Friday, March 30, 2007

Surprising Clarity

The Northeast Graduate in the previous post is...

Michael Crichton

The Daily Ablution: Seven Answers From Michael Crichton...

Despite all the huffing and puffing, the truth is no one knows how much of the current warming trend is caused by man. Some of it surely is. And some of that anthropogenic warming is caused by the man-made rise in CO2. But how much is attributable to CO2 is not known. In the absence of that vital knowledge, people speak of a consensus of scientists. That's a way to get around the lack of knowledge and the inability to predict (which is the conventional proof of scientific knowledge, hence the usual emphasis in science on testable hypotheses.) Perhaps people and nations will choose to act on the basis of a claimed consensus. They have done so in the past, sterilizing their poor neighbors in the name of eugenics, gulping milk for their ulcers, downing antioxidants to prevent cancer, and soon. But all those behaviors were ultimately proven to lack a scientific basis — in other words, they are superstitions.

This is a devastating point. The scientific method somehow ends with proving warming of the Earth. In place of a lack of proof, there is "consensus".

...Any departure from environmental orthodoxy is marked by ad hominem attack, vigorous spread of false information, claims of criminality and mental derangement, and general nastiness. Apparently this is one area where reasonable people cannot disagree. It's interesting that any entity as complex, changing and difficult to comprehend as the environment should be guarded by organizations that allow no deviation from a single point of view toward what needs to be done. One might have predicted a rather broad range of environmental viewpoints, promoted by an equally broad range of institutions and activist organizations. There is some variation among organizations, of course. But on the subject of global warming, no deviation. That is to say, I am aware of no environmental organization that does not claim global warming is a major threat that must be dealt with now. I leave it to your readers to explain that puzzle. Complex subject, simplistic response.

I think the puzzle is related to man's incurable need for religion. Global Warming has become a kind of secular religion, complete with Apocalypse, Orthodoxy and  of course Messiah (e.g. Al Gore).

...Most of the people I know who are anxious about GM say that their concerns lie with the fact that the technology is of unproven safety. They share their worries with like-minded people by use of their cell phones. When I remind them that cell phones are a technology of unproven safety, and that the construction of all these wireless networks around the world and in our houses is a development of unproven safety, they just shrug. They don't care. Even though most of them are old enough to remember the false fears about cancer and electromagnetic radiation. You'd think that fear could be easily reawakened in them, but no. From this I conclude fears are a matter of fashion. Worries are like clothing styles, they come and go, rise and fall, based on what the worry fashion leaders tell the herd of independent minds to fear this year. GM is fashionable to fear. But that will change.

Fear as fashion is a compelling analysis. Again the religious analogy to religious leaders proclaiming "The End is Near!". Part of the reason for making such dire claims is that it simultaneously elevates the drama of an otherwise mundane life and the prestige of an otherwise mundane leader. That's why it's so tempting to proclaim doom, whether or not there is evidence to support the claim.

Let me be clear, there is warming. But calling it global warming seems much to narrow minded. Solar warming seems to be a much more accurate and inclusive term.

Mars Melt Hints at Solar, Not Human, Cause for Warming, Scientist Says

In 2005 data from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor and Odyssey missions revealed that the carbon dioxide "ice caps" near Mars's south pole had been diminishing for three summers in a row.

Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of space research at St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in Russia, says the Mars data is evidence that the current global warming on Earth is being caused by changes in the sun.

"The long-term increase in solar irradiance is heating both Earth and Mars," he said.

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Anonymous said...

Dear Sir,
I find it interesting that you site that national geographic news report, and yet you fail to include this tidbit:

RAVILIOUS: Abdussamatov's work, however, has not been well received by other climate scientists.

“His views are completely at odds with the mainstream scientific opinion," said Colin Wilson, a planetary physicist at England's Oxford University.

"And they contradict the extensive evidence presented in the most recent IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report."


That's right. You read that correctly. This scientists views, while they may be correct, put him way out of the mainstream. And yet you've decided to trust his conclusion, this outlier scientist, over the rest.

McRyanMac said...

Did you even read my post? I haven't chosen to believe anything. That's Crichton's point. If this were as open and shut a case as everyone says it is, there would be talk of evidence,not consensus.

Why is it that so little is said about the role of the sun in warming. It's like walking into a hot room and not identifying the heater.

Interesting Stuff