He thought his beliefs about global warming were based on science. Science proved him wrong |310|

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, Mar 29, 2016.

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  1. Alex

    Alex New

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    He thought his beliefs about global warming were based on science. Science proved him wrong |310|
    by Alex Tsakiris | Mar 29 | Skepticism

    Rich Archer from Buddha at the Gas Pump provides a demonstration of challenging beliefs on global warming.
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    photo by: Khuroshvili Ilya
    As I was putting the final touches on this show, I was reminded of a story I heard on the terrific podcast and NPR radio show, This American Life. It featured a person who had grown up in a conservative, Christian family and then went off to college and discovered conflicts between what he was told coming up in the church, versus what he was learning in college. As he digs into the real history behind his religious beliefs he becomes both angry and driven to learn all he can about biblical scholarship; archaeology; Nag Hammadi Library…everything.

    He digs into it the data and gets his ducks lined up because he wants to go back and confront his family with “the truth.” When he returns for Thanksgiving he has his chance. It’s at the end of dinner with his uncle–a very pious, conservative, religious guy who prides himself on really knowing the Bible; and really knowing scripture. Well, he just lets [his uncle] have it, both barrels: conflicts in the Resurrection Story; James, brother of Jesus; contradictions with the Nag Hammadi Library. He has his uncle skating backwards in no time and he shows him no quarter. He buries him. At the end of dinner he’s feels a surge of victory. He’s like a prize fighter who’s knocked out his opponent. But hey, this is just the warm up. Christmas is coming up and his dad will be there. So, he goes back to studying and he lines up all of his books and facts. Then, he sits down at the end of Christmas dinner and he’s ready to let him have it. Bam! Both barrels. The whole thing. Finally, after he’s done, his dad pauses and looks at him, and says, “Gee, son. I’m sure you’re right. But you see, when I found the church I was at one of the lowest points in my life. In fact, I was considering suicide. But then I found all of these great people, and they loved me and cared about me. Next thing you know, I found your Mom. We fell in love. We got married. I’ve had this great life since joining the church.”

    At this point, everything changes for the son. His anger vanishes. He sees his dad, and his dad’s connection to these beliefs in a totally new light. It’s not about the data for his dad; it’s about everything else.

    The reason I bring up this story is that in today’s episode we have a pretty dramatic demonstration of whether data and evidence can change beliefs. The belief in question is whether 97% of climate scientists believe man-made global warming is a major concern. But this belief is just a backdrop for the larger story of why data alone often isn’t enough to change our beliefs — even if we think it will:

    Alex Tsakiris: I have to nail that down a little bit more, Rick. The position I’m taking is that the 90 or 97% consensus is completely false. That’s the position I’m taking. So if I am able to significantly undermine that fact–that data point–then you think your beliefs will change?

    Rick Archer: Yes. We’re not going to do it in the course of this conversation. We’re obviously going to do it in subsequent exchanges.

    Alex Tsakiris: Right. And I just have to share with folks, I’m going to lay my money on the fact that we will prove that conclusively, and your beliefs will not change at all. But that’s just my opinion based on the exchanges that we’ve had. We’ll see how it all turns out.

    (this next excerpt is from the follow-up interview)

    Alex Tsakiris: … now that you’ve conceded on the 97% consensus idea (after reviewing the data Rick agreed that the study by Dr. John Cook showing a 97% consensus among climate scientists was bunk), has that significantly changed your opinion on man-made global warming?

    Rick Archer: No, not significantly.

    Alex Tsakiris: Perfect.
     
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  2. Hurmanetar

    Hurmanetar New

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    Got'em! ;)

    Data is information. Information requires interpretation. There is always ambiguity in interpretation of data. Interpretation is the transformation of data into a narrative. Narrative is a story full of meaning and emotion. Once emotions get involved (and money) it is much more difficult to objectively re-examine the interpretations of the data to see if any alternative narratives can be generated from it. Power does not come from data. Power and authority come from narratives. Ben Carson and Ross Perot recited data and percentages and put everyone to sleep. Trump tells an overly simple story with a 4th grade vocabulary and intentionally ambiguous data and wins the votes. Only a tiny fraction of the population has the curiosity and the courage to challenge the authorities of the various narratives that guide our thinking and our actions. Only a small fraction has the intellectual capacity and knowledge and creativity to examine the raw data and generate their own narrative. Brian Greene has more power than any scientist at CERN because he is the one who will tell the story. The battle for power and control is a battle to convince people to accept a particular narrative. Since most people can't evaluate the data for themselves they appeal to authority and popularity - which is why this phony 97% statistic was put out there and why it is crucial to expose it as a fraud.

    Sometimes narratives come first and the data is generated to support it. Once a narrative has been accepted into the mainstream, there are institutional pressures to support it.

    The narrative I believe in says that most people generally want what is good for the environment, so any plan that is presented as being good for the environment and for humanity will be popular. Popular ideas are always in danger of being hijacked by those who seek power because power comes from the people. The climate change narrative fed to us by the media and the politicians is simpler than any Trump speech: CO2 bad, fossil fuels bad, earth get hot, humans die, pay taxes on CO2 emissions to globalist elite to save earth from heat stroke.

    CO2 is one of the most essential elements for all life on earth and a common by product of organic exothermic reactions. The power to tax is the power to control and destroy. The power to tax CO2 is the power to control or destroy life... and the power to pay for Al Gore's mansions and jets.

    Scientists have been caught fudging numbers in the "hide the decline" email scandal.

    The variation in temperature is so small (fractions of a degree that measurement precision is an issue... it would be very easy to cherry-pick data or mess with data collection methods to fabricate a pattern.

    Something tells me that if there is more CO2, plants will grow faster and use it up more quickly. The earth has all kinds of buffer systems.

    Yes, we need to do everything we can to take care of the earth and work on alternative forms of energy, but we need to be very weary of narrative hijacking and question the "authorities" and the data that support the narrative and the "solutions" that are offered.

    The relationship between science and the state has not changed all that much from the days when Nebuchadnezzar asked his magicians and astrologers to provide a narrative interpreting his dream...

     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2016
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  3. Alex

    Alex New

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    agreed. it is funny to deconstruct this and see why they needed that 97%... which BTW should have been a tip-off... I mean, I don't think you can get a 97% consensus on anything, but they needed that kind of crazy number. they couldn't do their thing with "80% of scientists agree..."

    then again, this shows the audacity of these folks. they know what sells and they know they can get away with it... because they have so many times before.
     
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  4. Hurmanetar

    Hurmanetar New

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    It's all a confidence game... Appeals to authority and popularity. Make the story look appetizing and garnish it with sprig of data.

    They know people will eventually get wise to the scheme... but it doesn't matter because they ride the horse to death then change horses...the apex of the pendulum swing. Give it a tiny push back in the other direction (through propaganda, NGOs, and "science") and the dialectic piston of power enters a new cycle.

    In the 70s it was a looming ice age. The 90s it was the ozone layer. In the 2000s it was global warming. In the 2010s it is climate change. In the 20s? Who knows? Maybe aliens.
     
  5. Hurmanetar

    Hurmanetar New

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    Pretty soon we won't need to fabricate statistics to create the illusion of consensus. We'll just let Google tell us how truthy things are.
     
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  6. Trancestate

    Trancestate Member

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    The most recently published survey of scientists' attitudes toward global warming comes from George Mason University:

    A 2016 Survey of American
    Meteorological Society
    Members about Climate Change


    With a 53.3% participation rate (4,092 respondents), the email survey shows 67% of American meteorologists believe climate change is mostly or entirely caused by humans:

    [​IMG]

    That's a far cry from the 97% claimed by Cook et al. (2013) in their terribly flawed paper cited ad nauseam by climate alarmists, unscrupulous politicians and the media.

    Moreover, the 67% figure is likely to be a lot lower, because George Mason University is where the infamous "RICO 20" letter originated, which urged President Obama and other high government officials to use the RICO Act to prosecute climate skeptics. Of 20 signatories to the letter, the first six came from GMU, and the second signatory is the main author of this survey. On this basis alone, it's no wonder that Judith Curry would have refused to take part in the survey, had she received an invitation. In a recent blog post on the survey, she wrote:

    One final comment. I did not respond to the survey, because I did not receive the email soliciting my response (some snafu over renewing my membership b/c of an expired credit card). Peter Webster did receive the survey and showed it to me. I have to say my first reaction to the survey would have been not to respond; the lead author on this is Edward Maibach, of the RICO 20 – second signatory after Shukla (I wonder if other AMS members reacted in this way). My concerns with the George Mason group being in charge of this is that they are on record as advocates on this issue. From my perspective, the selection of questions was not as meaningful as it could have been (e.g. better questions were asked in the Netherlands survey). [source: New AMS members survey on climate change]

    Anthony Watts added:

    Two colleagues I know locally also got this survey, and they didn’t send it in because they didn’t believe their opinion or identity would actually be protected. Given that the operator of the survey, George Mason University is a hotbed of calls for prosecution and jailing of “deniers”, and that Edward Maibach is one of the people who signed the letter to the Whitehouse and who operated this particular AMS survey, I can’t say that I blame them. I wouldn’t have sent it in either when the man asking the questions might flag you for criminal prosecution for having an opinion he doesn’t like. [source: New AMS survey busts the 97% climate consensus claim]

    Doug
     
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  7. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Alex's questions at the end of the interview:

    Have there been times when you confronted new information or data that really shook your world view?

    What have you done in those situations? Have you arrived at a "how can this be?" moment and changed your mind? Or not?
     
  8. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Have there been times when you confronted new information or data that really shook your world view?

    What have you done in those situations? Have you arrived at a "how can this be?" moment and changed your mind? Or not?


    Yes to the first question, but it hasn't always been a conversion on the road to Damascus experience. When I first heard about global warming, I simply accepted it unquestioningly: the climate was changing, and we were the ones doing it through production of greenhouse gases. I guess what brought me up short was the climategate affair: that was my "how can this be?" moment. It was sufficient to prompt me to do a lot more investigation, and the more I investigated, the more dubious I became.

    There's no doubt: climate science is complex, and I don't possess the scientific chops to understand a lot of it. But here's the thing: we all possess the chops to be able to see mendacity and obfuscation in action, and when we do, that can cause us to doubt. I'm always reminded of Judge Judy's show--tell her a lie, and she won't trust that you're telling the truth about the rest of your story and your case may be dismissed.

    So: how can it be that there's so much mendacity and obfuscation on the part of certain influential AGW scientists? What could possibly be the motive? Why has the global warming narrative become so popular in certain quarters? How has it become such a toxic issue? Why do some scientists simply avoid addressing it at all? Why do those who have the cojones to tackle it end up as pariahs? Take Judith Curry: she's a heck of a smart lady, and a few hours spent reading her blog posts is sufficient to demonstrate that she's actually a very moderate ("lukewarm") voice in the debate. So how come people like Rick Archer, before they check her out, simply choose to accept the mendacious opinion that she doesn't know what she's talking about, that she's some kind of nut?

    Rick started off by indicating that if the 97% consensus thing could be disproved, he would start to doubt the standard narrative. But as Alex demonstrated, even when (fair play) Rick conceded the point that the percentage was based on a deeply flawed analysis, off he went (fading into the distance;)) to give all the other reasons why he thinks man-made global warming is a fact. It seemingly hasn't registered that we're still coming out of the last ice age, and that such global warming as there is may be the result, in the main, of purely natural events. AGW proponents have succeeded in promoting the idea that it's all down to a hugely beneficial gas that constitutes a tiny proportion of the earth's atmosphere, and that global warming is going to be disastrous.

    Why? In part, it's down to fanciful thinking: man is inherently bad and sinful; the world's in a mess, and it simply must be down to him. An element of self-hatred permeates the whole narrative, and it's a narrative that attracts a lot of idealistic people--as well as some with distinct Marxist leanings.

    The real reason for accepting the global warming narrative has a lot more to do with ideas of morality than with actual science, and I think that's the reason that Rick Archer is still a believer. It gives him something seemingly concrete to hang his hat on that tends to fit in with his world view. I've no doubt that he's sincere and well-meaning, as are many AGW proponents, but it isn't simply a matter of presenting evidence. That evidence, whatever it is, has to penetrate through whatever filters might be in place. In my view, the evidence is sufficient to at least cause grave doubts, but if the filters won't let it pass, it's all to no avail.

    This isn't a unique story. We see it playing out in so many other fields of scientific interest. People are divided, ultimately, by views of morality, and that is what really matters to them. Issues to do with global warming, Neo-Darwinism, vaccination, cosmology, materialism, etc., are just a few examples that can threaten one's moral world view--and that includes scientists, who often aren't the dispassionate observers they'd like us to believe.

    There's a hierarchy of beliefs. Moral beliefs tend to be the strongest, even in atheists (think of Dawkins or Hitchens and their moralising rants against religion); subservient to those are other beliefs adopted at least in part because they support that morality. Counter-evidence is ignored or rationalised away, and opponents are vilified because that's an effective weapon in persuading the lay public that it doesn't even have to consider such evidence because it's already "known" its proponents are crazy. Their counter-arguments are mischaracterised; long disproven assertions are endlessly repeated (NASA is still pointing at the 97% paper, after all); it's a Sisyphean task trying to persuade people otherwise, or even to get them engaged in constructive dialogue.

    All this used to get me angry and frustrated. But then I remember that I too have my morality, one that incorporates the necessity to try to keep an open mind. Who knows, maybe I take that too far; maybe there are some cases where evidence really is conclusive and I ought to admit it. All I can say is that it personally doesn't feel that way. If my sojourn at Skeptiko has taught me one thing, it's that I can be absolutely sure about nothing.
     
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  9. Steve

    Steve Member

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    A very interesting episode. Thanks to both Alex and Rick.

    There has only been one such time for me and I look upon it as my eureka moment. Unfortunately I can't claim it as one of my ideas, and it didn't really change my worldview. I never really thought about such lofty things before, my moment only opened the secret cupboard's door ! I was very excited.

    I was sitting in bed one Sunday morning, reading about the double-slit experiment and doing so, I suddenly felt that this amazing experiment linked consciousness to our material world. I'm well aware that there are many diverse views about this, but for me, it was exactly what I needed to start off my search, which is surely never ending. It came a couple of months after I had a big stroke, I now had the time to study and look into subjects that I wouldn't have had before, as well as it being a great motivator. It has been a great help and improved my recovery, for sure.

    Seems to me that a whole lot of energy is being spent arguing about the 97%. My own opinion about it is that I just don't know about GW. I have expertise in one field, which, like science, in my opinion, is driven by big ego's. With many technical matters in my field, there are a thousand opinions for every problem. It seems to me that the figure of 97% is far too high, however. If I had to guess at the true number, I would say 50% or less. BUT no matter what the figure, if they are right, makes this it a huge problem.

    So forget all these questions of who is right or wrong. In my opinion what matters is that we all make what we truly believe are the 'right' choices, honest, authentic, intelligent choices. Will that happen? No chance.

    As the podcast has shown, we have all far too 'invested' to do that, but it seems to me that unless we somehow change our ways, think of others, become far less greedy, start using technology for good, not just profit, etc, etc you know the score.

    To quote Michael's post :" Why? In part, it's down to fanciful thinking: man is inherently bad and sinful" He may not think so, but although I agree with him in this regard, I don't see man as 'inherently bad and sinful', but he sure as hell isn't doing a good job overall of looking after the planet. At the same time there are so many positive things going on to, but you'd never know it from the mainstream media.

    I liked his final paragraph. Also I enjoy having to google at least three words that I don't understand in most of his posts! Wish I had such a vocabulary. ;)
     
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  10. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    I definitely do not see mankind on the whole as inherently bad and sinful: misguided at times, to be sure. And I also agree that human action in some circumstances has negative effects on the environment; though ironically, some of these negative influences arise precisely because of misguided environmental policies. These have led, for example, to increased use of land for cultivation of biofuel crops, and hence reduction in food crops, leading to higher food prices and possible starvation for poor people. Then again, in what sense can bird-chopping windmills be seen as environmentally friendly? They don't even generate consistent amounts of energy, and have to be backed up by conventional generation, which raises the price of energy, again regressively affecting the poor.

    I'd be more inclined to think of AGW supporters with charity if their spokesmen weren't such hypocritically profligate energy consumers themselves, often more interested in lining their own pockets than saving the planet. In any case, the survival of the planet doesn't rely on human beings; it's hubris to think otherwise. If we'd spent even a tenth of the money we've spent on addressing non-existent man-made climate change on genuine environmental concerns, we'd have been able to do some good instead of wasting billions--and have billions left over to help out our fellow human beings.
     
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  11. Alex

    Alex New

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    great post. like how you put it re morality. we gotta also add in that smart-but-evil folks use the power of morality to manipulate.

    thx for reminding me about Climategate... great "how can this be" example.
     
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  12. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    "Smart-but-evil": well, I'm sure there are such people, but I'd hazard a guess fewer than conspiracy theorists would have us believe. One can argue that they are in the driving seat and pursuing only their private interests, and that might indeed be true: but the main thing is that large sections of the population buy into the narrative because it strikes a chord with them. They want to believe that mankind is arrogant and uncaring; man-made climate change is an idea that has reached its time--but they wouldn't be manipulable if no such notion wasn't already popular, at least subliminally.

    With the decline of religion and the existential threats posed by the prospect of hell, there's a vacuum to be filled, and AGW fits the bill nicely. In due course, I think it will run out of steam, only to be replaced by some other threat. Meanwhile, in undeveloped countries, people are facing real threats and don't have the time or inclination to worry about the concerns of the West, where entertaining non-existent threats is a popular pastime.
     
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  13. hypermagda

    hypermagda Member

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    I do not have a sufficiently informed opinion about climate change, so I have no personal conviction to defend here, but I agree with Michael: it seems to me that in the West, certainly in Europe anyway, a certain group of people (the better educated, though not necessarily scientifically competent) is attracted by AGW because it's a politically correct cause and it effortlessly gives you the moral high ground, while there are certainly other equally worrying phenomena out there, affecting less developed countries even more than the developed world (I have friends in Pakistan and religious sectarian violence, including among Muslims is rampant), but these raise all sorts of taboo questions such as a possible "clash of civilisations" and lots of PC people prefer not to touch them. Again, maybe man-made Global Warming is real, I don't feel I'm able to judge, but the threat of islamic radicalism & terrorism rearing its ugly head in lots of countries is a far less popular cause in educated circles in the West. I see a lot of denial going on, and if as a woman or a vegan I object to things like the attitude towards women by some members of the muslim community in my own country (some refuse to shake hands with women, for example), or the inhumane (and in some European countries downright illegal) practice of halal slaughter, I certainly don't get a lot of support in educated circles, while AGW is a safe and "cool" cause to bang on about.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2016
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  14. Judith

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    I was married to a PH.D. wildlife biologist for 30 years. I myself have a M.Ed. My mother was a biologist and father an M.D. So surrounded by scientists. This is what I learned. Overpopulation is a fact. Humans are overpopulating the planet...and we are destroying it. End of fact. Whether climate change is a result of this or not, I don't know. But I cannot help but draw on the logic of the hockey-stick graph of human population growth. In the animal world (and we are part of that) a hockey stick graph of population growth is nearly always followed by a deep plunge in population, which means the population has exceeding it's carrying capacity.

    As for when the data changed my beliefs, it was when I was laid up in bed and couldn't do much but surf on the computer that I decided to check into the 9/11 stuff. As I read more and more, I suffered some really difficult cognitive dissonance. I was forced to reconsider all my beliefs about our government. And it took a while to integrate these data and to form a different world view....once which includes the existence of clandestine operations and black-ops.

    [​IMG]
     
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  15. Hurmanetar

    Hurmanetar New

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    I'm glad you mentioned overpopulation because this is another aspect of AGW that hasn't been mentioned yet. The climate change scam is not primarily about making a few rich men richer. It is mainly about population control.

    I would hesitate to say the world is "overpopulated" because that implies the population has exceeded the carrying capacity of the environment. It hasn't so population continues to rise. Technologies and energy supplies increase the carrying capacity. One could argue that this increase in carrying capacity is artificial and temporary (we'll use up the energy at some point). AGW is about creating artificial scarcity by raising the price of energy in order to lower the carrying capacity which will reduce the population.

    On one level I can appreciate what these eugenicists like Bill Gates are trying to do. I don't want to see humans overpopulate and suck the earth dry. People generally aren't at a high enough level of consciousness or are too self-interested to get together and make a consensual plan for how to live in balance. So they conclude people need to be deceived into this depopulation plan for their own good. But I don't want to view humanity as a plague and parasite upon the earth to be exterminated for the sake of the earth... Nor do I think people should be deceived into a plan that will result in mass death (while making a corrupt ruling elite richer and more corrupt).

    The alternative (and more ethical) solution is to continue with cheap fossil fuels in the free market hoping and believing that freeing up more of humanity from its burdens will raise up more problem solvers who will find alternative energy solutions. Developed nations have a lower birth rate, so allowing technology to spread rather than maintaining artificial scarcity should actually help reduce the population
     
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  16. Bill Bolwell

    Bill Bolwell Member

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    Rupert Murdoch says most climate change is not man-made.See his interview at the 20 minute mark.
    When I went to school CO2 was harmless& CO was deadly.They say if we got the CO2 level down the plants would die off and so would we.
     
  17. Max_B

    Max_B Member

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    ugh... more rubbish...
     
  18. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    This is one podcast I probably will not listen to. This is because I just find my blood pressure rising when this topic is raised. At one time I read a lot about this, but over and over I found that critical flaws in the concept seemed to get delicately fluffed over by the proponents of CAGW. If someone here says that the subject of Venus and the Magellan spacecraft was raised in the podcast, I might change my mind, because I found this particularly revelation utterly gob-smacking!

    Although this is a fact, I don't think it need be that way. If reporters boned up on CAGW a bit, and listened to what the sceptics are saying, I think they could perform really interesting and intelligible interviews that would open up this subject. For example:

    1) Putting aside for a moment potential future warming, scientists seem to want to blame existing weather events on CAGW. Can that possibly be reasonable, when the global temperature graph has risen by only tenths of a degree since the 1960's? After all, we get hot summers and not so hot ones - these variations must be many times the ones you are discussing, but life goes on!

    2) The temperature at the surface of Venus is often cited as an example of runaway greenhouse effect, but surely ever since the Magellan spacecraft surveyed Venus, all you scientists must have known that the high surface temperature was the result of the atmospheric pressure down there of 92 atmospheres! Everyone knows that it gets colder as you move higher in the atmosphere!

    3) Please explain why CO2 shrunk the Arctic ice pack in the first decade of this century, but meanwhile the Antarctic ice grew, and that furthermore, the Arctic ice has recovered a lot in recent years. Aren't you scientists simple cherry picking which data you look at?

    Etc.
    Spot on, and there was also the scandal regarding the bogus claim that the Himalayan glaciers were going to melt by 2035 - backed to the hilt, followed by a humiliating climb down just after the 2014 Climate Conference.
    Moreover, this data is not allowed to speak for itself, it is adjusted in a whole set of crazy ways! I think that squeezing a bogus signal out of what is really just noise has become a curse on science generally. It works in the context of well controlled laboratory experiments that measure photon counts or whatever, but it is really inappropriate in other contexts.
    Indeed, and Freeman Dyson (who has devoted some of his retirement from high energy physics to studying CAGW) has pointed out that measurements indicate that many crops use up the CO2 in the air close to the ground within a few minutes if there is no wind.

    David
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2016
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  19. Roberta

    Roberta Member

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    I'm not going to have this debate again and there's no point. All I have to say is that I'm worried that Skeptiko is becoming a conspiracy podcast, where every and any mainstream belief is probably wrong and we must be right!

    One thing skipped over this is the impact of our economic system (capitalism), the fact that most crops grown are fed to animals that we treat terribly, so if you're worried about poor people not eating maybe look into that, and that we have a very poor food distribution system.

    Then there's the use of resources, pollution, the animals and plants we've made extinct etc which are all linked to this debate - it's not just whether our activities are changing the climate.
     
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  20. Far.From.Here

    Far.From.Here New

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    I know this. The climate has undergone massive changes over only the last 30,000 years. These changes have obliterated entire populations as easily as a cloud passing before the sun.

    If the Earth is heating now, there will come a time in the not too distant future when it will be cooling down again, big time. Will man be a part of that? Who knows. The Earth certainly doesn't care.
     
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