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11/22/2010
POLITICIZED SCIENCE VS. ANTI-SCIENCE REPUBLICANS

My latest is up at Pajamas Media, and it’s about global warming and the battle between neanderthal Republicans and the Marxian dolts who want to politicize the science of global warming to achieve massive wealth redistribution.

What’s a rationalist to do?

The fact is, Republicans are terrified of their base, which seems to have abandoned reason and embraced a fanatical anti-scientific viewpoint on climate change. Rather than attempt to carefully weigh and balance arguments, there is a rush to posit conspiracy theories about the motives of climate change advocates. Unfortunately, this attitude has been fed by statements like the one from Ottmar Edenhofer, co-chair of the IPCC Working Group III, that climate treaties are beards for wealth redistribution.

This is hardly a secret, nor is it anything new or conspiratorial. The Kyoto accord made wealth transfers to developing countries the centerpiece of the treaty. And the IPCC’s motives in this regard dovetail nicely with those of the developing world and their NGO advocates who stand to receive a nice sized slice of any developmental funds that result from this massive redistribution of wealth.

But just because the motives of many climate change advocates are questionable, even evil, does that mean the entire global warming proposition is a fraud? There are still those hundreds of scientists and their dogged, 30 years of research and experimentation into the question of whether man-made industrial activity is having an effect on climate. They and their findings are not going away no matter how many “conspiracies” are uncovered or how many UN flacks reveal the true nature of their efforts.

You can’t fault the scientists if their research and conclusions have been hijacked by politicians greedy for loot and power, and far left activists who wish industrialized society and its capitalistic excesses would simply disappear. The problem won’t go away because many conservatives seek to hide in their cocoons and echo chambers, assuring themselves that global warming is a myth and nothing need be done about it.

This is a symptom of movement conservatism’s larger problem of rejecting authority and expertise as the product of elitist thinking. Science is especially vulnerable to their skepticism because it is so easily misunderstood. If it is beyond the ken of “ordinary” people to understand, then it is suspect. Any appeals to “authority” are dismissed automatically as an attempt to use “credentialism” to put one over on the people, or claim competency where none exists.

Right on cue, my loving fans - who never bother to read what I write - skewer me in the comments for rejecting their version of reality - i.e., no evidence, no warming, no nothin’. Is it any wonder that the scientific community has abandoned the Republican party? Nuance and subtlety escapes the notice of these ideologically obsessed freaks. If it ain’t black, or it ain’t white, it ain’t real.

In matters where lay people are not capable of properly weighing scientific argument, an appeal to authority is not “elitist,” it is necessary. In the case of the global warming, skepticism is warranted, not denial. How much are humans responsible for rising temps? Does it matter? A larger human imprint on climate buttresses the Marxist’s position; a smaller one, the skeptics. The evidence is mixed and at times, contradictory. All the more reason to slow down, as Bjorn Lomberg so wisely suggests.

Breaking the momentum of the alarmists will be a real chore. They have most large corporations on board their gravy train now and, coupled with the greedy eye that developing countries are casting toward the trillions of dollars to be transferred from industrial democracies to the kleptocrats in Africa and elsewhere, it will be very difficult to address the problem of global warming in any rational or realistic manner.

It certainly won’t be addressed as long as the anti-science conservatives and anti-capitalist, one worlders continue to use and abuse science to achieve their own political ends.

By: Rick Moran at 7:52 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (3)

2/28/2010
AL GORE’S WEIRD, DISCONNECTED OP-ED

Reading this New York Times op-ed by Al Gore gives you the distinct impression that he has been off somewhere communing with the global warming gods and hasn’t been paying attention to the collapse of his “overwhelming consensus” on climate change:

It would be an enormous relief if the recent attacks on the science of global warming actually indicated that we do not face an unimaginable calamity requiring large-scale, preventive measures to protect human civilization as we know it.

Of course, we would still need to deal with the national security risks of our growing dependence on a global oil market dominated by dwindling reserves in the most unstable region of the world, and the economic risks of sending hundreds of billions of dollars a year overseas in return for that oil. And we would still trail China in the race to develop smart grids, fast trains, solar power, wind, geothermal and other renewable sources of energy - the most important sources of new jobs in the 21st century.

But what a burden would be lifted! We would no longer have to worry that our grandchildren would one day look back on us as a criminal generation that had selfishly and blithely ignored clear warnings that their fate was in our hands. We could instead celebrate the naysayers who had doggedly persisted in proving that every major National Academy of Sciences report on climate change had simply made a huge mistake.

A “criminal generation?” This from a Democrat whose global warming “fixes” would bankrupt the western world.

In fairness, Gore makes some good points. Framing our energy policy in terms of national security is a good idea. And highlighting the danger of so much of our debt being bought by China can’t be said enough when the necessity to get a handle on our deficit has become so vital.

And Gore is correct when dismissing snowstorms, and even the Himalayan Glacier kerfuffle as not disproving the concept of climate change. Every time I read an amateur climate skeptic referring to the recent blizzards or cold temps as “proof” that global warming is a fraud, I cringe. It’s winter, people. You make the skeptical community look silly by postulating such stupidity.

Yet, the former Vice President misses the point when it comes to the Himalayan Glacier retraction, and presumably other revelations that have shown the IPCC  as a hopelessly flawed, politicized body. Taken by themselves, these sometimes politicized, sometimes mistaken statements relating to climate change are not compelling evidence of global warming being a total fraud - especially when stacked up against the bulk of studies and scientific articles on climate change that have been published over the last two decades. But he is clueless about the impact of these “errors” on the very people from which he is demanding such extraordinary sacrifice. Even in Europe, skepticism is way up. And despite a virtual blackout in the US of every major story relating to the IPCC’s bumbling, corrupt methods (and its chairman who has been caught red handed in a monumental conflict of interest), skepticism is on the rise here as well.

But the real problem with this little essay is that Gore is taking the now familiar tack of climate change advocates and tut-tutting about the series of revelations that have undermined the science he so confidently - and with the fervor of a religious zealot - believes in.

Weirdly, he mischaracterizes the document dump from East Anglia as an effort by Jones and Mann to push back against the “onslaught of hostile, make-work demands from climate skeptics.” These “make work” demands were citizens seeking confirmation of the science via Freedom of Information laws. In other words, Gore obviously believes we should sit down, shut up, and let him and his buddies reach into our pockets and remove trillions of dollars without demanding proof of the scientific basis for his power grab.

How very democratic of him.

This is an extraordinarily weak and idiotic defense. Poor wittle Jones and Mann. Let us weep for their workload. Let us gnash our teeth at the meanies who put them under so much pressure, that they felt they had not choice but to lie, cheat, cook the books, ruin the careers of fellow scientists who didn’t agree with them, and pressure formerly respected science publications to toe the company line on climate change.

What a crock.

Gore evidently hasn’t read the recent literature:

It is also worth noting that the panel’s scientists - acting in good faith on the best information then available to them - probably underestimated the range of sea-level rise in this century,

Doesn’t he mean “overestimated?”

Scientists have been forced to withdraw a study on projected sea level rise due to global warming after finding mistakes that undermined the findings.The study, published in 2009 in Nature Geoscience, one of the top journals in its field, confirmed the conclusions of the 2007 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It used data over the last 22,000 years to predict that sea level would rise by between 7cm and 82cm by the end of the century.

[...]

Siddall said that he did not know whether the retracted paper’s estimate of sea level rise was an overestimate or an underestimate.

Yes - but remember; the science is settled.

He blames the failure in Copenhagen, not on the common sense objections from China and India regarding the destruction of their economies if recommendations made by the IPCC were adapted, but because the US senate didn’t pass cap and trade.

Finally, this bit of weirdness that shows Gore for what he is; a megalomaniac:

From the standpoint of governance, what is at stake is our ability to use the rule of law as an instrument of human redemption. After all has been said and so little done, the truth about the climate crisis - inconvenient as ever - must still be faced.

Al Gore sees himself as a redeemer - as Jesus Christ. And where is there room in a democratic republic for someone who thinks that the rule of law should be an “instrument of redemption?” Holy Mother, that is the scariest idea ever to drool from Gore’s mouth. The rule of law is just that - the rule of law. There should be no special qualities that animate the enforcement of the law - certainly not a drive to “redeem” anything or anybody. That smacks of titanic hubris to use the law to enforce your idea of “redemption.”

If the shoe fits, Al…

Much of this blog post originally appears in The American Thinker.

By: Rick Moran at 9:55 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

2/2/2010
WHERE IS CLIMATE SCIENCE TODAY?

Since I abhor easy answers, pat responses, and conventional wisdom, I will take a stab at examining this question from the flawed, but earnest perspective of a layman who respects the work of legitimate scientists and who still believes the possibility that global warming could be a big problem for mankind. (Note: What can be done about it is an entirely different question.)

I will not seek to summarize the shocking revelations of the past few months that have resulted in legitimate questions being raised about some of the cornerstones of the IPCC 2007 report that forms the basis of government actions to mitigate climate change. For that, I will point you to Climate Audit or Climate Depot. There you will find links to the major stories that describe the fraud, the blunders, the failure to properly vet and follow IPCC’s own procedures that have debunked, or otherwise called into question major and minor aspects of climate change science.

But let’s put this in perspective. Some of these revelations are more serious than others. Those trumpeting the Himalayan glacier story that showed as bogus the idea of those ice sheets disappearing by 2035 thus “proving” that global warming is a crock, fail to note that the glaciers are still retreating at an accelerated rate, although the Indian government report is unsure if climate change is the major cause.

Is that as important a piece of evidence as the data sets on temperatures that were apparently falsified or misapplied? Those temps were calculated into how many climate change models, how many scientific papers? That study by Jones is in the 2007 IPCC report.

Compared to one study of one small part of the world that has been laughably shown to be a politically motivated use of science, I daresay that screwing with temperature data is huge. But is it a climate change killer?

Not hardly. The science of climate change has been conducted for decades by hundreds of reputable scientists taking accurate measurements of tree rings, ice cores, ocean temperatures, and other observable and measurable phenomena that have not been debunked, or shown to be in error. There may indeed be misinterpretations of the data; that is a hazard of science and always will be. Skeptics have come up with alternate interpretations for most of the evidence of climate change which, of course, is what science is all about. In a perfect world, the politics that have captured the climate change argument would be absent and it would be scientist vs. scientist - man a mano , with both sides wielding their best arguments, fighting it out in the major scientific journals.

Obviously, we live in a world that has given a Nobel Prize to Al Gore and the IPCC - a mistake that should be rectified soonest. So we can now no more remove politics from the science of climate change as we could remove your beating heart from your chest and expect you to be upright for very long.

Aside from the regular political machinations from those seeking to benefit financially from decisions made by governments, as well as governments and institutions like the UN that are seeking to aggrandize power unto themselves, there is the very human desire for many scientists to protect their professional reputations from being destroyed. Hence, the actions of Jones and Mann that, as the investigations unfold, are becoming less and less defensible.

Given that some of these revelations are more important than others as far as calling into question the entire AGW theory, how is it possible to judge the real damage to the theory’s credibility and thus, the efficacy of the remedies being pushed by the climate change advocates?

There is a second aspect of climate change that hasn’t been touched - yet - by the climategate revelations; the notion that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere are rising. Again, skeptics have posited different interpretations of the data, predicting different outcomes as a result of this measured increase. But the increase is confirmed (although models have been wildly inaccurate in predicting how much CO2 makes it to the troposphere where the greenhouse effect is most damaging).

So where is climate change science today? The edifice is leaning as a result of several bricks being pulled away from the structure, and there is a definite possibility it can collapse unless it is shored up. That “shoring up” must be done by scientists themselves. If someone or some scientists aren’t already doing so, a thorough review of the literature with special emphasis placed on examining papers that used the Jones temperature model - with attention paid to the impact on that 2007 IPCC report - should be undertaken immediately. That would seem to be a minimum requirement to begin the process of regaining credibility.

Beyond that, a re-evaluation of at least some of the skeptical literature in light of the revelations would seem to be in order. And finally, a greater effort must be made by all to resist the political pressures placed on scientists to accede to outcome based science. In other words, tell Al Gore to take his carbon footprint and stuff it.

Rand Simberg made the point of using the “precautionary principle” when figuring out what to do about climate change. Seeing emissions reduction as a kind of “insurance” against catastrophe is all well and good. But Simberg quotes Bjorn Lomberg who cautions against the cure being worse than the disease. And Tom Friedman’s 1% chance of catastrophe being reason enough for such draconian measures drew this response from Simberg:

But I buy insurance that has a price commensurate with the expected value (i.e., the cost of the disaster times the probability that it will occur). For instance, I’ll pay a few hundred bucks for a million-dollar policy against the small chance that I’ll kick off tomorrow. Presumably, Friedman assumes that the proposed palliatives of cap’n’tax or carbon taxes meet that criterion, but he doesn’t do the calculations for us, because he can’t. Warm mongers like him propose to spend trillions of dollars now to prevent an unknown amount of cost later, in defiance of the basic economic principle of discounting the value of future expenditures.

There is a variation on this fallacy, in fact. It goes: There is a crisis; something must be done! What we propose to do is something. Therefore, it must be done!

Put another way; should a man buy insurance for uterine cancer? Or a woman buy a policy for prostrate cancer? Broadly drawn examples but I hope the point is rammed home. There is the notion of buying insurance intelligently or not. As I’ve written before, I think that it is perfectly acceptable to take measures that would reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases. But it makes no sense given what we know about climate change at this point to literally bankrupt our economy, placing monumental restrictions on industrial activity while entire swaths of our energy sector are taken over by government. The threat has never justified such action and this is true even more now.

Develop alternatives to fossil fuels? Absolutely - and quickly. This is a national security issue as much as it is an environmental one. Try to make everyone aware of their “carbon footprint” so that we can each do our part to lessen emissions? Sure, just don’t stuff it down my throat with draconian regulations and liberty-destroying legislation.

Climategate and its ancillary revelations have not killed the AGW theory or permanently damaged climate science. But if climate change proponents refuse to do the things necessary to regain credibility, and allow for a full fledged, real debate on every aspect of the science, they will be guilty of pandering to politicians and global bureaucrats who could care less about legitimate science while seeking to use their flawed conclusions to gain power and wealth at our expense.

By: Rick Moran at 11:39 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (8)