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 |  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.

  2. #2 |  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

  3. #3 |  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.

  4. #4 |  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.

  5. #5 |  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!.

  6. #6 |  RobZ | 

    In general, Astronomy falls into the observational science category.

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

  7. #7 |  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.

  8. #8 |  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.

  9. #9 |  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.

  10. #10 |  el coronado | 

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

  11. #11 |  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.

  12. #12 |  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.

  13. #13 |  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.

  14. #14 |  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.

  15. #15 |  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.

  16. #16 |  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.

  17. #17 |  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.

  18. #18 |  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.

  19. #19 |  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.

  20. #20 |  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.

  21. #21 |  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.