Re: [asa] World sets ocean temperature record

From: Cameron Wybrow <>
Date: Sat Aug 22 2009 - 02:05:15 EDT

As he does so often, with his plain-speaking style and straightforward logic, Schwarzwald has hit the nail on the head.

I have always looked at the global warming issue as divided into several questions:

1. Are there sound scientific measurements which indicate that the earth is warming?
2. Is there evidence to indicate that part of this warming is caused by human-produced greenhouse gases?
3. Is the component of global warming caused by human-produced greenhouse gases significant enough that even a major reduction in production of such gases would make a significant difference to icecap melting and sea levels and other things?
4. If the answer to #3 is "yes", what are the realistic trade-offs (social, political, economic, ecological, etc.) between *not* reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and tolerating a shrinkage in the ice caps and a probable rise in ocean levels of Y feet over the next X years, and taking drastic action on the industrial, economic and political front to reduce the greenhouse gases?
5. Given the answer to #4, what is the wisest policy to follow?

If everybody, on the left or the right, would ask the questions about global warming in some such sequential way, public discussion could be rational and helpful. But the questions are often lumped together in a blurry way, and the public and policymakers are often pressured to be "fur it" or "agin' it", without being given a chance to ask clarifying questions and get their thoughts in order. And then you get silly extreme reactions. For example, at least for a time (late 1990s-early 2000s) it seemed clear that the earth *was* warming and that icecaps *were* shrinking, but you had right-wing people, fearful of the economic effects of the policies recommended by left-wing activists, who would deny even the *fact* of global warming. (It makes more scientific sense to deny the fact of global warming today than it did 6 or 7 years ago, but that is a separate question, and doesn't excuse denial of the facts when they *did* support global warming.) And then on the other hand, you had left-wing activists (Al Gore, David Suzuki, Gwynne Dyer), so eager to ostentatiously display their "Western civilization guilt", while frequently knowing diddly-squat about economics, pressing American and Canadian politicians to sign onto Kyoto (which shamefully exempted some of the world's worst polluters), advocating policies which could potentially drive Western economies into the ground (Western economies already being outcompeted for jobs by the very countries which stood to gain an additional economic advantage from their Kyoto exemptions), creating as much human suffering in the very near future (massive unemployment and all the associated social ills) as would the purported rise in ocean levels 25 or 50 or 75 years from now. This knee-jerk policy advice was every bit as irrational and politically motivated as the right-wing denial of the evidence of the thermometer.

Then you had arrogant scientists who, having committed themselves to the AGW analysis, would not retract it even when new temperature data came in, and even when Canadian scientists showed that the "hockey stick" model was flawed, and even when week after week some new prominent scientist defected and expressed doubts about the science of AGW; and who used the same tactics that Darwinists use -- shout the opposition down, claim that "the science is settled", and call those who dispute the current majority opinion "deniers", a term which implies psychological or moral defects, and shows complete and utter disrespect for the legitimate opinion of scientific colleagues. All of these factors -- left-wing paranoia, right-wing paranoia, self-hating Western academics, and bullying, arrogant, "consensus science" -- have made it virtually impossible to have a rational debate about AGW.

I've deliberately not entered into the discussions regarding AGW on this list, because most of them have wandered far off-topic, having nothing to do with Christianity or even the science of global warming, and have just become diatribes in culture-war politics. Ted had even had to gavel such discussions at least once. (And rightly so, in the case I remember.) However, the relevant point to ASA concerns that I have noted is this: there is tendency of ASA-list people, on the question of AGW as on the question of Darwinism, to defer to "consensus science", to say that the majority of experts are probably right, and almost to treat the mere fact of having a scientific majority as an argument for the truth of one's position. Over at Uncommon Descent, on the other hand, there is a tendency of ID people to dispute many of the scientific arguments in favour of AGW (especially since the temperatures have flatlined and the Arctic ice has almost recovered), and to have no more reverence for the "consensus" of the majority of specialists on AGW than they do for the consensus of biologists regarding Darwin. This difference over AGW *cannot* be attributed to alleged YEC sympathies of ID people; young earth creationism has no stake either way in the global warming debate or the economic issues associated with it. So the question is, why is there an attitudinal difference regarding consensus science and majority science between the two groups? Is it generational? Are the scientists on this list generally older, children of the conformist 1950s, and therefore more inclined to defer to university degrees and authority and consensus, and are UD people more frequently of the generation of the experimental 1970s, and therefore brought up to believe that it is a virtue to argue with parents, teachers, and authority figures of all kinds?


  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Schwarzwald
  Sent: Friday, August 21, 2009 5:00 PM
  Subject: Re: [asa] World sets ocean temperature record

  I'd have to agree with Dave Wallace, and I was just in the middle of writing a post along those lines.

  And the idea that there are two camps involved in the global warming/climate-change debate - the people who are correct, and the people motivated by politics - just doesn't wash. It is entirely possible for AGW claims to be true, yet for the people "demanding action" to be largely, even exclusively motivated by politics. There's such a thing as co-opting truth to an illicit end.

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Received on Sat Aug 22 02:06:56 2009

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