Showing posts with label Global-Warming. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Global-Warming. Show all posts

Thursday, December 4, 2014

What is Science and What Can We Learn From it About Keeping Our Heads on Straight Generally.

Here are three posts trying to make some contribution to philosophy of science and to the public's understanding of it.

The first, What is A Machine? Natural Machines and Origins of Science tries to express something possibly original about the occasions when people have gotten a foothold on the path to a major branch of science.  Before the scientific revolution there were, hidden amidst the blooming buzzing confusion of nature, a few "natural machines".  Unlike the typical object in nature, they behave with predictable simplicity, although this may not be obvious for a long time -- until certain concepts and technologies aid in their analysis.  These include a heavy dense projectile in (parabolic, as it turns out) flight, and the system of the Earth, Sun, moon, and planets (and their moons).  Probably, I should say machines and mechanical processes, but I like the idea of a flying rock or cannonball as an ultra-simple machine.

The next essay, Finding Your Invisible Elephant. A Science Requires, and is Shaped by, a Tractable Subject Matter suggests that "scientific method", or other good epistemic processes such as peer review journals and conventions are not enough.  Once a discipline, through a fruitful set of techniques, is able to repeatedly find its way to make contact with a coherent set of fundamental facts of nature, only then do the practices of academia give rise to a ratcheting mechanism that can make the diverse efforts of many autonomous individuals and groups converge on better and better understanding of some set of phenomena.  This does not work for literary criticism, and its working in many fields of social science, such as sociology of scientific knowledge, is highly dubious.

The third essay, Global Warming and the Controversy: What is Scientific Consensus? Continental Drift as Example focuses on a case study of scientific consensus by a practitioner of the fairly new field of social epistemology, Miriam Solomon in her book Social Empiricism.  It concerns the gelling, over several decades, of recognition of the phenomenon of continental drift, or plate tectonics.  Many very diverse disciplines had to finally agree that they all had data pointing to the same surprising phenomena before it could legitimately be said that there was a scientific consensus.

Now, this falls short of what the title seems to promise, but is part of a project of trying to take small, sometimes painful steps in that direction.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

On Smart Division of Labour in a Propaganda Enterprise

 Here is an email I wrote to a historian friend in February 2012 concerning the current (back then) "last nail in the coffin of the AGW Hoax"

I've never seen a time when so many normal seeming people readily swallow so much totally unjustified and worthless nonsense.  My mother showed me a letter to the editor of her newspaper which started out characterizing Obama as a Marxist ex-street hustler and was telling me it had some good points, and not blinking at the crazy characterization.

I had one insight the other day when my wife passed me an article which seemed to say that a credible climatologist had shown there was no increase in carbon dioxide in the last 150 years.  Ever heard of this? At the time, it was hard to miss in popular "conservative" blogs, where the followup discussions were full of language like "final nail in the coffin of climategate".

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A few new thoughs on Climate Change (and Geoengineering "solutions")

This is in reaction to some discussion I read at

One thing few people seem to appreciate is that just about any big aspect of global climate from the gulf stream that warms Europe to the Monsoon could be balanced on a knife-edge, and we don't know how unstable these things are.  Unfortunately, there has been too much emphasis on changes in the average global temperature on the order of 1-2 degrees C, and many people imagine the warming would be evenly distributed, when the greater probability is that some places will get a lot hotter, or wetter, or dryer and some maybe even a lot colder.  Might it all balance out?  Even there is some balance in the rearrangement of the climate, areas that have been built up and heavily invested in become deserts while some deserts become the new breadbaskets.  To take advantage of the "balance" would require vast redistributions of population.  Geoengineering schemes might plausibly balance the change in average temperature but they won't prevent great shifts from taking place.

It isn't that some elite wants to determine the "proper" temperature.  We should be coming from an essentially conservative reluctance to roll the dice and spread changes around the world that will be lot more drastic than an evenly distributed climate change of 1-2 degrees C.

Some day hopefully in at least a couple of hundred years, the climate might change drastically on its own, as it's done often in the past, but by then there's a chance we might understand the system well enough to manage it.  At this point we don't, and attempting to do so means somebody making decisions for other nations which may not stand for it.

For some of the basis of this point of view, read _With Speed and Violence_ by Fred Pierce, a journalist who is indepent enough to sometimes get on Joe Mann's shit list.

Another thing that makes all this alarming to me is that the right seems to thrive on climate denial very largely because it reinforces the idea that EVERYBODY BUT Fox and friends, the the right wing think tanks are the big liers.  See http://therealtruthprone would guess from a chJonah Goldberg, National-Review,ange ofoject.blo... for elaboration of that.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Global Warming a good thing? Will save us from Ice Age?

This is priceless.
A story at

reports that some scientists at Cambridge calculate that carbon emissions and global warming could stave off the next ice age, which would otherwise be due in 1500 years.

are getting quite carried away with it; when they get tired of saying global warming is a hoax, they like to say OK, if it's not a hoax, then more C02 and warmer climate is a good thing.
Newsflash: C02 is not a poison (and no climate scientist thinks that it is) -- yes, it makes plants grow.  Well, water is not a poison either, but flood victims all over the world (especially this past year) can tell you there is such a thing as too much water.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Comment on "Arctic 'tipping point' may not be reached"

There is a huge amount of chatter on the web about a BBC sourced article from 8/5/2011:

Right leaning web sites seem to be ecstatic, as if it confirmed their denial of global warming.

BUT a couple of quotes from the article:

I don't say that our current worries are not justified, but I think that there are factors which will work to delay the action in relation to some of the models that have been in the media.

Friday, August 12, 2011

On the "Gaping Hole In Global Warming Alarmism"

An opinion piece that just came out in Forbes recently  "New NASA Data Blow Gaping Hole In Global Warming Alarmism" cites an article published in "the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing" by "Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and U.S. Science Team Leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer flying on NASA's Aqua satellite, reports that real-world data from NASA's Terra satellite contradict multiple assumptions fed into alarmist computer models."

The editorial is written by  "James M. Taylor,  senior fellow for environment policy at The Heartland Institute" and the implication is that it summarizes Spencer's 15 page article.

Problems I have in accepting this:

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Great Harold Lewis Resignation Non-Event.

I followed the global warming discussions, back when it was a true controversy among climatologists, probably from about 1980 to some time in the 90s -- casually, not being invested one way or the other -- picking up Scientific American in the doctor's office or when I was in a library.  Like other scientific debates it went from "Hey, some people think this and have this evidence" to "Looks rather convincing" to Yeah, but ..." to "Yeah, it's probably true" to "Everybody who can read the literature is convinced". It was a normal scientific debate, it went from speculations to apparent solidity much the same way the continental drift debate went a couple of decades earlier. Now I did, just the other day, see a guy in a ballcap that "Stop Plate Tectonics", but I suspect he was being ironic. Climate change didn't seem particularly political back then. When did it turn into the supposed giant conspiracy?

Hal Lewis may be quite competent for an ex-physics professor of no great distinction who's been retired probably 20 years, or he may be losing his marbles. It's not uncommon at that age for even truly brilliant people to get somewhat obsessed with how bizarrely different the world looks from when they were young and think it's all going to Hell in a hand-basket. Hell it's hard for me to think about "hooking up", and it pains me to hear someone say "one of the only" -- an expression people didn't use 15-20 years ago (It is tending to replace "One of the few").

Friday, July 2, 2010

Corollary to the Big Lie Theory

Once you get a group of True Believers sufficiently attached to a set of lies about critically important issues, then any person or institution trying to report the truth becomes discredited in their eyes.  If research, educational, journalistic, governmental groups, and NGOs become alarmed and continue to repeat the "discredited" claims, their protests only reinforce the certainty of True Believers that academic researchers, educators, etc. are lying scumbags.

This, in my opinion, is the main usefulness to the right of calling Global Warming a hoax -- it becomes a constant source of ridicule, generated by people who work enthusiastically for free, of the "MSM" (or Main Stream Media), the scientific community, etc.  The more alarmed and emotional they get about it, the more they get written off as "alarmists".  The parties responsible for the original deception can stand back and watch, without expending energy, or putting their fingerprints on the stream of abuse against their rival institutions.

While big oil like Exxon-Mobile have backed off from the memeplex they helped create (excepting the Kochs), right-coalition in general has become a huge beneficiary of this stream of abuse of sources frequently allied with liberals.  Hence they would have far too much to lose if they ever gave up their attacks on anything connected with Global Warming (esp. Al Gore, whom they would have to invent if he didn't exist).  Hence support for measures to mitigate climate change have become a third rail for Republican politicians -- grounds for organizations to place a well funded opponent in their next primary, while good soldiers who toe the party line, even if they lose, will get a nice sinecure at some think tank, if they need it.

There are some exceptions among the less automatically propagandistic elements of the right, like this National Review article.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Beck and Limbaugh, like Terrorists, Prefer Soft Targets.

In most of the conservative media world, I submit that if anyone has a really, really good argument that they don't like, they will simply ignore it. It seems very worthwhile to test this:

The test case has to do with some old news. The strongest arguments against waterboarding and like interrogation techniques were made by Matthew Alexander, who using typical law enforcement interrogation techniques as seen on The Wire or Prime Suspect found and helped destroy Abu Musab al Zarqawi, who was for a while the most wanted man in Iraq -- the genius of "Al Qaeda in Iraq" who dreamed up decapitating people on webcam, as well as Robert Baer, a veteran CIA operative in the mideast who is so not soft on terrorism and general middle east badness that he was almost put on trial in Washington for almost coordinating a plot to kill Saddam Hussein by anti-Saddam Iraqis back in the Clinton Administration. It would be hard to find two people more passionately critical of the trashing of Geneva conventions - why? because they almost lead to losing the war in Iraq and certainly lead to escalating the violence to the tune of several thousand dead.

But it's so much easier to pick on Al Gore or Jeremiah Wright or Sean Penn.

Using google Advanced Search: (add "")

  • Wright "God Damn America" ==> 13 hits
  • Alexander "how to break a terrorist" ==> 0 hits
  • "al gore" "global warming" ==> 1350 hits (far fewer if "climate change substituted; only 1 I think with "climategate")
  • "al gore" "global warming" ==> 192
  • "al gore" "climate change" ==> 127
  • "al gore" "climategate" ==> 19
  • wright "god damn america" ==> 6
  • alexander "how to break a terrorist" ==> 0
NO mention of "robert baer" on or

Some more searches:

  • "Robert Baer" ==> 9
  • "Jeremiah Wright" ==> 788
  • "Matthew Alexander" ==> 0
  • "How to Break a Terrorist" ==> 0
  • Alexander "How to Break a Terrorist" ==> 0
  • Wright "god damn america ==> 789
  • "Robert Baer" ==> 13
  • "Jeremiah Wright" ==> 968
  • Robert Baer ==> 1 (in followup comment by subscriber)
  • "Jeremiah Wright" ==> 445
  • Wright "God Damn AMerica" ==> 1180
  • Alexander "How to Break a Terrorist" ==> 0