Re: [asa] UN Downgrades Man's Impact On The Climate

From: Janice Matchett <>
Date: Thu Dec 14 2006 - 01:15:46 EST

First, here are a couple of new developments I'll
mention before I get to your post below:

Eco-recycler trapped for four

True Believer's Zero carbon

At 01:49 PM 12/11/2006, Rich Blinne wrote:

>Finally, can I get you on the record that you
>will abide by the 2007 IPCC report in advance? I'll do so right now. ~ Rich

@ Are you kidding me??? Never. This is how the "reports" are done:

"The 1995 IPCC draft report said, "Any claims of
positive detection of significant climate change
are likely to remain controversial until
uncertainties in the total natural variability of
the climate system are reduced." It also said,
"No study to date has positively attributed all
or part of observed climate changes to
anthropogenic causes." Those statements were
removed, and in their place appeared: "The
balance of evidence suggests a discernable human
influence on climate." - Excerpted from item below:

"....... And so, in this elastic anything-goes
world where science-or non-science-is the hand
maiden of questionable public policy, we arrive at last at global warming.

It is not my purpose here to rehash the details
of this most magnificent of the demons haunting
the world. I would just remind you of the
now-familiar pattern by which these things are established.

Evidentiary uncertainties are glossed over in the
unseemly rush for an overarching policy, and for
grants to support the policy by delivering
findings that are desired by the patron.

Next, the isolation of those scientists who won't
get with the program, and the characterization of
those scientists as outsiders and "skeptics" in
quotation marks-suspect individuals with suspect
motives, industry flunkies, reactionaries, or
simply anti-environmental nutcases.

In short order, debate ends, even though
prominent scientists are uncomfortable about how things are being done.

When did "skeptic" become a dirty word in
science? When did a skeptic require quotation marks around it?

To an outsider, the most significant innovation
in the global warming controversy is the overt
reliance that is being placed on models.

Back in the days of nuclear winter, computer
models were invoked to add weight to a
conclusion: "These results are derived with the help of a computer model."

But now large-scale computer models are seen as generating data in themselves.

No longer are models judged by how well they
reproduce data from the real world-increasingly,
models provide the data. As if they were
themselves a reality. And indeed they are, when
we are projecting forward. There can be no
observational data about the year 2100. There are only model runs.

This fascination with computer models is
something I understand very well. Richard
Feynmann called it a disease. I fear he is right.

Because only if you spend a lot of time looking
at a computer screen can you arrive at the
complex point where the global warming debate now stands.

Nobody believes a weather prediction twelve hours
ahead. Now we're asked to believe a prediction
that goes out 100 years into the future? And make
financial investments based on that prediction?
Has everybody lost their minds?

Stepping back, I have to say the arrogance of the
modelmakers is breathtaking. There have been, in
every century, scientists who say they know it all.

Since climate may be a chaotic system-no one is
sure-these predictions are inherently doubtful,
to be polite. But more to the point, even if the
models get the science spot-on, they can never
get the sociology. To predict anything about the
world a hundred years from now is simply absurd.

Look: If I was selling stock in a company that I
told you would be profitable in 2100, would you
buy it? Or would you think the idea was so crazy that it must be a scam?

Let's think back to people in 1900 in, say, New
York. If they worried about people in 2000, what
would they worry about? Probably: Where would
people get enough horses? And what would they do
about all the horseshit? Horse pollution was bad
in 1900, think how much worse it would be a
century later, with so many more people riding horses?

But of course, within a few years, nobody rode
horses except for sport. And in 2000, France was
getting 80% its power from an energy source that
was unknown in 1900. Germany, Switzerland,
Belgium and Japan were getting more than 30% from
this source, unknown in 1900. Remember, people in
1900 didn't know what an atom was. They didn't
know its structure. They also didn't know what a
radio was, or an airport, or a movie, or a
television, or a computer, or a cell phone, or a
jet, an antibiotic, a rocket, a satellite, an
PCP, HTML, internet. interferon, instant replay,
remote sensing, remote control, speed dialing,
gene therapy, gene splicing, genes, spot welding,
heat-seeking, bipolar, prozac, leotards, lap
dancing, email, tape recorder, CDs, airbags,
plastic explosive, plastic, robots, cars,
liposuction, transduction, superconduction, dish
antennas, step aerobics, smoothies, twelve-step,
ultrasound, nylon, rayon, teflon, fiber optics,
carpal tunnel, laser surgery, laparoscopy,
corneal transplant, kidney transplant, AIDS… None
of this would have meant anything to a person in
the year 1900. They wouldn't know what you are talking about.

Now. You tell me you can predict the world of
2100. Tell me it's even worth thinking about. Our
models just carry the present into the future.
They're bound to be wrong. Everybody who gives a moment's thought knows it.

I remind you that in the lifetime of most
scientists now living, we have already had an
example of dire predictions set aside by new
technology. I refer to the green revolution. In
1960, Paul Ehrlich said, "The battle to feed
humanity is over. In the 1970s the world will
undergo famines-hundreds of millions of people
are going to starve to death." Ten years later,
he predicted four billion people would die during
the 1980s, including 65 million Americans. The
mass starvation that was predicted never
occurred, and it now seems it isn't ever going to
happen. Nor is the population explosion going to
reach the numbers predicted even ten years ago.
In 1990, climate modelers anticipated a world
population of 11 billion by 2100. Today, some
people think the correct number will be 7 billion
and falling. But nobody knows for sure.

But it is impossible to ignore how closely the
history of global warming fits on the previous template for nuclear winter.

Just as the earliest studies of nuclear winter
stated that the uncertainties were so great that
probabilites could never be known, so, too the
first pronouncements on global warming argued
strong limits on what could be determined with certainty about climate change.

The 1995 IPCC draft report said, "Any claims of
positive detection of significant climate change
are likely to remain controversial until
uncertainties in the total natural variability of
the climate system are reduced." It also said,
"No study to date has positively attributed all
or part of observed climate changes to
anthropogenic causes." Those statements were
removed, and in their place appeared: "The
balance of evidence suggests a discernable human influence on climate."

What is clear, however, is that on this issue,
science and policy have become inextricably mixed
to the point where it will be difficult, if not
impossible, to separate them out.

It is possible for an outside observer to ask
serious questions about the conduct of
investigations into global warming, such as
whether we are taking appropriate steps to
improve the quality of our observational data
records, whether we are systematically obtaining
the information that will clarify existing
uncertainties, whether we have any organized
disinterested mechanism to direct research in this contentious area.

The answer to all these questions is no. We don't.

In trying to think about how these questions can
be resolved, it occurs to me that in the
progression from SETI to nuclear winter to second
hand smoke to global warming, we have one clear
message, and that is that we can expect more and
more problems of public policy dealing with
technical issues in the future-problems of ever
greater seriousness, where people care passionately on all sides.

And at the moment we have no mechanism to get
good answers. So I will propose one.

Just as we have established a tradition of
double-blinded research to determine drug
efficacy, we must institute double-blinded
research in other policy areas as well.

Certainly the increased use of computer models,
such as GCMs, cries out for the separation of
those who make the models from those who verify them.

The fact is that the present structure of science
is entrepeneurial, with individual investigative
teams vying for funding from organizations which
all too often have a clear stake in the outcome
of the research-or appear to, which may be just
as bad. This is not healthy for science.

Sooner or later, we must form an independent
research institute in this country.

It must be funded by industry, by government, and
by private philanthropy, both individuals and
trusts. The money must be pooled, so that
investigators do not know who is paying them.

The institute must fund more than one team to do
research in a particular area, and the
verification of results will be a foregone
requirement: teams will know their results will be checked by other groups.

In many cases, those who decide how to gather the
data will not gather it, and those who gather the data will not analyze it.

If we were to address the land temperature
records with such rigor, we would be well on our
way to an understanding of exactly how much faith
we can place in global warming, and therefore
what seriousness we must address this.

I believe that as we come to the end of this
litany, some of you may be saying, well what is
the big deal, really. So we made a few mistakes.
So a few scientists have overstated their cases
and have egg on their faces. So what.

Well, I'll tell you.

In recent years, much has been said about the
post modernist claims about science to the effect
that science is just another form of raw power,
tricked out in special claims for truth-seeking
and objectivity that really have no basis in
fact. Science, we are told, is no better than any
other undertaking. These ideas anger many
scientists, and they anger me. But recent events
have made me wonder if they are correct. We can
take as an example the scientific reception
accorded a Danish statistician, Bjorn Lomborg,
who wrote a book called The Skeptical Environmentalist.

The scientific community responded in a way that
can only be described as disgraceful.

In professional literature, it was complained he
had no standing because he was not an earth
scientist. His publisher, Cambridge University
Press, was attacked with cries that the editor
should be fired, and that all right-thinking
scientists should shun the press. The past
president of the AAAS wondered aloud how
Cambridge could have ever "published a book that
so clearly could never have passed peer review."
) But of course the manuscript did pass peer
review by three earth scientists on both sides of
the Atlantic, and all recommended
publication. But what are scientists doing
attacking a press? Is this the new McCarthyism-coming from scientists?

Worst of all was the behavior of the Scientific
American, which seemed intent on proving the
post-modernist point that it was all about power,
not facts. The Scientific American attacked
Lomborg for eleven pages, yet only came up with
nine factual errors despite their assertion that
the book was "rife with careless mistakes."

It was a poor display featuring vicious ad
hominem attacks, including comparing him to a
Holocust denier. The issue was captioned:
"Science defends itself against the Skeptical
Environmentalist." Really. Science has to defend
itself? Is this what we have come to?

When Lomborg asked for space to rebut his
critics, he was given only a page and a half.
When he said it wasn't enough, he put the
critics' essays on his web page and answered them
in detail. Scientific American threatened
copyright infringement and made him take the pages down.

Further attacks since have made it clear what is
going on. Lomborg is charged with heresy. That's
why none of his critics needs to substantiate
their attacks in any detail. That's why the facts
don't matter. That's why they can attack him in
the most vicious personal terms. He's a heretic.

Of course, any scientist can be charged as
Galileo was charged. I just never thought I'd see
the Scientific American in the role of mother church.

Is this what science has become? I hope not. But
it is what it will become, unless there is a
concerted effort by leading scientists to
aggressively separate science from policy.

The late Philip Handler, former president of the
National Academy of Sciences, said that
"Scientists best serve public policy by living
within the ethics of science, not those of
[p.l.tics]. If the scientific community will not
unfrock the charlatans, the public will not
discern the difference-science and the nation will suffer."

Personally, I don't worry about the nation. But I
do worry about science. .." ~ Michael Crichton

>Bio: CRICHTON, (John) Michael. American. Born
>in Chicago, Illinois, October 23, 1942. Educated
>at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts,
>A.B. (summa cum laude) 1964 (Phi Beta Kappa).
>Henry Russell Shaw Travelling Fellow, 1964-65.
>Visiting Lecturer in Anthropology at Cambridge
>University, England, 1965. Graduated Harvard
>Medical School, M.D. 1969; post-doctoral fellow
>at the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences,
>La Jolla, California 1969-1970. Visiting Writer,
>Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1988.

"Therefore, he has as much credential as I do to
discuss environment." ~ Wayne
Sat, 30 Sep 2006 18:28:47 EDT Re: [asa] Edward
O. Wilson shares Dawkins' basic views

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Received on Thu Dec 14 01:16:03 2006

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