Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Climate Change and the Integrity of Science

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the but-it's-really-cold-today dept.

Earth 1046

blau tips news of an open letter from 255 members of the US National Academy of Sciences, including 11 Nobel laureates, decrying the "recent escalation of political assaults on scientists in general and on climate scientists in particular." The letter lays out the basics of the scientific method, and explains how certainly highly-regarded theories — such as the big bang, evolution, and Earth's origin — are commonly accepted due to the strength of the evidence supporting them, though "fame still awaits anyone who could show these theories to be wrong." It goes on to "call for an end to McCarthy-like threats of criminal prosecution against our colleagues based on innuendo and guilt by association, the harassment of scientists by politicians seeking distractions to avoid taking action, and the outright lies being spread about them." According to the Guardian, the letter "originated with a number of NAS members who were frustrated at the misinformation being spread by climate deniers and the assaults on scientists by some policy-makers who hope to delay or avoid making policy decisions and are hiding behind the recent controversy around emails and minor errors in the IPCC."

cancel ×

1046 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

First post (-1, Offtopic)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133656)

Wouldn't have been so easy if D2 weren't fucked :p Someone fix that already!

Re:First post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32133730)

Looks like your plea worked.

Re:First post (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133784)

Cool. Now, someone send me some cute strippers and/or a big pile of money!

Re:First post (1)

reboot246 (623534) | more than 4 years ago | (#32134140)

They're on their way! Unfortunately the strippers are all over 70, and the money is from an old Monopoly game. Have fun! :)

always the loudest wins. (2, Insightful)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133658)

In science vs media,

Re:always the loudest wins. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32134004)

Actually that would defineately be the pro-agw camp.

Besides, science in the "general public" is always vastly different from actual theory. The media has always been firmly in the general public "mythical science" camp:

* the big bang, in physics departments, is no longer regarded as a good explanation of the actual creation of the cosmos. From the moment the process of inflation ended onwards, it fits all data extremely well**, but not before (nor does it explain inflation very well). So while the big bang theory still exists, it's no longer the creation theory. Well, it sort of is, until a good replacement is found. However it's a bit like newtonian physics in 1904 : everyone knows perfectly well the "scientific consensus" is horribly wrong, it's just that no-one knows how to fix it.

( ** with one big exception : how is it, unless earth is really, really special, that the earth appears exactly in the middle of the universe ? The current theory is that the universe is bigger than the big bang theory would make possible : that there is no "edge" of the universe at 14.6 billion lightyears, but it simply continues. We measure the earth in the exact center, because all our instruments can only "scan" at lightspeed, and thus they all dropoff at the exact same point : the edge of our light-cone in the universe, which gives us the idea that the universe is a sphere with the earth in the exact center. That brings up the question how those stars got there, as they'd need to have flown there faster than light. And if the universe is bigger than theoretically possible, just how big is it ? Is it infinite ? )

For the "general public", obviously, the big bang theory is the new creation myth. It "explains everything", but nobody knows about the rather fundamental problems with the theory, and the moment one suggests that a better explanation is needed, you're charged with attacking gays

* evolution, depending on where you look (computer science, economics, or biology) is some variation of a three-step process :
1) copy inaccurately
2) kill a good number of them, with a tendency to kill the "less fit" first (where "kill" means "make them die childless", and while killing obviously satisfies this, robbing of food does to, or simply not giving sufficient food. So "kill" can be active, passive, just about everything. It does, however, involve childless death)
3) goto 1

In the public image, neither the effects of step 1 (a great many very undesirable mutations, most of which will always remain unfixable), nor any part of step 2 forms any part of evolution theory. And especially forbidden is discussing the consequences of attempting to stop step "2" from happening (this will exhaust any and all resources, no matter how large, and thereby make a small disaster (a few people starving now) into a huge disaster (>99% of the population starving a bit later. Worse, this sort of disaster has been observed very often in nature, it has even been observed to cause the total extinction of a species).

And God forbid anyone mention that if all of nature works by copying existing working principles, that human minds might work in the same way ... That humans are inherently irrational, and that that's a good thing (since rational decision making has hit a tiny mathematical snag : it doesn't actually exist). That this observation indirectly also means that there is NO rational viewpoint, and that worldly success is the only real measure of a theories usefullness (and that research indicates that in the "worldly success" category the battle between religion and science is not yet clearly fought out, or, God forbid, that there might be indications that religion, not science, is winning that battle ...)

Politics (5, Funny)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133660)

Politics is a sin, and those who practice it should be forced to repent. If only it were illegal - then only criminals would be politicians. Oh, wait...

It won't work (5, Insightful)

SomeJoel (1061138) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133664)

As long as the average person thinks the relative likelihood of "science being right" and "nutball propaganda being right" is about the same or worse, nothing will change. It pays to keep people uneducated: it's easier to scare, persuade, and misinform them.

Re:It won't work (4, Insightful)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133854)

And now all we need is to get loud-mouth aggressive "scientists" to stop labeling everyone they don't agree with as "nutball propaganda". The scientific method doesn't have "keep shouting the other guy down until he goes away" as part of the process. The scientific method doesn't resort to name calling and insult as a means of proving the hypothesis.

When I read this summary, I thought "hurray, the antagonistic, dogma-preaching 'scientists' were finally going to be told that debate IS allowed and questioning the data and methods IS allowed and you don't get to question the ethics of the guy with the opposing ideas just because he disagrees with you." But no, it's the ones who need control that are complaining about being picked on. The poor dears, they behave boorishly in public and then cry about how boorishly they are being treated.

It pays to keep people uneducated: it's easier to scare, persuade, and misinform them.

And that's why every time you ask a strong AGW proponent to support his claims he resorts to name calling and saying things like "it's a fact" and "the debate is over". Never explain how you got to your conclusion, pretend the other guy is an idiot for asking, and you'll have "uneducated, scared, misinformed" people at your feet. And the scareder they are, the more money they'll keep pumping into research on how to "fix the crisis."

I know "climate scientists" who behave exactly that way, so pretending they don't exist won't earn you any points in this discussion.

Re:It won't work (-1, Troll)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 4 years ago | (#32134000)

There is no such thing as AGWs. "Global Warming" has now become "Climate Change". And those who disagree are "Climate Change Deniers" you know, like holocaust deniers. See how that works. Earth cools switch from global warming to climate change. People disagree, call them climate change deniers so that they are equated with Ahmadinejad. Once you have completed these steps you no longer have to worry about proving your case.

Re:It won't work (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#32134156)

The CIA has opened a center [cia.gov] on climate change and national security, the issue du jour.

Its charter is not the science of climate change, but the national security impact of phenomena such as desertification, rising sea levels, population shifts, and heightened competition for natural resources.

And so it goes.

Re:It won't work (1, Insightful)

osgeek (239988) | more than 4 years ago | (#32134102)

The fact that the parent was labeled a troll only confirms the pattern I've witnessed, even in Scientifically-minded communities like /., of shouting down or censoring skeptics.

As an adamant supporter of the Scientific method, I'm very disappointed that asking for baseline data and manipulation algorithms has been met with stonewalling and name calling.

Proponents of AGW are asking for societies to completely revise their infrastructures and policies. They should expect a high degree of skepticism and deal with it head on rather than politicking, obfuscating, and downright covering things up.

It saddens me that the AGW crew has forced supporters of the Scientific method like myself into an awkward position when discussing other cornerstone issues like evolution and cosmology. We've all been painted with the brush of religion because some Scientists forgot their place and their core principles in pursuit of Being Right(tm).

Rather than continuing to escalate the rhetoric, climatologists need to return to their core data and analysis methods to present their cases in a fair and rational manner.

Integrety (3, Insightful)

riverat1 (1048260) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133668)

Too bad the denialosphere doesn't have to live up to the same standards of integrity that scientists have to.

Specifically... (5, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133676)

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's lawsuit against former UVA faculty Michael Mann [washingtonpost.com] . In criticising Cuccinelli's lawsuit, I'm not even saying he has to admit or agree with everything or anything that Mann wrote. But political persecution of scientists is bad... like 15th century Vatican bad.

No mention (5, Insightful)

rmushkatblat (1690080) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133682)

And, of course, they say nothing about the subversion of the peer review process discussed in the emails.

Re:No mention (5, Insightful)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133778)

I was thinking the same thing. Apparently, subverting the peer review process to keep contrarian papers from being published is OK; complaining about it in public is EVIL.

Re:No mention (4, Insightful)

moogsynth (1264404) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133818)

I was thinking the same thing. Apparently, subverting the peer review process to keep contrarian papers from being published is OK; complaining about it in public is EVIL.

You're right. Here are some of the conclusions the scientists have made about climate change.

  • (i) The planet is warming due to increased concentrations of heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. A snowy winter in Washington does not alter this fact.
  • (ii) Most of the increase in the concentration of these gases over the last century is due to human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.
  • (iii) Natural causes always play a role in changing Earth's climate, but are now being overwhelmed by human-induced changes.
  • (iv) Warming the planet will cause many other climatic patterns to change at speeds unprecedented in modern times, including increasing rates of sea-level rise and alterations in the hydrologic cycle. Rising concentrations of carbon dioxide are making the oceans more acidic.
  • (v) The combination of these complex climate changes threatens coastal communities and cities, our food and water supplies, marine and freshwater ecosystems, forests, high mountain environments, and far more.

Well go on then, refute them. I eagerly await your reasoned discourse replete with accurate facts and figures explaining why it is all, in fact, a crock and a sham! If the evil money-grabbing scientific conspiracy community won't accept or peer review your findings, then I'm sure Slashdot will. What have you got to lose, eh?

Re:No mention (2, Insightful)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133886)

Well go on then, refute them.

I am not a climate scientist. I don't even play one on Slashdot. I don't claim to be qualified either to refute or to prove those claims. I am, however, pointing out that any time somebody who is, in fact, qualified, claims to have had a contrarian paper rejected for publication, the AGW fanatics attack him like starving piranha.

Re:No mention (3, Insightful)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 4 years ago | (#32134136)

While you don't need to prove or disprove AGW, you _DO_ need to prove that those rejected papers upheld proper scientific standards. Else you're just another denier shouting CONSPIRACY.

Re:No mention (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32133896)

Well go on then, refute them. I eagerly await your reasoned discourse replete with accurate facts and figures explaining why it is all, in fact, a crock and a sham! If the evil money-grabbing scientific conspiracy community won't accept or peer review your findings, then I'm sure Slashdot will. What have you got to lose, eh?

Certainly! Just give me access to the raw, un-adjusted data that these scientists have been hoarding for decades. Oh wait, they keep destroying it. Also, lets look at what their models from 10 years ago predicted that the weather would be for the next 10 years and compare to the historical record. Those are supposed to be accurate, right?

Re:No mention (4, Informative)

tgibbs (83782) | more than 4 years ago | (#32134088)

Certainly! Just give me access to the raw, un-adjusted data that these scientists have been hoarding for decades. Oh wait, they keep destroying it.

Sorry, but somebody has been lying to you. The raw, unadjusted data is owned by various national meteorological services, and it has not been destroyed. Some of it is available for a fee, but quite a bit is available freely. You can find it here [realclimate.org]

Also, lets look at what their models from 10 years ago predicted that the weather would be for the next 10 years and compare to the historical record.

Certainly. Such a comparison may be seen here [wordpress.com]

Re:No mention (2, Interesting)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#32134006)

* (i) The planet is warming due to increased concentrations of heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. A snowy winter in Washington does not alter this fact.

The planet is warming due to the sun. The planet has warmed in the past. The planet has cooled in the past. The planet's history shows that it was significantly warmer during it's most hospitable eras than it is now.

* (ii) Most of the increase in the concentration of these gases over the last century is due to human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.

Most of the increase, sure. But how much of the total percentage? The impact the rest of nature has astronomically outstrips the impact humans alone have.

* (iii) Natural causes always play a role in changing Earth's climate, but are now being overwhelmed by human-induced changes.

Completely false.

* (iv) Warming the planet will cause many other climatic patterns to change at speeds unprecedented in modern times, including increasing rates of sea-level rise and alterations in the hydrologic cycle. Rising concentrations of carbon dioxide are making the oceans more acidic.

These changes are only "unprecedented" if you describe "modern times" as spanning only the last few centuries. The planet has undergone more severe changes than any doomsayer has predicted - life, including human life, has done nothing but flourish. If species X suffers, so be it. If species X happens to be humans, then so be it. Life adapts or GTFOs.

* (v) The combination of these complex climate changes threatens coastal communities and cities, our food and water supplies, marine and freshwater ecosystems, forests, high mountain environments, and far more.

If by "threatens" you mean "threatens to change", then you're right. People who own expensive property might lose it. Governments who control key ports or shipping routes might lose them. The change the politicians fear is upsetting the current balance of power. They don't give a shit if people or other animals die en masse.

Most lifeforms prefer a flooded planet to one where all the water is locked in ice, anyway. If humans ever did get the ability to control the climate, who would decide what the ideal amount of ice is? Who would decide what the ideal sea level is? The ideal number of hurricanes per year? The ideal temperature?

As always, follow the money. Global warming is pure political bullshit, and the "science" behind it is a joke.

Re:No mention (2, Insightful)

BitHive (578094) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133824)

This attitude is like saying you're never going to use open source again until all open source developers admit that the Debian OpenSSL incident proved that open source is fundamentally and flawed.

Like the Flat Earth Society (4, Insightful)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133688)

All these ridiculous denials of basic scientific principles reminds me of the Flat Earth Society [wikipedia.org] . It's interesting to read about them because, no matter how much evidence was accumulated, they could always fashion some reason why the Earth was flat and the evidence was misunderstood. Hell, even when satellite images showed a round Earth, Shenton (FES head) remarked: "It's easy to see how a photograph like that could fool the untrained eye."

We have essentially the same thing today. No matter how much evidence is shown for evolution, anthropogenic global warming, and so on, the fundamentalist wackos will rail against it and find some rationale for continuing in their thoroughly disproved ideas. About 25% of the American public cannot in any way be convinced, no matter how much evidence is shown them. These are the same people who think Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11, and who still believe Obama is a Kenyan citizen and George W Bush actually cares about them and their Christian religion.

Re:Like the Flat Earth Society (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32133746)

Yes but your evidence shows the Earth cooling.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBJihJBePcs#t=0m13s
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMUgNg7aD8M#t=0m5s
Who to believe?

Re:Like the Flat Earth Society (1, Offtopic)

Mike Van Pelt (32582) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133804)

Freeman Dyson is none of those things, and he's expressed skepticism about the whole climate change panic.

How do you refute him, when none of your ad-hominims apply to him? Or do you just come up with another ad-hominim?

Re:Like the Flat Earth Society (4, Insightful)

MadUndergrad (950779) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133878)

Dyson doesn't deny the science - he disagrees with the severity and importance of the consequences. I think he's wrong, but he's no denier.

Re:Like the Flat Earth Society (3, Insightful)

RenderSeven (938535) | more than 4 years ago | (#32134154)

Exactly! The thing I take equal issue with is that *any* criticism of AGW activism is immediately dismissed as AGW denial, and it's not true. I agree the earth is warming, agree that we caused at least some and maybe even all, and buy into 95% of the science. But if I point out that maybe some of the proposed regulations in response to AGW are a bit silly and ineffectual and certainly costly, I'm a 'denier'. There is at least some good science that suggests we will not be dead in 10 years, and that science should not be dismissed out-of-hand as heresy. The pro-AGW fanatics are just as guilty as suppressing criticism and debate as the anti-AGW fanatics.

If nothing else, I would expect the /. crowd to be at least a little skeptical of *anything* that causes vast sums of money to change hands.

Re:Like the Flat Earth Society (0)

RightwingNutjob (1302813) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133856)

Looking at 150-4000 years of noise on a billion year old planet and declaring that the sky is falling unless we start riding our bikes through the freezing cold while they jet around the world to Raise Awareness is not anything close to science. Period. And demanding drastic cultural changes as a hedge against uncertain extrapolation with ginormous error bars on it is not within the realm of scientific inquiry. Period.

Science, with a capital S and maybe some ones and exclamation points after it is about truth, not activism. The merit of an investigator is the quality of his discoveries, not the quantity of his pronouncements.

Re:Like the Flat Earth Society (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32134008)

Ah but if we followed your logic to its logical conclusion. It was back in the day a irrefutable 'fact' that the earth was flat. You know who came up with that idea? A small fringe 'wacko'. If we allow only what current 'consensus' is then the VERY theories you hold dear would not exist. In fact they probably would be non existent or wrong. You may call them wackos and dismiss *ALL* of their ideas just because you *feel* that it is 'right'. But *REAL* science doesnt just dismiss bad ideas. It accepts them. It proves they are wrong. It makes real science better. If you do not think that way. You need to button your hole as you are just one of the wackos you hate. You have categorically dumped everyone into 'one bucket'. You have accepted as 'fact' what others have told you on the internet. You do not even BOTHER to say 'what if they are wrong?'. You feel it is better to just attack your critics as 'wackos' and give them derogatory names, and making up statistics (25% ha!). You would see 1 out of 4 posts on all of the message boards out there saying it was wrong (more like 1 out of 20 but that is just a guess). See how I used science there?

    Take this as an interesting wacko idea that I recently read here. The canals of mars were not made with water but the very sand that blows around there. Yet you would have asked me last week I would have said water. But now there is another theory on the board. Now the water guys will need to prove it better or change their minds. *THAT* is how science works. Not by calling people wackos or using ad-hominims attacks.

    Here is another take away I heard last week. It is just a theory but an interesting one at least. That since we are using less CFC's we may actually be making global warming worse. Now I may not be the brightest bulb on the planet. But the way we keep 'messing around' with the atmosphere on a global scale we *COULD* make things worse or way better. Perhaps we need to think before we leap?

Signed

'right wing christian george bush voting wakco'.

Re:Like the Flat Earth Society (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32134030)

Anyone who wishes to actually "learn" and debate the science with actual climate scientists who published in peer reviewed journals I suggest www.wattsupwiththat.com. The skeptic, ooohh bad word I know, the skeptic blog is run by Anthony Watts who is a meteorologist and contains many posts by climate scientists and others.

Like any blog today, there are the occasional idiot posts or comments from layman or trolls, but for the most part many good discussions take place. Of note is that outrageous skeptic arguments are debunked along with the outrageous proponent arguments. To those who aren't active in the field there is a lot of good science to be learned from this site.

P.S. I'm not affiliated with the site in any way, but I do read it quite often and thought to pass it along for any fellow /. ers who might want to read about the current mechanisms that are debated within the field.

Re:Like the Flat Earth Society (1, Insightful)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 4 years ago | (#32134032)

The reverse is also true. I would argue that the fundamentalists on evolution's side are much, much worse. When I point out that dinosaurs couldn't have evolved their way through the mass extinction, because it would have required rapid, species-universal evolution (otherwise there would not be the threat of mass extinction), the few responses that aren't ad-hominem attacks are handwaves or the infamous: "You obviously don't understand evolution..." which is equivalent to "It's true, because it's in the bible." argument.

Basically, the problem is that the scientific principals are being undermined. It's hard to buy into theories when observation so commonly disagrees with prediction. Flat Earthers are funny because they refute the observable world -- but so do the proponents of the "Climate change" movement, when every predictive model made falls flat. Evolution, climate change (as it's understood), and other theories are commonly refuted by the observable world or have no observable models -- so they are not even true science, rather just thought experiments and allegations!

Evolution, for example, was crafted with a complete lack of data in its time, which has since had data piled around it in order to verify/vindicate its origins. This is bad science and bad practice. BAD. It also is non disprovable -- as an experiment, conjure whatever evidence it would take to refute evolution[climate change] in your eyes. This should be simple, if it is a true science. Then, turn around and offer the imaginatory refutation as fact to someone who believes in evolution[climate change] as fiercely as you do, and say "since evolution[climate change] can't explain that, evolution[climage change] has been wrong all along!" and watch the fireworks. They will warp the very foundations of reality to show you how you're wrong, don't understand evolution, and that evolution TOTALLY explains it. Is that really science? No. It's religion and politics posturing itself as science. It is scientific blasphemy and it should be cause for serious concern, rather than considered PROOF THAT IT'S TRUE! as it is now.

Re:Like the Flat Earth Society (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32134114)

what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

Re:Like the Flat Earth Society (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 4 years ago | (#32134162)

Well, the Earth is flat AND round. Like a pizza.

Bad analogy (-1)

WarJolt (990309) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133692)

[quote]The letter lays out the basics of the scientific method, and explains how certainly highly-regarded theories — such as the big bang, evolution, and Earth's origin — are commonly accepted due to the strength of the evidence supporting them, though "fame still awaits anyone who could show these theories to be wrong."[/quote]

First of all the big bang, evolution and earth's origin doesn't effect massive amounts of the world economy. Secondly, all those theories that are trying to explain the past. Climate change is trying to predict the future. The science should not be compared because the motivation behind the science is different. Predicting the future and understanding the past has inherent differences. No one would base energy policy based on the big bang theory or how the dinosaurs turned into birds.

Re:Bad analogy (4, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133740)

We either accept the methods by which the big bang, evolution, and climate change (along with pretty much everything else we think we know about how the world works) are understood, or we don't. If we do, then the economics are irrelevant: the universe doesn't care about our economy. If we don't, then we should have a better reason for this decision than saying "the motivations are different," because the universe also doesn't care about motivation, at least as far as we can tell.

In other words, you're letting your politics interfere with your understanding of science. Thanks for providing such a useful demonstration of how this works.

Re:Bad analogy (1)

etymxris (121288) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133836)

When predicting the future, there is more of value at stake than when explaining the past. The more there is at stake, the more likely people are to be swayed by various desires than by the truth. This goes on both sides. There's no real money at stake whether evolution is correct or not. But if AGW is correct, then Exxon and others stand to lose billions. It wouldn't be fair to say that deniers of AGW are all biased and those believing it are all justified. But the whole debate is necessarily political from the start.

In any case, predicting the future rather than explaining the past gives AGW the potential to be much stronger than evolution or cosmological theories. Since it has not yet happened, it can be tested. We'll have to see if it passes the "test". I have a feeling that no one will be satisfied with the results of AGW's predictions within my lifetime.

Re:Bad analogy (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133890)

As another poster pointed out, all science attempts to predict the future; if a theory doesn't make predictions, it's worthless. Now, in some cases, these predictions are perforce rather limited -- e.g. cosmological theory makes predictions mainly about what past events we may observe in the future via telescopic studies of things that happened billions of years ago, and about events billions of years from now that we won't be around to see. But to use your example of evolution, I can tell you, working in biomedical research, that evolutionary theory does in fact make predictions about events that are happening right now, on human timescales. And you can take a look at the NIH budget, or Merck's or Pfizer's annual earnings reports, to get an idea of just how much money is involved.

Re:Bad analogy (1)

etymxris (121288) | more than 4 years ago | (#32134082)

Yes, I was simplifying a bit. Evolution does have predictive results. Yet there are still accepted truths that we cannot test. We cannot (yet anyway) evolve humans from primates, yet we still accept that humans evolved from primates. Not by running an experiment and reproducing the results. We base it on the limited experiments we can do and the historical evidence we have available. Biomedical research certainly tests the theory of evolution in many different ways, but these tests are quite limited when compared to mammalian evolution over millions of years. I would still say that mammalian evolution is a scientific "fact", though there is no good way to "predict" it.

Re:Bad analogy (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 4 years ago | (#32134010)

Since it has not yet happened, it can be tested.

That's a flaw in the logic that puts the whole issue into the political arena to start with.

There is no control group, no chance to compare the results with and without the influence of whatever it is you want to claim is causing the warming. The warming may be caused by X, but you'll never be able to prove it because you don't have a control that lacks X. You may think the warming is caused by Y, but you won't be able to prove that because you have a system with both X and Y.

Today we have people who claim X is the cause, who try shouting down and insulting those who think Y is the cause, thinking that the louder they shout and the more they complain about those "knuckle-dragger Y believers" or "those nutball propagandists with their Y theory" the more X will be proven correct.

Science is not just correlation, it is causation. "We gave 100 people pink pills with midichlorians in them and they lived." In climate science, this would prove that little pink pills with midichlorians caused those people to live. In order to reach that conclusion, you have to have 100 people who you didn't give the pills to and they had to die in order to come close to causation and not just correlation. That's why scientific drug studies have control groups who get "pink pills" without midichlorians along with the ones who get the midichlorianated pink pills.

So no, just because it "hasn't happened yet" doesn't mean it can be tested.

Science always predicts the future (5, Informative)

mangu (126918) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133760)

all those theories that are trying to explain the past. Climate change is trying to predict the future

*ALL* science is about predicting the future. If you have a theory that cannot make predictions, then it's not a scientific theory, it's not right, it's not even wrong [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Science always predicts the future (2, Insightful)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32134016)

All science is about predicting the future?

Humm. So a paleontologist studying the Mosasaurs of the Western Interior Seaway is studying the future?

Or theories about the evolution of dinosaurs into birds is studying the future?

Re:Science always predicts the future (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 4 years ago | (#32134054)

theories about the evolution of dinosaurs into birds is studying the future

Past events, future discoveries. Many paleontologists have created theories that were proved false after more fossils were discovered.

Re:Science always predicts the future (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32134116)

My fiancee is a biologist. The study of Odonata has nothing to do with the future.

Good analogy (1)

wsanders (114993) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133796)

In some states in the US, denial of the theory of evolution is used as the basis for educational policy. I suppose it is a policy that attempts to keep evangelical Christians in power by stunting the education of their children.

You are also fundamentally wrong that climate science is attempting to predict the future. It is also an attempt to understand the past history of climate changes.

Also, the argument that scientists are trying to formulate policy is the same red herring used by conservatard politicians to harass researchers. If the scientists somehow were convinced that burning *more* fossil fuels would prevent ocean levels from rising, polar ice from melting, etc, they would say so. But the preponderance of evidence, so far, points in the other direction.

Money (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133986)

First of all the big bang, evolution and earth's origin doesn't effect massive amounts of the world economy.

Ah, money.

Combating Global Warming, even if wrong, wouldn't be a complete waste of resources. All this money spent on alternative clean energy will not go to waste because eventually, there won't be enough economically useful oil. Sure, there will still be oil, but it'll be at hundreds of dollars a barrel. People won't be able to afford it. There are over 7 billion people on earth who want to live like Americans and we're 300 million of that population using 25% of it - the numbers don't work. demand is increasing exponentially and supply isn't keeping up - and it doesn't look like there's enough oil in the world to keep up.

Which means we have to have other forms of cheap energy and if we wait for oil to increase to the point of being too expensive before developing these other forms of energy, our economy will collapse. At lease with other forms, the pain will be great (all those damn internal combustion engines), but it won't knock us out.

Let's say we don't do anything and the planet cooks. We being the richest country in the World will have people rushing into this country. Meaning, one way or another, it'll cost us.

Interesting (1)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133698)

They don't call out Ken Cuccinelli [wikipedia.org] by name. I don't see why not, that mofo needs all the bad publicity we can muster.

oh the cheek (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32133700)

how dare the plebeians question the science of the people who lost an ice sheet bigger than california [nsidc.org] .

Re:oh the cheek (1)

inpher (1788434) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133744)

It wasn't lost. It was stolen, sold to Gizmodo and dismantled before returned to the ocean.

No one escapes... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32133702)

No one escapes the Spanish Inquisition.

Main points (5, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133704)

TFA says:

(i) The planet is warming due to increased concentrations of heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. A snowy winter in Washington does not alter this fact.
  (ii) Most of the increase in the concentration of these gases over the last century is due to human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.
  (iii) Natural causes always play a role in changing Earth's climate, but are now being overwhelmed by human-induced changes.
  (iv) Warming the planet will cause many other climatic patterns to change at speeds unprecedented in modern times, including increasing rates of sea-level rise and alterations in the hydrologic cycle. Rising concentrations of carbon dioxide are making the oceans more acidic.
  (v) The combination of these complex climate changes threatens coastal communities and cities, our food and water supplies, marine and freshwater ecosystems, forests, high mountain environments, and far more.

Exactly.

The problem is political, not scientific. Exxon & Co. have managed to convince the tin-foil-hat gang that all scientists are united in a vast conspiracy against people who own SUVs.

Scientists are scientists, not marketeers, how can they convince people who believe the world is 6000 years old that CO2 does absorb infrared radiation?

Re:Main points (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32133858)

Scientists sure like to doctor their research to get more funding, they are like exxon.

I'm tired of getting attacked and called a christian(6000 yrs bs(it is)) every time I ask simple questions about GW, every time I would like something explained a little better.

If there's that much venom given to people trying to understand, you must be hiding something.

I still want to hear staticians weigh in on the time period of data compared to the history of the earth. And some better assessment of the margins of error for the various sampling methods.

Re:Main points (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133950)

I still want to hear staticians weigh in on the time period of data compared to the history of the earth. And some better assessment of the margins of error for the various sampling methods.

Start reading. This is a good start. [www.ipcc.ch] Once you get through the few thousand pages of actual research, you'll have an idea of where to find the discussions by statisticians and the margins of errors of the various sampling methods.

Oh, wait. That's right. You don't want to hear a statistician talk about this stuff, you want to have someone answer you any and all questions you could have. Sorry, that's not how it works. People who deal with complex topics aren't too keen on spending hours explaining something only to be told "But you doctor your research just like Exxon, why should I believe you?"

Re:Main points (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32133984)

God forbid people ask honest questions around here without getting shit on for it. But, of course, you'll be modded up due to groupthink.

Very enlightening!

Re:Main points (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32134046)

I DID ask for that specifically didn't I?

Scientists are people, people are fallible and corruptible.

Re:Main points (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133952)

Scientists sure like to doctor their research to get more funding, they are like exxon.

Except that if there are $X available for grants, scientist A is competing against scientist B to get those funds, while Exxon and British Petroleum are united in their quest to deny reality for their own economic interests.

I still want to hear statisticians weigh in on the time period of data compared to the history of the earth. And some better assessment of the margins of error for the various sampling methods.

I suggest you start here [www.ipcc.ch]

Re:Main points (5, Insightful)

etymxris (121288) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133912)

Academia can be very insular. It's publish or perish and it's difficult to get published if the editors think you're part of the "tin-foil-hat gang" or being paid by Exxon. There is also a great bias against publishing negative results. Climate science is full of models that are plugged into a computer and out comes a result. These models depend on many variables, some of which are measured, some of which are estimated, and some of which are guessed. In addition the whole algorithmic process by which the "model" works is at best an approximation. Certain methods of modeling future climate result in lots of warming, some less. Right now there are large margins of error and much disagreement about exactly how "much" climate change we will experience.

Now, it certainly seems plausible that there are models out there with variables and assumptions that result in no warming, or a cooling. What is the likelihood these would get published based purely on their results? Not good. Well then what is it about a model that makes it better than others? It's ability to "predict future changes" when plugged in with past data. However, as we go back in time we quickly start losing variables in quantity and precision. 100 years of good solid data (if it's even that much) is not much when it comes to modeling how the Earth's climate changes over it's vast history.

We are at least aware of many radical changes in climate that had nothing to do with humans over the Earth's history. If we can't account for those, then we are woefully unprepared to predict future changes.

The issues are very complicated, but it's not quite correct to say that scientists are solely interested in "truth". Academia has a culture, and this culture can create biases. These biases can affect entire research programs in ways that are more nuanced than simple conspiracies.

Re:Main points (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32133962)

STOP USING LOGIC

it hurts everyone on both sides... but not those who want to know the truth.

Re:Main points (2, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133992)

Academia has a culture, and this culture can create biases

Maybe. Now go look at the changes in the human condition since the scientific method was created in the 17th century and compare the evolution in these 400 years with the 40000 years that preceded it.

Re:Main points (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32134150)

The problem, in part, is that scientists are paid to come up with the "right" answer, no matter which side of this issue you are on. Right answer, more funding. It is also true that scientists come up with the "expected" answer more often than not. The way it works is if he gets something he didn't expect, he checks his data to see where he went wrong. If he gets the expected answer, he doesn't check for mistakes. This happens in every field.
However, note how political global warming is. I went to school with these people and I can say the ones I knew in the field weren't all that bright. Not to tarnish all scientists in this area, but the people I knew carried their agendas (expected answers) with them. When I was in high school, global cooling was the big threat. Now it's warming. This from the same set of people. Interesting, no?
If real science were being done, it would happen like this: first, figure out what is happening. Until you do, you can't move forward. Then figure out why. Until you do, you can't move forward. Then figure out if it's good or bad. Until you do, you shouldn't move forward. Then figure out what can be done about it. Until you do, you can't move forward. Warming and cooling periods have occurred long before man was burning coal, so it's clear we don't understand the "why" yet. Still, there are people rushing to the solution. That's not science, it's politics.

Almost Godwin... (0, Offtopic)

vfs (220730) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133712)

climate deniers

Wow, is that what they're called?

Re:Almost Godwin... (4, Informative)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133820)

climate deniers

Wow, is that what they're called?

A skeptic is someone who is dubious of a claim, but is willing to be persuaded by sufficient evidence. A denier is someone who will never be persuaded by any amount of evidence. There's precious little skepticism with regards to climate change these days, because the evidence is sufficient to convince those who were initially skeptical, but there's a hell of a lot of denial. If people who still refuse to accept the evidence don't want to be called "deniers," then you're welcome to come up with a different word -- but you can't have "skeptic," because that word already means something different.

And you can take your Godwin and stuff it. Godwin's Law is invoked when someone brings Hitler or the Holocaust into the conversation where they don't belong. So far, the only people doing that in this conversation are the climate change deniers. You don't get to, er, deny other people the use of the word "denier" just because it's often used with the word "Holocaust" in front of it. The verb "to deny" is a perfectly good English word going back to the 1300s, and it can be used in reference to many, many things that have nothing to do with the period from 1933 to 1945. In this particular case, the label fits: deal with it.

Re:Almost Godwin... (1)

mikem170 (698970) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133978)

Funny you mention the 1300s...

I'm proud to be a "sceptic" and want to avoid being a "denier".

Maybe someone can help me out with this climate change stuff. Please explain to me the medieval warming period. What caused that?

And also, just as importantly, why does it appear that the medieval warming period was swept under the rug by much of the pop-science crowd? (As it appeared to me from Al Gore's presentation.)

Climate change is a very complicated topic. And very politicized. And the stakes are high either way, economically speaking. Scientifically is this really that cut and dried? How many knobs are being guessed at in the computer models? We are measuring change, but how accurately do we understand the causes?

Re:Almost Godwin... (0, Troll)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#32134134)

face it, the denier tag is a blatant attempt at tarring anyone not convinced of AGW with the same brush as holocaust deniers. holocaust deniers are definately in denial - there's 1000's of witnesses and video evidence.

AGW on the other hand is nothing more then a hypothesis which has somehow jumped skipped the whole science part and gone straight to being declared a fact. it took darwin decades to come up with the theory of evolution, and decades more to defend it to the point of being accepted. Yet somehow AGW is expected to be accepted as fact in the space of 10 - 15 years? serious research alone takes longer then that for less complex issues.

Re:Almost Godwin... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133826)

What else should we call them?
Seems this name fits.

Cue Flame War in... (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133724)

oh, too late for that. I don't think that there is much to discuss about Climate Change right now. Most skeptics are skeptics out of principle, and there won't be much that'll make them change their minds. And same for the supporters of Climate Change.

I'm pretty sure that the only time that it'll get interesting again is when we'll again hit some record highs summer after summer. Should be coming up pretty soon - the sun is powering up again, and the next El Nino is around the corner as well.

Re:Cue Flame War in... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133946)

"Most skeptics are skeptics out of principle,
those would be deniers, not skeptics.

It's like calling Young Earthers geology skeptics.

I don't want to be alarmist... (4, Funny)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133726)

...but does anyone remember the V mini-series (the original 1983 version, not the new sucktastic version)? In that story/prophecy the aliens systematically persecuted, and eventually 'disappeared', all the scientists on Earth (accept for those who went into hiding). Now I'm not saying the science haters are secretly lizard aliens trying to steal our water and eat our children. But why haven't they denied it? Makes one wonder...

Re:I don't want to be alarmist... (0)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133758)

Did you by chance rape and murder a young girl in 1990? If not, why haven't you denied it?

Re:I don't want to be alarmist... (1)

chill (34294) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133942)

Did you by chance rape and murder a young girl in 1990? If not, why haven't you denied it?

Lawrence Taylor, is that you?

Here's a quote (1, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133732)

Many recent assaults on climate science and, more disturbingly, on climate scientists by climate change deniers, are typically driven by special interests or dogma, not by an honest effort to provide an alternative theory that credibly satisfies the evidence

I agree with this quote. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true: climate change promoters are doing the same thing. Here's one example [slashdot.org] , and it was against a guy (Lomborg) who actually accepted the climate change thesis: he was only disagreeing on what should be done about it.

Unfortunately asking a politicized field to not act political is like asking a river to run in reverse up the Himalayas. Nice try, but won't accomplish much: especially if you are demanding it from only one side.

Re:Here's a quote (3, Informative)

professionalfurryele (877225) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133926)

In the academic arena ripping each others ideas to shreds is standard fare. No one is suggesting Lomborg committed fraud or going after him personally. People are suggesting he is wrong. Given that many of his more outlandish claims appear in paperback rather than in peer reviewed literature this is better than he deserves.

It's like Upton Sinclair said... (4, Insightful)

unitron (5733) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133764)

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"

As always (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32133772)

If you want to avoid prosecution for fraud, stop committing fraud. Global warming is a hoax and everyone pushing it is rationalizing. As the evidence becomes more and more obvious that global warming is untrue, they are moving from stretching the truth to outright lying. So far, they've gotten away with pretending they're just incompetent, but as this continues, there will be convictions.

Those dummies (4, Funny)

CODiNE (27417) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133790)

an open letter from 255 members of the US National Academy of Sciences

Shouldn't have used an 8-bit int for their member count. Oh well, at least it's unsigned.

Analogy please! (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133794)

I don't get this whole global-warming thing. Could someone explain it with a car analogy?

Re:Analogy please! (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133850)

I don't get this whole global-warming thing. Could someone explain it with a car analogy?

OK. Imagine a planet with big gas-guzzling SUVs that emit a lot of CO2. What would be the result? The atmosphere in that planet would absorb more infrared radiation and the climate would get warmer.

Re:Analogy please! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32133924)

Sure, I'll give it a try...

When you leave your car outside on a sunny day with the windows up, the inside gets hot. If you were to do the same but also leave it running with the heater turned on (set to recirculate), it will get hotter faster. Scientists claim we've not only left the heater on, but are constantly raising the temperature settings as well. They've been imploring us for years to switch it to fan (A/C wastes too much gas), or at least leave the gauges alone, but instead we've continually rebuffed them and increased the settings a little further. The primary concern is that we may inadvertently turn the heater to eleven and get it stuck there like the Venusians did with their car. As a result of our collective dickery, some people who agree with the scientists are getting fed up with us for being so bullheaded and kinda want to kick our asses now. Unfortunately for them, they're all kinda wusses.

Science is not 100% correct (-1)

hessian (467078) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133800)

While I believe in science, natural selection/evolution, and in the importance of the scientific method, science is not absolute any more than the Pope is.

Science is made up of scientists. Some of these are fallible; all of them are potentially manipulated by their political views, their in-group interests, and of course self-interest. They can take bribes, payola or simply come up with a "theory" that many people like. They can then sell books, give $10,000 speeches and so on from it.

Scientists need to stop following a political and personal agenda about the following, although the list may be longer:

* Biological diversity;
* IQ and heritability;
* Overpopulation;
* The toxicity of everyday chemicals, and other issues.

The fallout of public deception on those issues is distrust of "scientism," or a religious belief in science. Not all science is good science.

The climate change debate has been politicized from the beginning, and it's unclear that one side is at fault. Many people however distrust the METHODS of solving the problem that went along with the diagnosis.

Science needs to rebuild faith in its work by being more accurate, not avoiding taboos and sticking to experimental rigor instead of political agendas.

Re:Science is not 100% correct (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133846)

Some of these are fallible;

Correction: all of them are fallible. It's just that some of them aren't honest enough to admit it.

Re:Science is not 100% correct (1)

medcalf (68293) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133898)

Science is a human activity. Biases and prejudices and agendas are a part of that, and always have been. The beauty of science is that the method is eventually self-correcting.

I call bs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32133828)

They can't have their cake and eat it too - if they're going to selectively employ the 'scientific method' then they need to suck it up when it goes against their personal views. re: NAS member Peter Duesberg.

The Software shows the Fix (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32133838)

  Here is a breakdown of the leaked code.

http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/12/revenge_of_the_computer_nerds_1.html

Signatories are very biased (5, Funny)

crepe-boy (950569) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133844)

I don't trust the reasoning behind this group of people. Note that they are largely from the east and west coast of the USA, or from e.g. Australia. It sounds as if they have a vested interest in keeping sea levels low.

There's a LOT of Political Power (3, Insightful)

Phrogman (80473) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133860)

to be harvested amongst the people who don't understand Science, specifically Climate Changes. Its much easier to convince people its all conspiracy to waste their money and that they should oppose it, than it is to educate them in something extremely complex and involved - and which we are still figuring out.
The Climate Change deniers can muster a lot of political capital by marshalling all the ignorant masses against making changes that might cost them money but are intended to be for the good of us all.
Personally, I expect humanity will do precisely *nothing* that is effective to deal with climate change and that millions of people will have to die first before the rest of us accept the fact that our lifestyle and population growth has been writing checks we couldn't afford, and now the collection agency is here for their money. Lots of corporations owned by rich individuals have made trillions of dollars off of the world's resources without worrying about environmental impact - now we deal with it. Tons of damage has been done to the environment by those same companies and we are left to pay the bill. Our great grandchildren will *still* be paying that bill I expect, those that aren't dead that is.
Do I want to see responsible research, yes of course. Will it happen? I am sure its happening now. Will the media report on it and the average human learn to understand it? No way. The Media has no interest in dispensing the truth, the average person is too stupid to understand, and doesn't want to hear anything that implies *they* have to make sacrifices and can't get the latest shiney.
When enough humans have died that we no longer can cause global warming, thats when things will settle down again. Humanity is too stupid and shortsighted. Its much more important to figure out whats happening on America's Got Talent...
Yes, I am a bit cynical and bitter today, what clued you in? :P

Re:There's a LOT of Political Power (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133982)

The problem is that most of what is being fed to the population about climate change is just rubbish.

your flat out finding anyone who understands how our climate even works on a basic level. case in point if you ask people what causes warming of the planet, 90% will parrot "omgz CO2", and miss the fact it's actually the sun and water vapour, with CO2 only providing a tiny amount.

stupid stunts like open letters only lose AGW credibility, look at all the emotive language in the post as an example "climate deniers"?? just call anyone who's not convinced a fucking heretic already. open letters only serve to futher politicise the issue instead of focusing on solid science and making your case in terms of facts not emotion.

bottom line is if you want to insist on childish crap like name calling and stamping your feet via "open letters", your only going to create more and more of your "deniers"

Re:There's a LOT of Political Power (2, Insightful)

night_flyer (453866) | more than 4 years ago | (#32134072)

as opposed to the "other side" who stand to lose a lot of financial backing/future profits/political power if global warming is shown to be a hoax... follow the money on BOTH sides of the argument... you might learn something

Uh.... yeah.... right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32133894)

For those naive enough around here to think there is some great divide between politics and science have obviously never been through a peer review process nor have they ever tried to write up a grant proposal.

Everything has a political side. Everything. And scientists have to put food on the table too.

Won't Matter (1)

quantaman (517394) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133966)

Unfortunately I don't think this will make a difference.

Is anyone here willing to stand up and say they were a denialist but became convinced of the validity of AGW when the CRU was vindicated [slashdot.org] ? What about anyone who's still a denialist, but decided that the emails weren't the smoking gun after all?

I fear that no evidence can ever be enough [badscience.net] . Imagine we had a time machine and could look 100 years in the future and saw the climate was 10 degrees warmer. I suspect a substantial portion of denialists would simply claim it was part of a natural cycle, or a scientific conspiracy was using a doomsday device to warm the planet, anything but the greenhouse effect.

So convince me, then (2, Insightful)

medcalf (68293) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133988)

If the catastrophic AGW hypothesis is correct, all of these must be true, in order (that is, falsifying any earlier point falsifies all later points from the point of view of the theory):

  1. The temperature of the earth is warming over time.
  2. The amount of this warming is unprecedented.
  3. The warming will continue past the point where the earth's feedback mechanisms can correct it.
  4. The warming will cause catastrophic impacts to life on earth, particularly humans.
  5. The warming is caused by human activity, if not entirely, then mostly.

If the first is false, then there is no global warming. If the second is false, there is no way to prove the third, because we would have examples of the warming going past this point and then correcting. If the third is false, then we need take no action. If the fourth is false, then we need take no action. If the fifth is false, then any action we could take would likely be meaningless.

The scientific method being what it is, and with the hypothesis claimed to be proven beyond reasonable doubt, then there must be significant evidence and reasonable argument to draw each of these conclusions. I haven't seen it, and I've been looking for a while. Normally, the "argument" rapidly devolves into name calling. But I'm willing to try, and so I have some questions, starting with the first point:

What is the optimum temperature (or range) of the Earth?

When has it been at that temperature in the past?

Has it ever been outside that temperature in the past?

How, specifically, do we know this?

In particular, how does one define the temperature of the Earth, and how does then measure that?

Re:So convince me, then (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32134040)

No, you do not understand the risks of AGW. It's not that the warming is unprecedented (your point #2). It's that the warming will cause effects that will make it hard to support the seven billion humans living on Earth. For example, a sea level rise of one meter will cause hundreds of millions of people to have to relocate, at a cost of trillions of dollars. It doesn't matter that the sea level was hundreds of meters high at some point in the distant past. In short, it's the effect on humans that is the danger of AGW, not the effect on the planet.

Please take the time to understand what you're arguing against -- this is the main problem of the so-called "skeptics". They don't even know what they're skeptical of!

Climate Deniers? (5, Insightful)

frist (1441971) | more than 4 years ago | (#32134002)

So scientists who challenge the prevailing politically-correct liberal thesis are "climate deniers" - this is the basic problem. Even the term is ridiculous. Compare it to "holocaust denier". The holocaust was undeniably real - because there are still some living eye witnesses, photographs, original videos, documents etc. that clearly prove that it happened. What does it mean to be a "climate denier"? No one denies there is "climate". For too long people who challenged the "science" behind global warming were shouted down and ridiculed by their "peers". Now for a little bit, the shoe is on the other foot, and they don't like it a bit. BTW - CFL bulbs are a perfect example of why this type of "science" really has to be tried before accepted, and not pitch a fit if it is challenged - http://www.energystar.gov/ia/products/lighting/cfls/downloads/CFL_Cleanup_and_Disposal.pdf [energystar.gov] Just think about that - what about places where there is no window, where the only ventilation is forced air. Give me an incandescent bulb anyday. If it breaks, worst you worry about is a cut. When it burns out, you can safely toss it w/out worry about what its components will do to the environment or your local groundwater. Not to mention that the CFLs do not last anywhere as long as promised if you don't follow their optimal usage pattern (leave on for at least 15 mins, etc.) Certainly there are places where they are appropriate, but "environmentalists" pushing them down everyone's throat, and corporate greed (Walmart) jumping on the green bandwagon and being dishonest with people - you wonder why people with a brain are skeptical? If they posted the cleanup instructions next to the bulbs on the shelf, would people still be buying these?

hmm (2, Interesting)

buddyglass (925859) | more than 4 years ago | (#32134024)

Is it worth mentioning that the National Academy of Sciences has on the order of 2100 members, of which 255 were willing to sign this letter?

Re:hmm (4, Informative)

tgibbs (83782) | more than 4 years ago | (#32134172)

Over 10% in such a short period of time? That's pretty impressive. Of course, virtually every major scientific society in the world [skepticalscience.com] has previously come out in support of climate science and concerns about global warming

And here's an open letter back (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32134048)

from Borepatch:

Dear Really Smart Scientists,

Your letter to The Guardian is an example of how a bunch of really smart people (11 Nobel Laureates!) can be really dumb. In fact, it is a one-page summary of everything that is wrong with climate science today. For example, you say:

For instance, there is compelling scientific evidence that our planet is about 4.5bn years old (the theory of the origin of Earth), that our universe was born from a single event about 14bn years ago (the Big Bang theory), and that today's organisms evolved from ones living in the past (the theory of evolution). Even as these are overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, fame still awaits anyone who could show these theories to be wrong. Climate change now falls into this category: there is compelling, comprehensive, and consistent objective evidence that humans are changing the climate in ways that threaten our societies and the ecosystems on which we depend.

The first problem here is that you not too subtly imply that anyone who doesn't agree with your climate science predictions must be some sort of Bible literalist. You know how poisonous the current debate is, that's what your letter is complaining about. You're either part of the problem or part of the solution, dudes.

But the big, huge hairy problem is that there's quite a large set of data that falsifies your man-is-causing-the-change hypothesis. As a public service, let me point out a few:

The climate changed dramatically in pre-industrial times, most notably in the Medieval Warm Period (ca 800-1300 AD). There's quite a lot of time spent in the climate science community poo-pooing this MWP as "only European in scope", despite all sorts of data from China and the Indian Ocean (to name only two) that show it was world wide in scope.

Even worse, the MWP was accepted as a fact before climate science became so politicized (see the 1990 IPCC AR1 report). Only when Michael Mann's bogus "Hockey Stick" chart (you know - the one generated by his code, that creates Hockey Stick shaped graphs from even random data), combined with a few years of unusually warm weather in the late 1990s (translation: "weather is not climate") combined with a hundred billion dollars in government funding looking for a problem to hang their Cap-and-Trade program on - only then did we start hearing revisionism. An Inconvient Truth, perhaps?

But it gets worse. The current Climate O' Doom(TM) warming model requires four supporting assumptions, or it collapses: the current temperatures are unprecedented (thus the attacks on the MWP), the recent rate of change is unprecedented; the magnitude of the recent change is unprecedented; and the current rate of change is accelerating. It appears that at least three of these have been falsified (Vinther, et al., Nature, 461, 385).

Say what you will, but to lump some quite shoddy climate model printouts in with our understanding of the age of the solar system is to engage in precisely what you are complaining about:

Many recent assaults on climate science and, more disturbingly, on climate scientists by climate change deniers, are typically driven by special interests or dogma, not by an honest effort to provide an alternative theory that credibly satisfies the evidence.

Yup, that's the suspicion that we have of the lot of you. It doesn't help that, in addition to trying to plow under any data that falsifies your pet hypothesis, you engage not in sober scientific discussion (especially of the uncertainties), but rather shriek oh noez thermageddon! Quite handy for a certain set of politicians, right there.

We urge our policymakers and the public to move forward immediately to address the causes of climate change, including the unrestrained burning of fossil fuels.

Fortunately, the public isn't buying it. It seems that they have looked at the $50 Trillion cost of the proposed "solution", looked at what's been the snowiest decade ever recorded, and are saying "no thanks." And in all honesty, they should be saying that. And you should all consider yourselves lucky that the public isn't paying attention to the lousy science in the IPCC reports or the horrendous problems in the temperature databases - or the idiotic things that politicians do based on your pet theories.

Society has two choices: we can ignore the science and hide our heads in the sand and hope we are lucky, or we can act in the public interest to reduce the threat of global climate change quickly and substantively.
The science is settled, it's an emergency - srlsy - and pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.

Guys, let me be be candid: even I can bring up serious, data-founded problems with your hypothesis. Even little old me. Your hypothesis stinks. In all honesty, we expect more from an almost-dozen Nobel Laureates. Especially when the public is paying your stinking salaries.

Sorry, I'm grading this as a D-. Go back and try again.

Love, Borepatch

P.S. If you can come up with a hypothesis that's not falsified everywhere by primary sources, maybe we can be BFF!

P.P.S. BTW, there are Nobel Laureates who are as skeptical as me. Probably Flat-Earth shills for the Oil Companies, or something.

AC because so many of you are such rabid alarmists.

Human Nature (1)

mkiwi (585287) | more than 4 years ago | (#32134056)

One of the main problems in all of this is human nature.

Climate change is a real problem, but many people are trying to profit off of that problem. There's a lot of money changing hands here, and most of the corporations that will stand to benefit or be destroyed really don't care about the science. They want their money. Everyone on slashdot knows just how much a corporation can be trusted to do the right thing.

Thus, there is an inherent lack of trust among some people who, wrongly, don't think anything is happening. The green movement is so highly politicized that it loses credibility in the eyes of many, since we all know politicians are the most credible people we know.

My analogy for the climate change problem is that of parents telling their little kid to eat their spinach. The parents know the spinach is good for the kid, the kid knows it too, but out of spite for his parents the kid avoids eating the spinach at all costs.

Is it a logical position? No. Is it human? Yes.

Lack of Falsifiability (0)

TheNarrator (200498) | more than 4 years ago | (#32134076)

Climate Science's real problem is lack of falsifiability.

If all of a sudden, hundreds of completely bizarre species of creatures of a rather large size (say the size of small mammals or bigger) with totally novel biology (say silicon based) and adapted well to earth suddenly appeared in the middle of central park in New York City, one might start to doubt the theory that all life on earth evolved from one-celled organisms, at least on this planet. This has obviously not happened, but it would disprove the theory of evolution.

If one discovered galaxies that were not red-shifting and were instead accelerating in all sorts of random vector paths, one might doubt the big bang theory.

On the other hand, If the temperature goes up, or down, if there is more rain, or less rain, more hurricanes, or less hurricanes, glaciers get bigger or smaller, see ice expands or contracts, droughts or floods, it's all evidence for global warming! If we entered a new ice age or a new warm period everything and anything is proof of global warming! Global warming can not be disproven!

In the end, the people who have to believe in global warming are the Chinese and the Indian governments and they don't believe it. That and no government has meaningfully reduced its carbon emissions since the Kyoto protocol was signed anyway. There is a heck of a lot of money in cap and trade though.

What I Wonder Is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32134096)

why all these climate scientists aren't multi-millionaires. If they can accurately model something as complex as the climate based on a minimal data set, I'm sure they could knock together a very profitable automated stock trading system in their spare time.

It's the same sort of thing - you buy a data set, analyse it for trends and patterns and use this analysis to predict future trading action. In the case of the stock market the data set would be much more complete than the tiny amount of climate data they have to work with so it should be a much easier task.

These "scientists" are extremely confident in their climate models and their ability to predict future trends through analysis of data so why aren't they making a few million on the side by applying their skills to the stock market?

I'm a moronic denier and yet even someone as stupid as me can me in excess of $100K a year from automated trading. I'm sure these genius climate scientists who can make incredibly accurate predictions based on very limited amounts of data could make billions. Hell, they could probably predict the market action for the next hundred years based on only a year's worth of historical data. They're just that damn good! It's almost like they use some kind of fairytale magic!

Question (3, Interesting)

hysterion (231229) | more than 4 years ago | (#32134128)

How many mathematicians or physicists are there in this list of authors? (I may be wrong, but it seems to me that they my be under-represented?)

How about a Day without a Scientist? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32134130)

In the theme of previous social strikes like Day without a Mexican and the likes...

It might make ALL of us appreciate just how much science means to our lives.

Nothing electrical, no clean water, no germ fighting disinfectants, no polyester clothes, no math (so no one can get paid or get any work done.)
g=

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?