Sunday, February 7, 2010

Why I accept the reality of anthropogenic climate change: deluxe edition

I promise you, I haven't stopped paying attention to creationism. However, since I have one or more close friends who is/are becoming increasingly vocal in his/her/their rejection of anthropogenic climate change (not enough for Bingo, but nearly there), that particular brand of anti-science has been on mind more than usual of late.

Anyway, I have felt the need to update my old post on why I accept the scientific consensus position on anthropogenic climate change, and migrate it over to a spot on my parent website. I may have to create a whole section on all of this in the science spot of my site, if this keeps up. What was it that Newton said about equal and opposite reactions?

Will it make a difference? No. Do I care? No. I'm in it for the epistemology.

Link: Why I accept the reality of anthropogenic climate change.


Hume's Ghost said...

Since it was Darwin year last year I kind of shifted my attention back towards evolution (currently reading Dawkins's The Greatest Show on Earth) but I plan on reading Climate Cover-up when I get a chance.

I have a close friend, myself, who is a global warming denier. What's so very frustrating for me is that he is heavily influenced by the denialism of Neal Boortz who - I'm sorry - sounds like an absolute moron whenever he talks about global warming.

What I find fascinating from a purely sociological perspective is the way that global warming deniers and creationists employ the same parallel thinking to deny science. (E.g. The lists of doubting "scientists", the quote-mining, the claims of gaps/wholes in the science, the political/ideological motivation of the scientists, etc.)

Mark Vuletic said...

I definitely have noticed the eerie parallels between creationist arguments and those of anthropogenic climate change skeptics. That's actually what bothers me most—I don't really care, in and of itself, what anyone thinks about the climate. I do care what people think about science. How will the robot army get built if people don't respect science?

Let me know what you think about Climate Cover-Up. I'm waiting for one of the libraries here to pick it up, so you probably will end up reading it before me. I still need something to balance out State of Fear and Horner's PIG.

Hume's Ghost said...

Will do. Although I've slowed to a snail's reading pace (hopefully I'll have more free time by the end of March.)

I tried forcing my way throught the Politically Incorrect Guide to the Bible. That will be the last time that I ever subject myself to the intellectual nightmare that is the PIG series.

Did you know that the Bible is the foundation of science, democracy, and human rights; and that critics of the Bible are intolerant anti-intellectuals? And that's just the cover!

Fists in the Wind said...

My position is as follows: Creationism is false. Global warming's extent, its rapidity, and its deleterious effects are greatly exaggerated.

I believe the following is the best explanation, and it is to be considered along with the four alternatives that you adumbrate:

Prior to the majority of scientists accepting GW, it was not a majority position. Over time, it dovetailed with political and environmentalist interests, and consequently got wind in its sails as a result of dedicated funding and momentum. The scientific establishment began to seek confirmation of the hypothesis. There was no conspiracy, no incompetence, no stupidity, no malevolence, just momentum.

Now many scientists are shifting their views on this subject and expressing ever greater doubt all the time. The momentum is turning against GW--not only among the rabble, but among many experts. This momentum is suggestive to those of us who are not climate scientists (which is 99.99% of us, of course).

In any case, here is what I predict will be the propositions that most scientists will eventually accept after this whole thing has blown over in a few years. You can absolutely hold me to these:

First: The climate is so complex that such expectations can be held only with a most modest confidence.

Second: The Earth is warming slightly, and Man plays a small role in that warming. The warming will end eventually and cooling will inevitably set in within just a few hundred years, whether or not humans continue to use carbon-based energy at current levels.

Third: The degree to which Man is contributing is sufficiently small that it will not justify massive state intervention.

Fourth: The consequences of some global warming are not entirely negative; in fact, many of them will be positive and will be recognized as such.

Mark Vuletic said...

Thanks for your dropping by for some fisticuffs, Fists! Here's my reaction:

The scientific establishment claims to have found confirmation for anthropogenic climate change, with the degrees of confidence in all of the particular factors more or less as listed in the IPCC reports. To say that the conclusions of the work of all of the consensus scientists has been propelled by "dedicated funding" is tantamount to accusing the consensus scientists of rank dishonesty and incompetence. That charge seems to me, like the analogous creationist charge, at the level of black helicopters. Of course, if you have read a good portion of the peer-reviewed research, and can point out the myriad flaws that are so serious that they could only be passed over by those who are financially or politically motivated, that's a different story. If you can point to such flaws, I would not hesistate to call myself a fool. Personally, I can't see any such flaws in the research I have looked at—I can't even understand it, much less evaluate it—but I may have looked at a smaller sampling of scientific papers than you have.

As far as "shifting" views go, are you arguing that whenever a layman thinks he sees the momentum "turning" against the scientific consensus, it is rational for him to reject the scientific consensus? Because, in the absence of a thorough understanding of the science, I think it would be more reasonable for one to wait until the consensus actually has shifted. Would you believe in anthropogenic climate change if the consensus position were against that thesis, but momentum appeared to be shifting toward it? And, for that matter, why aren't you a creationist? That movement has been building up momentum like no one has ever seen.

If the scientific consensus accept any or all of your four points within the next few years, or any time in my lifetime, I will happily join them. And I must say, I am very glad to hear that you will join the consensus if it has not accepted your four points within the next few years. I think it would be better to track the consensus view from day one, but your stance is much better than that of others, who would continue to maintain their skepticism no matter how long the consensus lasted.