The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: Are ideas about climate change driven by national politics rather than science?  (Read 12776 times)

Offline graham.d

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 2208
    • View Profile
I usually avoid this subject because everyone has an opinion, informed or otherwise, and the heat of arguments tend to override the use of reason and knowledge. I think this is not just because the subject has become one of national and international concern, but because there are many vested interests involved, personal, corporate and national, that are using all the means available to manipulate public opinion. It is shocking how effective such influence is on people's opinions and how little people realise that they are so influenced.

Perhaps I should not be so surprised at this given the numerous wars we humans have engaged in where both sides believe themselves to be righteous in their views, but in this case, as probably never before, there is an issue of scientific evidence involved. Normally people would be expected to note the advice of experts, but here is a case where there has been a contrived revolt against such advice - not just the necessity of action but even in challenging the evidence itself. It even runs to challenging the scientific method and the motives of the institutions involved.

It might be said that there is nothing wrong with this but I fear that this reasonable statement should also be questioned. Someone on another topic implied that the concept of action on global warming was an anti-American plot. I wonder whether he thought this all by himself or was this view influenced in any way by political views in the USA and supported by many of the large news networks. It is noticeable that European governments have generally taken a more supportive view about acting against Global Warming where the USA has been generally unsupportive. Surprisingly, Canada (generally thought of as ecologically sound) has also been unsupportive of action. It is probably not coincidental that both countries have a huge vested interest in oil, but what is more surprising is how much this interest affects the opinion of the man-in-the-street. Unless, of course, people think that maybe Canadians and Americans are better educated or informed that Europeans.

I am sure that everyone with an opinion on this believes that it is based on the quality of the scientific evidence, but the facts would suggest that it is much more influenced by what they are told in the media. My guess is that most people would not make such decisions based on any perceived effect on their own personal wealth as I doubt the effects could be analysed that well. It leaves the effects of how national policies can be spun so that people support them - not the other way round.

Of course this questions how democracies work compared with how they perceived to work. Perhaps this is not normally a subject for a science forum although, in this instance, science is heavily involved.


 

Offline Joe L. Ogan

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 476
    • View Profile
Hi, graham d.  I, too, have some doubts about Global Warming and did ask for professional Scientists opinion about the subject.  I received one reply that it is a concensus that most Scientists believe it is a fact.  I would like to get some more opinions on the subject.  I have read that as many as 70% of Scientists have doubts about it.  But, so far, I have received only one report who thinks it is a valid concern.  Thanks, Joe





 

Offline Karsten

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 701
    • View Profile
    • Fortunately still only a game
Even worse, some of those ideas might be driven by local (rather than national) politics. I fear that in the USA most decisions are driven by politicians who are worried about keeping their jobs and deciding to appease powerful people in their districts. The science is picked through and the most popular "facts" win. In tough times people vote for those who promise those tough times will go away. On the other hand, after a longer period of feeling better and getting fat, one might vote for someone who promotes solutions which create change for the better but require sacrifices. And then there is the issue of timing: Make sure your implemented changes are perceived as positive by the masses (or forgotten) when it is time to promote yourself again.

If you ever go to a political hearing where citizens speak their mind you will notice that the media is interested not in the truth or facts but in people who are interesting to be seen on TV. It does not really matter what you say. It matters how you say it. Quiet is bad. Calm is boring. Loud, aggressive, disrespectful, etc. is great. If that is how you present yourself, they will take your name and ask for your permission to use your footage. It does not matter much whether what you say is supported by facts.
 

Offline Karsten

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 701
    • View Profile
    • Fortunately still only a game
Hi, graham d.  I, too, have some doubts about Global Warming and did ask for professional Scientists opinion about the subject.  I received one reply that it is a concensus that most Scientists believe it is a fact.  I would like to get some more opinions on the subject.  I have read that as many as 70% of Scientists have doubts about it.  But, so far, I have received only one report who thinks it is a valid concern.  Thanks, Joe

Asking individual scientists is not the best way to learn whether a theory is valid. Some will disagree with what may be consensus (and that is fine). Try reputable, professional science organizations which put out their opinions based on the review of the research and peer reviewed contributions of many scientists. They way I understand this process, they don't just put out what they believe is true one day (and may have to retract the next day). They take their merry time and release what they think only after long, thorough, and careful review of everything they know.

For instance : AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science, close to 130000 members)

http://www.aaas.org/news/press_room/climate_change/mtg_200702/aaas_climate_statement.pdf
 

Offline Geezer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8328
  • "Vive la résistance!"
    • View Profile
In the case of Al Gore, yes.

Al does not allow minor details like scientific data (or the lack thereof) to impede his political agenda.
 

Offline peppercorn

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1466
    • View Profile
    • solar
In the case of Al Gore, yes.

Al does not allow minor details like scientific data (or the lack thereof) to impede his political agenda.

Al Gore is a politician and so by nature is, yes, guilty of buggering (can I use that word on the forum?!) about with facts & figures to suit his agenda.  That said, I'd hazard a guess that the level of manipulation is dwarfed by some of the stuff coming from the CC deniers camp.
 

Offline Joe L. Ogan

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 476
    • View Profile
My research on this topic reveals that the most knowledgable Scientists in this area are the Climatologists.  My further research reveals that they have about 97% agreement that Global Warming is, indeed, a problem and that mankind has played a role in its' development.  I have to bow to the professional knowledge of the Climatologists.  Joe L. Ogan
« Last Edit: 09/11/2009 17:04:06 by Joe L. Ogan »
 

Offline Bored chemist

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8644
  • Thanked: 42 times
    • View Profile
I'm not a climatologist; I'm a chemist.
One of the  things I do is spectroscopy.
I know that CO2 absorbs IR radiation.
I know that the effect of that is to transfer energy from the sun to the earth.
I know that if you transfer more energy to something in this way, it gets warmer.
I also know that much of the extra CO2 in the atmosphere in the last 200 years is "ancient" so it's difficult to explain it other than the burning of fossil fuels.

The sun may get brighter or dimmer on a regular or irregular basis. The increase in cloud cover as the world heats up might offset some of the effect of CO2. The melting ice caps might enhance the effect. The decomposition of methane hydrates buried under permafrost or the ocean may really bugger things up.

Which among these effects will dominate is a much more difficult question and, together with how these changes will manifest in different parts of the world, is the climatologists' remit.

 But I can't see how anyone can say that there's not anthropogenic "greenhouse" type warming.

 

Offline Geezer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8328
  • "Vive la résistance!"
    • View Profile
I believe you are quite correct BC. Why would we think we can dump millions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere without it having some profound effects?

My comment re. Mr Gore does not mean that I disagree with him. He just happens to bring me out in a rash!

BTW, is it possible to measure Earth's mean temperature from space? Presumably, if I get far enough away from a planet, I can measure the integrated thermal output from the entire planet. If so, could such a measurement quantify global warming?

We should be able to quantify the total energy received by the Earth from the Sun, and if we can quantify the amount of energy being radiated by the earth, the difference might help us quantify global heating/cooling. Probably too simple!
 

Offline litespeed

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 419
  • Thanked: 1 times
    • View Profile
Joe L. Ogan - You wrote: "My research on this topic reveals that the most knowledgable Scientists in this area are the Climatologists."  That categorically excludes algore.

You also wrote: "My further research reveals that they have about 97% agreement that Global Warming is, indeed, a problem and that mankind has played a role in its' development."

You are WAY in over your head here. First, you have not defined your universe of climatologists. [The local Weather Babe does not count.] Remember, you are very precise here. Ninty seven percent agree....]  Accordingly, you need to account for the method of collecting 1) Who qualifies as a climotologist; 2) What data leads you to believe there is near unanimity among them.

HINT: ANY data set purporting extraordinary concurence needs extraordinary evidence. You have provided none of either.
 

Offline litespeed

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 419
  • Thanked: 1 times
    • View Profile
Geezer - You wrote: "Why would we think we can dump millions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere without it having some profound effects?"

For the simple reason atmospheric CO2 content is near a 500 million year low, during which time the climate has gone from from cold to warm and back again many times. Right now we are in something of a climate optimum. 20,000 years ago it was, well, less then optimum. Chicago being under one or two miles of ice, for instance.

It was really nice and comfy during Roman Times. A bit warmer then now. Still, IMHO it is better to have open water on the Thames tody then A Little Ice Age winterfest on the solid ice about London not that long ago.

 

Offline Geezer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8328
  • "Vive la résistance!"
    • View Profile
Litespeed - Thank you for that information. I had no idea that the CO2 level has changed so dramatically. My only point was that the actions of humanity are having a profound effect on nature. That may be good, or bad, depending on one's perspective.

I do not want to put words in your mouth, but are you proposing that we are stalling the onset of the next ice-age by injecting large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere?  The record suggests another ice-age is about due. It would be ironic if our profligate consumption of carbon is delaying the inevitable.
 

Offline peppercorn

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1466
    • View Profile
    • solar
ANY data set purporting extraordinary concurence needs extraordinary evidence. You have provided none of either.
Would you mind taking your own advice:
atmospheric CO2 content is near a 500 million year low
Supply a link to this data, please.
 

Offline litespeed

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 419
  • Thanked: 1 times
    • View Profile
geezer & pepper Regarding geological reconstruction of temperature and CO2

http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/Carboniferous_climate.html

Pepper, I am especially dissapointed in you. You claim to have 'researched' climatology, yet seem entirely unaware 1) CO2 is at a near all time low and 2) temperatures have been warmer then now on several occasions within HISTORICAL times.

http://www.co2science.org/subject/r/summaries/rwpeuropenorth.php

 

Offline Geezer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8328
  • "Vive la résistance!"
    • View Profile
Peppercorn Minor,

You will do a hundred lines of "I will not argue with Litespeed."

Make sure they are in my study before 8 am tomorrow.
 

Offline litespeed

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 419
  • Thanked: 1 times
    • View Profile
Geezer - You wrote: "I do not want to put words in your mouth, but are you proposing that we are stalling the onset of the next ice-age by injecting large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere?"

Not at all.  However, I am suggesting a couple of things. First, the climate has been both warmer and cooler then now within historical times when CO2 was unchanged. Second, warmer is better then cooling anyway.

Further, I am not convinced we are overdue for an ice age. I just don't know. We DO know sunspot cycle 24 is being a bit coy.  The Maunder minimum superimposes a long absence of sunspots on top of an otherwise unexplained cold era thus making things worse during the era general termed The Little Ice Age.

Incidentally, the end of the little ice age does not have consensus. The usual range is from the mid to late 1800's. The implication is you would EXPECT warming during the 20th century after a cold spell.  One problem with 20th century warming is that it seems a bit lame.  Not a few climatologists see the majority of that warming took place prior to 1950.

After that we seem to see a bit of instabillity up and down culminating in the recent cooling period.  If I were a gambling man I would say OH OH! Although warming seems to me a good thing, cooling needs a close eye. The 1974 Time Magazine article on the comming Ice Age speculated on spreading absorbing matterials on polar ice to absorb more sunlight. Carbon Black, perhaps.

In the mean time we will continue to be subjected to photos of forlorn Polar Bears on itty bitty ice berges. Its what passes for science these days...
 

Offline Geezer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8328
  • "Vive la résistance!"
    • View Profile
Ah yes! To paraphrase a guy I once worked with,

"Opinions on global warming are like anuses. Everybody's got one."

BTW, I came up with a brilliant method of quantifying the Earth's mean temperature. However, apparently it's not quite as brilliant as I had hoped. :(   http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=26633.0;topicseen
 

Offline litespeed

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 419
  • Thanked: 1 times
    • View Profile
Geezer - You wrote: "Is it possible to measure Earth's mean temperature from space?"  We can measure SURFACE temperatures that way, but all climate observations points are, I believe, five feet above the surface.  It is one of many complications. For instance, climate stations established decades ago now exist within metropolitan area.

You also wrote: "We should be able to quantify the total energy received by the Earth from the Sun, and if we can quantify the amount of energy being radiated by the earth, the difference might help us quantify global heating/cooling."  BIG BIG monkey wrench. First, it is MUCH easier to estimate input then output. For instance, hardly any climatistas have even HEARD of the Pacific Climate Conveyer Belt (or some such). Specifically, radiative output from the Pacific Ocean area is largely regulated by cloud cover.  This cloud cover is controlled by so many inputs I doubt we have even come close to counting them all. 

In general, however, the radiative output seems to act like a thermostat in regulating planet thermal balances.  And don't get me started....cloud formation, especially in the Pacific, is significantly influenced by Cosmic Rays. These high energy particles hit the atmosphere and split into all sorts of subparticles.  Think: Junior High School Science Cloud Chamber. One well known effect is cloud formation. Further, high energy cosmic rays carry a HUGE amount of kinetic energy to the earth. I have seen that each one of them has the energy of a tennis ball at 100 mph. So of course I would like to know if the quantities hitting the atmosphere are sufficient to create significant amounts of thermal energy, and 2) do the numbers of such particles vary over time.

However, I believe such thermal variables are far beyond current climate capabilities. Accordingly, I tend to rely on ice and sea core samples as well as tree ring sudies to reveal historical climate data.  And guess what. The climate varies. Duhhhhhh. That said, these proxy studies show large climate swings in historical times that include Pre-Roman cooling, Roman Warming, Post Roman Cooling, Midieval Warming followed by The Little Ice age, followed by the 20th century warming...lame though it may be.

 

Offline Geezer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8328
  • "Vive la résistance!"
    • View Profile
Litespeed - I probably didn't do a very good job of explaining my measurement "technique".

The Earth is a large, complicated system. When we look at a small part of it, or even a large number of small parts of it, it is very difficult (perhaps impossible) to determine the overall state, or change of state, of the complete system.

However, if we get far enough away from the system, it ceases to be a complicated. All the factors become automatically integrated.

If we are experiencing global warming (or cooling) the temperature of the planet (as a system) MUST change. If that is not true, we are only experiencing local changes, so they can hardly be considered "global".

If the Earth is in thermal equilibrium, it must lose energy at the same rate as it gains energy. As far as I am aware, the only way the earth can lose thermal energy is by radiating it into space. By observing this radiation from a distance and averaging it over time, we should be able to quantify how much energy Earth radiates. Surely we can obtain a rather accurate value for the amount of energy received from the Sun. We also need to determine how much energy is added "internally" from burning fuel etc., but I don't think that should be too difficult to estimate.

Obviously, more energy in than out means global warming. Less in than out, global cooling. What am I missing?
« Last Edit: 13/11/2009 05:09:17 by Geezer »
 

Offline JimBob

  • Global Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6564
  • Thanked: 7 times
  • Moderator
    • View Profile
Karsten is correct. A consensus of scientists of many disciplines is the correct approach to answering this problem. It has been my experience over a long career in earth sciences, which includes substantial study of climatology and paleoclimatology, that it is only through discussions and communication among many disciplines can the reality of any "truth" be reached.

The first thing that comes to my mind when the discussion of "climate warming" arises is the theory of plate tectonics. In university in the '60s, I would attend one lecture where one professor from our department would give the evidence for the theory of plate tectonics and say that it was proven. A few weeks later I would go to another lecture where evidence against the theory was presented, the professor saying that plate tectonics was the most silly theory ever devised by man and those who believed the theory would end up in obscurity, teaching at a junior college out in the wastelands of academia.

Climate warming is in the same state of development that plate tectonics was in the late 60's - early 70's. The evidence for plate tectonics was very convincing and well proven but the die-hards, influenced mainly by outside sources, still held onto the outmoded ideas. A. A. Meyerhoff, an oil executive, comes to mind.

The same dynamic is going on in the global warming debate.



As for litespeed - a couple of comments.

1) Who qualifies as a climotologist;

Yes, please answer this about yourself - WHAT makes YOU the authority here?


What bothers me most about this discussion is the intellectual bullying going on:

"You are WAY in over your head here."
"[The local Weather Babe does not count.]"
"HINT: ANY data set ..."
"Pepper, I am especially dissapointed in you."
"In the mean time we will continue to be subjected to photos of forlorn Polar Bears on itty bitty ice berges. Its what passes for science these days..."
"BIG BIG monkey wrench." - especially in this context when the albedo of the earth is a major consideration so casually dismissed by you immediately prior to this.
"For instance, hardly any climatistas have even HEARD of the Pacific Climate Conveyor Belt ..." I believe frethac is the one who first brought this up here -  it is obvious you have no familiarity with it as it is properly called the "Pacific Moisture Conveyor Belt"
"And guess what. The climate varies. Duhhhhhh."

The attitude displayed in this post alone is enough to make it obvious you have no interest in any other person's opinion besides your own. You are not in a discussion. Your posts are self-aggrandizing discourses.

I for one am feed up with this. I know from the complaints I have received others are as well. At a minimum  clean up your act and respect others or you will be more severely dealt with. If you feel you need to report this post to a moderator, please do. I will receive the complaint and refer you to this post.

We demand courtesy to others on this site. No more condescension.

« Last Edit: 13/11/2009 03:26:18 by JimBob »
 

Offline raptorguy

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 10
    • View Profile
I don't know about climate change.

  What  I do know, however, is that the so-called 'science' around the global warming/climate change issue is the most pathetic I've witnessed in almost 35 years as a geologist. It's more akin to groupies drinking the purple kool-aid and then getting into a frenzied apocalyptic hysteria.

 The Earth may be warming, cooling, heading for disaster or just churning along...but the perversions put out in the name of science do not provide an answer.

I've always been a strong environmentalist and it's sad to witness ideology trumping science. Most so called environmentalists today are urbanites completely removed from Nature who are 'experts' on Somalia one moment...'experts' on energy production the next and then 'experts' on climate change. In reality they are ignorant windbags who couldn't tell a spruce from a pine tree and probably couldn't point Somalia out on a map.  Whatever they 'believe' on climate change is what they 'want to believe'.

 So, the ideas are driven by all types of politics, ideology, etc.  Somehow even the word 'fairness' gets squeezed into scientific debates.
 

Offline JimBob

  • Global Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6564
  • Thanked: 7 times
  • Moderator
    • View Profile
I suspect that the reason there is a perception of "bad science" is due to the many theories that abound. The fact is that the average temperature of the earth has risen precipitously in the last 200 years cannot be disputed. It has done this. The conclusion that temperatures were probably warmer in the Jurassic-Cretaceous Ice ages than they are now is not in dispute.



See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:All_palaeotemps.png for discussion of how this was put together. Also note that there are four ice ages shown in this and that there was at least another one before the graph began.

The problem is the cause. In reality, there is no good SINGLE cause. Warming is occurring. Why is another thing all together. It is this area where what is seen as poor science by some occurs. It seems everyone wants their own field of science to be the area where the answer is found.

Global warming is happening - why is another matter.

« Last Edit: 14/11/2009 19:08:39 by JimBob »
 

Offline frethack

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 394
    • View Profile
I don't know about climate change.

  What  I do know, however, is that the so-called 'science' around the global warming/climate change issue is the most pathetic I've witnessed in almost 35 years as a geologist. It's more akin to groupies drinking the purple kool-aid and then getting into a frenzied apocalyptic hysteria.

 The Earth may be warming, cooling, heading for disaster or just churning along...but the perversions put out in the name of science do not provide an answer.

I've always been a strong environmentalist and it's sad to witness ideology trumping science. Most so called environmentalists today are urbanites completely removed from Nature who are 'experts' on Somalia one moment...'experts' on energy production the next and then 'experts' on climate change. In reality they are ignorant windbags who couldn't tell a spruce from a pine tree and probably couldn't point Somalia out on a map.  Whatever they 'believe' on climate change is what they 'want to believe'.

 So, the ideas are driven by all types of politics, ideology, etc.  Somehow even the word 'fairness' gets squeezed into scientific debates.

This might be the most sensible thing said on the climate debate in this forum in a VERY long time.
 

Offline litespeed

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 419
  • Thanked: 1 times
    • View Profile
Raptor; Fret RE: "In reality they are ignorant windbags who couldn't tell a spruce from a pine tree and probably couldn't point Somalia out on a map."

In the old days I hob-knobbed with the Liberal Elite up on Capitol Hill. Environmentalists all.  Did all the rounds: display of wonderful Christmas House decorations in the Winter. The Outer Banks in the Summer. I doubt even one of them had an electric bill less then $500 per month.  As I recall I even confirmed this with diplomatic finess, since it seemed so extreme.

Now I simply ask when was the last time you purchased an incandescent light bulb? [Under counter lighting does not lend itself to fluorecent tubes - just to big and gouche.] I have not purchased an incandescent or halogen light bulb in probably 20 years. I beseach the climatistas to do a lighting inventory of their own homes.
 

Offline peppercorn

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1466
    • View Profile
    • solar
Most so called environmentalists today are urbanites completely removed from Nature who are 'experts' on Somalia one moment...'experts' on energy production the next and then 'experts' on climate change. In reality they are ignorant windbags who couldn't tell a spruce from a pine tree and probably couldn't point Somalia out on a map.
I'd hope that isn't on this site.  I think if there are people on this forum claiming to be experts who aren't (on either side of this emotive argument) then they are shown up for what they are.
It is true that the public often believe the political doom-munger's worst predictions, right or not.  After all bad headlines have always been populist.

An excellent graph posted by JimBob.  Just a quick glance at it seems to show that things aren't as simple as cold temperature equates to glacial periods.

The next point is that Global Warming concerns have been taken seriously by climatologists for much longer than it has been on the political agenda.  In all the time it has been studied there must have been testable theories to explain much of these apparent inconstancies.

Raptorguy can you explain what you find so abhorrent about the science used by climate modellers.  Further, are you really claiming that an inability to tell two types of tree apart is going to limit their ability to tell good environmental science from bad?
« Last Edit: 14/11/2009 21:00:08 by peppercorn »
 

The Naked Scientists Forum


 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums