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Earth Science

Little Ice Age: It Was Not the Sun 375

vikingpower writes "The Little Ice Age, lasting from the end of the Middle Age into the 17th century, may very likely have been caused by the combined effects of four major volcanic eruptions and increased sunlight reflection by increasing sea ice, the so-called Albedo effect. ... The University of Boulder has a press release with maps and photographs. Bette Otto-Bliesner, one of the scientists behind the 'volcano + sea ice' thesis, fields an earnest warning against drawing conclusions too quickly from this research: 'I think people might look at the Little Ice Age and think that all we need to save us from rising temperatures are some volcanic eruptions or the geo-engineering equivalent [...] But when you see what happened when global temperatures dropped by just one degree and you look at current predictions of six or seven degree increases for the future, you realize how precarious things are for life as we know it.'"
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Little Ice Age: It Was Not the Sun

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  • by angry tapir ( 1463043 ) on Monday February 06, 2012 @11:21PM (#38949229) Homepage
    It always astonishes me that on a geeky site like Slashdot with an audience that in theory puts such a high value on science, you get so many global warming denialists.
  • by suprcvic ( 684521 ) on Monday February 06, 2012 @11:26PM (#38949257)
    Shouldn't all science be questioned? If we unanimously accept a scientific theory to be fact, is it still science?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 06, 2012 @11:29PM (#38949283)

    > Shouldn't all science be questioned?

    Yes - intelligently questioned by people who are qualified to criticize it. And who "question" it by doing their own research, investigation, hypothesizing and testing... which is not the same as digging up spurious out-of-context quotes and raising biased, uninformed objections for political reasons.

  • by locopuyo ( 1433631 ) on Monday February 06, 2012 @11:33PM (#38949305) Homepage
    It always astonishes me that on a geeky site like Slashdot with an audience that in theory puts such a high value on science, you get so many ice age denialists.
  • by im_thatoneguy ( 819432 ) on Monday February 06, 2012 @11:35PM (#38949317)

    Shouldn't all science be questioned? If we unanimously accept a scientific theory to be fact, is it still science?

    All science should be questioned but once consensus is reached for instance "There is a meteor heading for earth and will strike it in 3 months wiping out all surface life." you should probably act upon that if you know what's best for you. "Sure maybe all of our deep space instrumentation might be on the whack at the same time and sure it might be independently verified by every astronomical scientific society through repeated observation... but how do we reallllly know about space?"

    Should we continue questioning the existence of the holocaust? Isn't it the job of historians to question and challenge preconceived notions about history?

  • by Ironix ( 165274 ) <steffen@@@norgren...ca> on Monday February 06, 2012 @11:37PM (#38949333) Homepage

    There's a difference between questioning a theory based on evidence to the contrary and questioning it simply because it is controversial. One of the few other scientific theories that seems to enjoy this distinction is the theory of evolution. However, you'd be hard pressed to find as many slashdotters making the same argument against that theory.

  • by Geoffrey.landis ( 926948 ) on Monday February 06, 2012 @11:53PM (#38949437) Homepage

    Shouldn't all science be questioned?

    Yes, but the problems with the deniers is that they don't listen to the answers.

  • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @12:00AM (#38949477) Homepage Journal

    One of the few other scientific theories that seems to enjoy this distinction is the theory of evolution. However, you'd be hard pressed to find as many slashdotters making the same argument against that theory.

    Actually, you will. Check any Slashdot story dealing with evolution, and you'll see a ton of comments pushing creationism (usually in its "intelligent design" guise) very often using the same "we should always question theories" argument. Sadly, almost none of these people seem willing to question the theory of gravity in the most obvious manner.

  • by tom229 ( 1640685 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @12:03AM (#38949489)
    A much bigger problem is that western economies, having their medium exchange controlled privately, rely on perpetual (and infinite) economic growth to avoid deflation.

    The second more important issue is that the west is continually building their economy to rely on an infinite (and cheap) supply of oil when it's quite clearly a finite commodity.

    Fix these two world collapsing issues first.. and then worry about whether the planet's getting a little bit warmer or not.
  • by causality ( 777677 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @12:08AM (#38949521)

    > Shouldn't all science be questioned?

    Yes - intelligently questioned by people who are qualified to criticize it. And who "question" it by doing their own research, investigation, hypothesizing and testing... which is not the same as digging up spurious out-of-context quotes and raising biased, uninformed objections for political reasons.

    And yet if these unqualified non-scientists believed in said theory, you would have no quarrel with them. Even though they don't believe it as a result of being qualified, doing research, investigation, hypothesizing, and testing (redundant after "investigation"?).

    The unspoken, probably unacknowledged even by you, message here? "Don't question authority."

    I never believed that science was meant to be a priesthood. Back when we had priesthoods and considered that normal, don't we call those times the Dark Ages? The moment you are told that you're not qualified and therefore have no business forming your own position, that's the moment you have established a priesthood.

    I have an entirely different take. I think this science has a problem most sciences don't. We have only one planet that's practical to use for this model. We can't modify the system to test different variables in a rigorous way, and we can't compare what happens to a control group. There is too much uncertainty that there's no clear way to resolve. So, it becomes a political issue. It boils down to some authority's opinion concerning what makes the most sense. That's great fun when the authority is wrong, or there are multiple authorities who disagree with each other, or there's no positive way to rule those out.

    If you don't understand that, you wind up passionately judging the stupidity of people you know nothing about, not because they demonstrated stupidity but as a feeble attempt at shutting them up. After all, they followed the "wrong" authority. Do you realize that popular ideas which people were absolutely certain about, and sometimes would have fought and died over, that anyone would have been ridiculed for doubting, have turned out to be wrong in the past?

  • by ArcherB ( 796902 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @12:12AM (#38949539) Journal

    > Shouldn't all science be questioned?

    Yes - intelligently questioned by people who are qualified to criticize it. And who "question" it by doing their own research, investigation, hypothesizing and testing... which is not the same as digging up spurious out-of-context quotes and raising biased, uninformed objections for political reasons.

    See, that's the problem. Any scientist that questions it is immediately deemed unqualified or even unethical simply because they have bothered to question it.

    Can you name a me a single AGW "denialist" that you deem to be qualified enough to have their theories and research taken seriously?


  • by mellon ( 7048 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @12:13AM (#38949545) Homepage

    Yeah, computer models suck. That's why airplanes keep falling out of the sky, why missiles never hit their targets, and why you can never get the temperature of the brew head on your espresso machine just right. Er, wait, you can do all of these things. Because of computer models.

    Remember when the weather forecast was always wrong? It's been really remarkably precise recently when I've followed it, which I do a lot, because I enjoy outdoor sports. It's been scarily precise. Predictions a week out come true with astonishing regularity. This is weather, which is rapidly changing and chaotic, not climate, which is slow and relatively predictable.

    The problem with your completely ignorant assertion here is that in fact the models do appear to be getting more accurate, not less. The debates are not over whether there is warming, but over how much, and what the effect will be, and how soon the effect will come. Nobody is debating whether it's coming except people who are making a short-term killing on carbon externalities.

  • by ironjaw33 ( 1645357 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @12:24AM (#38949595)

    Shouldn't all science be questioned?

    Yes, but the problems with the deniers is that they don't listen to the answers.

    Terms like "denier" or "believer" have no place in this debate. Both imply an unwillingness to consider what is known and what isn't.

  • by KeensMustard ( 655606 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @12:30AM (#38949625)
    Science can only be validly questioned by science. Constructing another framework based on non science (e.g feelings, or dogma) and presenting this construct as if it falsified the science is simply nonsensical. It's like trying to debate in a language you made up yourself. It is just babble.

    Therefore the fact that people do not like the implications of AGW does not, in anyway, make it less true. We are not choosing clothes from a rack. We are not debating whether the purple shoes will go with my slacks. And it's the implications that denialists do not like. Notably, no-one ever questioned Tyndalls experiment, nor whether the greenhouse effect was real until it became clear from the numbers that we needed to change our habits. Then suddenly, the whole theory was controversial.

  • by washort ( 6555 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @12:39AM (#38949661) Homepage
    You left out an important one:

    0) The people shouting loudest about how important this is stand to gain a significant amount of money, power, and public notice if people believe and act on their claims.

    Analysis of incentives goes both directions. If you're a paleoclimatologist, which is more likely to advance your career? A report that says current climate variations fit the historical pattern and there's nothing anyone needs to do differently, or one that says that significant government regulation and societal reorganization is needed?

  • by ArcherB ( 796902 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @12:39AM (#38949665) Journal

    I'll probably get modded down for this comment and someone will tell me I'm wrong, even though everything I've posted is OPINION. But that's kinda how this site works. If someone disagrees with you and has mod points, they will mod you down, usually "overrated", in an attempt to silence views that differ from their own.

    (Score:0, Flamebait)

    Global Warming Alarmists try to silence the opposition to prevent you from hearing any views that may disprove their own.

      If you disagree, post a reply.

    From the moderator guidelines [slashdot.org]:
    Simply disagreeing with a comment is not a valid reason to mark it down.

    (Although, my post was absolutely full of typos. It's hard for me to read and I wrote the damn thing!)

  • by Rolgar ( 556636 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @12:59AM (#38949743)

    The only thing is, a meteor is an easily provable phenomenon. The factors are well known, and predictions can easily be made and verified. I can go and reproduce Newton's equations, or re-measure the speed of light, or retest hundreds of other theories that have been proven. These are not contested.

    I have yet to see anybody make a verifiable prediction with regard to climate change on anything less than what will happen decades from now. If the science is so settled as claimed, shouldn't the scientists be able to isolate a few variables, and say that if this happens (with regard to sun activity, and any other variables they want to quantify) and lay down some solid numbers so we know what is predicted. Nothing like last year's after the fact statements that year's winter storms or tornado activity was caused by human activity.

    I want real prediction that say if sun output is low, temperatures will be stable or slightly down. If sun output is average, temperature will be up .1 and if it's high temperatures will be up .25. If they want to add in modifiers for cloud cover, and other weather conditions and any other factors they can think of, great. Then if their predictions are accurate, we have some sort of confidence that they model actually takes into account all of the necessary variables. If the numbers come in significantly different than what they predict, then we know that the models are far from complete and the science isn't settled yet. Until I see the science actually giving us predictions that conform to reality, I choose to believe that the scientists don't haven't it all figured out. Extraordinary claims (like complete confidence in predictive powers concerning climate) require irrefutable evidence. Since these predictions haven't been made yet (since I'm sure they would be big news and nothing of the sort has ever been printed), and the time scale of all predictions concerns what will happen at mid or end of century, it's entirely possible that scientists are making claims that can't be falsified in their lifetimes.

  • Consensus has no place in scientific discourse. Galileo was not a consensus kind of guy.

    How many people in some category (such as how many scientists) share the same opinion on a subject has no bearing on the search for truth about that subject. It definitely has an effect on the politics involved, but that is not science. That is politics. Setting up a carbon credit system is politics, maybe good, maybe not, but definitely something involving politics (and a little engineering), but not science. Choosing who gets the research grants is politics and has nothing to do with the underlying science of the proposed research.

    Make sure you understand the distinction between science and politics. Recognize that there are a lot of people with political motivations who want to have you confused about that distinction.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @01:26AM (#38949877)

    "Gravity" is not a theory. However, there are plenty of scientists that doubt various theories on how exactly gravity works (string theory, loop quantum gravity, etc).

    Comparing gravity to AGW is preposterous. Human scale Newtonion gravity is easily demonstrated. F=G(m1m2/r^2) is easily tested by high school physics students again and again every year.

  • by 1u3hr ( 530656 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @01:32AM (#38949911)
    Which is why the label "denier" is appropriate.
  • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @01:33AM (#38949915) Journal
    So how many times do you answer the same question before you realise you're dealing with a troll or a shill? How many people still link and quote Anthont Watts thoughroghly descredited claims? Should the time cube guy be allowed to chew up research dollars just because he has a bunch of ideas contrary to modern physics?

    I think you are also bluring the "argument from authority" thing (which is about relying on a single source), science does in fact carry a certain authority in it's calim to have the best answer, if not the correct answer. It's authority comes from a meritocricy that Popper called "the republic of science" and what everyone else calls "consensus". It's the difference between "science says" and "a scientist says".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @01:48AM (#38949995)

    The original article is about the Little Ice Age primarily, and the only tie-in is the comment warning against relying on volcanoes to save us from warming / geoengineering man-made "volcanoes" to fix warming.

      But, ok, you want to ask the question "is it actually warming?" I'm a climate scientist-ish, I'll throw in a line. I recommend skepticalscience.com for it's superb evidentiary support for the theory of anthropogenic global warming (a.k.a. climate change).

      Yes - we have ample data demonstrating that it is warming, not only in the air but in the surface waters of the ocean (water absorbs some of the heat, it turns out - if only it would absorb more of it!). We have really really obvious evidence (seriously, just look at the satellite pictures) of dramatic summer sea ice loss. The troposphere (where we live - where our weather happens) has warmed about 1.3 degrees F over the last 100 years. This might not sound like a lot, but just integrate 1.3 degrees over the whole planet, and you're talking about a significant amount of energy.

      The stratosphere has cooled up to 6 degrees Celsius (yeah, that's right, mixing up the units) in some places, and higher atmospheric layers have cooled even more. Now, you might ask, why the cooling - this is supposed to be global WARMING, right? The mechanism behind stratospheric cooling is a bit complex, but think about it this way: Greenhouse gases (GHG's) trap more heat (absorbed and re-radiated long-wave energy) in the Troposphere (the lowest layer, where weather happens) than we would otherwise have. If that extra heat weren't trapped in the lower atmosphere, it would have to go somewhere else, right? So where would it go? It turns out, it would go back into space or, more importantly, into the upper layers of the atmosphere (stratosphere, mesosphere, ionosphere). Essentially, the GHG's play favorites with the atmosphere - they give the lowest layer more heat while depriving the higher layers of their ordinary allowance.

    Incidentally, this phenomenon allows us to distinguish GHG-driven heating from sun-driven heating. If global warming were caused by the sun alone, the temperature would increase in all layers of the atmosphere - the sun doesn't play favorites.

    But wait, how do we know it's people? Physics tells us CO2 absorbs long-wave radiation (and then re-radiates that energy in all directions). Simple energy balance calculations tell us that without CO2 and other greenhouse gases (but mostly the CO2, as it is slower to enter/leave the atmosphere than H2O) the earth would be too cold to support most life forms. Over and over again in Earth's long history, higher concentrations of CO2 are associated with higher temperatures (the very early Earth was very warm, despite a weaker sun - this is known as the Faint Young Sun paradox - but greenhouse gases were more abundant). We're pumping this gas into the atmosphere with careless abandon, and we can measure and observe that much of it stays there (removing CO2 from the atmosphere permanently by natural processes takes a loooong time). Even if we didn't measure warming and we couldn't measure CO2 (did I mention we can measure warming and CO2? We do it all the time) the laws of physics and the principles of chemistry allow no other possible conclusion than a future of warming (for most of us) and cooling (for anyone unfortunate enough to be stuck in the upper atmosphere).

    Sorry for the long post. Also, don't think for a minute someone does serious climate science without asking the questions "are we sure we know what we know?" or "are the computer models any good, like, at all?" about 3 times before breakfast. Seriously, people, we're pretty smart apes, this isn't "too complicated" or "too difficult" for us humans to figure out.

  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @01:54AM (#38950017) Journal

    He probably does not even realize that some of the persons he interacts with on a daily basis are Wiccans, Gardnerians, BTWs, hedge witches.

    He probably does. And smirks inwardly every time he thinks about it.

    Just because a certain kind of people are everywhere doesn't mean they aren't funny. Crystal healers are my favorite.

  • by ironjaw33 ( 1645357 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @02:04AM (#38950055)

    Which is why the label "denier" is appropriate.

    The use of "denier" in this context sounds no different than a religious zealot blindly assuming that whatever is "denied" is in fact true. When it comes to arguing global warming, there appear to be more parallels with religion than with actual science.

  • by ghostdoc ( 1235612 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @02:06AM (#38950071)

    Maybe because we do value science so highly and we utterly detest the politicisation of science that is such a huge feature of the climate debate.

    If you actually listen to both sides, then the scientists are debating one very small thing: how sensitive the climate is to the small forcing from human gaseous emissions.

    Both sides agree there is some warming. The extent of the current warming and whether it has paused/stopped for the last ten years is disputed (for a variety of reasons, but there are credible peer-reviewed climate scientists discussing the pause). The political AGW movement denies there has been any pause ("9 of the hottest 10 years on record have been since 2000", for example, which is shrill cry to keep believing the warming, but is also completely consistent with a pause in warming). The anti-AGW movement says that we have had some warming, but it's not a pause and we're due for another cooling period.

    Both sides agree that at least some of the warming is due to human emissions. Again, the dispute is over how much. The political AGW movement says all the warming is human-induced. The climatologists say some of it is. The anti-AGW movement say very little of it is, and there are a variety of other more important causes.

    Both sides agree that the majority influence on the climate are the various feedbacks involved in this chaotic system. The climate papers and models are very firmly saying that the current warming will increase water vapour in the atmosphere which will cause further warming. The political AGW movement says there is a 'tipping point' imminent beyond which all feedbacks become runaway positive feedbacks and the planet burns (I exaggerate only very slightly). The anti-AGW movement says that the feedbacks are unknown, there's no evidence that the models are right on this, and the water vapour feedbacks could be as strongly negative as positive.

    Both sides agree that the outcome of continued warming is unknown. The climatologists get quiet on this point, but there are a number of other disciplines, notably the biosciences, that have published papers showing that any climate change is bad (which makes sense from a worldview where any changes to an ecosystem are seen as 'damage' and the current state of the ecosystem is the ideal state of that ecosystem, which is the prevailing view). The political AGW movement insist that the outcome will be catastrophic. The anti-AGW movement tend towards the view that a little warming would actually be quite nice, but accept that some places would have a negative outcome.

    There are ancillary debates about, for instance, ocean level rises, ocean acidification, the causes and consequences of sea-ice and glacier retreats and other stuff, but basically it for the most part seems to be pretty good, open, honest debate. The anti-AGW movement has a core of competent scientists, mathematicians and amateur/retired climatologists who do know their stuff and can talk reasonably about it. For example, the original scepticism was sparked by McIntyre who is a statistician and had some legitimate questions about the statistics used in the climate science papers, those questions were subsequently borne out by the UK enquiries (no-one did anything 'wrong' but the enquiry did conclude that there were valid questions about the statistics methodologies used).

    However, this is all surrounded by a haze of politics, so that professional climatologists have to be careful about what they publish in case it can be seen as supporting the 'other side', there are calls to censor publications on the subject to maintain a united front on the subject, the image of a 97% 'consensus' must be maintained at all times. The only place there can be a sensible debate about it is on the blogs, because they're not censored (though there are some people who would love to). And all the time there's a constant drumbeat of 'DENIALIST' whenever someone questions the political "truths".

    This is bad. The use of the word Denialist is bad. Attempting to censo

  • by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @02:36AM (#38950207)

    More for #0: The people shouting the loudest haven't given up air travel. They don't keep their (often multiple) houses at 55 degrees F in the winter instead of the 70 F they find comfortable. They don't run their washing machines on timers so the load runs at 3AM. They're typically a wealthy and self-styled elite class who, even if they aren't setup to directly benefit from AGW measures, are largely insulated from the hardships they would impose on the rest of us.

    If the choice is between risking warmer weather and having our lives micromanaged by an arrogant, deceitful ruling class of elite technocrats who hold ordinary folks like me in contempt, then I'll take my chances with warmer weather.

  • by _xen ( 79742 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @02:55AM (#38950279)

    Using a "convenient one word label" turns the debate from scientific to political.

    But this is a political debate, not a scientific one. The scientific debate is conducted in journals and conferences not on this kind of forum and not by you and I. The scientific debate is largely over, or rather it has moved on from the issues which are still hotly contested in the political debate.

    It's focusing more on "us vs. them" than discussing the real issues at hand.

    The "real issue at hand" is what policy position, if any, ought to be adopted in light of the now established science, or if you prefer, the current best available science. Denialists have no interest in discussing the real issues. Quite the opposite, they are concerned with stopping the real issues from being discussed at all.

    We call people who disrupt democratic process with bombs with a convenient one-word label: 'terrorist.' You may object, but it makes conversation more convenient. So what would you call people who disrupt the democratic process with disinformation about science, regardless of whether it's about climate, AIDS, vaccines or whatever? We usually find it easier to identify these people as 'deniers' or 'denialists.' They would like to be called skeptics, but that is actually only more disinformation.

  • by riverat1 ( 1048260 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @03:04AM (#38950313)

    Consensus is not when scientists get together and decide "We're going to have a consensus!" Consensus is what you have when (nearly all) scientists in a field no longer argue seriously about a particular subject except at the minute detail level because it isn't interesting any more.

  • It's a strange kind of "priesthood" that has to show its work and changes its mind when new evidence comes in.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @04:30AM (#38950677)

    The fact that the models don't predict everything completely accurately does not necessarily mean that they are far off, it just means that they haven't been extended and refined as well as we could yet. Furthermore, science gives us predictions that conform to reality literally every day.

    But you illustrate your cognitive dissonance when you say that you "choose to believe that the scientists don't haven't [sic] it all figured out." Scientists will NEVER have it all figured out, because this universe that we have found ourselves in is so intricately beautiful that our species could spend the rest of its days studying the cosmos and still not have a complete picture of how everything works. But, expecting science to figure everything out perfectly is missing the picture - the point of science is not to arrive at a conclusion and stay there forever and ever amen, it is to continuously refine and extend our theories until we have models that approximate reality to the degree that we are comfortable with.

    In addition, there is no such thing as irrefutable evidence (except in religious matters, and even that is debatable). There have been predictions (see the many posts in this discussion about Tyndall's experiment) about global warming, and nobody (to my knowledge, and apparently to the knowledge of everybody else who posted about it) has refuted the fact the CO2 increases global temperatures. And lastly, while there are scientists who are making claims that cannot be falsified in their lifetimes, that has no bearing as to the accuracy or inaccuracy of those predictions, and it has everything to do with how quickly climate changes occur (hint: slowly). Would you restrict science to making predictions that cannot be tested immediately given the current state-of-the-art equipment? I think you will find that you have to make those predictions and then get the funding to develop the state-of-the-art equipment to test your claims, as it simply cannot work any other way. And that is currently where cimate science is at this point. The only problem, as you have complained about, is that the predictions that climate science makes are long term, but that is no reason to reject those claims out of hand.

    So, I suggest you refrain from commenting about global warming and the logic, philosophy, pragmatic implementation (is there any other kind?), limitations, and results of science, and stick to commenting on things you actually know something about.

  • by causality ( 777677 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @09:37AM (#38952649)

    Yes, because you're the same type of person who would follow an MD's advice on heart surgery after what? maybe two concurring opinions. Yet when it comes to accepting science that conflicts with your political views, you say "Well hold on Buster. 98% of the people qualified to make an assessment isn't good enough. And I'm a victim too!. You big meanies!".

    Yes, so there must then be a difference. It so happens that there is in fact a difference between modern medicine and modern climate science. Medical scientists can perform an experiment on thousands of patients, then compare the results to another control group of thousands more patients. They can clearly distinguish correlation from causation. They can modify the system (i.e. cardiovascular) with drugs; those drugs have effects also established by experiment.

    How many human-inhabited planets do we have to experiment on? Do we have an easy way to say, instantly cut the CO2 level of one of those planets by 30% to see how it impacts the climate? Do we have a ton of other human-inhabited planets we can use as a control group? No? Then my heart surgeon is a tad more certain about the medical advice he gives me than anyone has been about global warming, climate change, etc.

    If you can't see the difference it's because you refuse to.

  • by 1u3hr ( 530656 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @11:36AM (#38954383)

    Here is a post a few spots up that completely negates your statement:

    Richard Lindzen. Wasn't he the guy who was recently debunked and had his papers withdrawn from publication because he was being paid for his position?

    The second a scientist takes on penny from an oil company, even after his work is published, he's instantly discredited, regardless of the quality or accuracy of his work. Yet, it is perfectly acceptable for a scientist to take money in the form of a grant from a government that stands to gain power over citizens.

    Rubbish. Lindzen didn't have his livelihood threatened, that's what the poster I was responding to insinuated. Being criticised is another thing entirely. Lindzen has had a long comfortable career. He didn't suffer for his opinions.

    He was pilloried though for LYING about his funding. See http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Richard_S._Lindzen [sourcewatch.org] : "in 2007, Lindzen wrote that "his research has always been funded exclusively by the U.S. government. He receives no funding from any energy companies." Which was untrue.

    And, FYI, governments already have " power over citizens". I don't understand where you conspiracy nutjobs get the idea that global warming is a political issue that somehow helps commies. It doesn't help ANYONE. It's going to fuck us all.

  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @02:03PM (#38956719)

    Also, don't think for a minute someone does serious climate science without asking the questions "are we sure we know what we know?" or "are the computer models any good, like, at all?" about 3 times before breakfast.

    The problem is that yes, I believe this happens quite a lot that people do "serious climate science" without sufficiently questioning their models or understanding (and I doubt anyone questions their models or understanding three times before breakfast). Keep in mind that the truly damning revelations during "climategate" were the unscientific, biased attitudes of the scientists involved (such as worrying more about maintaining the AGW narrative in the face of modestly adverse evidence than "Are we sure we know what we know?") and release of the remarkably sloppy code that converted paleoclimate data into estimates of historical and prehistorical global climate conditions.

    Further, there's certain climate-oriented groups, namely, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Climate Research Unit of the above scandal, and NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies which have a history of producing exaggerated climate projections.

    We're pumping this gas into the atmosphere with careless abandon

    We have yet to determine that any other strategy, such as reducing the emission of greenhouse gasses, is better. It's worth noting that developed world societies are pretty resistant to climate change. They're more mobile and can move or rebuild infrastructure fairly easily.

    The current trend globally is a near universal move to such societies (aside from holdouts like North Korea or possibly Mozambique). An aggressive cutback in carbon dioxide emissions would under current circumstances hinder or reverse that trend for a time. That might even be counterproductive in the long run because poor societies tend to be polluting societies.

    I also note that economically, natural disasters tend to be less harmful than man-made ones. And frankly, the current choice seems to be between a possible global climate disaster in the future versus a fairly likely man-made disaster in the near future.

    Seriously, people, we're pretty smart apes, this isn't "too complicated" or "too difficult" for us humans to figure out.

    I agree and I also agree that AGW probably exists and has considerable effect on global climate. I think though that we need reminding that there are many conflicts of interest here. Just as fossil fuel companies would want to show that AGW is insignificant, there are groups such as the specific ones I mentioned above who have a considerable stake in showing that AGW is serious enough to warrant costly mitigation.

The best book on programming for the layman is "Alice in Wonderland"; but that's because it's the best book on anything for the layman.