The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby ++$_ » Tue Nov 27, 2007 8:00 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:Meanwhile, in Climatology, we have ridiculously huge error bars on the best models it produces. There is no "microwave background radiation" level of proof hanging around that I've seen.
No, of course there isn't. There's a fundamental difference, in that climatological models are trying to predict the future, whereas cosmology is trying to understand the past. If you are concerned about past climates, all methods of determining these (dendrochronology, stable isotope ratios in rocks, ice cores, and sediments, historical records, et cetera) have been consistent with each other.

When we ask about future climate, though, there is a fundamentally different problem at hand. And of course we have no way of knowing whether or not our models are correct until we have observed the results. The equivalent might be asking cosmologists what the ultimate fate of the universe will be -- will we have a Big Crunch or not, for example? As we observe more and more of the universe, the answer we give to this question changes. That doesn't make it non-scientific.

The point is that it's not reasonable to expect predictions about the future to have conclusive proof at the time they are made. As a society, we don't have the luxury of waiting for conclusive proof in this case, so we have to act now, on the assumption that the models are right. At the very least, they're an educated guess.

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby zenten » Tue Nov 27, 2007 8:24 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:
Predicting DNA and the effectiveness of "genetic algorithms" to solve problems? Evolution is damn convincing.


DNA was not predicted. Neither were genetic algorithms. Both were based on research already done on evolution, true, but it wasn't based on aspects of the theory that could be falsified. If genetic information was encoded in a completely different way and if the principle did not extend to computer science evolution would still have been accurate.

Now, you might bring up that evolution has been observed in a lab. So has climate change. In fact, it's easier to prove climate change in a lab. The only question for either was how applicable they are to the real world. Evolution is widely accepted, and has been for some time, as it is an older theory. Human climate change is a newer theory, but from what I can tell it does match up with the amount of evidence evolution had in the early 20th century.

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby Yakk » Tue Nov 27, 2007 8:48 pm UTC

People where looking for DNA at the time, because evolutionary theory predicted that there would be a molecule with the properties of DNA to carry genetic information between generations in.

No, it didn't predict the molecular formula of DNA.

...

I'm not saying that climatology is non-scientific. I'm saying science becomes credible when it generates a certain kind of prediction that is then tested.

The Theory of Relativity predicts what happens in high-energy, high-potential and high-speed situations. It made some quite strong and testable predictions. Until these predictions where tested, using the Theory of Relativity to make a multi-trillion dollar decision would have been stupid.

The first major test was at the eclipse, when the light of stars was detected to be bent. Further tests kept on saying "the theory works", because the predictions kept on panning out. At that point holding it to be true is a good idea.

But even before it was proven to be true, it was still a scientific theory. Something being scientific is not the same as it being convincing and safe to rely on with a high degree of confidence. Large numbers of scientists agreeing with a theory is not nearly as strong as "I predict that strange event X will happen, and then it does".

I'm well aware that most people make decisions based on "what most people accept to be true", and that decision making is mostly social behavior rather than truth-seeking. So I understand that the political success of the Global Warming movement doesn't have much to do with it's ability to produce such a strong position. I'm just wondering, are you aware of such a strong piece of data? The "microwave curve" of global warming theory?

And yes, it is in the short-term best interests of climatologists to push for the acceptance of global warming, the sooner their projections say the better. A short-term disaster means that there is an urgent need to spend more money and hire more researchers. So I'd expect a nearly uniform consensus among climatologists, and a serious rejection of anyone who doesn't agree. Things that disagree with consensus have to pass a much much higher standard: that is the Kuhnian feature of the Scientific research system. This higher bar has benefits (as it directs research towards tearing apart one area of the universe, rather than wandering around randomly), but it does mean that the value of consensus isn't that high: near-uniform consensus should be an expected result of the social behavior of scientists, rather than being held out as a piece of strong evidence that what scientists believe is true.

The strong evidence that what scientists believe is actually true is the Popper condition of "they say something surprising, and you check it, and it works!" Science has been historically more likely to make such high-quality conclusions than, say, Shamanism, but until that kind of statement is made & checked & verified, Science could be walking randomly away from the truth.

Science is both a process and a result. The process tends to produce decent results, but for the result to be believed with strength and certainty, the result still needs to be tested.
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby zenten » Tue Nov 27, 2007 9:08 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:
I'm well aware that most people make decisions based on "what most people accept to be true", and that decision making is mostly social behavior rather than truth-seeking. So I understand that the political success of the Global Warming movement doesn't have much to do with it's ability to produce such a strong position. I'm just wondering, are you aware of such a strong piece of data? The "microwave curve" of global warming theory?



There are two possibilities, one is that Global Warming is true, the other that it is false.

Which one is more likely? That's what it comes to. In the real world, when faced with a decision, you still have to make one. "Not making a decision" is a decision in itself.

So, what you do, baring the kind of certainty you get from the theory of Relativity or of Evolution, is you try to work out the most likely chances something is true, and something is false. Then evaluate the risks and costs of acting as if it is true, against if it is false, with a weight based on the chances of it being true.

It's the only way to actual go forward in a rational world, where most information is incomplete.

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby 3.14159265... » Tue Nov 27, 2007 9:09 pm UTC

I completely agree with you Yakk.

Well worded.

There are two possibilities, one is that Global Warming is true, the other that it is false.
Zenten, really?
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby Akula » Tue Nov 27, 2007 9:15 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:*nod*, and cosmology spent a huge amount of time in rather serious flux. Eventually a prediction was made, based off of the Big Bang theory, which was then checked against as-yet un-read data, the microwave background radiation, and we ended up with a theory that predicted results to a ridiculously accurate amount.

That's strong evidence that the Big Bang happened.

Meanwhile, in Climatology, we have ridiculously huge error bars on the best models it produces. There is no "microwave background radiation" level of proof hanging around that I've seen.

On top of that, Cosmology isn't asking for humanity to do a huge restructuring of the entire industrial economy.

I'm trying to say that Science is just as capable of walking off the garden path as any other area of human endevour. What corrects the path that Science walks is making predictions that are then attempted to be falsified.

You can make progress in a theory without that falsification test -- and that is still Science (go Kuhn!), and it is a way of generating theories. But without that falsification test, the resulting theories are not that convincing (go Popper!)

And even if the scientists are convinced, before I'm convinced I require that falsification test. Scientists can be as wrong as anyone else. If what the scientists are convinced about doesn't require me to change my behavior all that much, I'll say "sure, that is likely" -- but if what the scientists are convinced about has a high cost, then they need to produce something more convincing than mere consensus.

Predicting the procession of mercury, and that light bends in a graviational well, and that a rotating sphere is frame dragged? Relativity is damn convincing.

Predicting the microwave background radiation curve? The big bang theory is damn convincing.

Predicting DNA and the effectiveness of "genetic algorithms" to solve problems? Evolution is damn convincing.


Thank you...

I'd also like to point out that having doubts about anthropogenic climate change does not mean I disagree about pursuing alternative energy sources. I just don't think we need to break the bank to do it. Problems with localized pollution, and the strategic benefits are more then enough reason. There's even plenty of economic incentive. It will happen in time, and there's no reason to cram it down the worlds throat... the world is just going to swallow soon enough anyway.
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby ++$_ » Tue Nov 27, 2007 9:16 pm UTC

3.14159265... wrote:
There are two possibilities, one is that Global Warming is true, the other that it is false.
Zenten, really?
For the correct value of "Global Warming," yes.

Either: There will be significant effects on global climate because of human actions,
Or: There will not be significant effects on global climate because of human actions,

where "significant" is defined in any way you like. If you live on the beach, twenty feet above sea level, you might define a significant effect the sea level to rising twenty feet. If you are a polar bear, you might define a significant effect as the Arctic being ice-free in summer. As soon as you decide what "significant" is to you, then either human activities will cause such an effect, or they won't. And if you knew which of these was the case, you could then plan your actions properly, which is what Zenten was saying.

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby Akula » Tue Nov 27, 2007 9:17 pm UTC

3.14159265... wrote:I completely agree with you Yakk.

Well worded.

There are two possibilities, one is that Global Warming is true, the other that it is false.
Zenten, really?

Hehe... that really is a John Madden-esque analysis isn't it?
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby ++$_ » Tue Nov 27, 2007 9:25 pm UTC

Yakk:

The evidence for anthropogenic global climate change comes from computerized climate models. If you think the climate models are inaccurate, fine; you have a fair argument, because climate is quite a complex system. In fact, I think that climatology models are probably inaccurate to a large degree (which doesn't mean that the conclusions they give are false).

However:

Global climate change is a result, not a hypothesis. Climatologists think that the climate will change because their already-tested theories indicate that it will. You may believe that their interpretation of the consequences of their theories is wrong (because the models are inaccurate), but if the models are, in fact, accurate, then we don't need to wait around to test global climate change, because it isn't a hypothesis.

EDIT: Clarity

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby Garm » Wed Nov 28, 2007 12:23 am UTC

Yakk, your argument as to why climate science is so rush rush is entirely specious. Grant money is tight, people fight for grants. No one wants more researchers in the field to make money. That's a rediculous statement. If you want money and you're in climate research you go and do reports for the energy companies that use faulty data. Yes, climate research is incredibly complex but we don't dismiss all of ecological biology just because tracking all the variables that might effect an ecosystem is nigh impossible. That's essentially what climate research is all about, tracking variables for the global ecosystem.

Couple things I'd like to point out, Global Warming is a misnomer. Human effected or anthropogenic climate change would probably be better. As we change things in one place, the environment will change elsewhere, perhaps differently. Also the idea that natural sources of gas are equal to or greater than the gas we produce, wrong. We (humans) produce over 150 times the CO2 per year that all the volcanoes in the world do http://volcano.und.nodak.edu/vwdocs/Gases/man.html.
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby Dep » Wed Nov 28, 2007 2:20 am UTC

I'm late to the thread, sorry. I'll try to catch up.

gmalivuk wrote:
superglucose wrote:I'm more likely to buy that mass clear-cutting rainforests and burning it and then pretending to farm it, and then burning it AGAIN is the culprit.

Not regarding CO2 levels, it isn't. While clearcutting and burning rain forests may be terrible for other reasons, it's completely carbon-neutral, since pretty much all of the CO2 released in burning was already in the atmosphere pretty recently. It would have been breathed out by anything that ate the plants, anyway.

I'm confused, how in the world is clearcutting a forest carbon neutral? I tried to figure out your logic, but my best attempt was balancing rates of deforestation with rates of forestation, and the papers I found for those estimates show at best a difference of 0.9 ± 0.4 Pg yr-1(1).

As for the 'anything that ate the plants anyways' argument, I don't think you've really thought that part through. An animal isn't going to eat the entire tree, and the tree isn't going to die because of regular herbivory. Forests are noted for their carbon sequestration abilities because they have a large amount of persistent biomass.


I haven't read every single post yet, but I did see a large amount of discussion about whether climate change is happening, and whether it has anthropogenic sources. It is and it does. There isn't a debate on the existence point anymore, and there isn't a debate on the fact that it is anthropogenic 2,3,4,5, there are hundreds. Even better and more exact, Oreskes meticulously went through the literature published between 1993 and 2003 in reputable scientific journals related to climate change and did a meta-analysis on them 6. The *928* papers were divided into six categories: explicit endorsement of the consensus position, evaluation of impacts, mitigation proposals, methods, paleoclimate analysis, and rejection of the consensus position.
  • 75% fell into the first three categories ACCEPTING the consensus view
  • 25% talked about methods or paleoclimate, taking no position on recent climate change
  • 0% contested the current consensus position
The last bullet point is the important one. (The description is only slightly paraphrased from the abstract of the paper)

I know not everyone has access to all of the journals and literature, so I did my best to keep to the freely available literature, which often is the top of the line peer reviewed journals anyways. And as a final plea, please please please please verify your points before setting them on the world, especially on topics like climate change, because there is a metric crapton of BS out there, as is the case with any highly publicized issue that has definite monetary consequences.

--Dep


1 Dixon, R. K. et al. 1994. Carbon Pools and Flux of Global Forest Ecosystems. Science 263(5144): 185 - 190.
2 Quayle, W. C. et al. 2002. Extreme Responses to Climate Change in Antarctic Lakes. Science 295(5555): 645 - 650.
3 Hinzman, L. D. et al. 2005. Evidence and Implications of Recent Climate Change in Northern Alaska and Other Arctic Regions. Climate Change 72(3): 251-298.
4 Barnett, T. P., Pierce, D.W., Schnur, R. 2001. Detection of Anthropogenic Climate Change in the World's Oceans. Science 292(5515): 270-274.
5 Thomas, C.D. et al. 2004. Extinction risk from climate change. Nature 427(6970): 145-148.
6 Oreskes, N. 2004. The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change. Science 306(5702): 1686-1686.

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby yy2bggggs » Wed Nov 28, 2007 2:52 am UTC

Yakk wrote:*nod*, and cosmology spent a huge amount of time in rather serious flux.

Name any scientific field of study that didn't.
On top of that, Cosmology isn't asking for humanity to do a huge restructuring of the entire industrial economy.

Neither is climatology, but I don't quite understand why the degree of inconvenience should even be on the table when considering the truth of a statement.
Richard Feynman wrote:For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.

This clearly applies equally well to sciences as it does technologies.
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby ++$_ » Wed Nov 28, 2007 8:07 am UTC

Dep wins the thread :)

Dep wrote:I'm confused, how in the world is clearcutting a forest carbon neutral?
In a relatively short time compared with the residence time of CO2 in the atmosphere, the forest will grow back if left unmolested. The key parts of this sentence, of course, are "relatively" and "if left unmolested," which mean that for all practical purposes clear-cutting is not carbon neutral. It might take a thousand years for a part of the Amazon forest to grow back, which is too long for ME, at any rate, to enjoy the benefits. (Perhaps by artificially planting trees we could accelerate this.)

So, it's not, and we know that, but it's RELATIVELY carbon neutral compared to burning fossil fuels.

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby zenten » Wed Nov 28, 2007 2:41 pm UTC

$_[0] wrote:Dep wins the thread :)

Dep wrote:I'm confused, how in the world is clearcutting a forest carbon neutral?
In a relatively short time compared with the residence time of CO2 in the atmosphere, the forest will grow back if left unmolested. The key parts of this sentence, of course, are "relatively" and "if left unmolested," which mean that for all practical purposes clear-cutting is not carbon neutral. It might take a thousand years for a part of the Amazon forest to grow back, which is too long for ME, at any rate, to enjoy the benefits. (Perhaps by artificially planting trees we could accelerate this.)

So, it's not, and we know that, but it's RELATIVELY carbon neutral compared to burning fossil fuels.


Here's the thing though, don't we care more about the total amount of carbon in the atmosphere, instead of the rate of carbon increase?

You burn down a forest, and don't replace it with the same amount of trapped carbon, all that carbon is now in the atmosphere, mostly in the form of carbon dioxide. You plant a forest (no easy task to do properly mind you), have it grow up, and you've now trapped a bunch of carbon. These are not minor amounts either, for sufficiently large forests. That's not even taking into account all the other benefits of trees that aren't so much about temperature.

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby Akula » Thu Nov 29, 2007 2:07 am UTC

Dep wrote:I'm late to the thread, sorry. I'll try to catch up.

gmalivuk wrote:
superglucose wrote:I'm more likely to buy that mass clear-cutting rainforests and burning it and then pretending to farm it, and then burning it AGAIN is the culprit.

Not regarding CO2 levels, it isn't. While clearcutting and burning rain forests may be terrible for other reasons, it's completely carbon-neutral, since pretty much all of the CO2 released in burning was already in the atmosphere pretty recently. It would have been breathed out by anything that ate the plants, anyway.

I'm confused, how in the world is clearcutting a forest carbon neutral? I tried to figure out your logic, but my best attempt was balancing rates of deforestation with rates of forestation, and the papers I found for those estimates show at best a difference of 0.9 ± 0.4 Pg yr-1(1).

As for the 'anything that ate the plants anyways' argument, I don't think you've really thought that part through. An animal isn't going to eat the entire tree, and the tree isn't going to die because of regular herbivory. Forests are noted for their carbon sequestration abilities because they have a large amount of persistent biomass.


I haven't read every single post yet, but I did see a large amount of discussion about whether climate change is happening, and whether it has anthropogenic sources. It is and it does. There isn't a debate on the existence point anymore, and there isn't a debate on the fact that it is anthropogenic 2,3,4,5, there are hundreds. Even better and more exact, Oreskes meticulously went through the literature published between 1993 and 2003 in reputable scientific journals related to climate change and did a meta-analysis on them 6. The *928* papers were divided into six categories: explicit endorsement of the consensus position, evaluation of impacts, mitigation proposals, methods, paleoclimate analysis, and rejection of the consensus position.
  • 75% fell into the first three categories ACCEPTING the consensus view
  • 25% talked about methods or paleoclimate, taking no position on recent climate change
  • 0% contested the current consensus position
The last bullet point is the important one. (The description is only slightly paraphrased from the abstract of the paper)

I know not everyone has access to all of the journals and literature, so I did my best to keep to the freely available literature, which often is the top of the line peer reviewed journals anyways. And as a final plea, please please please please verify your points before setting them on the world, especially on topics like climate change, because there is a metric crapton of BS out there, as is the case with any highly publicized issue that has definite monetary consequences.

--Dep


1 Dixon, R. K. et al. 1994. Carbon Pools and Flux of Global Forest Ecosystems. Science 263(5144): 185 - 190.
2 Quayle, W. C. et al. 2002. Extreme Responses to Climate Change in Antarctic Lakes. Science 295(5555): 645 - 650.
3 Hinzman, L. D. et al. 2005. Evidence and Implications of Recent Climate Change in Northern Alaska and Other Arctic Regions. Climate Change 72(3): 251-298.
4 Barnett, T. P., Pierce, D.W., Schnur, R. 2001. Detection of Anthropogenic Climate Change in the World's Oceans. Science 292(5515): 270-274.
5 Thomas, C.D. et al. 2004. Extinction risk from climate change. Nature 427(6970): 145-148.
6 Oreskes, N. 2004. The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change. Science 306(5702): 1686-1686.


I'd point out that Oreskes survey was later found to be gravely flawed, in that it didn't come even close to evaluating every paper on the subject.

I'd also point out the inanity of searching for peer reviewed papers that actively disagree with the notion of anthropogenic global warming. There are, however, numerous papers that support alternative theories as to why temperatures might be rising. If you really want to tell me there isn't a single study supporting solar activity as a cause of climate change, then I would like to remind you of Baghdad Bob...
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby Dep » Thu Nov 29, 2007 5:19 am UTC

Akula wrote:I'd point out that Oreskes survey was later found to be gravely flawed, in that it didn't come even close to evaluating every paper on the subject.

Gah, that'll teach me for mentioning Oreskes without talking about the flaws of it. You're right, she didn't evaluate every single paper. That was the big criticism. The person leading the charge against the paper was Pielke. In a letter to science about the issue, he said:

Robert Pielke, 'Consensus About Climate Change?' wrote: In her essay "The scientific consensus on climate change" (3 Dec. 2004, p. 1686), N. Oreskes asserts that the consensus reflected in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) appears to reflect, well, a consensus. Although Oreskes found unanimity in the 928 articles with key words "global climate change," we should not be surprised if a broader review were to find conclusions at odds with the IPCC consensus, as "consensus" does not mean uniformity of perspective. In the discussion motivated by Oreskes' Essay, I have seen one claim made that there are more than 11,000 articles on "climate change" in the ISI database and suggestions that about 10% somehow contradict the IPCC consensus position. But so what? If that number is 1% or 40%, it does not make any difference whatsoever from the standpoint of policy action.1

That's pretty much exactly what you said in your reply so I'm going to assume you read and are referring to Pielke. He then goes on for another paragraph talking about how consensus is a measure of central tendency and people will be arrayed in something of a distribution around the mean, and he says that these proxy debates are distracting from the science. I gotta agree with him there.

Oreskes' response reads similarly:
Naomi Oreskes, 'Response: Consensus About Climate Change?' wrote:Pielke suggests that I claimed that there are no papers in the climate literature that disagree with the consensus. Not so. I simply presented the research result that a sample based on the keywords "global climate change" did not reveal any, suggesting that the existing scientific dissent has been greatly exaggerated and confirming that the statements and reports of leading scientific organizations--including the U.S. National Academy of Sciences--accurately reflect the evidence presented in the scientific literature.1

So basically, Oreskes' findings may be misleading, but not that far. From Pielke's part, ~10% are opposed in some way shape or form to the consensus view. In Pielki's own words: "consensus" does not mean uniformity of perspective. The flaws in the paper weren't in asserting that there is a consensus, but that her specific search term didn't adequately display the full distribution.

Akula wrote:I'd also point out the inanity of searching for peer reviewed papers that actively disagree with the notion of anthropogenic global warming. There are, however, numerous papers that support alternative theories as to why temperatures might be rising. If you really want to tell me there isn't a single study supporting solar activity as a cause of climate change, then I would like to remind you of Baghdad Bob...

This exercise isn't inane because the debated point I was trying to examine was the consensus of scientists on anthropogenic global warming. How else do you do that other than look at the way scientists communicate their beliefs? An alternate theory, such as solar warming, is included in the count of papers that dissent from the consensus. And yeah, I've seen the papers about things like solar warming2, but so far it's science that has very few supporters, mostly because of shakey evidence. My own examination of Willson's paper is that he's basing his research on satellite data from 1978 onward, looking at essentially 2 points of data. The solar cycle is 11 years long, so he had not even 2 complete solar cycles to examine to come up with his theory. Sure, it's important to note that it's warming, but compared against the incredible mountain of experiments and data we have that supports anthropogenic sources.... he's got a lot of work cut out for him. The media really grasped on to the solar warming paper though, mostly because they love controversy. Also, Science seems to love controversy too, considering they often seem to knowingly print inflammatory articles (Oreskes, Willson, and ooooohhhh how about the Oh me yarm the fish stocks are collapsing article from Worm3), which makes me wonder about the peer review intactness, but that's another argument.

--Dep

1 Pielke, Robert. 2005. Letters: Consensus About Climate Change? Science 308(5724): 952 - 954.
2 Willson, Richard C. 1997. Total Solar Irradiance Trend During Solar Cycles 21 and 22. Science 277(5334): 1963 - 1965.
3 Worm et al. 2006. Impacts of Biodiversity Loss on Ocean Ecosystem Services. Science 314(5800): 787 - 790.

[Edit: Formatting fixes, added one short sentence, fixed bad word choice on my part]

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby BattleMoose » Thu Nov 29, 2007 7:03 am UTC

Hey,

Dep clearly seems to know what hes talking about, and thank you for bring up Orskes report, I wasnt aware of it. (I'm curious as to what your proffession is, do you work in the field?)

I would just like to add my 2 cents to the whole thread, I still come across people who dispute that the Earth is indeed warming. :/

Image

It seems like something is going on, the data sets used are:
http://hadobs.metoffice.com/hadcrut3/
http://hadobs.metoffice.com/crutem3/
http://hadobs.metoffice.com/hadsst2/

It seems fairly clear that something is going on.

Also, if any of you have been following the Arctic sea ice.

Image

That comes from, http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMa ... amp=200710

This summer's dramatic loss of Arctic sea ice peaked on September 15, and the polar ice cap is finally beginning to re-freeze, according to a press release issued by the National Snow and Ice Data Center on October 1. Extent of the September polar sea ice fell 39%, compared to the 1979-2000 average. To put this loss in perspective, in one year we lost as much ice as we lost during the previous 28 years. Summertime Arctic sea ice is now at 50% of what it was in the 1950s (Figure 1). One may look at at graph and wonder, but what about sea ice loss in other seasons? It hasn't been nearly so severe. True, but it is the summer ice we care most about, since summer is when the thick, multi-year ice melts, which can then precondition the Arctic for much greater ice loss in future years. As sea ice melts in response to rising temperatures, more of the dark ocean is exposed, allowing it to absorb more of the sun's energy. This further increases air temperatures, ocean temperatures, and ice melt in a process know as the "ice-albedo feedback" (albedo means how much sunlight a surface reflects). There is an excellent chance that the summer of 2007 will be remembered as the "tipping point" for Arctic sea ice, when an irreversible ice-albedo feedback process firmly established itself.


I dont generally like arguing climate models, because of all the reasons said before, the argument gets caught up in accuracies, uncertainties, fudge factors etcetra and the thread seems to get derailed too many times.

Maybe Dep can comment, I have also come across an extraordinary amount of BS on this subject. It honestly feels, like some of the arguments, against climate change which are made, are being made with the clear intention of misleading people and misinforming them and to cast doubt on the GHG warming theory. Rather than intentionly trying to propose legitimate alternate theories.

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby Dep » Fri Nov 30, 2007 11:58 pm UTC

BattleMoose wrote:(I'm curious as to what your proffession is, do you work in the field?)

No, not directly. I'm currently a doctoral student in limnology (hence my love for citing water related papers). However, my previous job was working in the NSF's National Research Council. During my stay I worked on a consensus study for global climate change, and after the project was completed I acted as an adviser on the subject for a few months.

BattleMoose wrote:I dont generally like arguing climate models, because of all the reasons said before, the argument gets caught up in accuracies, uncertainties, fudge factors etcetra and the thread seems to get derailed too many times.

I think the problem is that scientists aren't trained to communicate things to the public. Science is only worthwhile with debate, but our debates are regularly perverted by interest groups that imply that a reliable answer isn't present. This is true to a degree, we're not at the point with biology and climatology where we can provide exact answers simply due to the incredible complexities of the system, but when we have a situation where ~90% of the scientists agree, you can be pretty damn sure (P < 0.001) that we're not that far off. I mean, really, where else have you ever seen 90% of a population agree on anything, especially within a group of people that exist to critique each other constantly?

BattleMoose wrote:Maybe Dep can comment, I have also come across an extraordinary amount of BS on this subject. It honestly feels, like some of the arguments, against climate change which are made, are being made with the clear intention of misleading people and misinforming them and to cast doubt on the GHG warming theory. Rather than intentionly trying to propose legitimate alternate theories.

Of course, there is money involved. Insane amounts of money. You have entire firms of people looking at the data and the papers trying to spin it in a way that is beneficial to their employers. I just wish that the scientific community could get the message out there about what it is we believe, and let the politics deal with it in their own way, without trying to infiltrate and mess up our message. But hey, that'll never happen, so the best we can do is keep pumping out data until they get the message. The big stick approach to scientific communication. Teddy Roosevelt eat your heart out.

But hey, that's just me venting.

--Dep

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby Yakk » Sat Dec 01, 2007 6:57 pm UTC

yy2bggggs wrote:
Yakk wrote:*nod*, and cosmology spent a huge amount of time in rather serious flux.

Name any scientific field of study that didn't.


Sure. This is why one should trust science after it has provided strong evidence. You don't trust science just because it is science: you trust science because it produces strong evidence.

On top of that, Cosmology isn't asking for humanity to do a huge restructuring of the entire industrial economy.

Neither is climatology, but I don't quite understand why the degree of inconvenience should even be on the table when considering the truth of a statement.


Let's take the standard linear decision function. Do I do A or B?

We have two situations X and Y, and one or the other is true.

A*X is the expected outcome if X is true and I do A. etc.

P(X) is the probability X is true, P(Y) is the probability Y is true.

Define E(A) to be the expected value if I do A, and E(B) for B.

Then:
E(A) = P(X)*A*X + P(Y)*A*Y
E(B) = P(X)*B*X + P(Y)*B*Y

If we are using linear decision making, we end up with the equation:
E(A)-E(B) = P(X)*[A-B]*X + P(Y)*[A-B]*Y

Now, even if P(X) > P(Y), the ratio of [A-B]*X to [A-B]*Y matters to our decision making algorithm. Ie, even if X is more likely, if ignoring that possibility and seeing up a solution that helps deal with possibility B is cheap, it could be wise (under linear decision making).

This is why the cost of what is required to head off global warming if the theory is correct matters. And the cost of delaying our decision matters.

While I don't hold that linear decision making is always the best choice, it does explain my point: the economic costs have to be paid attention to.
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby yy2bggggs » Sat Dec 01, 2007 7:29 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:This is why the cost of what is required to head off global warming if the theory is correct matters. And the cost of delaying our decision matters.

But this is just Pascal's wager in drag. Expected return value still has nothing to do with the truth of the underlying claims. Given E(B)>E(A), does it then become true that P(X)<P(Y)?

Furthermore, linear decision making alone is a terrible policy, because value and risk aren't really linear. Absolute obliteration of all human life is a greater concern than the sum of all salaries on earth. Even for personal policy making, it doesn't make sense--given I can afford fire insurance, it's quite beneficial for me to have it.

Sure, cost is worth paying attention to, but again we're not discussing policy. So I can't see anything but red herrings here.
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby Yakk » Sat Dec 01, 2007 8:13 pm UTC

yy2bggggs wrote:
Yakk wrote:This is why the cost of what is required to head off global warming if the theory is correct matters. And the cost of delaying our decision matters.

But this is just Pascal's wager in drag.


Pascal's wager does rely both on the linearity of the decision making, and the non-infinitesimal nature of the terms.

You can also generate a similar example that demonstrates why linear decision making breaks down in the "flip a coin until it lands tails. Get 2^#_of_heads return. Expected return = infinity" game.

Expected return value still has nothing to do with the truth of the underlying claims. Given E(B)>E(A), does it then become true that P(X)<P(Y)?


No, that's not a conclusion that is reflected in the mathematics I displayed.

Furthermore, linear decision making alone is a terrible policy, because value and risk aren't really linear. Absolute obliteration of all human life is a greater concern than the sum of all salaries on earth.


But all human life being destroyed will happen unless we pull off the economic might to get us out of the solar system, and beyond. :) Economic costs to impact the survival of the human race, if you want to play that game.

The odds that an additional flux of a few percent of the background flux of carbon in/out of the atmosphere can so destabilize the earth's atmosphere that we enter into an apocalypse scenario seems to be stretching it. And up to the point of an apocalypse scenario, we are talking about economic and human life damage more so than "death of entire human race" on both sides: the costs are at the same scale.

Even for personal policy making, it doesn't make sense--given I can afford fire insurance, it's quite beneficial for me to have it.


If you expect to own 100 houses, and 1/3 of them will burn down over the next 40 years, then running a linear decision making algorithm (probably including variance) makes a heck of a lot of sense. If the present cost of insurance is orders of magnitude higher than the present cost of 1/3 of your houses burning down over the next 40 years, you really should just sock the money away, and maybe insure yourself against extreme loses only.

Similarly, when flying, you are often offered cancellation insurance. Assuming that the flight isn't a huge expenditure for you, it makes lots of sense to "self-insure" and simply eat the costs if you need to cancel. The pricing for cancellation insurance is high enough that amortizing over the expected number of cancellations is cheaper for you than buying the cancellation insurance.

So yes, you should pay attention to costs when you make decisions like "do I want fire insurance". It could be that the costs are not worth the benefit. You even do this when you compare policies -- a policy that only gives you back 3/4 of the value of your home and contents, but costs 50% as much as another that gives you 100%, might be a better idea.

Sure, if your house burns down, the 3/4 policy might make you worse off: but in the more likely case that your house doesn't burn down, you end up with more money.

Sure, cost is worth paying attention to, but again we're not discussing policy. So I can't see anything but red herrings here.


I'm saying that given the lack of strong evidence, that it seems reasonable to hedge our bets, but that going all-out and causing serious economic damage in order to combat climate change isn't justified.

Given the high costs, the amount of evidence required to be considered strong is high. On the other hand, if something has very little impact on my life (say a scientific theory that says if I scratch my nose once a week, I will live 5 years longer) the amount of evidence required to sway my behavior is smaller: sure, it could be wrong, but it doesn't hurt because the cost is extremely low.

...

Note that it is global warming that is using Pascal's wager: "It could generate an apocalypse of a spiral of out of control climate change! Change your behavior now, before things get bad, or it will be too late!"

That is the logic of damnation.
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby yy2bggggs » Sat Dec 01, 2007 9:26 pm UTC

I'm going to start labeling my claims, because you seem to be missing the point way too much. I'm labeling my claims L for no good reason I care to share, and yours Y.

L1. Linear analysis is a red herring.
I'm going to interpret this post as your conceding this.

L2. Truth is not affected by probability.
I'm going to interpret this post as your conceding this.

L3. Global warming is a fact.
I'm claiming this, and requiring you to concede. Failing this requirement means that I show you evidence and end the discussion right here, because if you are that ill informed, I don't care what else you have to say about the subject.

Note that it is global warming that is using Pascal's wager: "It could generate an apocalypse of a spiral of out of control climate change! Change your behavior now, before things get bad, or it will be too late!"

That is the logic of damnation.

Y1: Global warming says that you need to change your behavior or else the environment could spiral out of control and reach apocalyptic levels.
I do not contend this. I accuse Y1 of being a muddled straw-man, and not even a great one, on many levels.

First off, global warming does not, in fact say this.

Second:
L4. You cannot derive an ought from an is.
Global warming is fact. You can't get prescriptions, such as "you need to change your behavior", from facts. So,

L5. Global warming doesn't tell us to do anything.
Now, facts may guide our behaviors, and affect how we achieve goals, certainly. But I hardly see how the fact that the average temperature of the earth is going up in itself requires me to do anything at all.

Yakk wrote:The odds that an additional flux of a few percent of the background flux of carbon in/out of the atmosphere can so destabilize the earth's atmosphere that we enter into an apocalypse scenario seems to be stretching it.

Odds do not stretch things. If you wish to address my defense against linear decision making's being applicable, be forewarned that it was necessarily relevant unless you hold the probability to be zero, in which case you need to make a positive claim.

I'm saying that given the lack of strong evidence, that it seems reasonable to hedge our bets, but that going all-out and causing serious economic damage in order to combat climate change isn't justified.

By L5 and L2, you are necessarily imagining carrying out some particular costly policy--either that or you're just hand waving. I'm not even going to ask what this policy is, because it's irrelevant, just like most of your other posts about this subject.

I will point out that what to do is secondary to what it is that's happening. There are possible policies you haven't thought of, that I can't name, that may also be worthy of consideration--virtually an infinite number of them. So don't pretend this is about policies and costs.

What are you hedging bets over? Belief? Then again, it's just Pascal's wager in drag, and by L2 you're not allowed to consistently argue for this.

Oh, and for what it's worth, we aren't discussing global warming here. I won't point out again what it is that we are discussing, since I have to see if you can do it as a criteria for whether or not I waste more time here.
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby Yakk » Sat Dec 01, 2007 10:27 pm UTC

yy2bggggs wrote:I'm going to start labeling my claims, because you seem to be missing the point way too much. I'm labeling my claims L for no good reason I care to share, and yours Y.

L1. Linear analysis is a red herring.
I'm going to interpret this post as your conceding this.


It describes a result.

L2. Truth is not affected by probability.
I'm going to interpret this post as your conceding this.


Sure.

L3. Global warming is a fact.
I'm claiming this, and requiring you to concede. Failing this requirement means that I show you evidence and end the discussion right here, because if you are that ill informed, I don't care what else you have to say about the subject.


Yes, the planet earth has gotten warmer over the last century or so on average by a degree or three. Is that the fact that you want me to concede? Or is it something else that you are calling "global warming"?

I was talking about the global warming movement by using the term "global warming", if that makes my posts clearer?

Second:
L4. You cannot derive an ought from an is.
Global warming is fact. You can't get prescriptions, such as "you need to change your behavior", from facts. So,


Yes, you can derive ought from an is -- at least, given other oughts, the addition of a fact does produce other oughts. :)

Ie
"I ought not die" -- ought.
"Falling 10 km, without aids, will almost certainly kill you" -- fact.
From the fact, you can thus generate the "I ought not jump out of a plane 10 km up, all else being equal".

If you want to be ridiculously pedantic, I can play to. I don't see the point however?

Yakk wrote:The odds that an additional flux of a few percent of the background flux of carbon in/out of the atmosphere can so destabilize the earth's atmosphere that we enter into an apocalypse scenario seems to be stretching it.

Odds do not stretch things. If you wish to address my defense against linear decision making's being applicable, be forewarned that it was necessarily relevant unless you hold the probability to be zero, in which case you need to make a positive claim.


This doesn't make any sense to me.

If there is a 1 in a billion chance that my house will burn down, spending 1000$ on fire insurance is a bad idea. That bit of wisdom does fall out of linear probability analysis. While the use of linear probability analysis can generate bad results, it can provide a hint towards an action that might be a good idea.

I'm saying that given the lack of strong evidence, that it seems reasonable to hedge our bets, but that going all-out and causing serious economic damage in order to combat climate change isn't justified.

By L5 and L2, you are necessarily imagining carrying out some particular costly policy--either that or you're just hand waving. I'm not even going to ask what this policy is, because it's irrelevant, just like most of your other posts about this subject.


Reduce carbon emissions to pre-industrial levels? Freeze worldwide carbon emissions at 1950 levels? 1990 levels? Level X?

The more you reduce carbon emissions, the more it costs the world economy.

I will point out that what to do is secondary to what it is that's happening. There are possible policies you haven't thought of, that I can't name, that may also be worthy of consideration--virtually an infinite number of them. So don't pretend this is about policies and costs.


No, what to do is the only concern. What is happening can guide what to do: but you cannot actually find out what is happening. All you can do is change your behavior. So, given the information about what is happening (which does not contain anything certain), what should we do?

What are you hedging bets over? Belief? Then again, it's just Pascal's wager in drag, and by L2 you're not allowed to consistently argue for this.


Huh? Just because probability doesn't effect truth, doesn't mean that we know what the truth is. We have a distribution of possible truths, one of which may be true. We have information the describes the probability that each universe is actually the one that is/will happen?

Oh, and for what it's worth, we aren't discussing global warming here. I won't point out again what it is that we are discussing, since I have to see if you can do it as a criteria for whether or not I waste more time here.


I type fast, so I'm not wasting that much time talking to you. :)

If you want to be obtuse, pedantic about terms, and otherwise silly, you can waste all the time you want, but the discussion won't go very far.

If you are actually having a problem understanding what it is I'm trying to express, then you can try asking "what do you mean by that?" Instead, you proceeded to say "by the definition of term X that I choose, your statement is wrong!"

As an example, I quite clearly used the linear analysis as a simple example how the costs of making a decision can be factored into deciding what to do about some information. I'm well aware that it is a simple example, and I stated this repeatedly. Yet you chose to attack it as if it was offensive.

The fact that a simple linear probability analysis of a situation sometimes produces ridiculous results does not mean that all means of deciding on something that pay attention to the consequences of "what if the other possibility is true" are "pascal's wager in drag" as you like to repeat. The entire point of the linear analysis example, as explicitly mentioned, was to point out that paying attention to costs was important when making decisions about what to do in response to information.

I tried saying that in more different ways in an attempt to get the idea from my brain, onto the internet, and hopefully into your eyes. :) I apologize if the repetition isn't elegant or concise, but my interpretation of your earlier response is that my concise attempt to communicate this failed. So I'm falling back on "more words".

Good day. :)
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby yy2bggggs » Sat Dec 01, 2007 11:27 pm UTC

If you want to be obtuse, pedantic about terms, and otherwise silly, you can waste all the time you want, but the discussion won't go very far.

I concede there may be things about what you are saying that I don't understand, but what it looks like is more along the lines of muddled thinking getting in the way of your acceptance of things that should just be about facts.

The reason for my pedantry is because I strongly suspect this isn't merely about your not explaining sufficiently, but rather, that it goes deeper into your not thinking about it clearly.

But my time isn't so cheap, so I'd rather not just spin wheels.
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby Dep » Sat Dec 01, 2007 11:44 pm UTC

Wow, you two belong on debate teams, preferably ones in which there is a strong plexiglass wall between the teams =P

From what I gather, you're both concerned with different points and somewhere in there confusion is being created. From what I gathered about what you're talking about:

1) Is global warming is happening? (you agreed that it is I think)
2) Given that it is, CAN we do anything about it?
3) Given that we can, SHOULD we do anything about it?
____a) What does risk analysis suggest?
____b) What does cost analysis suggest?

I'm just happy with point #1 being agreed upon. The can and should parts scare me. (and it'd be really cool if you two could come up with some type of model for 2, 3a, and 3b, and then do some Bayesian model pooling or something and come up with The Answer =P, for fun or for the first ever xkcd originating paper)

--Dep

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby yy2bggggs » Sun Dec 02, 2007 1:48 am UTC

Dep wrote:Wow, you two belong on debate teams, preferably ones in which there is a strong plexiglass wall between the teams =P

Actually, Yakk and I get along just fine, just not in this thread.
From what I gather, you're both concerned with different points and somewhere in there confusion is being created. From what I gathered about what you're talking about:

  1. Is global warming is happening? (you agreed that it is I think)
  2. Given that it is, CAN we do anything about it?
  3. Given that we can, SHOULD we do anything about it?
    1. What does risk analysis suggest?
    2. What does cost analysis suggest?

Use nested list tags, like that.

But no, not really. Yakk seems to think this is what we're talking about, I think, but I think it's because he's missing the point. On page 1, he talks about how difficult climate study is, how it's just too hard, etc. He points to a number of specific issues with climate study, all of them refuted, none valid.

Yakk's trying to make the point that fixing the environment costs too much, but I don't think he really has enough information to say that, and in just mentioning it, he's not giving me or the community anything of value. But Yakk wants to go further than say what his opinion is--he wants us to share it, but to do so for the same fuzzy non-fact based reasons he does.

His cost analysis, quite honestly, is his latest attempt to defend what our opinions must be on the issue at hand, since the science of climatology actually is (in principle, which is all I care to convince him of) valid. Yes, he's discussing what to do, but the context is in defending what our opinion should be on the issue, and it's just as irrelevant.

Besides, even though Yakk's quick to point out the dire costs of fixing the environment problem as prescribed by the vague group of global warming people's straw-manned view of doom, Yakk is only handwaving. We still don't really know what it is specifically that will cost that much. I'm not exactly sure whether I'll get taxed 80% of my salary, whether I'll be required to tear up my house and build a wooden hut, or what. Basically, Yakk's talking out of his ass to defend his conclusion based on a vague fear. Now, it's fine to speak generally, and talk vaguely, in certain contexts, but these things are so unformulated as to be completely unrecognizable. And they're still just as irrelevant--what Joe thinks about the issue, whoever Joe is, doesn't make theories more true or less true; it's different if Joe has a point, but then, it's the point, not the fact that Joe has it, that we should be hearing. If Joe GlobalWarming has no point, however, it's even more irrelevant to talk about it.

And I'm not saying he has nothing to fear--costs are important to consider. I just, quite frankly, don't care so much for the fact that the one doing the cost considerations is him. I'm perfectly aware of how to make decisions myself, and if he wants to convince me of something, he should just be presenting facts. So long as he does this, I have no qualms as to what those facts are, just that they're reasonable and true. He should, for example, pick out problems with single studies, problems with multiple studies, etc. Kind of like that conspiracy thing he did about climatologists getting paid to make specific conclusions, except not too unbelievably ridiculous.
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby Yakk » Sun Dec 02, 2007 7:16 pm UTC

yy2bggggs wrote:But no, not really. Yakk seems to think this is what we're talking about, I think, but I think it's because he's missing the point. On page 1, he talks about how difficult climate study is, how it's just too hard, etc. He points to a number of specific issues with climate study, all of them refuted, none valid.


I didn't see any strong refutations of my points. /shrug. So I saw no reason to change my position on it.

Yakk's trying to make the point that fixing the environment costs too much, but I don't think he really has enough information to say that, and in just mentioning it, he's not giving me or the community anything of value. But Yakk wants to go further than say what his opinion is--he wants us to share it, but to do so for the same fuzzy non-fact based reasons he does.


For a base step, look at Kyoto, which is viewed as "not nearly enough".

Under Kyoto, I see numbers like "300$ per metric tonne" as the cost of carbon emissions. I'll use that as an order-of-magnitude estimate.

At 6 billion tonnes annually, that is a cost of 2 trillion dollars per year.

The world's GDP is about 70 trillion dollars, so this comes to more than 3% of the world's economic output.

10$ per day is high enough to raise someone out of absolute poverty and into the realm of relative poverty. So the estimated costs of implementing the Kyoto protocol (very loose estimate) is roughly the cost of lifting 500,000,000 people out of absolute poverty (half a million, or roughly as many where lifted out of poverty by the recent Chinese industrialization).

If the Kyoto protocol isn't enough, then costs will go up.

The above is an attempt to back-of-the-notebook estimate the scale of the costs involved in reducing world-wide CO2 emissions.

Once again, I'm not claiming that this very rough calculation of the costs of reducing CO2 emissions is accurate -- I'm simply trying to express that "reducing CO2 emissions is expensive, and not cheap." The calculation asto how many people could be lifted out of poverty using the same resources is a handy way of grasping exactly how much resources we are talking about. If need be, I can point out that increased CO2 emissions in the developing world are viewed as one of the easier ways of lifting people out of poverty, ala China.

His cost analysis, quite honestly, is his latest attempt to defend what our opinions must be on the issue at hand, since the science of climatology actually is (in principle, which is all I care to convince him of) valid.


I agree it is a science and that it is valid. I never stated it wasn't, as far as I am aware. I simply stated that you strongly trust the results of a science after it proves itself as producing accurate predictions, not before it's predictions have been tested.

Yes, he's discussing what to do, but the context is in defending what our opinion should be on the issue, and it's just as irrelevant.


The issue, to me, isn't "is there human-caused climate change", or even "is this going to be apocalyptic" -- answering either of those honestly and with certainty is not practical by any human agent. The issue to me is "what should we do with the climate change information we have".

Besides, even though Yakk's quick to point out the dire costs of fixing the environment problem as prescribed by the vague group of global warming people's straw-manned view of doom, Yakk is only handwaving. We still don't really know what it is specifically that will cost that much. I'm not exactly sure whether I'll get taxed 80% of my salary, whether I'll be required to tear up my house and build a wooden hut, or what. Basically, Yakk's talking out of his ass to defend his conclusion based on a vague fear. Now, it's fine to speak generally, and talk vaguely, in certain contexts, but these things are so unformulated as to be completely unrecognizable. And they're still just as irrelevant--what Joe thinks about the issue, whoever Joe is, doesn't make theories more true or less true; it's different if Joe has a point, but then, it's the point, not the fact that Joe has it, that we should be hearing. If Joe GlobalWarming has no point, however, it's even more irrelevant to talk about it.


My fear is: using more expensive energy production technologies to avoid emitting CO2 will cost more than using cheap energy production technologies. And given the value of cheap energy, this impact will be non-trivial. This impact will hit both the first world and the developing world: areas of the developing world which historically have clawed there way out of absolute poverty have done so on the backs of mass energy consumption.

This seems like common sense, which is why I don't understand why it is being challenged? A mass reduction in CO2 emissions will be very expensive.

And I'm not saying he has nothing to fear--costs are important to consider. I just, quite frankly, don't care so much for the fact that the one doing the cost considerations is him. I'm perfectly aware of how to make decisions myself, and if he wants to convince me of something, he should just be presenting facts.


I assume you aren't ignorant, and the facts that I can casually get ahold of are facts that you can casually get ahold of. If you disagree with a conclusion or statement I'm making, just cite a fact that seems to undermine my position, and maybe I'll learn something!

So long as he does this, I have no qualms as to what those facts are, just that they're reasonable and true. He should, for example, pick out problems with single studies, problems with multiple studies, etc. Kind of like that conspiracy thing he did about climatologists getting paid to make specific conclusions, except not too unbelievably ridiculous.


What conspiracy thing? You mean that scientists who publish things that are in-line with the current consensus can get published easier than those who disagree? That isn't a conspiracy, that's human nature: humans review papers, and there is a higher standard of proof to convince someone if the paper they are reviewing is putting forward a position that is opposed to their own. And papers that say "I did massive models, and concluded that there isn't enough data to predict anything" are harder to publish than those that generate results.

No conspiracy is needed. Just humans being humans. /shrug. One should expect a bias towards consensus, and the less testable the field is, the larger the bias one should expect. In a field that is more testable, a consensus that is wrong can be exposed: in a field that lacks regular testability, any internally consistent consensus can self-sustain, because someone disagreeing with the consensus cannot produce a testable result that proves the consensus wrong.

Of course, this isn't a link to a paper on the subject, so has no value?

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118972683557627104.html

That's about improper analysis in scientific papers in general.

Here is a book about the structure of scientific discovery:
http://www.iconbooks.co.uk/book.cfm?isbn=1-84046-722-3

Good day. :)
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby schmiggen » Mon Dec 03, 2007 6:44 am UTC

Yakk wrote:For a base step, look at Kyoto, which is viewed as "not nearly enough".

Under Kyoto, I see numbers like "300$ per metric tonne" as the cost of carbon emissions. I'll use that as an order-of-magnitude estimate.


What do those numbers like "300$ per metric tonne" refer to, exactly? The cost of reducing emissions by one metric tonne? How is this cost realized -- in products/sales lost, services unsold, that sort of thing? Maybe it's an estimate of the cost in R&D to find new methods of energy production combined with the costs of complying with caps in the meantime? I'm far from being an expert on the topic, so I'd appreciate it if you could help me with this.

While I've been having trouble finding these sorts of numbers themselves, I was under the impression(wikipedia on Kyoto) that the costs imposed by the Kyoto Protocol were in the form of penalties for caps. In other words, it's not that it costs 300$ per tonne of emissions, but that you have to pay 300$ for every tonne you produce beyond your specified cap.

What is right?

Yakk wrote:My fear is: using more expensive energy production technologies to avoid emitting CO2 will cost more than using cheap energy production technologies. And given the value of cheap energy, this impact will be non-trivial. This impact will hit both the first world and the developing world: areas of the developing world which historically have clawed there way out of absolute poverty have done so on the backs of mass energy consumption.

This seems like common sense, which is why I don't understand why it is being challenged? A mass reduction in CO2 emissions will be very expensive.


Are all alternatives to today-level-CO2-emitting energy production technologies more expensive? I can see almost immediately understanding your reluctance to take action to reduce CO2 emissions (at least anytime soon) if it is the case that our current energy production technologies, which produce CO2, are necessarily cheaper than alternatives we might find. But I'm not quite convinced of that.

Immediate/mass reduction in CO2 emissions, particularly via actions like the kyoto protocol or, as far as i know, any other means we currently know will reduce CO2 impact, could very well be show-stoppingly expensive. Does that justify skepticism or dischord-with the part of a green movement that advocates pursuing cheaper alternatives?


Of course, it seems I've entirely neglected considering whether or not reducing CO2 emissions would affect the warming of the globe. But again, I was under the impression, in my oh-so-amateur way( :P ), that increasing CO2 emissions could upset other things aside from the average temperature of the planet.

--aside, sorta--
Tell me what you think about this TEDtalk if you have the time :).

EDIT: clarity
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby ++$_ » Mon Dec 03, 2007 7:54 am UTC

Yakk wrote:The more you reduce carbon emissions, the more it costs the world economy.

I think this is the fundamental error in your reasoning.

Let's take it as an axiom for the moment that the World Economy is the only thing that's important. Anything that causes it to go down is Bad. Anything that causes it to go up is Good.

Certainly, if we decide to reduce carbon emissions by cutting production, it hurts the world economy. Benefits reaped depend on the severity of global climate change in the future, an unknown as you point out. We can make an educated guess, and act based on that.

Alternatively, we could research alternative energy sources (nuclear is an easy one) and implement them. This would probably have no net effect on the world economy, as the jobs that would get cut (coal mining, oil drilling) would be replaced by new jobs (uranium mining, nuclear waste disposal). Also, assuming that we find a reasonably good source of energy, we don't have to cut anything other than the oil-related jobs. Benefits reaped are the same as before.

You seem to be arguing that other sources of energy would be more expensive. I don't see why this has to be so. Is oil innately cheaper than nuclear power? Than solar power? Than biomass? Than fusion (when/if we develop it)? I don't buy this argument. I believe oil is cheaper now because no one has bothered to make the other energy sources cheap.

In other words, reducing carbon emissions costs the world economy only if nothing else steps in to fill the void. You seem to think that nothing will, but that seems unlikely, as there would be good profit to be made that way.

I think it's probably worth questioning the Axiom we accepted at the beginning, too, but that's a separate and controversial topic.

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby Garm » Mon Dec 03, 2007 10:34 pm UTC

My fear is: using more expensive energy production technologies to avoid emitting CO2 will cost more than using cheap energy production technologies. And given the value of cheap energy, this impact will be non-trivial. This impact will hit both the first world and the developing world: areas of the developing world which historically have clawed there way out of absolute poverty have done so on the backs of mass energy consumption.

This seems like common sense, which is why I don't understand why it is being challenged? A mass reduction in CO2 emissions will be very expensive.


Cheap energy is being challenged because it's non-sustainable and it's hurting people. The more CO2 we pump into the air the more we just delay the cost of taking care of these things. The question I have is why are we so focused on short term profit? The energy industry and Reagan stymied solar research during the eighties which it was largely a joke in terms of realistic production until recently. Our current obsession with corn based ethanol fuel is a great example of real, needless, environmental damage that is totally preventable. Hailed as a being a substitute for Fossil Fuels in automobiles, corn based ethanol consumes grain that could be used to feed people and doesn't even return the energy that it takes to process it (http://healthandenergy.com/ethanol.htm). Also, E85 fuel is 15% gasoline so it's not 100% pure anyway.

Brazil, meanwhile, has E100 fuel and is making it from Sugar Cane waste and sugar beets. From what I was reading in the National Geographic, only about 25% of the sugar cane is usable as sugar. The rest is waste. The Brazilians use this waste for biomass conversion to produce their ethanol. The sugar cane waste is more efficient in terms of fuel production than corn and the production plants are powered using gas byproducts that are the natural result of fuel production. So their plants are 100% green. Lab tests have shown that we could conceivably do the same thing here in the U.S. using corn waste. The non-consumable parts like the husks and stalks could be made into fuel in green energy plants. We also have a fairly decent sugar industry. The problem is that our industry is too short sighted to build production facilities to actually do any of this. The initial expense is seen as being too much. It's greed, plain and simple. Greed is destroying the world.
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby Yakk » Tue Dec 04, 2007 5:25 pm UTC

++$_ wrote:Let's take it as an axiom for the moment that the World Economy is the only thing that's important. Anything that causes it to go down is Bad. Anything that causes it to go up is Good.


/shrug, silly, but sure.

Alternatively, we could research alternative energy sources (nuclear is an easy one) and implement them. This would probably have no net effect on the world economy, as the jobs that would get cut (coal mining, oil drilling) would be replaced by new jobs (uranium mining, nuclear waste disposal). Also, assuming that we find a reasonably good source of energy, we don't have to cut anything other than the oil-related jobs. Benefits reaped are the same as before.


There is the "smart market" approach: given certain constraints, you can assume that the market is behaving near optimally. The research required to develop energy technology that is as cheap as burning gasoline (for example) is either expensive, or it fails to match the constraints required for the market to optimally solve it. Both are possibilities.

But the default assumption of "the market has made things pretty optimal" is a good spot to start. Then find the exceptions (which are many).

You seem to be arguing that other sources of energy would be more expensive. I don't see why this has to be so. Is oil innately cheaper than nuclear power? Than solar power? Than biomass? Than fusion (when/if we develop it)? I don't buy this argument. I believe oil is cheaper now because no one has bothered to make the other energy sources cheap.


It is most likely cheaper because if it wasn't cheaper, people would be using the alternatives. If you can save lots of money by switching from oil to biomass, people will do it and pocket the difference in price. Note that coal is a larger source of power than oil, last I checked: oil's utility as a fuel for mobile devices makes it more expensive per unit energy than coal.

In other words, reducing carbon emissions costs the world economy only if nothing else steps in to fill the void. You seem to think that nothing will, but that seems unlikely, as there would be good profit to be made that way.


But if the alternative is cheaper, why aren't people doing it now instead of the current option?

Garm wrote:Cheap energy is being challenged because it's non-sustainable and it's hurting people. The more CO2 we pump into the air the more we just delay the cost of taking care of these things.


Why are you certain? I'm not asking "why do you think it is likely", but why are you certain?

I am not certain. And I'm leery of following any path based on someone being certain.
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby Garm » Tue Dec 04, 2007 11:05 pm UTC

Yakk is correct, coal and oil are cheaper than alternative sources. I believe that among eco-energy sources the big price winner is wind power and it's still about 4 cents per kwh more than coal. 4 cents starts to add up if you're a large business and so fossil fuel energy sources continue to be the dominant method of power. What irks me is that this price difference exists at all. If we had actually been working on developing alternative power sources for the last 25 years then this wouldn't be a conversation and we'd be in a better situation than we are now.

Yakk, you ask me how I am certain. I'm certain that we, humans, have effect on the climate. Or are having an effect now. I've looked at the data, I worked at an atmospheric research lab (I was doing data analysis for high energy partical research) and I've read the articles both for and against. I became convince that the global climate was changing when I heard a weather researcher on NPR. He said that after 9/11, when no planes were flying over the U.S., the temperature dropped anywhere from 1.5-2.1 degrees farenheit. The wispy clouds created by jet contrails trap heat and do not appreciably increase our albedo. I've messed around in classes with simplistic models of climate change and seen how water is a self regulating green house gas but carbon dioxide and methane are not. I've made friends with researchers from NOAA (which is right here in town) and listened to their explanations of their incredibly complex models (we're talking 50+ variables). The certitude is not really whether or not it's going to happen but how bad it's going to be.

To be totally honest I don't really like to argue about that aspect of Global Climate Change. Many (but not all) of the people who don't like the idea that we're fucking the planet cling to their denial with an almost religious fervour. They quote scientists who are shilling for the energy industry and basically saying that the work of 90% of scientists is invalid because the other 10% are being paid to say that they're wrong. They point to Michael Crichton's deeply flawed book about climatology and say that it shows that none of this actually happening. Or they refer to Rush Limbaugh's statement that Mt. Pinatubo produced more CO2 during it's eruption than humans have during the course of their existance (not true). It's foolish and short-sighted. Not saying you're part of this group, Yakk, since you're raising some very legitimate economic concerns but I think those can be addressed as well.

I think that our focus on short term profit continues to hamper our overall development, not just in terms of climate change but also in regard to our continued economic health. There isn't, currently, a smart market approach to energy technology. The market constraint as I see it is that the people in power are essentially bought by oil and coal concerns. Peak oil is somewhat exciting to the oil executive. Once we can safely say that we've found all the oil in the world, everything that they extract from the ground will basically be pure profit. There will be no need to pay for continued exploration, no new infrastructure to build. Just some workers to pay and some equipment to repair. So there's really no push to find better ways to move ourselves around than gas powered cars. E85 is, like I said earlier, a good example of the falsity of the position of energy execs. The corn based ethanol fuel doesn't even return the energy that is required to process the stuff but pulls in more money in the form of farm subsidies, doesn't require a large initial outlay of money to kickstart infrastructure and allows sale of fuel at increased price to a market full of moderates who want to assuage their guilt of driving an SUV. We could easily convert cars to diesel, bio-diesel, or E100 or demand moderate increases in minimum fuel economy from traditional cars with little or no economic impact.

The economic impact of switching from a coal economy would not be negligable but if it had been started in 25ish years ago we wouldn't be noticing it now. Similarly, the longer we delay the more damage will have been done and the more expensive it'll be. What reason is there to not start switching to a wind/solar/methane burning economy? Peak oil will eventually happen and I don't see a problem with reduction of anthropogenic CO2 sources.

Personally I don't think that what's been happening in the U.S. economy is working. One of the unforseen consequences of this bursting housing bubble that's currently being ignored by our administration is the degradation of fiscal liquidity. Banks are becoming wary of lending to each other because they're afraid they won't be paid back. Wtf. That's my money that they're using to lend. Where do I come in? Again, I think that it can be traced to this ludicrous focus on short term profit margins. The Govnmint [sic] is busy helping corporations outsource jobs (with tax cuts) and there is a real lack of money going into R&D. My father works in the semi-conductor industry. "Experts" claim that semi-conductors are poised for real growth. Here in the U.S., however, the production firms have uniformly outsourced their manufacture overseas. The number of Electrical engineers being trained is shrinking and since there's really no profit in R&D we aren't poised to generate revenue from a new product that dominates the market. This sort of thing seems to be pretty true all across the board. In any industry where change is possible the U.S. is back on its heels in terms of competetive advantage.

Back on topic, there are other ways to reduce climate change that are easy and economical. Eating locally and seasonally is a big one. Our food travels all over the place and it really doesn't have to. Apples from Washington, for instance, are packaged/waxed/sprayed/stickered in California and shipped back to Washington to be sold. Why? What's the cost advantage of doing that? California imports about 80 million dollars of lettuce per year. The state also exports about 80 million dollars of lettuce per year. Why? What's the economic benefit? There are many examples of this sort of stupid behavior. But shit, I'd be happy if people would carpool. What's so hard about that?
Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby ++$_ » Wed Dec 05, 2007 8:36 am UTC

Markets have stable and unstable equilibria, and relative prices change. We are, right now, at a very stable equilibrium where oil is cheap and alternative energy sources are expensive. By devoting some amount of resources (possibly large) to the task, we might be able to shift the energy market to another stable equilibrium where nuclear power is cheaper. This would involve building infrastructure, doing appropriate research, developing mining technology, et cetera, but it would be a one-time investment. Once we get over the "hump," the economy will fix itself, but it can't do that until it gets over the hump.

Summary: To assume that markets always find an absolute optimum is fallacious. Markets are very good at finding local optima, but not at finding absolute optima. There is no mechanism by which a market could find an absolute optimum, except by randomly picking the right local one.

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby 2_of_8 » Thu Dec 13, 2007 5:27 am UTC

++$_ wrote:Summary: To assume that markets always find an absolute optimum is fallacious. Markets are very good at finding local optima, but not at finding absolute optima. There is no mechanism by which a market could find an absolute optimum, except by randomly picking the right local one.
That's a very good point. In the form of a simple graph with, say, minimums being "good", there are always peaks that must be climbed over, left or right, to find a lower minimum.

One point that I haven't seen mentioned yet is the levels of government subsidies for conventional fuels, such as oil. A quick look online (perhaps too quick) didn't reveal any figures, but it would be interesting to see how they compare to subsidies for R&D into new technologies.

And, lastly, oil is the cheapest source of energy now, but its cost has been, and will continue, rising. A certain number of oil barrels are put in (exploration, recovery, transportation) to yield a certain bigger number of oil barrels that are usable. (Somebody please remind me what the term is?) However, this ratio is going down, due to things such as higher exploration costs. I won't put numbers in my post because I believe that armchair scientists = bad, but it's the idea that matters here.

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby oxoiron » Thu Dec 13, 2007 3:39 pm UTC

I believe you are looking for "diminishing returns".
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby AbNo » Fri Dec 28, 2007 7:42 am UTC

LikwidCirkel wrote:The percentage of peer-reviewed, scientific papers on global warming that say it is happening and we are causing it: 100%. Contrast that to media reports, which are about 50/50. ....
http://www.logicalfallacies.info/appealtopopularity.html
*cough*

LikwidCirkel wrote:If you really want to try to deny that humanity is contributing to a large extent, first get a PHD in atmospheric sciences, try to prove your theory and get it reviewed by other scientists, and maybe you might have an argument.


Ok, let's see your PhD that says your argument is correct.

Consensus is not science, it is religion. The point of science is to disprove itself- nothing is accepted as a law until such extensive testing that no theoretical possibility that can disprove it, and they still test it.

Man-made global warming (GW) is only accepted as fact by those that have a vested interest (political or monetary) in it being fact.

Perhaps you meant like these people?

"Leading scientific journals 'are censoring debate on global warming'"
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jh ... glob01.xml

"In testimony before the Inhofe committee, he said that he has been dismayed over “the bogus science and media-hype” associated with the man-made global warming theory."
http://www.campusreportonline.net/main/ ... hp?id=1078

"...many climate experts are stepping forward and pointing out that there is no conclusive evidence to support global warming as a phenomenon, much less any particular cause of it."
http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl? ... /14/209235

"Henk Tennekes was dismissed as research director of the Royal Dutch Meteorological Society after questioning the scientific underpinnings of global warming."
(Look him up)

"Aksel Winn-Nielsen, former director of the U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization, was tarred by Bert Bolin, as a tool of the coal industry for questioning climate alarmism."
(Look them up combined)

So, in short, anyone that doesn't believe in GW fairies is a stooge of teh eval inudstree, or a crackpot. Those are the only arguments that Cult of GW believers have to their dissidents. Not defense of their position, but that other people are wrong, because they must be right.

http://www.logicalfallacies.info/fallacistsfallacy.html

Maybe it's an extention of this...
http://www.logicalfallacies.info/appealtoauthority.html

Appeals to authority are always deductively fallacious; even a legitimate authority speaking on his area of expertise may affirm a falsehood, so no testimony of any authority is guaranteed to be true


LikwidCirkel wrote:The really pretty graphs that show global temperature plotted alongside atmospheric CO2 over billions of years.


Pretty graph showing a direct link between piracy on the high seas and global warming.
Image

Pretty graph showing a correlation between sun spot cycles and global temperatures.

Image

I could make a graph of anything and draw any conclusions I want from it. Given the hysteria over Global Cooling in the 80's, and then the hysteria over Global warming in the 2000's, I could say that a lack of Jeep Cherokees being produced (1984-2001) directly contributed to GW.

Drawing false conclusions is not science.

To quote a very good lady friend of mine... (she was talking about the story from 300... The Battle of Thermopylae
Or, consider Thermopylae, Greenland, and the Northwest Passage.

The Northwest Passage is what the West named the passage through North America that they believed would lead them to the Pacific Ocean. They believed by sailing North, they could come around and get to China and India. There's evidence that the Vikings had found it by sailing pretty close to the North Pole

When the lower Europeans tried the same thing, they found only ice and seas far too treacherous to navigate

The big benefit of Thermopylae was that it was only wide enough for a single chariot to pass through. With the weapons they had- it worked during WWII, but only because they had superior firepower.

It's simple history. Thermopylae is now three miles wider, Greenland was green and fertile when discovered, and the Northwest Passage existed 1500 years ago.


In short, I'll start believing GW is a crisis when the people that say it is a crisis act like it is a crisis and don't take private jets to Bali to talk about how bad emissions are for the planet instead of staying in ice-covered New York.

Oh, and if we're going to combat GW on Earth, we should combat it on Mars, Jupiter, and Pluto, as well, even if Pluto's not a planet anymore.
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby AbNo » Fri Dec 28, 2007 7:44 am UTC

2_of_8 wrote:A certain number of oil barrels are put in (exploration, recovery, transportation) to yield a certain bigger number of oil barrels that are usable. (Somebody please remind me what the term is?) However, this ratio is going down, due to things such as higher exploration costs. I won't put numbers in my post because I believe that armchair scientists = bad, but it's the idea that matters here.


Please cite this diminishing return. I see it repeated to the point of illness, but I have yet to see any actual numbers.

(I'm reminding you to think for yourself)
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby AbNo » Fri Dec 28, 2007 7:55 am UTC

Garm wrote:To be totally honest I don't really like to argue about that aspect of Global Climate Change. Many (but not all) of the people who don't like the idea that we're fucking the planet cling to their denial with an almost religious fervour. They quote scientists who are shilling for the energy industry and basically saying that the work of 90% of scientists is invalid because the other 10% are being paid to say that they're wrong.


I call foul for using personal attacks to dispute other people's work. Just because you don't like what someone has to say is no excuse for potentially libellous statements.

You've made a lengthy post (much of it not quoted here), and supported it with nothing. This is Serious Business (like the internet), and that means facts, not opinion presented as facts.

Where's that Wikipedian Protestor guy?

PERSONAL ATTACKS ARE NOT SCIENCE.

Garm wrote:Back on topic, there are other ways to reduce climate change that are easy and economical. Eating locally and seasonally is a big one. Our food travels all over the place and it really doesn't have to. ... ...Why? What's the economic benefit? There are many examples of this sort of stupid behavior. But shit, I'd be happy if people would carpool. What's so hard about that?


Excellent use of personal opinion here. No personal attacks, a couple of simple suggestions, no uncited authority.
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby Garm » Thu Jan 03, 2008 9:12 pm UTC

AbNo wrote:
Garm wrote:To be totally honest I don't really like to argue about that aspect of Global Climate Change. Many (but not all) of the people who don't like the idea that we're fucking the planet cling to their denial with an almost religious fervour. They quote scientists who are shilling for the energy industry and basically saying that the work of 90% of scientists is invalid because the other 10% are being paid to say that they're wrong.


I call foul for using personal attacks to dispute other people's work. Just because you don't like what someone has to say is no excuse for potentially libellous statements.



I'm not using personal attacks. Check someone's credentials before quoting what they say. That's pretty simple. If a paper is published by someone working for the energy industry, it necessarily lowers their credibility. You yourself were arguing this, tho' in the completely opposite way.

Man-made global warming (GW) is only accepted as fact by those that have a vested interest (political or monetary) in it being fact.


I personally, have no political or monetary interest in climate change (and feel as though I addressed this point in an earlier post). My interest in environmentalism stems from my belief that it is my duty to leave the Earth a better place than I found it. I don't pee in the swimming pool, likewise, I try not to needlessly blow pollutants into the atmosphere. A decent example of what I mean when I talk about corporate shills can be found here

You've made a lengthy post (much of it not quoted here), and supported it with nothing. This is Serious Business (like the internet), and that means facts, not opinion presented as facts.


Good deal. In making your sly ad hominem attack on me you've gone and contradicted yourself. Nicely done. Above you make a great show of making nice links to all sorts of great and wonderful things. You assert that appealing to authority is fallacious and then you demand that I do so. You leave me no recourse for expression. You also demand that I leave Serious Business because I do not cite my thoughts carefully. My opinions are serious and I feel are fairly well thought out. They are based on reading that I've done, research that I've seen and work that I have been a part of. Your assertion of the fallacy of appealing to authority, to the extent that you are taking it, denies any sort of intellectual discourse. I can no longer call upon my own authority even if someone disputes the facts. Your view lines up very neatly with Colbert's on this. :D

http://www.comedycentral.com/sitewide/media%5Fplayer/play.jhtml%3FitemId=81744

PERSONAL ATTACKS ARE NOT SCIENCE.

Agreed. Nor do they have much place on this forum.

Garm wrote:Back on topic, there are other ways to reduce climate change that are easy and economical. Eating locally and seasonally is a big one. Our food travels all over the place and it really doesn't have to. ... ...Why? What's the economic benefit? There are many examples of this sort of stupid behavior. But shit, I'd be happy if people would carpool. What's so hard about that?


Excellent use of personal opinion here. No personal attacks, a couple of simple suggestions, no uncited authority.


See above for my view on opinion. My suggestions are not so simple. If they were, we'd be doing them. Here... have some links.

http://100milediet.org/category/about/
1500 miles per ingredient. That's more traveling than I do in a year. That's for every meal. That's a lot of fuel.

http://100milediet.org/why-eat-local/

A study in Iowa found that a regional diet consumed 17 times less oil and gas than a typical diet based on food shipped across the country.


How is that a bad thing?

The numbers about the exportation of lettuce in California were taken from charts that accompanied this article in Mother Jones magazine. Sadly I couldn't find them online.

One of the reasons that I have not cited much is because of the contentious nature of data in the debate over Climate change I've switched my arguments from raw data to common sense solutions that should be enacted anyway. I think the local food idea is a great way to cut down on fossil fuel use. Even if you don't like the idea of doing it because of climate change, surely you cannot deny the economic benefits of eating locally.

I was just thinking about the fallacy of consensus. I think it's generally a bad idea but sometimes it's how stuff gets done. The primary example is the construction of The Calculus. Bishop Berkeley pointed out that Newton's reasoning was incorrect. He was dividing by zero by using his fluxions as dual valued place holders. His results, however, were so good so the European math community set about giving the structure of The Calculus rigor. There is no perfect analogy here for climate science, but the consensus is that something is in fact happening, the degree (ha ha) and the cause is what is under contention. Call it fallacious reasoning by my opinion is that we ought to do something.
Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.
- JFK


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