment of others is also.

    The first two times you made that false accusation could have been honest mistakes.

    Now you’re just lying to smear me.

    My judgment of the merits of scientific experimentation and analysis is independent of politics.

    And, my judgment regarding the proposed political solutions (the “green” snake oil) is based upon hard evidence and clear, honest reason untainted by partisanship. I don’t vote and I don’t identify with any political party. My indictment of politicians, pundits, and activists are based upon how they do harm to individuals.

    It is my unwillingness to accept the cognitive dissonance necessary to be a partisan or to gauge oneself on a ridiculous one-dimensional scale (which is a throwback to a two century old revolution in France), which gives me an untainted perspective on the evils of government “solutions”, whether it’s wars, socialized programs, or corruption of the scientific method.

    I do not believe that you have examined climate science from the desire to understand.

    It matters not what you believe. What matters are the facts. My geology course in college was in the 1980s, when deforestation and global warming were hot issues. I’ve followed the debate for decades. I have a few posts on it on my blog, but I generally defer to other sources who have put in far more time to finding the truth.

    I was not a skeptic when I was younger, just as I was not an atheist. I changed my mind after years of considering the arguments.

    So, you can take what you believe and go jump in a lake, preferrably one of glacial melt.

    And if many freely chosen choices lead to consequences that harm most then the libertarian position is undermined.

    That’s absurd. Individual rights are not subject to the whims of happenstance. There are no guarantees in this universe, as the residents of Pompeii showed.

    It’s wrong for me to enslave you, even if the circumstances were so rare that not enslaving you would mean the death of thousands. It isn’t your fault that those thousands will die, so your rights are not forfeit.

    Not that I believe for a second that “most” will be harmed by allowing individuals to make more of their own choices, which also means they are accountable for the outcomes of their decisions. When the nebulous “most” are harmed (in some non-specifice, unquantified manner), then the question to ask is: what caused them to be harmed?

    The market does not necessarily lead to the best outcome for most people. I think it usually does but not always.

    You’re making your ethical stand on the hill of utilitarian ethics, which lead to attrocities when taken to their logical conclusion.

  19. #19 |  Lloyd Flack | 

    The timing of the glacial cycle indicates that it is driven by the Milankovitch cycles. However these are too weak to bring about the changes without a lot of amplificataion. There are two changes occuring at the time that can provide this amplification. One is albedo changes from the glaciation. The other is uptake of CO2 by the ocean. The initial amplification comes from the albedo increase coming from glaciation in the Northern Hemisphere. This temperature drop leads to the ocean taking up CO2 and droping the teperature further. The albedo changes provide only about half of the amplification required to cause the required temperature drop. CO2 uptake supplies the rest and this gives us an independent estimate of the sensitivity to CO2 changes. The claim that the lag in CO2 changes proves that they cannot be responsible for temperature changes is a fallacy based on the implicit belief that climate scientists are claiming the CO2 is always the only thing driving temperature changes.

    The deniers do not seem to have much in the way of explanations for glacial cycles. Your claim that cycles require negative feedbacks is fallacious. The glacial cycles are driven by orbital and rotational cycles from outside the climate system. All that I wrote above are things that you could have easily looked up but didn’t before you made claims about the import of the relation between CO2 and temperature in glacial cycles. I want to understand paleoclimate. A high sensitivity to CO2 answers a lot of questions about paleoclimate that a low sensitivity leaves unanswered.

  20. #20 |  Lloyd Flack | 

    I’m not a utilitarian but an ethical intuitionist. I think most libertarians want a natural law basis to morality. I was initially attracted to libertarianism primarily because it was associated with such approaches. But gradually I realized that natural law approaches to ethics did not solve the “is ought” problem that they were intended to. Looking at history and psychology I realized that a lot of libertarian solutions were not going to work. And I realized that libertarianism ignored or downplayed much of the social aspects and needs of people.

    People who support other political movements place much more importance than libertarians do on things such as altruism and social cohesion. It is not that liberty is not valued but that it is not the only consideration for them. Libertarians claim that liberty trumps all other moral considerations is seen by them as an evasion of responsibility.

    Climate change is an example of the sort of problem that libertarianism fails to handle. Most of the harm falls on future generations. There is no way that libertarianism can make those doing the harm accountable.

    Climate scientists see most of the sceptics as acting in bad faith and that it is a waste of time engaging someone who is simply looking for ways to defend beliefs that they want to continue in. The deniers are seen as rationalizers that they cannot get to seriously examine their beliefs. And of course these deniers are engaged in smearing the scientists involved. But enough, I have explained what my positions are, anythjing further will be simply talking past each other.

  21. #21 |  Elliot | 

    Lloyd Flack (#119): “The timing of the glacial cycle indicates that it is driven by the Milankovitch cycles. However these are too weak to bring about the changes without a lot of amplificataion. [etc]

    You’re rehashing things not under debate. I will point out that the “amplification” represents positive feedbacks.

    Under the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW) scenarios, positive feedbacks dominate. Alarmists warn of “tipping points” and “runaway” warming. Except negative feedbacks are not being included in the calculations.

    If these “amplifications” (positive feedbacks) occur as part of the natural glacial cycle, then obviously something puts the brakes on, i.e., negative feedbacks.

    Much of the problem is that most specific feedback sources have not yet been identified. Those that have are not accurately quantified, due to the lack of data. Any complex computer simulation which attempts to model a system with so many unknowns doesn’t increase the accuracy of predictions, it multiplies any errors built into the assumptions. That includes the constants which the programmer sets, as well as the simplistic formulae, based upon a few data points which seem to match observed data, but may in fact be completely wrong.

    The claim that the lag in CO2 changes proves that they cannot be responsible for temperature changes is a fallacy based on the implicit belief that climate scientists are claiming the CO2 is always the only thing driving temperature changes.

    It’s not a fallacy or implicit. It’s the explicit claims of people like Al Gore, in An Inconvenient Truth who take historical graphs of temperature and CO2 levels and overlay them without mentioning the lag. Blame him and those like him who make cynical choices to gloss over such details for fear that they will be less convincing. After all that deception, the chickens are coming home to roost. Skeptics are catching their omissions and polls indicate people are becoming even less convinced.

    The deniers do not seem to have much in the way of explanations for glacial cycles.

    Well, I can’t speak for “deniers”, since those people seem to make all sorts of intellectual mistakes.

    As for the skeptics, I don’t see them as being unable to explain cycles. Indeed, they are not afraid to mention the Little Ice Age and Medieval Warming Period (which is overlooked in alarmist narratives, when it pokes holes in the “hockey stick” scare-the-hell-out-of-them approach).

    But what the responsible scientists, from those who suggest moderate AGW to the skeptics, do is to admit that there are things about the natural cycles we simply don’t know. They don’t pretend that such complexity is “settled science”.

    Besides, a skeptic need not explain glacial cycles any more than an atheist need prove the absence of gawd. You’re shifting the burden of proof.

    Your claim that cycles require negative feedbacks is fallacious. The glacial cycles are driven by orbital and rotational cycles from outside the climate system.

    So you’re claiming that orbital and rotational cycles account for the glacial cycles? How would you know this?

    No complex natural system has an absence of negative cycles. None.

    Absent negative feedbacks, you get “runaway” processes which turn Earth into a cryosphere (block of ice) or into Venus. Since that hasn’t happened, models with only positive feedbacks are just plain wrong.

    All that I wrote above are things that you could have easily looked up but didn’t….

    That’s a lie. You can repeat basic arguments which anyone who has paid attention knows about, but you’re misstating the couterarguments, ignoring the meat of the debate.

  22. #22 |  Elliot | 

    Lloyd Flack (#120): “I’m not a utilitarian but an ethical intuitionist.

    That looks to me like an indirect way of choosing utilitarian arguments when thay are easier.

    I think most libertarians want a natural law basis to morality. I was initially attracted to libertarianism primarily because it was associated with such approaches. But gradually I realized that natural law approaches to ethics did not solve the “is ought” problem that they were intended to.

    I suspect your error here is expecting that ethical principles will solve problems. The problems are caused by people violating the rights of others, not by delineating those rights. There will always be murderers, rapists, thieves, etc., and no moral framework is going to make that false.

    Individualist ethics, however, correctly identify the actors who are doing wrong.

    Looking at history and psychology I realized that a lot of libertarian solutions were not going to work.

    Work for whom? When you behave ethically, respecting the rights of others, then your behavior works for those around you whom you’re not harming.

    Maybe it doesn’t “work” for the people who would force you under their rule or your neighbors who fear terrorism, financial instability, or global warming and are falsely convinced that you sacrificing your liberty will increase their safety. But those people have no moral authority to decide that their illusion of safety is more important than your life. Only you have the authority to consent to giving up your rights.

    If your neighbor, on the other hand, is a thug, then he’s not behaving ethically. Your choice to be a libertarian doesn’t cause him to get away with harming others. That’s his fault.

    And I realized that libertarianism ignored or downplayed much of the social aspects and needs of people.

    Nonsense. All of the issues of commerce, social interactions, natural disasters, etc. can be addressed without resorting to abridging the rights of others. If I object to you stealing from Peter to solve Paul’s problems, that’s not me ignoring or downplaying Paul’s problems. Rather, that’s me recognizing that Peter’s rights prohibit making him a victim as a solution for Paul’s problems. Those difficulties need to be accepted or addressed through reasoned persuasion, not resort to force, however indirectly.

    People who support other political movements place much more importance than libertarians do on things such as altruism and social cohesion.

    Most things presented as altruism are nothing of the sort. Political acts of “altruism” are mostly stealing from Peter to pay Paul and then bragging about how generous you are (with Peter’s money). Some altruism.

    Most people, when they help others, do so for reasons which help themselves. For some, it’s religion (which I think taints the act, but that’s another discussion). For others, it’s making themselves look generous, which is just self-aggrandizement. And for some, it’s just getting a warm feeling from knowing that others were helped. None of that is true altruism. In extreme cases, like jumping on a grenade to save buddies, it’s a value calculation, deciding that having multiple people live on is more valuable to you than just yourself. Again, probably very noble, but not pure altruism.

    As for “social cohesion”, the basic argument there is “give us part of what the rich people have or we’ll riot and tear apart this place”. That’s no basis for an ethical argument.

    It is not that liberty is not valued but that it is not the only consideration for them. Libertarians claim that liberty trumps all other moral considerations is seen by them as an evasion of responsibility.

    Libertarians recognize that when one person’s liberty comes in conflict with another’s rights, that the context may trump the liberty. I’m free to swing my fist around, until it comes into proximity with your nose. None of that is ignored by libertarianism, nor treated in such absolute terms as you portray.

    What actually is happening is that the pragmatist says that liberty is all well and good, until it conflicts with their goals, and then they abandon the principle. A principled libertarian, on the other hand, says that liberty prevails until it actually conflicts with the rights of another, not simply when it’s inconvenient.

    Climate change is an example of the sort of problem that libertarianism fails to handle. Most of the harm falls on future generations. There is no way that libertarianism can make those doing the harm accountable.

    Again, that’s false. Most problems have consequences to future generations, whether it’s ecological or financial (debt). Individualism doesn’t fail to address any of those things. Rather, by adhering to its principles, people will not punish future generations with unfair debt or punish current generations by overratcting to doom-and-gloom predictions.

    For any problem, the ethical approach is to work with other people via reason, to find a solution. It’s not to stick a gun in the other person’s face to force them to give up part of their life for a (false) promise of safety. Al Gore and the celebrity greenies will tell you to give up modern conveniences and sacrifice, while they jet around the world and heat up their spacious homes.

    Climate scientists see most of the sceptics as acting in bad faith…

    Many examples show that to be a lie. It’s a cynical political ploy to shut out all dissent, to pretend that anyone who doesn’t toe the line is a crazy nut or an agent of evil Big Oil.

    There are people, mostly politicians and activists, who stupidly refuse to consider anything about global warming. You can call them “denialists” because they deny without looking at facts.

    But there are plenty of intelligent, informed skeptics who not only act in good faith, but who are more interested in getting to the truth than the “hide the decline” type climatologists, the “settled science” Inquisition types.

    I encourage readers to go to Warren Meyer’s “Climate Skeptic” weblog, particularly those articles under “Past Favorites” in the right-hand column. He also links to other skeptic websites. Decide for yourself if these people are acting in bad faith.

  23. #23 |  Lloyd Flack | 

    If people want to know what is actually going on go to Skepical Science.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com

    It is the best place to go to if you want to compare denialist claims to reality.

  24. #24 |  Elliot | 

    @Lloyd Flack (#123) readers should visit websites to which we both linked, as well as seeking others of the same genre. The value of authors like Meyer and Watts (of Watts Up With That?) is that they locate news which the MSM tends to ignore, either because it doesn’t fit their ideological biases or because it’s too difficult for their little journalist brains to wrap around.

    While Warren Meyer presents the skeptic’s point of view (his own) as “Climate Skeptic”, the people running the “Skeptical Science” website are alarmists, not skeptics. That’s a bit disingenuous.

    While Warren Meyer and Anthony Watts acknowledge solid arguments on the AGW side, the “Skeptical Science” begins by lying (like Lloyd Flack here) by pretending that all skeptics are just “deniers” who ignore all facts and evidence which they don’t like.

    On the surface, the skeptics I cite are far more honest and objective, but I encourage anyone who is interested in the truth to carefully read all arguments.

  25. #25 |  Lloyd Flack | 

    Not all are denialists. I know some who are not. Most are however, especially the strident ones. Most are rationalizers rather than liars. They are not skeptical because they leap at anything which seems to comfirm what they want to believe.

  26. #26 |  Elliot | 

    Lloyd Flack (#125): “Most are rationalizers rather than liars. They are not skeptical because they leap at anything which seems to confirm what they want to believe.” [emphasis added]

    You’re repeating the same dishonest mantra, over and over, regardless of the facts, behaving exactly like the straw man you’re bashing.

    Why Are Skeptics Piling on Irene Forecasters? See also:

    If you read between the lines in the news articles, we really have no idea what is going on. The guy could have falsified his travel expense reports” from “Go Easy on the Polar Bear Fraud”

    And:

    Curry offers the alternative explanation of natural variability offsetting Co2 warming, which I think is partly true. … I don’t think there is anything we could do with a bigger bang for the buck than to reduce particulate emissions from Asian coal. This is FAR easier than CO2 emissions reductions — its something we have done in the US for nearly 40 years.” from “Return of “The Plug””

    And:

    “Let’s be perfectly clear. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, and other things being equal, the more carbon dioxide in the air, the warmer the planet. Every bit of carbon dioxide that we emit warms the planet.” from a cited article inside “We Are Finally Seeing Healthy Perspectives on CO2 in the Media”

    Meanwhile, Anthony Watts at “Watts Up With That?” has a sticky post entitled “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: My Initial Comments on the New Dessler 2011 Study” in which he details where he agrees with Dessler and where he differs. In his analysis, Watts considers the possibility that Dessler is correct:

    He gets a ratio of about 20:1 for non-radiatively forced (i.e. non-cloud) temperature changes versus radiatively (mostly cloud) forced variations. If that 20:1 number is indeed good, then we would have to agree this is strong evidence against our view that a significant part of temperature variations are radiatively forced.

    Over and over, I read articles which directly contradict your falsehood that skeptics are just “denialists” who ignore anything they don’t like.

    You need to actually start reading the damned writing of the people you’re castigating so harshly. You’ll soon see that they do not behave at all in the way you’re characterizing them.

    I’d ask you to be a man and admit you were wrong, but I’m not holding my breath after seeing how fervently you repeat the mantra here, no matter how many times I correct you.

  27. #27 |  Elliot | 

    Lloyd Flack (#125): “They are not skeptical because they leap at anything which seems to comfirm what they want to believe.

    And yet another example directly refuting Lloyd Flack’s attempt to smear skeptics to try to convince readers to ignore them, Warren Meyer comparing and contrasting graphs in “I Don’t Think This is Settled”.

    If, as Lloyd asserts, Meyer only wanted to leap at data confirming what he wanted to believe, he would have put up a single chart. But he put up both and commented on how slightly different data can produce opposite results, if you rush to draw conclusions without being rigorous. That’s a cautionary tale for alarmists and skeptics, to gather more data and to be more rigorous in the statistical analysis.

    Openness, balanced, careful: all hallmarks of a good skeptic.

    Meanwhile, alarmists want to rule CO2 a pollutant because one guy saw some dead bears out of an airplane window. One data point.