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Earth Science

Last Bastion For Climate Dissenters Crumbling 963

Posted by Soulskill
from the somehow-i-think-they-would-disagree dept.
Layzej writes "The New York Times reports: 'For decades, a small group of scientific dissenters has been trying to shoot holes in the prevailing science of climate change, offering one reason after another why the outlook simply must be wrong.' Initially they claimed that weather stations exaggerated the warming trend. This was disproven by satellite data which shows a similar warming trend. Next, solar activity was blamed for much of the warming. This looked like a promising theory until the '80s, when solar output started to diverge from global temperatures. Now, climate contrarians are convinced that changes in cloud cover will largely mitigate the warming caused by increased CO2. The New York Times examines how even this last bastion for dissenters is crumbling. Over the past few years, Several papers have shown that rather than being a mitigating factor, changes in cloud cover due to warming may actually enhance further warming."
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Last Bastion For Climate Dissenters Crumbling

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  • Last bastion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mseeger (40923) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:13AM (#39866443)

    What is the basis for the assumption that this is the "last" bastion? I am pretty sure, they will find another reason to hold out within days.... This is an issue of belief (at least for them), so arguments ain't gonna change a thing.

  • by BasilBrush (643681) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:24AM (#39866519)

    1) There's no such thing as global warming.
    2) There's global warming, but the scientists are exaggerating. It's not significant.
    3) There's significant global warming, but man doesn't cause it.
    4) Man does cause it, but it's not a net negative.
    5) It is a net negative, but it's not economically possible to tackle it.
    6) We need to tackle global warming, so make the poor pay for it.
    7) Global warming is bad for business. Why did the Democrats not tackle it earlier?
    8) ????
    9) Profit.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:26AM (#39866537)

    Not because of anyone's ideology. Because good science demands people check other people's work, look for errors, ask hard questions, and the like. If we all agree, pat ourselves on our collective back, and stare away people who would dare question what we've decided must be the truth, we've transitioned from science to religion, and are doing everyone a disservice.

    Trust mainstream media to not understand this. *sigh*

  • Re:Last bastion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:26AM (#39866539)

    There is significant evidence that the earth's climate changed dramatically in the past, without any human intervention. So there is all kinds of historic evidence for climate change. The issue is how significant human activities are for climate change.

  • Re:Last bastion (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:26AM (#39866547)

    What is the basis for the assumption that this is the "last" bastion? I am pretty sure, they will find another reason to hold out within days.... This is an issue of belief (at least for them), so arguments ain't gonna change a thing.

    Belief for the hoi polloi who vote and put pressure on politicians and politicians use the Global Climate Change or Global Warming as a distraction issue to be not like the other guy. With other distraction issues like how GW will "increase taxes" or "eliminate US sovereignty" or "kill jobs" or what have you.

    The real reason why there's so much resistance to the data and the conclusions drawn from that data is that there are some very powerful entities whose business will be adversely affected by any policies implemented as a result of stemming the effects of GW. In other words, there are folks who believe that they will lose big if GW is accepted as fact for policy sake - like the big oil and auto corporations.

  • Re:NYT Bias (Score:4, Insightful)

    by slim (1652) <john.hartnup@net> on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:31AM (#39866591) Homepage

    Do remember the NYT is a very left-wing paper and that climate change supporters are majority left-wing. Bias is everywhere.

    Hmm, so you've observed a correlation between rationality in the face of evidence, and having left wing views.

    Useful. I'll take it.

  • Re:Last bastion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DrXym (126579) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:31AM (#39866599)

    What is the basis for the assumption that this is the "last" bastion? I am pretty sure, they will find another reason to hold out within days.... This is an issue of belief (at least for them), so arguments ain't gonna change a thing.

    You only have to look at creationists, 9/11 truthers, moon landing hoaxers, anti-vaccinationists to know that you could lock such people in a warehouse full of evidence contradictory to their worldviews and they'd still deny it. I really don't see climate change deniers being any different.

  • Re:Last bastion (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:32AM (#39866603)

    These aren't deniers, these are scientific dissenters. There is nothing wrong with that. Without scientific dissenters we wouldn't have as much confidence as we have today on theories such as evolution, quantum mechanics (with Einstein being a major dissenter), and Big Bang cosmology. Often, the dissent strengthens the theory, leads to new branches of study, or points out actual flaws that need to be adjusted.

  • by rockout (1039072) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:34AM (#39866619)

    "If you wanna believe the earth revolves around the sun that's cool, but I'm gonna keep planting my crops based on my assumption that the bible is right."

    Sure, that discovery didn't affect that guy either. But it didn't make him any less wrong.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:34AM (#39866623)

    Is that the sample size is too small to determine if any warming we are seeing is manmade or a natural (even localized) fluctuation. The earliest base year for comparison I have seen is 1750 (most cite 1950). At best the sample size of 262 years:

    For intelligent design (human occupation 7,000 years) the largest sample size is 3.7% of human history.
    For evolutionary time scales (human occupation 250,000) the largest sample size is 0.1% of human history.
    For evolutionary time scales (approx 4,000,000,000 years) the largest sample size is 0.0000066% of earth's history.

    the closer base years are even worse.

  • by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:37AM (#39866655)
    First I will not say which "side" I am on as that is unimportant as my total climate knowledge is based on grumbling about weather. But this whole discussion has gone off the rails in that regardless of what scientists think or know the public is turning against man made climate change. Want to lose an election in North America then propose a carbon tax or something similar. Al Gore got people cheering one side of this issue but being Al Gore managed to alienate and effectively create an opposing side. While healthy discussion in science is what science is all about people on both sides have begun to turn this into a religion with people calling for firing of scientists who they disagree with and another person calling for burning others houses down.

    A much better example of good science was the recent discovery that neutrinos were going faster than light. Turned out to be wrong but most people were sort of excited as this would potentially be a huge change in physics. Another good example of the separation of science and policy would be nuclear weapons. Nuclear reactions are cool; nuclear weapons are not. But very few people criticized the work Niels Bohr for bringing the world to the brink of total destruction. It would have been a crap argument to say his work was the beginning of a science killed a whole lot of Japanese and thus was invalid. His models of how atoms and whatnot worked have changed significantly enough that they could almost be just called all wrong. But as will all good science people expanded and improved his work.

    Where I am going with this is that the hysteria of dragging the scientists out for trials in the court of public opinion not only doesn't help the climate people get on with their research but it opens up other areas to the concept that somehow public opinion can shape science. Opinion does not change a fact. Opinion is to be used to decide what to do about those facts. Both sides on this issue are getting into the realm of those fools who try legislating that =3.
  • Re:Alternatives (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JabrTheHut (640719) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:40AM (#39866681)
    Get yourself over to www.dictionary.com and learn.

    They have a 100% accuracy record for distinguishing between "weather" and "climate."
  • Re:Last bastion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shavano (2541114) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:40AM (#39866683)

    That's why SCIENTISTS MEASURE the things that could affect global climate instead of just flapping their arms and lips.

  • Re:Is this a joke? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jo_ham (604554) <joham999 @ g m a i l.com> on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:43AM (#39866697)

    What nonsense.

    We have plenty of trustworthy science, but a huge and well funded propaganda machine telling people that those scientists are untrustworthy and "politically motivated". You've bought into the propaganda machine hook, line and sinker.

    Now, there will certainly be cases of scientists and professionals that are crooked and politically/financially motivated (see, for example, Andrew Wakefield and vaccines - a whole, damaging scare because he wanted to make money off his competing vaccine for MMR), or the "cold fusion" science researchers, but they are very swiftly exposed by peer review.

    That intelligent people can still be claiming that "nothing a climate scientist puts out" is trustworthy at all is just a demonstration of how powerful people like like Koch brothers are and how effective extremely large dumptrucks full of money are at running propaganda campaigns.

    It doesn't help that very few people are able to interpret the data for themselves and must rely on an actual scientist, and somehow when this is related to climate science that's seen as a bad thing? Ask yourself why that is; why it has become ingrained to look at only climate science and say "I don't understand this data so it's clearly a trick!". This doesn't happen in other fields with equally difficult and impenetrable data, like cancer research or quantum mechanics - there's been no pervasive, relentless smear campaign that results in anything those scientists say being dismissed out of hand because they're "politically motivated and untrustworthy".

  • by million_monkeys (2480792) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:49AM (#39866745)

    Perhaps. But raising objections in the form of plausible counter theories is valid science. Even if those counter theories are later disproved, that's all part of the scientific process. You can't just ignore an argument that may have merit simply because you don't trust the motives of the people making the argument. If someone has a reasonable alternate interpretation of the evidence, that needs to be considered (and I suspect a lot of things have been learned in the process of refuting alternate ideas). You can't just claim that your right because everyone agrees with you and they are wrong because the are stupid. ... Well you can, but that's not science.

  • by redelm (54142) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:51AM (#39866757) Homepage

    Science is not politics or military action, both of whom require proponderences in numbers and quality. Science is about discovering underlying truth, quite irrespective of who believes what or how well they speak.

    This is why the Climategate email scandal is an irrelevant distraction. It might mean something about the credibility of the individuals invovled, but science is supposed to be testable, so personalities are irrelevant. The climate does not care about emails much -- just from the slight additional power generation, somewhat less than for JanetJacksons nip-slip.

    It is very odd (&revealing?) the NYT doesn't know better.

  • by Hentes (2461350) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:51AM (#39866767)

    1) There's no such thing as global warming.

    This has been proven true. We have enough temperature data to confidently say that temperatures have been steadily increasing since about 1850.

    2) There's global warming, but the scientists are exaggerating. It's not significant.

    This has been proven false. The 6 degree increase we should be experiencing now according to alarmists simply doesn't exist.

    3) There's significant global warming, but man doesn't cause it.

    This may be true, we have proof that there were much bigger climate changes even before man.

    4) Man does cause it, but it's not a net negative.

    This is a tricky one, I would say that too rapid change is never good for the environment, at least not in the short term. But if you only care about the effets on agriculture, it may very well be possible to breed/engineer crops that thrive in the new climate.

    5) It is a net negative, but it's not economically possible to tackle it.

    That's most certainly false, but the real question is whether its negative effects cost more than to stop it.

    There is still much more research needed on the topic, and bringing politics into the debate is exactly what's halting progress.

  • by retroworks (652802) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:53AM (#39866783) Homepage Journal
    It wasn't all that long ago that we had a "bastion" of people in Waco who rejected the idea that the Moon is not a source of light, but reflects light from the Sun... So I have trouble believing the Global Warming debate will end with this NYT announcement. http://tinyurl.com/billnyemoon [tinyurl.com]
  • Re:Last bastion (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:54AM (#39866795)

    Einstein did the same damn thing. This is how science works.

    I understand that it is disconcerting that people don't agree on this topic since it will have a major impact on the world. But that is why politics and science are separate. The politicians need to be wise enough to know that scientists will probably be debating global warming for the next 50 years, but that their time to act is very short.

    Don't bash the scientists, bash to politicians who don't have the guts to do what they should.

  • by ClintJCL (264898) <clintjcl+slashdot&gmail,com> on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:56AM (#39866807) Homepage Journal
    Are you disputing that other planets are warming up? All you've said is "this argument is stupid" without any explanation why. Does that make you any better than OP?
  • Re:Last bastion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jawnn (445279) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:58AM (#39866829)

    There is significant evidence that the earth's climate changed dramatically in the past, without any human intervention.

    Yes, but some of the findings associated with such changes have never graphed anywhere near like they do now. For example, going back at least several hundred thousand years, the rate of rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide has never come anywhere near what we are seeing now, but yeah, you're right. That simply must be "natural phenomena". The burning of millions of years worth of carbon deposits in a few decades couldn't have anything at all to do with that. And unicorns are real.

  • Re:Last bastion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by neyla (2455118) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:59AM (#39866843)

    You'd hope so, but I ain't hopeful. You dont' get round-earth level of blatantly obvious evidence for changes that occur over decades or generations. Peoples memory for what is "normal" weather is very short-lived, a decade or two tops. I don't -actually- remember how much snow was common for how many days when I was a kid, and neither do most of the people who *believe* they remember it.

    The evidence in favor of evolution is scientifically as close to iron-clad as you can reasonably be, there's multiple independent tests that each match up exactly, and no competing theory whatsoever. Nevertheless lots of university-educated Americans remain firmly convinced that it's total bullshit.

  • by Bugler412 (2610815) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @09:00AM (#39866861)
    For the scientific process to function as desired, informed and educated opposing viewpoints are required. Politicizing those viewpoints is counterproductive to the process.
  • Re:Last bastion (Score:1, Insightful)

    by michaelmalak (91262) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @09:04AM (#39866883) Homepage

    You only have to look at creationists, 9/11 truthers, moon landing hoaxers, anti-vaccinationists to know that you could lock such people in a warehouse full of evidence contradictory to their worldviews and they'd still deny it. I really don't see climate change deniers being any different.

    There's evidence that supports the official 9/11 story?

  • by neyla (2455118) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @09:04AM (#39866887)

    It's hard to say - some planets we've known about and observed for less than one of their years, so we essentially have no data.

    What we -do- know with fair certanity is that *if* they are warming over the last 40 years, it's not due to increased solar influx, because the solar influx has on the average fallen somewhat over that period.

  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @09:05AM (#39866903)

    Neither side cares about the science. Both sides are totally convinced in their virtue. Neither side is willing to look at the case dispassionately. Both sides are so invested in what they want the correct answer to be that they will not tolerate anything that contradicts their position.

    Is there a case for AGW? Absolutely. It's a totally valid hypothesis. Is it proven? Of course not. There's no causal link. Getting a causal link is very hard but that doesn't mean you don't need one. AGW proponents almost all propose that we should accept a correlative link as proof of a causal link. That's not science. They say we don't have time to wait and we should assume there is a causal link based on the correlative data. That is a political response and again not science.

    The anti AGW people are no better in that they'll ally with various political factions just like the pro AGW factions to form political pressure groups. And of course they don't want to hear they might be wrong any more then the AGW group might be.

    Everyone has their egos, world views, political interests, and often careers involved in this matter. There are a lot of pro AGW scientists that might lose their jobs if AGW collapses and there are of course a lot of professional "skeptics" that likewise will find their employment terminated should that fall apart.

    In this environment how can anyone really be sure what is going on? I'm not stupid and I'm not ignorant... but I can't sort it out. And find it to be unacceptable generally to simply assume one side or the other is right as so many seem to do. Sure, that's easier. Just believe the church is right about is and isn't true. Just trust the king to sort it out. I'm not a f'ing peasant though and I don't like having other people do my thinking for me.

    I'm obviously going to get hate messages or... at least negative messages likely from the pro AGW people to the effect of "anyone that doubts the unquestionable virtue of our position is a fool or a heretic"... but that only underscores the sadness of this issue.

    We're probably all bored to tears explaining the science of it to each other.

    I've read through more material on the issue then I can pretend interest in. I just wish the issue hadn't been politicized.

    I don't know when it started... was it when Al Gore made his fatuous little film? Or was it before? Some think the politicization was inevitable given the interests threatened by it but I'm not so sure.

    Anyway... for those offended by my contrary nature... I'm not contrary to annoy you... It's just the best opinion I could come to with what information I have. If I'm wrong, I at least arrived at this position in good faith. If we can all say as much then it will at least be an honest conflict.

  • by roman_mir (125474) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @09:06AM (#39866913) Homepage Journal

    I don't know what 'we the people' thing is there, but I don't believe that those, who actually really end up paying the taxes are willing to take on yet another burden.

    How about all the subsidies stop to everybody, from any company (like GM or banks) to every single individual, whatever it is, which means, how about we let the market decide what should be done. You know, voluntary transactions among the participants in the market actually making decisions as a whole, rather than trying to force some people into a paradigm that they are completely uninterested in because it is against their self interests?

    You want to buy more expensive, but 'cleaner' energy? Allow competition in the market for such a thing, and if it gets traction - you win.

    I am not going to be on your side, you see, not voluntarily, but maybe the market as a whole, will be. It's our right to live our lives as free individuals, not as slaves in a collective system.

  • by Nursie (632944) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @09:09AM (#39866929)

    Scientific dissenters are fine, dissenters are great in fact!

    We don't have masses of those though, we have people invested in denying it at any cost, who continue to repeat known-incorrect talking points and play the media game. There's a difference between honest dissent, honest scepticism and dishonest denialism.

  • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @09:11AM (#39866943) Homepage Journal

    Perhaps. But raising objections in the form of plausible counter theories is valid science.

    This is exactly right. However the scientific method says that when the theory isn't backed up by measurements and the evidence that it is to be abandoned. The revolutions like Newton, Kepler, and Einstein all involved the discarding of other systems because they didn't fit the facts. When you're ideas are shown to be incorrect the proper scientific reaction is not to simply scream your ideas louder, and the same thing goes with facts. That's why there are so many of us that are upset right now... it seems that screaming incorrect "facts" louder is what automatically happens in every sphere of life right now. That's why some of us believe we are living in an irrational age.

  • by ArcherB (796902) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @09:12AM (#39866959) Journal

    The "Other Planets are Heating up too" hypothesis has been debunked:

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2007/04/29/is-global-warming-solar-induced/ [discovermagazine.com]

    But, until the engineers get involved on a real fix I wouldn't bother changing your lifestyle, other than maybe switching to LED lights and turning down the thermostat. Politicians never fix anything.

    From your blog post:

    Mars: To start, is Mars even warming globally at all? Perhaps not — it might be a local effect.

    Jupiter: The evidence for Jupiter’s global warming is nothing of the sort. It is evidence that there are warm spots, with storms rising to the tops of the clouds. This may just be a local effect, and not global.

    Therefore it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish between factors like the Sun warming up Triton anomalously, or just the usual changes in the moon due to seasons.

    As for tiny Pluto, its dynamics are very poorly understood. What we do see is that its atmosphere appears to be thicker than expected right now. Pluto doesn’t have much of an air blanket, and it changes over the course of Pluto’s orbit as the tiny iceball approaches and recedes from the Sun. Pluto reached perihelion, the closest point in its orbit to the Sun, in 1989, and is slowly drawing away again. You might think its atmosphere would start freezing out, getting thinner. But that’s not happening; it’s getting quite a bit thicker.
    However, this is not totally unexpected. Changes are not instantaneous, and it may take a while for things to thaw.

    The BLOG post you linked to is full of "may be" and we don't know. He consistently claims there is no warming, then claims that we don't know what's causing the warming. For example, on Jupiter he claims that there is no evidence for warming and then in the same paragraph claims that the warming may be local. Again, MAY BE local. And if there is no evidence of warming, what local warming is he talking about?

    Finally, he pulls a classic fallacy of "Poisoning the well":

    And the guy who is proposing that the Sun is warming Mars doesn’t think CO2 is a greenhouse gas.

    OK, so he doesn't think that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. What does that have to do with his ability to judge the temperature on Mars? Also, it's not true. What the article your blog used as a source said was, "Heading Pulkovo's space research laboratory is Dr. Abdussamatov, one of the world's chief critics of the theory that man-made carbon dioxide emissions create a greenhouse effect, leading to global warming." and "It is no secret that increased solar irradiance warms Earth's oceans, which then triggers the emission of large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. So the common view that man's industrial activity is a deciding factor in global warming has emerged from a misinterpretation of cause and effect relations." So, it's not that he doesn't believe CO2 is a greenhouse gas, but he questions the source of CO2 and its overall effect.

    I have an open mind and take an agnostic approach to AGW. Unfortunately, I see a whole lot more BS coming from the global warming crowd. Take this [epa.gov] gem, from the EPA itself:

    Methane (CH4) is a greenhouse gas that remains in the atmosphere for approximately 9-15 years. Methane is over 20 times more effective in trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide (CO2) over a 100-year period

    Am I the only one who fails to see the massive logic fail in that statement? If methane only lasts for 9-15 years, how is more effective at trapping heat over a 100 year period?

    But, until the engineers get involved on a real fix I wouldn't bother changing your lifestyle, other than maybe switching

  • by fermion (181285) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @09:15AM (#39866979) Homepage Journal
    It is interesting, however, to see public opinion change as those with vested interests in the past become less powerful. For instance, it was not that long ago that smoking was not considered bad. It was even considered a healthy thing to do in moderation. As new scientist were produced, educated in the most recent research, fewer of them were willing to take corporate dollars dedicated to proving smoking was good, or at last not significantly harmful. As new people reached their teens, uneducated by the promotions of the smoking interests, fewer of them started smoking, therefore fewer people have an interest in being able to consume drugs in public, something which has been discouraged for any drug other than tabaco(some surveys suggest that smoking among teens has dropped about 15 percentage points over the past 10-15 years). This in turn has lead to a reduction in money, i.e. power, of the smoking establishment, which in turn has lead to tabaco being treated the same as other legal drug, like alcohol.

    Right now we are in a carbon economy. It is critically important to many people to show that humans have no impact on global warming, so there is a lot of money invested in promoting that point of view. Even if the science remains as is, we are going to be moving away from a carbon economy simply because new scientists and engineers are going to be educated in the possibility that the carbon economy is not the best solution, and, being scientists and engineers, many of them are going to looking for a better solution. As time goes on, and those vested in the carbon economy become less powerful, than a more balanced picture will emerge. Remember that the first paper show smoking was harmful was published over 100 years ago. Fifty years ago it was clear that smoking caused severe health problems. it was only 10 years ago that the smoking interests admitted that smoking was a serious problem. And smoking is not nearly as ingrained in our society as energy from carbon sources.

  • Re:This is science (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kenh (9056) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @09:16AM (#39867003) Homepage Journal

    I love the hubris of the original poster in declaring this the "last" possible avenue of dissent, as if all of climatology were a known, predictable science... I believe it to be an evolving science - otherwise, why do they keep changing their models and simulations?

  • by jythie (914043) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @09:19AM (#39867031)
    It is amazing how the NYT went from respectable neutral newspaper to 'most liberal paper in the nation' in just a few short years of reporting on Bush Jr.
  • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @09:20AM (#39867037) Homepage

    The majority of those treaties are as flawed and biased as the studies I detest.

    Some policies I think are beneficial:

    • Increased fuel efficiency in vehicles
    • Recycling of paper, metals, and most plastics
    • Limits on greenhouse gas emission from factories (that cannot be exchanged)
    • Cleaner energy, like nuclear, hydroelectric, and solar
    • General-purpose electronics for better reuse

    That's all I can think of offhand. Generally, I feel that policies of "do this to save the world!" waste time and money, while policies of "this is more efficient" are better.

  • by actiondan (445169) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @09:30AM (#39867121)

    The point is that whether other planets are heating up or not has nothing to do with whether we should be concerned about climate change.

    I don't even think it matters whether climate change is anthropogenic (for whether we should be concerned - it obviously does matter in terms of studying the area and finding potential solutions)

    If you are in a room that is getting too hot, it is a good idea to switch the heating off, open a window or turn the air con on. Who or what is to blame for the excess heat doesn't matter as much as stopping the room getting so hot it causes problems for the people in it.

    For me the most important questions we should be asking are:

    * Is the climate changing?
    * What effects will that cause (good and bad)?
    * What can we do to affect the rate of change?
    * What can we do to mitigate the bad effects?
    * What can we do to benefit from the good effects?

    The reasons why the climate is changing are important as they can suggest what we can do to affect things but even if we determine that the climate change is not down to human activity, we should still be looking for ways to affect it in our favour.

  • Easy really. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Shivetya (243324) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @09:31AM (#39867125) Homepage Journal

    This is simply another attempt to discredit anyone and any theory which does not agree with their view that humans are responsible for the climate change we are experiencing and as such we have it well within our means to fix it.

    Common methods also include

    1) Grouping dissenters with discredit groups, an example would be to claim that these are the same kind of people who believe the moon landings were a hoax.

    2) Labeling them corporate shills, but only for the corporations who aren't funding those who are right.

    3) Calling them NAZIs or associating them with that type of institution.

    How hard is it to understand the common methods groups like this operate on. When you cannot refute all the claims the opposition makes you then attack the opposition instead of their claims.

  • Re:Last bastion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blueg3 (192743) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @09:40AM (#39867225)

    No, in science, you modify your model and conclusions based on changing evidence. The difference here is that you're holding your conclusion constant and changing the reason you claim it's true every time your reason is found to be untrue.

  • Re:Last bastion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dkleinsc (563838) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @09:41AM (#39867233) Homepage

    The problem is that while this may be the last scientific reason to think global climate change isn't happening or won't be a problem, what's really the last bastion is "la la la la I'm not listening! It's all a conspiracy!" And if issues like the the shape of the Earth and evolution are any guide, it may be several centuries before we're done dealing with that one.

    Here, I think, is the reason that this one is so difficult to accept for many people: Western society is fundamentally based on the ideas of growth and progress, where society produces more than it used to and by so doing enables scientific discoveries that enable it to produce even more which in turn leads to more scientific discoveries in a nice virtuous circle that has exponentially increased our quality of life. The challenge presented by global climate change (and peak oil and several other related problems) is that growth and progress can't continue exponentially forever. It's no different, really, than a colony of bacteria filling up their petri dish and being unable to expand any further. And what's worse, capitalism, while admirably suited to allowing humanity to produce more useful goods than ever before, is completely ill-equipped to handle situations where further growth or even preventing a catastrophic decline is impossible.

  • by jo_ham (604554) <joham999 @ g m a i l.com> on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @09:51AM (#39867339)

    Without any data to hand, it is difficult to say one way or the other - I certainly can't say for sure (unlike the OP who does assert one specific position with no evidence).

    My position is that as a member of the scientific community, I tend to agree with most of the peer-reviewed science on AGW - more specifically the chemistry aspects (as a chemist, it's the easiest stuff for me to digest beyond the abstracts).

    My point would be to look at the models used and data collected from a wide variety of different scientists and institutions. If you approach it from the standpoint that there's possibly "some sort of global scarcity" tactic where every single scientist is somehow involved in a secret cabal, then I'm not sure any evidence one way or the other is going to swing it. I mean, in that situation any evidence that supports you is "proof of the conspiracy!!!" and any that doesn't is "part of the conspiracy of lies".

    Standing back and looking at the whole system objectively really doesn't suggest such a thing.

  • Re:Last bastion (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Curunir_wolf (588405) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @09:51AM (#39867341) Homepage Journal

    But nevertheless this is a good news.

    To be accurate, it's not "news" at all. It's what is commonly referred to as a "hit piece", except it goes a little further and starts claiming that there is "a group" of people, some conspiracy, then goes on to try to prove that's the case by talking about Richard Lindzen. Yea, it's a small group - of 1.

    But then, there are so few people left doing anything like journalism anymore, it's no wonder people are confused by reading stuff like this and calling it "news".

  • by Joce640k (829181) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @10:17AM (#39867631) Homepage

    Nothing 'amazing' about it. They found sensationalism sells more newspapers than telling balanced truth does. That's capitalism.

  • Re:Last bastion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by swalve (1980968) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @10:25AM (#39867719)
    Seismic events don't really matter. The Earth is going to do what it is going to do. Whatever it does, we add to the problem by burning fossil fuels. Doesn't matter whether it is 90% of the problem, or 1% of the problem. We are contributing to it.
  • by RogueWarrior65 (678876) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @10:29AM (#39867769)

    Why is it that nobody checks the Earth's orbit at correlates it with temperature changes?

  • Re:Last bastion (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JWW (79176) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @10:37AM (#39867855)

    Here's my take.

    We need no carbon emission power generation right?

    Then we should be building nuclear power plants all over the place. I'd even be willing to see one built within 50 miles of my home (it'd actually be a great location for one, rural area, stable geology, access to water, and close tie ins to the grid from other power plants/windfarms in the area).

    BUT!!!!! That's not allowed!! Those advocating change eliminate and forbid the one change that could drastically lower emissions WITHOUT crushing the economy with regulations and taxes.

    Its almost like they don't want to see the problem solved at all, and instead they just want more political power......

  • Re:Last bastion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Baloroth (2370816) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @10:41AM (#39867887)

    First of all, the shape of the Earth was never a controversy: the Greeks not only knew it was round, they calculated the radius to within a few hundred km or so, and that knowledge stayed with humanity through the time of Columbus (who knew it was round, but miscalculated the exact circumference by a fair bit). Pretty much the only people who may have thought it was flat were the peasants.

    Second, capitalism works perfectly fine with a non-growing system. Plenty of companies maintain stable levels of profit and production over years or decades, producing steady profits for their investors. A huge number of investors prefer start-ups and expansion, because those yield massive profits (or complete loss) much much faster, but capitalism doesn't require that. All it requires is that the stable system be large enough to create local instabilities. There will be sufficient fluctuation between the companies within the stable system to allow for new corporations in any case, and of course the progress of science means we will (for the forseeable future) be able to utilize more resources and do so more efficiently: oil is not the only source of energy in the world. It isn't even the cheapest or most efficient, just the easiest to utilize.

  • troll story (Score:5, Insightful)

    by argStyopa (232550) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @10:50AM (#39867985) Journal

    I've seen troll posts, but this is perhaps the first time I've seen an entire article that's a troll.

    Oh, I know I'm going to be castigated as a "dissenter" (Yikes, just that name reeks of quasi-religious orthodoxy. How dare he disagree!) but sure, I'll bite:

    'For decades, a small group of scientific dissenters has been trying to shoot holes in the prevailing science of climate change, offering one reason after another why the outlook simply must be wrong.'
    I'm not sure "decades" applies, as it's only been about a decade and a half since the alarmists started warning us that the sky was falling. When initially presented by a blowhard self-promoting politician, it's hard to take the 'science' seriously. If Rush Limbaugh produced a propaganda film insisting that 2+2=4, I'd likewise start to doubt whatever it was he was promoting. Let's also remember that there's a bit of a 'cry wolf' case here; the people claiming that armageddon was now approaching, had previously told us that:
    - we were going to all starve to death
    - we were going to run out of oil
    - we were going to run out of fresh water
    - we were covering our country in landfills
    - DDT was going to kill us all
    - nuclear power was going to kill us all
    (etc. ad infinitum) ...and that sort of bombastic pessimism HAS been going on for decades (real decades, not inflated decades).

    Initially they claimed that weather stations exaggerated the warming trend. This was disproven by satellite data which shows a similar warming trend.
    I'm not sure that's true. Well, probably SOMEONE somewhere said that. My concern was that weather station data was sparse, extremely questionably interpolated in a way that seemed to encourage bias (upward), anecdotal evidence that many of the long-standing weather stations in the US had been subject to encroaching urbanization without (as far as I could see in the data) any correction for that, etc. Further, while the "hockey stick" (that started this) shocked me as fully as it did Mr Gore, I was suspicious of the statistical methods that had been broadly explained in its initial presentation. Further, I'd (anecdotally) remembered stories about oranges growing in England that didn't seem to be reflected in the data. As more discussion followed, people who were far more savvy than me presented a more-convincing case that the statistics used were deeply flawed. This of course made me wonder why someone would do this - by accident or on purpose. To be frank, I immediately categorized Messrs. Mann (et al) as eco-alarmists, the broad group of discredited wierdoes I'd been ignoring since the 1970s. Frankly, that's the hole that "global warming" alarmists have had to try to climb out of since then. I'll be very clear: In my mind, this definitely weighed against subsequent AGW claims.

    Further, and regardless of his conclusions (many of which I believe to have been either overstated or otherwise flawed; I *do* feel strongly that his whole point about opportunity costs of chasing CO2 vs other beneficial ecological investments is the baby that's gone out with the bathwater) the vitriol and fury directed against Bjorn Lomborg for daring to doubt the data was even more confirmation for me that this was no longer a scientific issue - this took on the tenor of a secular Inquisition.

    Next, solar activity was blamed for much of the warming. This looked like a promising theory until the '80s, when solar output started to diverge from global temperatures.
    Really? http://www.tmgnow.com/repository/solar/lassen1.html [tmgnow.com] seems to present fairly soberly.

    Comparison of the extended solar activity record with the temperature series confirms the high correlation between solar activity and northern hemisphere land surface air temperature and shows that the relationship has existed through the whole 500-year interval for which reliable data exist.
    A corresponding influence

  • Re:Last bastion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tnk1 (899206) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @10:52AM (#39868001)

    Of course natural contribution matters. If we can run a whole industrial society and our contribution to the effect is effectively the margin of error of the measurements, then what is the point of getting torqued up about AGW? If warming is going to happen no matter what we do or don't do, then we can be spending our time and resources on a lot better things than controlling greenhouse gas emissions.

    If, on the other hand, it is the only reason we are about to turn into a blazing hell like Venus, then we all need to start working on fixing the problem yesterday.

    The question is, if human contributions to climate change are significant, what is the effect and what targets to we need to meet to avoid any negative effects?

  • Re:Last bastion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tibit (1762298) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @10:54AM (#39868037)

    I think that there are valid reasons for distrusting the group think here. To me, there are four orthogonal issues: whether there is a warming, to what extent it's anthropogenic, what will the fallout be, and for how long. I think that the first two are answered with a yes, perhaps even a resounding one. To the third, there's plenty of reasonable scenarios. My main beef is with presumptions and handwaving on the last one. That's the real policy driver.

    It's not unthinkable that the warming and cooling would happen with different time constants, as would increase and decrease in atmospheric CO2. Suppose we stopped all fossil fuel use right now. How far would the warming trend go, and for how long? One presumes that if we merely reduce emissions, it'll go farther and longer. How much are our sacrifices worth?

  • Re:Last bastion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slim (1652) <john.hartnup@net> on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @11:06AM (#39868167) Homepage

    Of course natural contribution matters. If we can run a whole industrial society and our contribution to the effect is effectively the margin of error of the measurements, then what is the point of getting torqued up about AGW?

    Well, it's moot because as someone else has pointed out, mankind's CO2 output dwarfs that of volcanos.

    But even if that were not so, your point doesn't work. OK - if man's CO2 contribution really was small enough to be within the error bars, you might have a point. But beyond that, a small delta to a large natural level matters.

    By analogy:
      - Imagine a substance X that naturally occurs in your blood
      - By some natural process over which you have no control, the normal level is 20%
      - 21% will kill you

    The 1% is small compared to the 20%. But you'd do well to avoid ingesting that extra 1%, since it'll keep you alive, and it's the only part you can avoid.

  • by oxdas (2447598) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @11:16AM (#39868299)

    "The overwhelming consensus of the scientific community." This is my problem with climate change. While I believe that the Earth is warming. I believe it is prudent to work toward limiting our impact in the event we are causing drastic change. But most people I talk to about climate change have based their entire belief on a logical fallacy ( in this case Appeal to Authority). True or not this isn't science, it is religion.

  • Re:Last bastion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dkleinsc (563838) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @11:23AM (#39868375) Homepage

    First of all, the shape of the Earth was never a controversy

    ... among non-idiots after about 300 BCE. That's precisely my point: Even though modern humans have had every reason imaginable to believe the Earth is an oblate spheroid, and pretty close to complete proof of the idea by about 1550, there are still Flat Earth believers [theflatearthsociety.org]. That's why idiocy and denial are the last refuge of a stupid idea.

    Same story with the development of life on Earth. Evolution was widely accepted scientifically by about 1880 or so, but surveys show a solid 30% or so of Americans still believe that life was created by God 6000 years ago.

  • Re:Last bastion (Score:2, Insightful)

    by doconnor (134648) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @11:28AM (#39868443) Homepage

    The effect of the warming are difficult to predict which means it could be not as bad as predicted or worse then predicted.

    It would be prudent to start slashing carbon dioxide emissions since the worst case consequences of doing that (taking a bus) is less bad then the worst case consequences of global warming (hundreds of millions of deaths).

  • Re:Last bastion (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cpu6502 (1960974) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @11:31AM (#39868467)

    BUT as the summary pointed-out the measurements are distorted because the once-rural weather stations are now in the middle of expanding cities (heat sinks). And no measuring with satellites doesn't prove anything..... the current sats have only been in the sky a few years. That's not long enough to make any kind of determination.

    Furtermore even if the globe was warming, there's no proof it was man. The globe warmed during the era of the Egyptians (3000 BC) and Romans (300 AD), and that wasn't due to oil-burning chariots. Maybe the current cycle is the same cause as back in ancient times. We. Just. Don't know.

  • Re:Last bastion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jeremi (14640) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @12:01PM (#39868945) Homepage

    AGW skeptics are being called names like "deniers".

    Is "denier" not an accurate term for someone who refuses to see what's in front of their face?

    And you wonder why people don't listen...

    There's no wondering about it, it's typical human behavior. If people acknowledged the problem, then they would feel pressured to do something about it, and since they believe (correctly) that dealing with global warming would create hardship for them, the easiest way to cope (in the short run) is to pretend the problem doesn't exist.

  • by dylan_- (1661) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @12:28PM (#39869365) Homepage

    In distance, this works. Not so much with heat. Put two pots on the stove, one on high for 10 minutes and another on low for two hours. Sure, the pot on high will boil, but it will eventually cool down to a temperature lower than the pot on low.

    It does work with heat, in fact you've got it with your analogy, you've just left the pot too long. Put one on high for 10 minutes and one on low for 20 minutes and you might well have the one on high being hotter than the one on low!

    Eventually is the key word. If methane just disappeared out of the atmosphere when it broke down then give it long enough and it would have had less of an effect than CO2 in the atmosphere would. It just takes longer than 100 years to do that. Well, it's complicated by that fact that methane breaks down to CO2 anyway, so that's like turning the pot on high down to low rather than off, but you get the drift.

    Space is a poor insulator.

    Actually, this is incorrect. The only way things can lose heat in space is through radiation. It insulates quite well. Your biggest problem with electronics in space is cooling them without convection.

  • by riverat1 (1048260) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @12:55PM (#39869775)

    An appeal to authority is not a fallacy when the authorities you are citing are in fact knowledgeable on the subject.

  • Re:troll story (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HeckRuler (1369601) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @12:58PM (#39869837)
    Well yes, I think you've got a point when it comes to the effects of climate change. The end-of-the-world types are nuts, even when they're professors.

    climate change seems a staggeringly massive system that we are only starting to understand

    True. And this applies to almost all systems. Even seemingly basic things like how a block slides down ramp. Friction has some crazy nuances to it. But that's no reason to throw your hands in the air and declare that we know nothing about the system. There is always room for improvement. Always, because perfection is impossible.

    there is every reason to try to be more efficient at energy production, distribution, and eliminating waste regardless of global warming

    Well duh. Was this up for debate? Was someone arguing FOR waste? Did I miss that somewhere?

    the histrionics of the AGW folks scare me badly.

    Meh, there are crazy half-baked ideas whenever you have really big problems. Consider it brainstorming. Everyone laughed at the concept of a space elevator, but that's going to happen eventually. Cap&Trade, as a system of ecological indulgences, is perfectly fine, as long as we use those funds to counter the negative impact. You can chop down trees if you plant new ones.

    What I see is yet another wave of mostly-white first-world conservatives who are ignoring the externalities of their businesses and don't want to be held accountable for fucking shit up for the rest of us. They're pushing an anti-intellectual agenda, buying corrupt science papers, and spinning whatever PR they can.

    And you're certainly not the person to listen to on the matter. You've admitted that you no longer accept input and have officially put your head in the sand. Good luck with that.

  • Re:Last bastion (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmhNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @01:08PM (#39870009) Journal

    Here's the source you couldn't be assed to look up:

    http://www.agu.org/pubs/pdf/2011EO240001.pdf [agu.org]

    Science doesn't deliver certainty, it gives us the best we know. If you want certainty try religion.

  • Re:Last bastion (Score:3, Insightful)

    by davester666 (731373) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @01:24PM (#39870221) Journal

    Yes, we'll only know FOR SURE thousands of years from now. Until we know FOR SURE, we better not do anything.

    The aliens that find our fossilized remains will surely go "WTF?"

  • Re:Easy really. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nimey (114278) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @01:27PM (#39870257) Homepage Journal

    Perhaps if the denial crowd didn't use methods exactly like those of the evolution deniers and the tobacco firms who lied about tobacco being harmless, we'd stop making such comparisons.

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