Wall Street Journal: "Concerned Scientists/Global Warming"

Seen something interesting in the news or on the intertubes? Discuss it here.

Moderators: Hawknc, Zamfir, Prelates, Moderators General

Wall Street Journal: "Concerned Scientists/Global Warming"

Postby Jave D » Wed Feb 22, 2012 3:56 am UTC

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 ... lenews_wsj

I'm just going to respond angrily to some parts of this "letter from concerned scientists" published by the WSJ.

Trenberth et al. tell us that the managements of major national academies of science have said that "the science is clear, the world is heating up and humans are primarily responsible." Apparently every generation of humanity needs to relearn that Mother Nature tells us what the science is, not authoritarian academy bureaucrats or computer models.


And apparently every generation of humanity needs to learn that the Wall Street Journal tells us what Mother Nature tells us what the science is. Not those "authoritarian academy bureaucrats" and especially not "computer models." Pfft, computers!

One reason to be on guard, as we explained in our original op-ed, is that motives other than objective science are at work in much of the scientific establishment. All of us are members of major academies and scientific societies, but we urge Journal readers not to depend on pompous academy pronouncements—on what we say—but to follow the motto of the Royal Society of Great Britain, one of the oldest learned societies in the world: nullius in verba—take nobody's word for it. As we said in our op-ed, everyone should look at certain stubborn facts that don't fit the theory espoused in the Trenberth letter, for example—the graph of surface temperature above, and similar data for the temperature of the lower atmosphere and the upper oceans.


Excellent! Imply that [scientists other than they] are pompous academicians asking people to depend on their pronouncements and have a secret hidden agenda - while simultaneously the implicit assumption that these fellows are down-to-earth critical thinkers asking us to look at the facts. And remember that they're members of major academies and scientific societies. Not that that's relevant in a letter from "Concerned Scientists," of course!

What are we to make of the letter's claim: "Climate experts know that the long-term warming trend has not abated in the past decade. In fact, it was the warmest decade on record." We don't see any warming trend after the year 2000 in the graph. It is true that the years 2000-2010 were perhaps 0.2 C warmer than the preceding 10 years. But the record indicates that long before CO2 concentrations of the atmosphere began to increase, the earth began to warm in fits and starts at the end of the Little Ice Age—hundreds of years ago. This long term-trend is quite likely to produce several warm years in a row. The question is how much of the warming comes from CO2 and how much is due to other, both natural and anthropogenic, factors?


And they don't answer this question, but of course the whole article is riddled with not-so-subtle suggestions that it's all natural. And the typical denier's arguments about the ice age.

There have been many times in the past when there were warmer decades. It may have been warmer in medieval times, when the Vikings settled Greenland, and when wine was exported from England. Many proxy indicators show that the Medieval Warming was global in extent. And there were even warmer periods a few thousand years ago during the Holocene Climate Optimum. The fact is that there are very powerful influences on the earth's climate that have nothing to do with human-generated CO2


The fact is that that last sentence has nothing to do with anything, but it sure sounds like a pompous pronouncement to me. Does climate science insist that there are no influences on climate other than human civilization? No. No it doesn't. But hey, I'm not a member of a scientific society or academy. Or published by the Wall Street Journal. What do I know.

The continued efforts of the climate establishment to eliminate "extreme views" can acquire a seriously threatening nature when efforts are directed at silencing scientific opposition. In our op-ed we mentioned the campaign circa 2003 to have Dr. Chris de Freitas removed not only from his position as editor of the journal Climate Research, but from his university job as well. Much of that campaign is documented in Climategate emails, where one of the signatories of the Trenberth et al. letter writes: "I believe that a boycott against publishing, reviewing for, or even citing articles from Climate Research [then edited by Dr. de Freitas] is certainly warranted, but perhaps the minimum action that should be taken."

Or consider the resignation last year of Wolfgang Wagner, editor-in-chief of the journal Remote Sensing. In a fulsome resignation editorial eerily reminiscent of past recantations by political and religious heretics, Mr. Wagner confessed to his "sin" of publishing a properly peer-reviewed paper by University of Alabama scientists Roy Spencer and William Braswell containing the finding that IPCC models exaggerate the warming caused by increasing CO2.


Oh, poor fellows. Losing their jobs. Why, it's just like when Christ was killed, wasn't it? The outrage! The censorship! The authoritarianism!

I'm convinced! Give me my pitchfork and torch, let's kill the monster.

The Trenberth letter tells us that decarbonization of the world's economy would "drive decades of economic growth." This is not a scientific statement nor is there evidence it is true.


Gee, and all that talk about the motives of pompous authoritarian bureaucrats was nothing but scientific statements!

The computer-model predictions of alarming global warming have seriously exaggerated the warming by CO2 and have underestimated other causes. Since CO2 is not a pollutant but a substantial benefit to agriculture, and since its warming potential has been greatly exaggerated, it is time for the world to rethink its frenzied pursuit of decarbonization at any cost.


Ah. Apparently there's a frenzied pursuit of decarbonization at any cost, the world over. Has anyone notified China of this? Or for that matter the USA.

You know, I'm not exactly a bright guy, and I'm not terribly well-educated, and I'm certainly not a member of any scientific society or academy ... but if even I can point out some rather glaring flaws in this crappy little article, certainly everyone else can, right? Right?

A quick look at the comments section shows... no. No they can't. So let's burn up some more fossil fuels, people. CO2 is good for agriculture! So is bullshit, by the way. Let's eat some! Nom nom nom.
I work all night, I work all day, to pay the bills I have to pay
Ain't it sad?
And still there never seems to be a single penny left for me
That's too bad.
User avatar
Jave D
chavey-dee
 
Posts: 1003
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2010 4:41 pm UTC

Re: Wall Street Journal: "Concerned Scientists/Global Warmin

Postby sourmìlk » Wed Feb 22, 2012 5:36 am UTC

All of the arguments they make have been thoroughly refuted by every educated person and his dog on every forum, comments section, and book ever. Those people should be embarrassed to have sent the letter into WSJ and WSJ should have been embarrassed to publish it.
Terry Pratchett wrote:The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.
User avatar
sourmìlk
If I can't complain, can I at least express my fear?
 
Posts: 6407
Joined: Mon Dec 22, 2008 10:53 pm UTC
Location: permanently in the wrong

Re: Wall Street Journal: "Concerned Scientists/Global Warmin

Postby yurell » Wed Feb 22, 2012 6:34 am UTC

"Hey, climate science is near-unanimous on this, so let's bypass the scientific method and go for a populist approach entirely instead of publishing in a peer-reviewed journal like a real scientist."

This article made me rage hard, especially since only three of the people signing it have any actual expertise in the field, and one of them is in weather forecasting. Seriously, only two real climatologists, going against the vast majority of climatologists and this is dignified with being published in a newspaper? Why don't they go talk to some flat-Earthers while they're at it, or some creationists?
cemper93 wrote:Dude, I just presented an elaborate multiple fraction in Comic Sans. Who are you to question me?


Pronouns: Feminine pronouns please!
User avatar
yurell
 
Posts: 2897
Joined: Sat Nov 13, 2010 2:19 am UTC
Location: Australia!

Re: Wall Street Journal: "Concerned Scientists/Global Warmin

Postby johnny_7713 » Wed Feb 22, 2012 6:56 am UTC

Personally I think these scientists should be fighting tooth and nail to remove the death penalty for murder, and in fact stop people from being tried for murder at all. I mean the fact that people die of natural causes means that murder is totally not a thing right? Throughout the ages masses of people died from natural causes. I mean there have been many times in the past when lots of people died, for example during the Black Death, those deaths were completely natural. There are other interests at work trying to convince you that murder exists!

Somehow that argument is seen as perfectly valid when applied to climate change though :s.
johnny_7713
 
Posts: 540
Joined: Tue Jun 15, 2010 1:31 pm UTC

Re: Wall Street Journal: "Concerned Scientists/Global Warmin

Postby EMTP » Wed Feb 22, 2012 5:45 pm UTC

Captions courtesy of the current scientific understanding (best estimate of the global average temperature of the last 12,000 years below):

There have been many times in the past when there were warmer decades [in the 4 billion year history of the planet -- 200 million years ago, for example, it was hotter. However there is no strong evidence for a time hotter than the present at any point since the discovery of agriculture]. It may have been warmer in medieval times [although most likely not], when the Vikings settled Greenland, and when wine was exported from England [these are of course local, not global events, and are events cherry picked out of a much larger body of evidence which contradicts our assertions]. Many proxy indicators show that the Medieval Warming was global in extent [many more do not, and while overall one can make an argument for a period warmer than those preceding and following it, it was probably not as warm as today.] And there were even warmer periods a few thousand years ago during the Holocene Climate Optimum [again, only if I cherry-pick a few proxies and ignore the evidence of a cooler world]. The fact is that there are very powerful influences on the earth's climate that have nothing to do with human-generated CO2 [which of course climate scientists do not deny, and has nothing more to do with the present greenhouse-gas-driven warming than the fact that people die of heart attacks has to do with with deaths by gunshots]


Image
"“The practice of violence, like all action, changes the world, but the most probable change is to a more violent world."
-- Hannah Arendt, "Reflections on Violence"
User avatar
EMTP
 
Posts: 1376
Joined: Wed Jul 22, 2009 7:39 pm UTC
Location: Elbow deep in (mostly) other people's blood.

Re: Wall Street Journal: "Concerned Scientists/Global Warmin

Postby Jave D » Wed Feb 22, 2012 6:53 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:All of the arguments they make have been thoroughly refuted by every educated person and his dog on every forum, comments section, and book ever. Those people should be embarrassed to have sent the letter into WSJ and WSJ should have been embarrassed to publish it.


Well, the Wall Street Journal is owned by News Corp, Rupert Murdoch's company which also owns Fox. So I imagine the WSJ is far from embarrassed to be peddling the one-sided agenda of their mainstream media giant. Although of course, just as the writers of that article see themselves as a martyr'd David against the mainstream "leftist" agenda Goliath, so too does the WSJ and Fox broadcast this message of how oppressed a bastion of fair 'n balanced reasonable science they are. The right-wing loves that Jesus-on-the-cross trope, inasmuch as they like to imagine themselves as Jesus being crucified, not so much as actually loving one's neighbor and doing good or helping the poor and needy as Jesus himself taught.

Anyway, here's a lovely image from Nasa showing global temperature data over the past 130 years. Not that such a thing matters to the likes of J. Scott Armstrong (one of the authors of the letter from the article), who put forth the $20,000 bet to Al Gore about the temperatures remaining the same over the next few years (apparently this to "promote science" and prove global warming is a "doom-mongering" myth). I mean hey, nothing says objective science like "I have money on my position that a politician is wrong!"
I work all night, I work all day, to pay the bills I have to pay
Ain't it sad?
And still there never seems to be a single penny left for me
That's too bad.
User avatar
Jave D
chavey-dee
 
Posts: 1003
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2010 4:41 pm UTC

Re: Wall Street Journal: "Concerned Scientists/Global Warmin

Postby jules.LT » Thu Feb 23, 2012 1:45 pm UTC

I had misconceptions about the quality of the WSJ. Now I know better.

Also, thanks for the NASA video, Jave.
Bertrand Russell wrote:Not to be absolutely certain is, I think, one of the essential things in rationality.
Richard Feynman & many others wrote:Keep an open mind – but not so open that your brain falls out
User avatar
jules.LT
 
Posts: 1511
Joined: Sun Jul 19, 2009 8:20 pm UTC
Location: Paris, France, Europe

Re: Wall Street Journal: "Concerned Scientists/Global Warmin

Postby Zamfir » Thu Feb 23, 2012 3:21 pm UTC

I am not seeing the big problem here. An op-ed in a big newspaper is surely an acceptable way to have a public debate? There should be a public debate, and people should be encouraged to question the authority of the relevant scientists and scientific authorities, if we are considering to base important political decisions on their work.

Large-scale CO2 reduction won't happen without big impacts on society. Entire industries should be deeply changed or even disappear. Cost estimates are in the order of a percent of global GDP or more. Possible, and not unbearable when done well, but still huge. The normal procedures of science are not really made to provide a legitimate authority for efforts on that size. They are primarily designed to weed out obviously wrong theories, and at least attempt to identify the currently best understanding of the world.

They are not so much intended to tell us when the science is good enough to build heavy decisions on. That's something people have to decide outside of the fairly narrow circles of science. On issues of this size, I personally want to hear the input and opinions of outside critics, even if they are a minority. Perhaps they are wrong, sure. But on big decisions, you should collect as much criticism as you can find.
User avatar
Zamfir
 
Posts: 6345
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: Wall Street Journal: "Concerned Scientists/Global Warmin

Postby EMTP » Thu Feb 23, 2012 4:14 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:I am not seeing the big problem here. An op-ed in a big newspaper is surely an acceptable way to have a public debate? There should be a public debate, and people should be encouraged to question the authority of the relevant scientists and scientific authorities, if we are considering to base important political decisions on their work.


The problem is that the authors are dishonest is relating the state of the science, are exaggerating their own credentials, and in general assuming a false mantle of authority in advancing crackpot science.

They are not "questioning" the science; they are misrepresenting it, and denying it, which is something very different.

Large-scale CO2 reduction won't happen without big impacts on society. Entire industries should be deeply changed or even disappear. Cost estimates are in the order of a percent of global GDP or more. Possible, and not unbearable when done well, but still huge. The normal procedures of science are not really made to provide a legitimate authority for efforts on that size.


I don't see your point. Medical care is about 17% of America's GDP. What happens in that sector, almost a fifth of the economy, is driven partly by tradition but largely based on the science of medicine. Is science in medicine not a "legitimate authority for efforts on that size"? Is this an argument you're going to have with your oncologist?

On issues of this size, I personally want to hear the input and opinions of outside critics, even if they are a minority. Perhaps they are wrong, sure. But on big decisions, you should collect as much criticism as you can find.


Quality matters. No one who has attended to this issue in even a minor way is unaware of the (intellectually dishonest and manipulative) arguments of climate deniers. If there are somewhere serious criticisms of the theory of AGW, screeds like this harm those critics, tainting them by association with liars and frauds.
"“The practice of violence, like all action, changes the world, but the most probable change is to a more violent world."
-- Hannah Arendt, "Reflections on Violence"
User avatar
EMTP
 
Posts: 1376
Joined: Wed Jul 22, 2009 7:39 pm UTC
Location: Elbow deep in (mostly) other people's blood.

Re: Wall Street Journal: "Concerned Scientists/Global Warmin

Postby Zamfir » Thu Feb 23, 2012 5:11 pm UTC

EMTP wrote:I don't see your point. Medical care is about 17% of America's GDP. What happens in that sector, almost a fifth of the economy, is driven partly by tradition but largely based on the science of medicine. Is science in medicine not a "legitimate authority for efforts on that size"? Is this an argument you're going to have with your oncologist?

I don't see the analogy, to be honest. "Medical care" is not a monolitical thing. It's thousands upon thousands of different treatments for different problems. Most of those can be individually evaluated, and accepted or rejected on their own. Every single of those decisions is nowhere as big as a decision on, for example, a CO2 tax of any effective size.

And most of them are only accepted after a long proces of repeated, large scale experiments. Double-blind experiments when possible. After that, we can and do monitor the effectiveness of procedures, as they are repeatedly used in real life. For most standard medical procedures, you do not have to fundamentally rely your specialist's personal judgement, or a difficult-to-verify scientific model of your body. There is already a long history of people who were in very similar situations to your own, and who got a similar treatment as proposed to you.

We don't have that luxury for decisions on greenhosue gas emissions. We cannot run repeated double blind experiments on the planet, and analyse the results to see if a proposed treatment meets FDA levels of proven effectiveness.

So the situation is not really comparable to medical science. It's indeed more comparable to a complicated cancer treatment in a single person. Where the oncologists have to make a personal judgement of the particular situation, and make a one-off decision that will never be exactly repeated. Such decisions are informed by scientific research, but they are not scientific decisions. The social process that puts a medical specialist in authorative position is for example very different than that for a researcher, exactly because fo the different nature of the job.

And let's not forget, we accept that such decisions often turn out wrong. Even the best medical specialists are sometimes wrong for unavoidable reasons, and even for somewhat avoidable reasons. The difficult edge of medical decision-making is nothing like the "shape of the earth" certainty that is sometimes claimed for climate science, it's a messy guesswork that we only accept when the alternative is death or severe disability.
User avatar
Zamfir
 
Posts: 6345
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland


Return to News & Articles

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: broarbape, CorruptUser, Yahoo [Bot] and 5 guests