Maggie’s Monday Links

Monday, July 30th, 2012

(Thanks to Radley for the first three items, Mike Siegel for the fourth and Grace for the fifth.)

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71 Responses to “Maggie’s Monday Links”

  1. #1 |  Mattocracy | 

    One of the aspects of modern military combat is that people survive their comabt injuries much more readily than in the past. In WWII and before, a gun shot wound or losing a limb pretty much meant you died. That all changed in Vietnam and the US military was very ill prepared for this. Hence the horror stories of military hospitals from that era.

    While I think the US treats it’s wounded veterans comparably better than in the past, I’m not suprised that a developing country that is still war torn has such dismal healthcare for it’s military. Let’s be honest, Afghanistan simply doesn’t have the doctors or the resources to take care of civilians let alone scores of seriously injured soldiers. Short of shipping in foreign doctors and nurses to work in that country, it’s nearly impossible for the conditions to get any better any time soon.

  2. #2 |  Howlin' Hobbit | 

    the Heinlein reference (and immediately recognizable cover art) just shickled the tit outta me. thanks!

  3. #3 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    While Jackson was elsewhere, her parked car was occupied by two individuals who allegedly possessed a 1.4 gram cigar containing cannabis and a bag with approximately 1.6 grams of cannabis. The individuals were arrested and the automobile was seized by the city.

    How are they getting around that pesky Fifth Amendment clause
    “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” I must have fallen asleep halfway through that lecture.
    Even Redcoats wouldn’t steal your horse-and-buggy over a little doobage;
    that Revolution, therefore, was a big waste of time.

  4. #4 |  Psion | 

    I’m not certain I’d tag Richard Muller as a “former skeptic”. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Muller criticized the mathematics of Michael Mann’s so-called “hockey stick”, but went on to estimate a 2-in-3 chance that the planet was warming and humans were to blame. He was also part of a panel that endorsed the view that the planet was quickly getting unusually hot.

    http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/0623-03.htm

    Muller claims in his New York Times Op-Ed piece that he was a skeptic three years ago, but the science changed his mind. Yet six years ago, we have clear evidence that he believed in anthropogenic global warming already. This revisionism suggests to me that he wears the mantle of former skeptic purely for the rhetorical leverage he thinks it gives him.

  5. #5 |  Maggie McNeill | 

    #2 – I’ve been a Heinlein fan since I discovered his juveniles around the age of 9 or 10. And on many occasions, conversations with clients led to a question like “Have you ever read any Heinlein?” or even more specifically, “Have you ever read Friday?” I always took it as a compliment.

  6. #6 |  Irving Washington | 

    Psion, that piece reeks of self-aggrandizement. He is, however, honest about the real issue: what to do with the information.

  7. #7 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @4 – Ah yes, “No true Scotsman”. Scepticism can include a wide range of beliefs well short of complete rejection.

  8. #8 |  Juice | 

    That was probably my least favorite Heinlein book.

  9. #9 |  Psion | 

    And yet, Leon, anyone skeptical of AGW gets sorted into the “denier” bin and lumped in with flat-earthers and creationists. Except Muller. He’s never been considered a “denier” because he was never truly skeptical of anything about AGW except Mann’s clumsy math. He wields the “former skeptic” title not only inaccurately but for dubious intent.

    He really never was a Scotsman.

  10. #10 |  ClubMedSux | 

    Yeah, let’s all get hung up on whether Muller is worthy of the mantle “skeptic” rather than focusing on the actual substance of his article. As a former atmospheric scientist (and one who was skeptical of anthropogenic global warming when the state of the research warranted skepticism) I’ve always found discussing the issue with fellow libertarians to be a frustrating experience. Whereas libertarians are generally beholden to science and reason, climate change is one area where many are suddenly willing to accept any far-fetched excuse to dismiss the scientific consensus. Sun spots! Urban heat island effect! La Niña! (As if climate scientists are completely unaware of these factors.)

    Anyway, my rant aside, I think this article really nails it:

    “It’s a scientist’s duty to be properly skeptical. I still find that much, if not most, of what is attributed to climate change is speculative, exaggerated or just plain wrong. I’ve analyzed some of the most alarmist claims, and my skepticism about them hasn’t changed.”

    This is where the debate needs to be. Is there a chance AGW isn’t happening? Sure, but it’s pretty remote at this point. What we are seeing, however, is people overstating the impacts, and that’s incredibly significant to policy-making.

  11. #11 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @9 – Except they don’t. Anyone relying on the trash science on the internet does, and rightly so.

    As ever, you’re the one who is insisting that an outright rejection of science must occur before someone can really be clean and wholesome.

    @10 – And you see plenty more trying to understate the estimates. Indeed, the real scandal of the IPCC is that they persistently underestimate, in retrospect, the real impacts.

  12. #12 |  Matthew | 

    When I was young, I was told by some Christian-like people that Michelangelo’s David was sinful because the figure’s over-sized hands were intended to place emphasis on the works of Man, rather than the works of God. I’ve never been able to find any credible basis for this claimed intent of the sculptor, but that’s not really the point. The point is that I decided even then that I didn’t care what the sculptor’s intent was; the statue is an amazing piece of work and a magnificent accomplishment, and I felt perfectly comfortable enjoying that, regardless of any supposed intent on the part of the creator. After all, even Genesis 50:20 makes clear that intent does not define result: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” [English Standard Version – sue me, I’m a Presbyterian (PCA)]

    I patronize businesses without any regard for the personal, or even corporate, views of the founders, owners, or operators. In fact, we all do, all the time. Why, then, does someone suddenly become incensed when they discover, after countless years of not giving two squirts of rat piss, that the CEO of a company isn’t someone they like? I believe it’s because most people spend their existence assuming that everything else is basically the way it ought to be, with a few glaring exceptions that MUST BE STAMPED OUT FURIOUSLY. This is how we get progressivism and politico-faux-christianity. I begrudge no one the response they have to anything, and I sometimes choose to vote with my wallet, but I think the sentiment that Chick-fil-a being anti-gay turns the taste of their sandwiches to “ashes in [one’s] mouth” is fundamentally antithetical to a liberty-oriented (even libertarian) worldview. I realize that Ken’s bona fides with regard to liberty are unassailable, and I’m not suggesting he is any less liberty-loving for his response to Chick-fil-a. I do, however, think he needs to figure out why this issue has such a dramatic impact on him.

    People suck; if people sucking can catastrophically alter your interaction with the world, you’ve got a whole lot more ashes coming your way.

  13. #13 |  (B)oscoH, Yogurt Eater | 

    Ken brings up a timely concept. The decision to boycott is a two-step decision. The first step is identifying another’s behavior as wrong. The second is deciding to participate in a social sanction against that other. This decision is most interesting (ergo effective) when there is a mutual cost of making it in the affirmative to both the other and the person boycotting.

    Yet in these situations, like the CFA boycott, there always seems to be a side-game of pressure against those who agree that the other’s behavior is wrong, but do not go the second step and participate in the boycott. Such proverbial Uncle Toms are often treated as badly or worse by the boycotters than they treat that other they are boycotting. And why not? It’s tough to have an effective boycott without solidarity.

    Meanwhile, it’s often a non-starter for one to agree that the other’s behavior is bad, but to not want to participate in a popular boycott for any reason: costs too high, boycott not seen as effective, etc.

  14. #14 |  Psion | 

    “As ever you’re the one who is insisting that an outright rejection of science must occur before someone can really be clean and wholesome.”

    Leon, would you care to explain how you’ve made such an assessment of my perspective?

  15. #15 |  Stephen | 

    I liked Pixel, especially in the later stories.

  16. #16 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @14 – Rejection of the scientific method is rejection of the scientific method, no matter how spun. There’s plenty of science I’d prefer to be otherwise, but accepting the scientific method means I have to accept them.

  17. #17 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @12 – In software, though, I do think it’s frequently relevant as to the ideology of the founders in terms of the security risk associated with the software.

    There’s certain software from…pretty unsavory people…which I’ll only run in a VM (and indeed have ended up with a pretty mangled VM a few times). That goes double for commercial software.

  18. #18 |  el coronado | 

    STONE the denier heretics! Gag them! Let them not be heard!! Call them wingnuts and rightwingers!!!

    Yeah, that’s all a well-accepted part of modern scientific method, is it?

  19. #19 |  croaker | 

    Blert!

  20. #20 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @18 – Funnily enough, it’s easy enough for the 0.6% of Climate Scientists who are not AGW-believers to get their papers published. It’s just…they’re a TINY minority.

    You’re the one out to stone the vast majority of scientists, as part of your assault on science.

  21. #21 |  David | 

    I’m holding my breath for the New York Times op-ed, “The Conversion of a Climate Change Believer”.

    ….But I’ll make sure to write my will beforehand.

  22. #22 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    Now now, I’m sure your big Coal buddies can pay someone at the end of his career enough!

  23. #23 |  Psion | 

    Ah, David, I see there’s as much proof that you have Big Coal buddies as there is that I scorn the scientific method. Could you hook me up so I can fund my next denier-creationist-flat-earth web project?

  24. #24 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @23 – I’m not the one who started talking about a conspiracy of “believers”, am I?

  25. #25 |  Juice | 

    #22,

    Why is any doubt associated with anthropogenic global warming seems to be associated with conspiracy theories involving Big Coal/Oil?

    Why can’t it be that some people aren’t convinced that super bad things are going to happen within the next 50-100 years?

  26. #26 |  cliff | 

    The climate article states they used sophisticated statistical methods to determine past land temperature. As a stats guy myself, this causes me to doubt their claim… I will try and read the actual paper and see if they detail their methods, though.

  27. #27 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @22 – There is no conspiracy, their funding of anti-AGW groups is quite open.

  28. #28 |  cliff | 

    Here’s the abstract…uses GHCN data.

    Abstract
    A new mathematical framework is presented for producing maps and large-scale averages
    of temperature changes from weather station thermometer data for the purposes of climate analysis.
    The method allows inclusion of short and discontinuous temperature records, so nearly all digitally
    archived thermometer data can be used. The framework uses the statistical method known as
    Kriging to interpolate data from stations to arbitrary locations on the Earth. Iterative weighting is
    used to reduce the influence of statistical outliers. Statistical uncertainties are calculated by
    subdividing the data and comparing the results from statistically independent subsamples using the
    Jackknife method. Spatial uncertainties from periods with sparse geographical sampling are
    estimated by calculating the error made when we analyze post-1960 data using similarly sparse
    spatial sampling. Rather than “homogenize” the raw data, an automated procedure identifies
    discontinuities in the data; the data are then broken into two parts at those times, and the parts
    treated as separate records. We apply this new framework to the Global Historical Climatology
    Network (GHCN) monthly land temperature dataset, and obtain a new global land temperature
    reconstruction from 1800 to the present. In so doing, we find results in close agreement with prior
    estimates made by the groups at NOAA, NASA, and at the Hadley Center / Climate Research Unit
    in the UK. We find that the global land mean temperature increased by 0.89 ± 0.06 C in the
    difference of the Jan 2000-Dec 2009 average from the Jan 1950-Dec 1959 average (95%
    confidence for statistical and spatial uncertainties).

  29. #29 |  Personanongrata | 

    The conversion of a climate-change skeptic.

    Preface: Climate change on Earth is a fact. And all Earthly science is based soley upon scientific method (directly obseverable and repeatable experiments with the same results) anything else is ideology.

    The climate change question that remains unanswered is whether is climate change is caused by anthropogenic (human) means or natural variability.

    Some of the facts which help to explain why Earth’s climate is naturally varible:

    * Solar varibility the sun is not set to a thermostat in the sky.

    * Earth’s tilted axis, elliptical orbit and wobblely orbit

    * Earth’s solar reflectivity (ie cloud cover, dust, icecaps etal)

    * Interstellar dust

    Through the use of ice-core sampling from worldwide glacial/icecap sources, sedimentary sampling examining the microscopic bits of flora/fauna, etal, we humans are able discern that Earth’s climate follows a nautral 100,000 cycle of heating/cooling without any human input.

    Fun Facts about Carbon Dioxide:

    Of the 186 billion tons of carbon from CO2 that enter earth’s atmosphere each year from all sources, only 6 billion tons are from human activity. Approximately 90 billion tons come from biologic activity in earth’s oceans and another 90 billion tons from such sources as volcanoes and decaying land plants.

    At 380 parts per million CO2 is a minor constituent of earth’s atmosphere– less than 4/100ths of 1% of all gases present. Compared to former geologic times, earth’s current atmosphere is CO2- impoverished.

    CO2 is odorless, colorless, and tasteless. Plants absorb CO2 and emit oxygen as a waste product. Humans and animals breathe oxygen and emit CO2 as a waste product. Carbon dioxide is a nutrient, not a pollutant, and all life– plants and animals alike– benefit from more of it. All life on earth is carbon-based and CO2 is an essential ingredient. When plant-growers want to stimulate plant growth, they introduce more carbon dioxide.

    CO2 that goes into the atmosphere does not stay there but is continually recycled by terrestrial plant life and earth’s oceans– the great retirement home for most terrestrial carbon dioxide.

    As for “black box” predictive quantification (computer modelling) the results are directly related to the data entered and the parameters of the program crunching the numbers.

    Garbage in garbage out.

    The sky isn’t falling chicken little.

    The bogus threat of human caused global warming is simply another man-made scheme concocted by those folks who can’t ever seem to keep their hands out of your pocket/purse.

    Sources/references:

    http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/ice_ages.html

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/milankovitch.html

  30. #30 |  Deoxy | 

    Climate change facts:

    1) Yes, the earth is, on average, warmer now than it was 100 years ago.

    2) We don’t know why.

    3) The theories on CO2 are just plain silly, for quite a few reasons:
    -in geological timeframes, CO2 has always been a lagging indicator of rising temperatures
    -the bulk of the rise in temperature was long before the bulk of the rise in CO2 (produced by man, at the very least)
    -water vapor and CO2 compete for the same wavelengths of light: once it’s all taken, there’s no more to be had*
    to name a few obvious ones off the top of my head

    *Actually, this one doesn’t mean that the CO2 theory is wrong, only that any extrapolation of rising temperatures is going to be dead wrong.

    4) There have been fluctuations in temperature LARGER (both up and down) than this current one just in recorded human history (but LONG before there were enough humans, much less any fossil fuel footprint, to do any such thing), much less before that.

    5) Reporting on climate change has been stupidly alarmist both towards hot AND COLD in fairly regular intervals for at least 100 years (don’t take my word for it – go check the archives, it’s all there).

    6) People supporting the Anthropogenic Global Warming hypothesis have been caught falsifying data and claims on a completely ridiculous number of occasions (with the “hockey stick” being just the best known, not necessarily the most egregious… though it’s probably in the top 10).

    Bring on the scientific method! As best I can tell, it hasn’t been used much just yet, at least in the climate area.

    I’ll CONSIDER thinking of “Global Warming” as a problem to be combated when the people telling me so start to act like it themselves… heck, even half of them! Maybe even a 10th of them…

  31. #31 |  snowmon | 

    The AGW thing had me screaming at the screen. Look, one of your fellow heretics has confessed. Now lets just the rest of you capitulate quietly like good little boys.

  32. #32 |  Omri | 

    “-in geological timeframes, CO2 has always been a lagging indicator of rising temperatures”

    In geological timeframes, we did not have a species digging up carbon deposits and burning them and so the main climate driver was the Milankovich cycles. The cycle would bottom out, start to warm the planet, the warming would trigger a small release of CO2, warm things further, and so on.

    Right now the Milankovich cycle is in a cooling phase. Yet we are warming.


    -the bulk of the rise in temperature was long before the bulk of the rise in CO2 (produced by man, at the very least)”

    Again, the Milankovich cycle. We leave the ice age. Human civilization forms. We would be heading towards the next one, except our activities are proving more significant.


    -water vapor and CO2 compete for the same wavelengths of light: once it’s all taken, there’s no more to be had*”

    Those words, put together in that order, make no sense whatsoever.

    And yet you call climatologists “silly.”

  33. #33 |  Omri | 


    4) There have been fluctuations in temperature LARGER (both up and down) than this current one just in recorded human history (but LONG before there were enough humans, much less any fossil fuel footprint, to do any such thing), much less before that.”

    LARGER, yes. FASTER, no. And now that there are enough humans, it’s important to maintain an environment friendly to habitation by 7 billion of them.

    “5) Reporting on climate change has been stupidly alarmist both towards hot AND COLD in fairly regular intervals for at least 100 years (don’t take my word for it – go check the archives, it’s all there).”

    That’s why it’s a good idea to cancel the Newsweek subscription and subscribe to say, Scientific American. It’s silly to hold scientists responsible for the behavior of the worst journalists.

  34. #34 |  Personanongrata | 

    #31 | Omri | July 30th, 2012 at 5:01 pm
    Right now the Milankovich cycle is in a cooling phase. Yet we are warming.

    That is because Milankovich’s Theory (astronomical) only provides one part of the solution to a multifaceted equation.

    Milankovich doesn’t account for solar varibility or any terrestrial inputs such as volcanic activity and cloud cover (solar reflectivity) etal.

  35. #35 |  el coronado | 

    Can’t help but notice that all the members of the church of the holy warming always neglect to mention a couple of things in their rabid rebuttals of the ongoing heresy:

    1) Say the whole world finally agrees you’re right. What then? What are you gonna do to stop the warmism? Per a book written by an extremely smart guy, the Kyoto Protocol (as an example) projected cooling results of……04 degrees celsius by the year 2100. Other numbers came up depending on the variables plugged in, but none exceeded .15 degree celsius. One-seventh of a degree cooler, max. That after literally trillions of dollars would have been wasted….er, “spent”, over a freakin’ _century_. So if Kyoto wouldn’t do a damn thing – & it sure looks like it wouldn’t – what then?
    2) Whatever course of action is decided on by the warmist caste, it can’t help but cost money. Who pays for it? More to the point, who MAKES the folks tasked with ponying up the bucks do so? What happens if they don’t want to?

    The aforementioned Actual Very Smart Guy – as opposed to, say, Al Gore or Sean Penn – also wrote this: “Nobody knows how much of the present warming trend might be a natural phenomenon. Nobody knows how much of the present warming trend might be man-made.” IF – I repeat, IF that’s true – which I suspect it is, given the mysteries of Dust Bowl droughts & Little Ice Ages & Medieval Warm Periods & the multitude of Ice Ages and such like – then how exactly is “the science settled”?

  36. #36 |  Omri | 

    “That is because Milankovich’s Theory (astronomical) only provides one part of the solution to a multifaceted equation.

    Milankovich doesn’t account for solar varibility or any terrestrial inputs such as volcanic activity and cloud cover (solar reflectivity) etal.”

    We have human beings observing these phenomena. Solar variability would impact daytime temperatures and tropical temperatures before impacting night time temps and polar temps (because the tropics face the sun).

    What we are seeing is warming primarily in the poles, and at night. Ergo, it’s not the solar variability.

    Volcanic activity has primarily a cooling effect.

    And cloud cover is itself part of the same climate system into which we release CO2.

  37. #37 |  Omri | 

    “1) Say the whole world finally agrees you’re right. What then? What are you gonna do to stop the warmism? ”

    First things first.

    Nature doesn’t give two shits about politics. If you have enough personal integrity to discuss scientific matters, you will first discuss whether AGW is occurring, and leave the questions of what to do for later, not use this piece of rhetoric as a fallback position.

  38. #38 |  el coronado | 

    Nice try, Omri. Here in the real world, when we say “first things first”, it means “money”. “How much will it cost” is the dominant factor in pretty much any proposed human endeavor.

    The fact you’re trying hard to make that fact go away is quite telling, though. Is that your fallback position?

  39. #39 |  Omri | 

    Here in the world, el coronado, we know that honest don’t people say “X isn’t true, but if it is, what about Y?” Honest debaters will debate X, and if X is shown to be true, they will say “okay, X is true.”

    So, are you ready to debate X? Or would you rather stay disingenuous?

  40. #40 |  David | 

    Funnily, it’s the hysterical, very religious-like response toward “non-believers” of AGW which is probably the biggest red flag at all. If they were so right, they wouldn’t need to immediately bully people with their name-calling and frantic hyperbole.

    It’s much the same with those people who say who defend the Food Pyramid (or S.A.D., the Standard American Diet as we call it in the paleo community) and the government/mainstream media tale of 9/11. Most often, they don’t discuss facts (and when they do, they usually seem spurious) but, again, they just try to bully you into silence.

    I don’t like bullies. So I’ll keep on saying it: AGW, the government’s 9/11 tale, and the U.S. dietary claims are all complete bullshit. I’m sorry if you don’t agree with me, but you’re not going to bully me with your name calling.

  41. #41 |  MPH | 

    At Junkscience.com (hosted by the man who wrote Junk Science Judo; he’s an actual scientist rather than a pseudo-journalist) they’ve got an interesting essay on the “global warming” issue. Here’s the short version.

    If not for greenhouse gasses, the average annual surface temperature of the planet would be 0 degrees F. Gasses that trap the heat in the atmosphere (he dislikes the term ‘greenhouse gas’ because greenhouses warm by preventing convective cooling, whereas the gasses don’t – convective cooling still occurs) raise the average annual planetary temperature to 59 degrees F. The amount attributable to mankind’s produced gasses? 0.28 degrees.

    I’m not too worried. I won’t be until we’re again so warm that they can grow figs in Northern Germany, like they could during the medieval warm period (both town and church records show this). We’re STILL not warm enough to do that today. There are a variety of other crops that 1,000 year old records in various locations in europe show used to grow, but we’re still not warm enough to grow them today.

    The global warming scare is nearly all Mann made.

  42. #42 |  Omri | 


    It’s much the same with those people who say who defend the Food Pyramid (or S.A.D., the Standard American Diet as we call it in the paleo community) ”

    Oh, that’s just beautiful. If you’re part of the community that’s managed to comically misinterpret the entire body of work in paleoanthropology, makes sense you would also be a Troofer and a science denier.

    “The amount attributable to mankind’s produced gasses? 0.28 degrees.”

    And you believe that figure because the editor of one web site gave it to you? Bully for you, buddy. Too bad it’s a gross underestimate at this point.

  43. #43 |  Jeff | 

    MPH, why should I believe Milloy, who receives money from industries supported by his findings, any more than I believe Mann?

  44. #44 |  Ted S. | 

    Jeff, why should we believe government-funded science which calls for more government?

  45. #45 |  supercat | 

    #29 | Personanongrata | //Preface: Climate change on Earth is a fact. And all Earthly science is based soley upon scientific method (directly obseverable and repeatable experiments with the same results) anything else is ideology.//

    An essential part of the scientific method is that one must use theories to make (**and commit to**) predictions before conducting experiments, such that the experiments will either support or contradict the theories. For a theory to have much value, it must make predictions which would likely be contradicted by the experiments were the theory false.

    As of a few years ago, predictions which have been made by those who favor redistributionism via “carbon taxes” have proven so unreliable that for any theory on the subject to merit any probative weight it must develop a good *predictive* record for a number of years. Retrospectively adjusting a theory to fit past data **does not qualify**.

  46. #46 |  Omri | 

    “An essential part of the scientific method is that one must use theories to make (**and commit to**) predictions before conducting experiments, such that the experiments will either support or contradict the theories.”

    Actually, it isn’t. See, there are some things scientists study that can’t be done in that fashion. Meteorology doesn’t work with experiments. And neither does climatology, for the same reason.

    Nor does archaeology. We don’t have 1000 years to test what 1000 years of burial will do to this or that kind of artifact.

    Nor does astronomy. You can only point your instrument at heavenly bodies that exist, not ones you’d like to make to test a theory.

  47. #47 |  Jeff | 

    Ted, I’m not suggesting we do. See above.

  48. #48 |  Psion | 

    Of course the scientific method applies to astronomy, Omri. Starting with optical telescopes, one observes the motion of planets (for example), compiles tables of positions over time, and from those tables — as Johannes Kepler demonstrated — build theories of planetary motion from which one can then make predictions about the future positions of those planets. Those predictions were astonishingly good and Kepler’s work statements about planetary motion are now called “laws”.

    While astonishingly good, though, one planet seemed to move with a bit less discipline in following those laws. With a nagging discrepancy, Mercury’s orbit had an error that could not be accounted for by the laws of Kepler or the calculations of Isaac Newton, and the world had to wait for Einstein’s General Relativity to come up with a satisfactory explanation.

    Astronomers have similarly pointed their instruments at the heavens to confirm predictions about the influence of exoplanets on distant stars, and thus learn something about the planets present there. The 3K microwave background radiation was similarly predicted, then confirmed by radio astronomers in 1969. While outer space doesn’t provide a convenient laboratory for recreating experiments repeatedly, it does compensate somewhat by providing astronomers with a multitude of objects that will eventually repeat behavior in such a way as to prove or disprove hypothesis *and* it does so in a way that everyone with the right instruments can see and confirm.

    In archeology, one uses archaeometry and the tests conducted and confirmed in the natural sciences to test theories about unearthed artifacts. Radiocarbon dating alone revolutionized archeology. Then there’s dendrochronology, dating by thermoluminescence, potassium-argon dating, electron-spin resonance, and numerous other techniques. I suggest you look into the “second radiocarbon dating revolution” for an introduction to the effective use of hard scientific method on preexisting notions about history.

    I suspect someone with a background in meteorology would be able to similarly refute your notions about the scientific method used there.

    Which brings us ’round to climatology. The theory is that both poles should be warming. Only the north pole is … the antarctic is warming in one specific area, and despite the discredited efforts by Steig et al to smear that warming (caused by a local change in ocean currents according to NASA) across the entire continent, it turns out that Antarctica has actually cooled. The theory is that steadily rising CO2 would cause steadily rising temperatures … over the last ten to fifteen years, world temperatures appear to have stabilized (assuming the unexplained “adjustments” applied to GISS are correct — if they aren’t world temperatures might actually be dropping). The theory is that water vapor provides a positive feedback to CO2 forcing … in fact, it now appears to be the reverse. The theory is that CO2 causes a rise in temperatures … in fact, CO2 *lags* temperature rises historically. And guess what? We just came out of a little ice age that ended in the 19th century, so it makes sense that CO2 should be rising based on that alone.

    Modern climatology is burdened by political and ideological expectations by politicians looking to justify more taxes to fuel their bureaucracies, by Big Green environmental organizations looking to recruit more members for their own fund-raising, by disreputable corporations looking to cash in on government tax breaks and subsidies, and by media always on the look out for a scary story to hook viewers and readers. It certainly isn’t all bunk, but when state climatologists get fired for not supporting the state agenda, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to remain a bit skeptical about a fad that just might turn out to be the next Lysenko, Piltdown man, or no-such-thing-as plate tectonics affair.

  49. #49 |  Omri | 

    “I suspect someone with a background in meteorology would be able to similarly refute your notions about the scientific method used there.”

    Given that you miss the point entirely, I suspect you’re in no position to suspect anything.

    See below:

    “Of course the scientific method applies to astronomy, Omri.”

    I did not say it didn’t. What I did say is that the scientific method is not always comprised of experiments, since in many fields we have no ability to construct experiments, and thus can only observe what nature cares to present to us.

    There are no experiments in meteorology. Only observations.
    Same with climatology.
    And archaeology.
    And astronomy.

    Do try to learn some reading comprehension before casting aspersions at others for writing something you don’t understand.

  50. #50 |  Jim | 

    Omri, you are something else. A true believer, dripping with condescension and holy righteousness. ‘Deniers’ indeed. Spare us heretics. If you and the rest of your state-power fellating ilk would shut your pie holes I’m sure ‘AGW’ would immediately halt, then reverse.

    Go get a REAL religion.

  51. #51 |  Matthew | 

    “What I did say is that the scientific method is not always comprised of experiments, since in many fields we have no ability to construct experiments, and thus can only observe what nature cares to present to us.”

    Without taking a side on AWG (read: do not be a tit and assume that, since I’m calling you out, I might hold the “opposite” view), I’d like to point out that all you’re arguing is that disciplines in which the scientific method cannot be applied are less rigorous, and their results less reliable, than other disciplines in which the scientific method can be applied, whether we call all of them “science” or not. In other words, you’re merely stating that climatology is less scientific than chemistry. Astrologers and witch doctors claim their observations are reliable, too.

    You’ve pretty much scored an own-goal.

  52. #52 |  Brian | 

    I’m no scientist just a shlub with a cabinet business and won’t pretend to speak about things of which I understand very little ie climatology. I do know however in that my 42 years on this planet every single day of my life my government has lied to me. I have no intention of believing the government position on climate just as I have no intention of believing them when they tell me Iran is a threat. Considering that most, if not all legislation is written to benefit those who line the pockets of the whores in DC I’m inclined to believe the entire thing is a scam solely to continue stealing from the rest of us for the enrichment of those who own the political class.

    Brian

  53. #53 |  Psion | 

    Ah, Omri, I see that your ignorance is only matched by your petulance. When you think your ego is up to challenge, start doing some Google searches regarding “experimental astronomy”. You’ll find a wealth of information about the work of theoretical astronomers and the means by which they propose explanations for things like the origins of cosmic rays, the formation of galaxies, stellar dynamics, and the large scale structure of the universe. While a theoretical astronomer’s principle tools are math and computer models, they’ll often work with particle accelerators, various film emulsions, semiconductors that are sensitive to different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, etc. Observational astronomers — often equipped with more than just telescopes — then test the theories of theoretical astronomers by looking for examples that support or refute the theories.

    Just because astronomers can’t put stars in test tubes, doesn’t mean they can’t conduct experiments.

  54. #54 |  Deoxy | 

    We would be heading towards the next one, except our activities are proving more significant.

    And I suspect we are are – it should start… oh, any century now. You’re claiming that because it hasn’t started NOW, when the length of time between ice ages has varied by milllenia, is proof you’re right? Really?

    “-water vapor and CO2 compete for the same wavelengths of light: once it’s all taken, there’s no more to be had*”

    Those words, put together in that order, make no sense whatsoever.

    Then I suggest you take remedial English classes. Might help you understand lots of other problems with AGW, as well.

    But, since that takes time, I’ll rephrase it for you:

    Energy from the sun is the input for global warming or any other kind of “greenhouse” warmth for our planet. CO2 and water vapor absorb energy from the same wavelengths of light. When all of those particular wavelengths of light that we receive from the sun are being absorbed and radiated as heat (the “greenhouse effect”), it doesn’t matter how much more CO2 or water vapor there is – the maximum effect has been reached*.

    CO2 is a minimal portion of the atmosphere next to water vapor. The effect of CO2 on the “greenhouse” is thus very small in comparison to water vapor.

    LARGER, yes. FASTER, no.

    Go look at the data again. Though you might have to look the first time before you can look “again”.

    That’s why it’s a good idea to cancel the Newsweek subscription and subscribe to say, Scientific American.

    Actually, I was talking rather specifically ABOUT Scientific American. Again, I invite you to go look at the actual data.

    You’ve drunk deeply of the Kool-Aid, Omri.

  55. #55 |  Stephen | 

    I LIKE global warming. Let’s have some more of it. More of the planet will be habitable and capable of growing food. More CO2 means plants will grow better and produce even MORE food. With our population growing, how can this be bad overall? I really don’t care much about a few Islands and coastal cities. People can MOVE!.

  56. #56 |  RobZ | 

    In general, Astronomy falls into the observational science category.

    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Observational_science

  57. #57 |  Omri | 


    We would be heading towards the next one, except our activities are proving more significant.

    And I suspect we are are – it should start… oh, any century now. ”

    Never mind when we might cross into a new cool phase, however you set the threshold. The fact remains the Milankovich cycle currently favors the southern hemisphere (the earth is closest to the sun during the southern summer), and the orbital precession is making the sun favor the southern hemisphere more and more.
    The south has less landmass, and therefore more albedo. So, when the sun favors the southern hemisphere, we get cooling.

    Ergo cooling. Yet we are seeing warming.

    Before parading your ignorance further, look up the definitions of the solstices, apehelion, and perihelion.

  58. #58 |  Omri | 


    “-water vapor and CO2 compete for the same wavelengths of light: once it’s all taken, there’s no more to be had*”

    Those words, put together in that order, make no sense whatsoever.

    Then I suggest you take remedial English classes. Might help you understand lots of other problems with AGW, as well.”

    No, instead I suggest you get a remedial education so that among other things you’ll learn that global warming has less to do with the absorption of light on the daytime side, and more to do with the radiation of thermal energy as infra-red into space.

    And where the words “compete for the same wavelengths of light” are complete nonsense.

  59. #59 |  Omri | 

    “Energy from the sun is the input for global warming or any other kind of “greenhouse” warmth for our planet.”

    Correct.

    ” CO2 and water vapor absorb energy from the same wavelengths of light.”

    Irrelevant. It is the surface of the earth that absorbs most of the sun’s light. At which point the thermal energy convects and radiates from the surface upwards, and eventually radiates into space as infra red, not as UV or as visible light.

    CO2 slows down the re-radiation of heat into space, causing the earth to retain more of it.

    Hence greenhouse effect.

  60. #60 |  el coronado | 

    Naw, no quasi-religious zealotry *here*. Not at all.

  61. #61 |  albatross | 

    el coronado:

    There’s a question of fact, and then a question of policy. What we can expect from the climate given various levels of CO2 emissions is a question of fact, albeit one we will have only a rough answer to anytime soon. What we can or should do about it is entirely separate. Mixing the two together can never lead to us doing a better job of answering either one. Combining them, saying “X can’t be true, because it if were, awful thing Y would be true or we’d have to do awful thing Z,” is the hallmark of flawed thinking.

    If you heard someone using the same type of reasoning about, say, the rate of innocent people in prison, or the number of politicians on the take, my guess is that you would find that reasoning pretty unsatisfying.

  62. #62 |  el coronado | 

    You’re missing the point, albatross. My comment #60 was not about whether or not AGW is real; or whether it will or won’t have any effect on *global* climate; or what should or shouldn’t be done about it. I’m done arguing with True Believers. Life’s too short. What I did was to point out how the zealot in question fired off 3 – count ‘em – 3 medium-sized comments in a span of 4 minutes onto a dying thread, all in an effort to…what? get that last word? Silence the heretics? Claim Internet Victory??

    Think about that for a second. 3 posts, referencing (supposed) fact after fact, in 4 minutes. How do you suppose that happened? I can think of only 2 ways: a) zealot spent _hours_ going through websites or – let’s be charitable – scientific papers/publications to glean what he needed to make his rebuttal or b) more scarily, he had them already at hand (perhaps on a laminated card?) ready for action, needing but a moment’s notice to deploy them. That and some fast typing. (Or, given the lack of typos, etc., do ya suppose he spent even *more* time and wrote it all out first? Third & fourth & fifth drafts?)

    I can’t really envision anybody in the world going to that kind of trouble over a discussion of, say, restoring the primacy of the 10th amendment, can you? It only seems to happen over issues which feature rabid and rapturous True Believers: Religion/Antireligion, Gun Control, Statism, Evolution, and Environmentalism. Especially the AGW con/question. Folks like that don’t actually *think about* what it is they’re saying, but they sure do _believe_ it! More to the point, they insist YOU believe it, too. Or Else. Hence the problem.

  63. #63 |  supercat | 

    #49 | Omri | //…since in many fields we have no ability to construct experiments, and thus can only observe what nature cares to present to us. //

    It is possible to conduct “experiments” even with historical data by making “predictions” about what will be shown **by data which is unknown to the predictor at the time of the prediction**. One may even reject data which meets certain criteria if those criteria are **defined in advance of seeing the data**, and if *all* data which meet the criterion are rejected without regard for whether they would agree or disagree with the prediction. Of course, one can only test the extent to which a theory seems to hold with regard to data that are not excluded. If a theory is any good, it should be possible to use it **without revision** to make accurate predictions about large quantities of previously-unexamined data (rejecting only data as prescribed by the **unrevised** theory). If one has to tweak the theory to fit each new data set one is given, the theory is worthless.

  64. #64 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @55 – You’re an idiot.

    Firstly, increased CO2 levels only benefit a subset of plants. This does NOT include a lot of important food-producing (and other commercial) species. Second, increased CO2 levels only increase growth when ample water is available for the plants which do benefit, and climate pattern change means that this means massive areas of farmland will not benefit.

    Second, you are making assumptions which are not true in biology – that increased temperatures will not have other effects. Rainforest growth has been shown in multiple studies to be slowing even with limited warming we’ve had so far, for instance.

    “People can MOVE”

    Yea, and there’s a word for poor people in that situation. “Refugees”.

    @62 – You’re underestimating how easy it is to find links to support science.

    @63 – In other words, only YOUR kind of science is valid, never mind that say historians do it all the time. They’re just hacks in your world.

    Oh, and evolutionary biologists, and…
    You’re rejecting modern science. End of.

  65. #65 |  Deoxy | 

    ” CO2 and water vapor absorb energy from the same wavelengths of light.”

    Irrelevant. It is the surface of the earth that absorbs most of the sun’s light. At which point the thermal energy convects and radiates from the surface upwards, and eventually radiates into space as infra red, not as UV or as visible light.

    CO2 slows down the re-radiation of heat into space, causing the earth to retain more of it.

    Hence greenhouse effect.

    Again, I’m well aware of the things you are assuming I’m not. And again, CO2 is far too insignificant to be making a noticeable difference compared to water vapor in that category as well.

    The south has less landmass, and therefore more albedo. So, when the sun favors the southern hemisphere, we get cooling.

    Ergo cooling. Yet we are seeing warming.

    Before parading your ignorance further, look up the definitions of the solstices, apehelion, and perihelion.

    I don’t have to look them up – I know them.

    And, since that’s the driver for the ice ages, they are as regular as the solar procession, then? Oh wait, no they aren’t.

    Seriously, you’re trying to use a process ordered on 5 digit years to make predictions about temperature in a 2-3 digit year time frame. That is ludicrous.

    Making stuff up is not scientific argument.

  66. #66 |  supercat | 

    #64 | Leon Wolfeson | “In other words, only YOUR kind of science is valid, never mind that say historians do it all the time. They’re just hacks in your world.”

    Archaeologists and historians often express theories which would apply not only to things that they’ve examined, but which they would expect to also apply to those they have not (perhaps because they haven’t been discovered yet). As new things are discovered, it is possible to judge how well the theories predicted what they would be like.

    For example, if the ceramic bowls in some regions have a different kind of glaze from those of some other regions, and the only source of a mineral in that glaze is a mine near one of the regions, archaeologists might theorize that a trading relationship existed between the two regions. If in the region near the mine, archaeologists were to subsequently find remains of a creature that was only common in the other region, that would support the notion of a trade relationship. Conversely, if archaeologists were to discover similar bowls in some other region which were more like those in the non-mine region than the region with the earlier-discovered mine, and if this new region had a mine of its own, that would tend to suggest that perhaps the theory was incorrect, and the non-mine region instead had a trading relationship with the newly-discovered region.

    It is generally no harder to formulate an incorrect theory to fit a set of data than to formulate a correct one. The fact that a theory which was created to fit a particular set of data in fact does so does not imply that the theory is correct. Rather, such a theory will fit the data it was constructed to fit, whether or not it is correct. Indeed, it may fit the data better than would a correct theory (e.g. given a set of ten points representing measurements of some phenomenon, one could construct a ninth-order polynomial which would pass through them perfectly, but the curve one gets from plotting that polynomial may bear far less resemblance to the actual phenomenon that was measured than would a second-order polynomial which came close to all the points even if it didn’t intersect all of them).

    In fields like history and archaeology, it is not always possible to test out theories in timely fashion, but those theories which have been shown to be consistent with later-discovered evidence are held in much higher esteem than those for which no such evidence has yet been discovered.

  67. #67 |  Deoxy | 

    given a set of ten points representing measurements of some phenomenon, one could construct a ninth-order polynomial which would pass through them perfectly, but the curve one gets from plotting that polynomial may bear far less resemblance to the actual phenomenon that was measured than would a second-order polynomial which came close to all the points even if it didn’t intersect all of them

    And this is yet another reason why people with even a moderate knowledge of mathematics put so much weight on predictive power when ti comes to models.

    If your model does nothing but match existing data and has to be adjusted every time new data comes in, then it is useless – in fact, it is probably completely wrong at some very low level (using the wrong order of polynomial, in the example above).

    And this is what we see, time after time after time, with global warming claims and models.

  68. #68 |  RobZ | 

    “And again, CO2 is far too insignificant to be making a noticeable difference compared to water vapor in that category as well.”

    Extra CO2 produces some warming which causes an increase in the amount of water vapor which produces more warming.

  69. #69 |  supercat | 

    #67 | Deoxy | “And this is yet another reason why people with even a moderate knowledge of mathematics put so much weight on predictive power when ti comes to models.”

    It took a few times reading that to parse what you meant. I take it you are basically agreeing with me, and that people with even a moderate knowledge of mathematics give credence to models based upon their ability to accurately predict values for measurements that were unavailable to their creators (typically, though not necessarily, because the measurements were made after the model was created)?

    “(using the wrong order of polynomial, in the example above).”

    Incidentally, it’s surprisingly easy to fit N+1 points, with arbitrary X[k] and Y[k] (all X[k] must be distinct, obviously)using Nth-order polynomial. Start by fitting the points 0..N-1 with some function called f(x). Next define a function p(x) equal to the product (k=0..N-1) of (x-X[k]). A new function that will perfectly fit all the points is f(x) + (Y[N]-f(X[N]))(p(x)/p(X[N])). The function p(x) will be zero at all of the defined points, so the new function will equal f(x) at those points. At the new point X[N], p(x) will equal p(X[N]) and be non-zero, so (p(x)/p(X[N])) will equal 1, and f(x) will equal f(X[N]), so the function will simply yield Y[N]. Much of the shape of the curve will be often dominated by p(x), which will have no relation to any of the Y values *anyplace*, but the curve will pass through all the points.

  70. #70 |  Dan | 

    Climate is not changeless.. In my life time there was a strong cooling trend in the 60’s and 70’s…In the late 70’s the same scientists screaming global warming insisted we were going into an ice age…then the ’80’s ushered in abt. 15 years of warming. Then in ’94 there was a huge volcanic eruption that led to a very cold and snowy 3 year period, then a couple more years of warm weather, followed by increased cooling until abt. a year ago. Here in NE Wisconsin of the last 6 winters 4 of them were colder and much snowier than normal. In fact, in the winter of 07-08 we shattered the previous snowfall records…and last winter was the least snow I’ve seen since I’ve lived up here. The weather will change from cycle to cycle.

  71. #71 |  RobZ | 

    “In the late 70′s the same scientists screaming global warming insisted we were going into an ice age…”

    That’s basically an urban legend.

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