24 Dec 2008 @ 10:52 AM 

Lou Dobbs (not the most unbiased fella on the tube) had CNN meteorologist Chad Myers on the other day, and the weatherman claimed that global warming is not man-made because that would be arrogant, or something of the sort. This has been one of the various anecdotes that are being touted as proving that global warming is not happening, and even if it is, the problem is not humanity’s fault and we can’t fix it so we should just keep fiddling.  It’s sad that this comes up so frequently.

The meteorological year, December 2007 through November 2008, was the coolest year since 2000, according to the Goddard Institute for Space Studies analysis of surface air temperature measurements. It was the ninth warmest year in the period of instrumental measurements, which extends back to 1880. The nine warmest years all occur within the eleven-year period 1998-2008.

Arctic sea ice has not, in actual scientifically verified fact, improved extent over previous years. It was, indeed, 220,000 square miles more ice cover than last year in November. However, it’s still 260,000 square miles lower than the average 1979-2000 coverage. Furthermore, the extent of coverage has peaked and stopped its rapid growth. Look at the graph linked above – we’re now seeing that the sea ice extent will likely drop below last year’s already-sad numbers by the end of 2008. Air temperatures above the ice remain unusually high, and this will cause a slowing of the ice growth. You may be familiar with warmth and melting.

Yes, it’s a blizzard. No, that doesn’t mean the climate is cooling, it just means there’s a blizzard right now. The plural of “anecdote” is not “data.”

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 24 Dec 2008 @ 04:30 PM

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 09 Apr 2008 @ 8:28 PM 

The movie Expelled is coming out in just over a week. According to every reviewer who isn’t an right-wing fundamentalist, it sucks. Of course, I assume it will play here in San Angelo (as seen on “FLDS Watch”!), because we always get that stuff. Have fun with the reviews on Expelled Exposed – the reviews are pretty entertaining. Heck, even Fox News didn’t like it; I’m pretty sure that’s the target demo.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 09 Apr 2008 @ 08:28 PM

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 26 Mar 2008 @ 5:59 AM 

My most linked-to post ever, yesterday’s denialists missive, has attracted the usual suspects. Not surprisingly, Akismet’s spam filter blocked them and I don’t feel like unblocking them. Typical tactic of the denialists – overwhelmingly loud shoutdowns instead of actual scientific evidence. In lieu of opening up my blog to becoming another nutjob-infested place, I will address the “issues” that denialists like to throw out in defense of the lack of action toward anything like good stewardship of the planet.

More ice is forming in the Antarctic than is being lost. This is actually a predictable effect of the current warming cycle. More warmth equals more evaporation equals more precipitation, particularly at the poles (more at the South than North for other reasons). It also equals less precipitation in the tropics. These things are predicted, and they have happened.

Antarctica is cooling. No. It had a cooling trend over 60% of its mass, several years ago. It’s a lot more clear now, as the warming trend has become much more widespread. Also, Antarctica is susceptible to warming and cooling based on ocean temperatures, so it would be predicted to warm later than the Arctic region. This is predicted, and it is happening.

It’s cold in BC right now, so global warming is a hoax. Local temperature variations do not change a global multi-decade trend. See also, “it’s been a cool year all over” for more nonsense. Yes, it has been the coolest winter since 2001. But, it’s still the 16th warmest year on record. So, “cooler” than “really hot” is not much to go by. The warmest years on record are 1998, 2005, 2003, 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2007.

The arctic sea ice came back big time this winter. Yes, it did. But, there are two types of ice pack in the arctic – perennial and annual. The annual ice made a nice recovery. The perennial ice, though, is still much decreased. The perennial ice covers about 30% of the arctic, where is had covered 50-60% of that area in the past. Perennial ice (which lasts 6 or more years) covered 20% of the arctic as recently as the 1980s, but now accounts for a mere 6% of the coverage. One year does not make a trend. In the past twenty years, 17 of them are the top 17 hottest in 150 years of records.

Sunspots are to blame for the warmer temperatures. Sunspots have not increased in 20 years, so how could they be to blame? NASA says solar increases do not have the ability to cause large global temperature increases.” The Sun is approaching solar minimum, yet global warming continues.

Calling people who deny the incredible mass of data about global warming “denialists” rather than “skeptics” is an ad hominem attack and I should be ashamed of myself. I am a member of the Skeptic Society. Skeptics don’t believe things contrary to masses of evidence, willfully denying the vast majority of experts and all the research, cherry-picking bits of contradictory evidence to support a tiny minority opinion. Nope. Doesn’t happen. I’m amazed that people can call themselves “skeptics” and yet retain such unwavering belief in something.

What are the denialists afraid of? If the global warming “conspiracy” has its way, we’ll get cleaner air, cleaner water, less dependence on hostile governments, more wildlife returning to their habitats, and a booming economy based on renewable rather than finite resources. Oh, please don’t throw me in the briar patch!

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 24 Apr 2009 @ 09:07 AM

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 25 Mar 2008 @ 8:19 PM 

When the Larsen B shelf collapsed in 2002, melting a block of ice the size of Rhode Island, global warming denialists said that a 12,000 year-old stable feature was just due to collapse anyway.  Nothing to see here.

Now, the Wilkins shelf is about to calve a block about the size of Connecticut.  Want to bet how the denialists will react? Liberal media conspiracy, anyone? Maybe a nice ad hominem attack on Al Gore? Pick your logical fallacy, and handicap the race for yourself!

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 24 Apr 2009 @ 09:11 AM

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 27 Nov 2007 @ 8:45 PM 

Remember the chucklehead from martial arts class? I somehow couldn’t get it through to him by my reading while he was talking, that I don’t really care to hear his wacko far-right talk radio dittohead talking points. *sigh*

I’m reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s latest trilogy, which hasn’t a name yet that I’m aware of but we’ll call it the Climate Change Series, absent anything better. I’m about 30 pages into the second book, and I do rather like to read books that I have open to read. But, chucklehead decided to regale me with more of his tales from the conspiracy side. Global warming may or may not be happening, and if it is it’s nothing we can fix anyway, blah blah blah. Of course, he admits that he has never read anything on the issue, and only gets his information from talk radio. Personally, I try to read the occasional article from an actual scientist, but I’m sure Laura Schlesinger is very well-read on subtle issues of climatology.

Last time I talked with this man, he told me about the evil Law of the Sea Treaty, which was going to give our sovereignty to some group of UN bad guys (it’s not). Ever notice how the far right has some sort of paranoia about the UN? Considering how completely ineffectual the UN has been in almost everything they’ve ever attempted, how scared could anyone be of them? So, this time around, his UN conspiracy is surrounding the IPCC, which of course he doesn’t even know the name of but just calls “them scientists.” There are some people who wrote pieces of the IPCC-4 report who don’t agree with the totality of that report. Surprised? Of course not. How many people wrote that document? Look up Richard Lindzen; I’m certain that’s the most prominent person that fits his description. Chuckles says that there are a lot, well, maybe a few, at least a significant number, of IPCC signers who want their names removed from the document. Let me just say, every large group has some nuts and publicity hounds. Doesn’t mean that the entire organization is wrong. The lack of any coherent alternate hypothesis to the prevailing one does not imply that there is a conspiracy which is repressing information. There aren’t a lot of coherent alternate hypotheses to the Earth being an oblate ovoid either; doesn’t mean there’s a conspiracy against Flat Earthers.

Wandering farther off the path, chucklehead then had the insane notion that one should “follow the money” to find out who is benefiting from the climate change folks. Um, if we were to follow the largest streams of money surrounding this “debate” (not really a debate in the scientific world, no matter what politicians may think), we’d find it leads to the anthropogenic climate change deniers, as backed by the most wealthy corporations in the world, the petroleum industry. I’m no conspiracy theorist, but if you want to throw around “follow the money” tropes, maybe you should have a clue what you’re talking about first.

I tried to explain thermohaline circulation, and the fact that its disruption took less than a decade but caused the 1300 year Younger Dryas period of intense cold (5 degrees Celsius drop in the North Atlantic region), but I’m sure it was pointless. He’s also oblivious to the fact that our instruments get better each year, and so do our predictive abilities. The concept that theories are refined and perfected over time is foreign to him, of course.

Somehow, he even worked abiotic petroleum into his meanderings. Remember, this is someone who quite openly admits he has read nothing about the science behind all this, but just goes with his instincts on things. Our instincts are great for catching balls and shooting at slow-moving animals; they aren’t much good at megayear musings and thousand-mile discussions. I find it interesting that the majority of abiotic petroleum believers are in Russia, which is famous for such scientific breakthroughs as Lysenkoism (Lamarckian evolution).

Seriously, it’s not hard to learn enough to be halfway cognizant of the underlying science. Chucklehead is one of a depressingly large number of people who are willfully ignorant of things that they form strong opinions about. Just because you wish something were true doesn’t mean reality must bend to your will.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 27 Nov 2007 @ 08:54 PM

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