Thursday, July 12, 2012

More archived argumentation on climate change

Here's some more information from a five-year-old debate on climate change I had on a message board.  Enjoy!

I'm so tired of this "global warming is a religion" nonsense.  It's nothing but a smear.  With all of the polls concerning scientists and their religious leanings demonstrating that scientists are NOT religious, by and large, how can one say that they're applying magical thinking in the case of global warming?  If you read the actual science (some of which is contained in the articles you posted, actually), you'll see that scientists are more cautious about their predictions than, say, Al Gore, or non-scientists who are active in the environmental movement.  As with many Atheists who try to argue about evolution with scant knowledge of biology, many environmentalists know very little about the environment.  It's not surprising.  There's a lot to know.  The point is to leave the science to the scientists.  The media and activists for both the environmental and the free market ideological movements (if you want to talk about a religion, let's go there; people think that utopia will magically appear if everything is owned, it seems) want to cause alarm or suppress the facts to stop action from being taken, depending on what side they take.  The media typically reports that one side thinks one thing and the other thinks the opposite, not only presenting false dichotomies at times, but also creating controversy when a little research of the facts would give one side or both less clout, ending up somewhere in the middle.
That said, let's examine the articles Al presented to see if they back up his assertion:

The Sunday Times is the source for this article.  I'm going to try to forget for a moment that Rupert Murdoch owns the paper (  I'm also going to forget for the moment that Murdoch issues talking points to his news organizations that, shall we say, strongly encourage his employees to give a conservative slant to every story.  I'm just going to look at the story and see where it takes me.
From Times Online: Mars is being hit by rapid climate change and it is happening so fast that the red planet could lose its southern ice cap, writes Jonathan Leake.
Here's a tidbit on Jonathan Leake:
From the above site:

Post-science Journalist of the Year is Jonathan Leake of the Sunday Times. He has published so many stories revealing the triumph of imagination over scientific evidence that it seems invidious to pick out one. However, one of his many global warming stories is head and shoulders above others, see Leaf Mould in November. A subsequent analysis (aptly entitled Making the News) showed that all four graphs used in the story benefited more from creative imagination than they did from the original scientific data.

Jonathan Leake's credibility (or lack thereof) aside, the article from the Times Online says:

The mechanism at work on Mars appears, however, to be different from that on Earth. One of the researchers, Lori Fenton, believes variations in radiation and temperature across the surface of the Red Planet are generating strong winds.
In a paper published in the journal Nature, she suggests that such winds can stir up giant dust storms, trapping heat and raising the planet's temperature.

Here we have a scientist saying that the mechanism on Mars is different than the mechanism on Earth.  How is this article an argument against anthropogenic global warming again?
Here's the rest of the article:

Fenton's team unearthed heat maps of the Martian surface from Nasa's Viking mission in the 1970s and compared them with maps gathered more than two decades later by Mars Global Surveyor. They found there had been widespread changes, with some areas becoming darker.
When a surface darkens it absorbs more heat, eventually radiating that heat back to warm the thin Martian atmosphere: lighter surfaces have the opposite effect. The temperature differences between the two are thought to be stirring up more winds, and dust, creating a cycle that is warming the planet.

Once again, I'm not seeing anything here that would constitute a blow to anthropogenic global warming.  I would also argue that two studies of Martian surface temperature in thirty years do not provide enough data concerning the climate on Mars to draw any sort of parallels to the patterns on Earth.  The high and low temperatures on Mars are wildly different.  There are no heat exchangers like ocean currents to moderate the climate.   There is far less moisture, and most of it is frozen.  To draw the conclusion that Mars is warming for the same reasons as Earth (as Al seems to be doing) just because both have had temperatures rise by the same amount (never mind that Mars could have warmed and cooled a few times in thirty years--how would we know otherwise?) is similar to drawing the conclusion that bats and birds have a common ancestor because they both have wings.   Let's stick to comparing apples to apples, and not oranges.

Here is an excerpt from the article:
Jay Pasachoff, an astronomy professor at Williams College, said that Pluto's global warming was "likely not connected with that of the Earth. The major way they could be connected is if the warming was caused by a large increase in sunlight. But the solar constant--the amount of sunlight received each second--is carefully monitored by spacecraft, and we know the sun's output is much too steady to be changing the temperature of Pluto."

Do you read the whole article before you post it as evidence?

This whole exercise reminds me of the subject of the book I'm writing on a certain political operative (real, not fictional).  He read James Madison's letter to Jasper Adams, in which he says, "Christianity is the greatest religion in the world."  My subject uses this statement as a quote to demonstrate the religiosity of one of the most well known Founding Fathers, in a book about how separation of state and church is a myth.  Madison may very well have meant what he said, or he could have said it tongue-in-cheek, but whatever the case, he goes on to mention that Catholicism is a mixture of church and state, and it represents the worst form of government on Earth.  He says later on that Jews, Muslims (Musselmen), and Atheists should not be taxed for that which they find repugnant.
So far, I've gone through two articles, and in both cases, information contradicting the apparent conclusion we're supposed to draw has been found.  We're supposed to think that obviously, because a few of the planets are also warming, the sun must be responsible and anthropogenic global warming is simply myth.  Instead, we're finding that warming is occurring on a few planets for reasons other than why it's occurring on ours.

This excerpt is from the article on the Science Daily site (

In agreement with most other climate researchers, the Lund group is not concerned about a complete shut-down of the Gulf Stream as envisioned in the apocalyptic film "The day after tomorrow". However, future warming induced by anthropogenic greenhouse-gas emissions may influence the system.
We don't know with certainty what will happen. Some attempts at measuring ocean currents suggest a recent weakening of the Gulf Stream, and the transport of heat to the North Atlantic region may well decrease in the future as a result of increased precipitation. Such a scenario might lead to less warming in Europe than predicted by the IPCC, but we will probably not face an arctic climate, summarizes Svante Bjorck.

From what I know of global warming, all we're looking at here is another factor to take into account when predicting the effects of anthropogenic global warming, not an argument against its existence.  Because of this seesaw effect described in the article, some places on Earth may not experience as much warming as others. 

Finally, we have this article:
Reid A. Bryson's statements have already been addressed in the article and video I posted earlier.  As these items were also in "The Great Global Warming Swindle", I will address them one by one with evidence from other scientists, if I do get time to complete that full refutation (I'm working on it).   I do say "refutation" at this point because it's the same few people making the same few arguments against anthropogenic global warming, and they've all been refuted by people more qualified than I.  I am working through some of the scholarly work on the subject to put it into my own words.
Now we're on to the "spirituality" of global warming.  Al Gore did disappoint me when he made global warming into some sort of moral issue in the religious sense.  It's not a moral issue.  It's a survival issue.  He's being a politician here; he's trying to appeal to the emotions of people who would never understand the science involved.   It's the same tactic people use when they call the inheritance tax the "œdeath tax", going on to say that people will lose farms that have been in their families for generations.
Politicians and celebrities are not the best spokespeople for what to do about global warming, especially since the first thing politicians--acting in their own self-interest--want to do is regulate through legislation, and celebrities do not have the academic credentials to face the critics of their movement.   They care and they mean well.  Hell, they might even be extremely well-informed.  They are still not scientists.

To address anthropogenic global warming, we need innovation, not legislation, and an embracing of science, not appeals to emotion.

As for Al Gore: he's a religious guy.  A religious guy is going to reconcile his faith with what he knows about science.  It's unfortunate, but you have to remember that Al Gore is not the person who made up the idea that the planet is warming and we humans are to blame for some of it.   He's just a guy who really cares about the issue and is religious.  I see the same people in the separation of state and church movement; religious people who actually defend the United States Constitution do exist among those of use who want the total separation of state and church.  The head of Americans United For Separation of Church and State is a minister.  I'm going off on a tangent now, sort of, but I want to add that unless religion diminishes among the citizens of any country, it is impossible to separate state and church, because religion is nothing but appeal to emotion, and people will vote based on such appeals.  I want the religiosity out of the environmental movement (in which I haven't even been active) as much as I want it out of the separation of state and church movement.   

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