Sunday, June 8, 2008

Global Warming: Tourism vs. Alarmism


So hot…nearly…100 degrees…yet…gotta love…new tourism ad…for Ocean City, NJ MD featuring…mayor…implicitly mocking global warming alarmism…by urging people to visit city now because science warns oceans will evaporate…in a billion years…got the level of urgency…about right…stupid greens…so…stupid…


Michael Bates said...

Is this the ad? It’s for Ocean City, Maryland, but it fits your description. “Book your Ocean City vacation now, before our planet spirals to a vaporous death.” Nice retro graphics, too.

Todd Seavey said...


Perry E. Metzger said...

Er, I’m not a green, and I’m as far from a statist as you get, but I think at this point the scientific evidence for anthropogenic warming is very strong. I think denying strong scientific evidence on the basis that it is politically inconvenient is foolish. Now, as it happens, I don’t see any role for the state in curing global warming any more than the reality of cancer means I see a role for the state in health care, but even if it were true that global warming could only be mitigated by a state apparatus, it would be intellectually dishonest of me, not to mention just plain stupid, to deny it for political reasons.

Todd Seavey said...

As alluded to in other entries, I deny it purely for scientific reasons, the statistics behind the alarmist claims being so woefully weak that the error bars on the pathetic, perpetually inaccurate computer models generated by this fledgling science routinely dwarf the entire purported temperature rise in even the most dire of predictions, all of them cherry-picked and spun hard by the extremely-politicized UN body that, in defiance of all scientific tradition and precedent, has come to be treated as “the last word” on climate science, like some nightmare version of the French Academy writ large. Don’t believe the hype.

anonymous said...

depends on how you look at it

Perry E. Metzger said...

I think your science is bad, Todd. Indeed, I’d say very bad. Again, I would prefer that it were otherwise, but it is not.

Just about every couple of weeks, more studies come out that support the “hype” (as you refer to it). It was only two weeks ago, for example, that the antarctic ice core data was extended back another 200,000 years, and it continues to support the conclusions that have already been drawn.

I’ve spoken to many people with your point of view. Very few of them have actually read the original research papers. I do. There might be something wrong with a few of them, but a bibliography on the subject now extends to tens of pages. Are all those papers wrong? Is everyone in on a conspiracy here?

toddseavey said...

You know, the number of topics on which you claim expertise seems coextensive with the number of topics you mention — but I’ll refer you to (thoroughly apolitical) statistician Chuck Blake at Manhattan Project sometime for greater detail on why you’re profoundly wrong.

Other readers I’ll refer to the new issue of _Skeptic_ for starters, pitting one very thorough article detailing the underlying statistical absurdity of the climate models against another article that, like all climate alarmists, simply buffs the lengthy list of supposed supporters of the doomsday theory, usually rendered long by simply lumping in every scientist ever to address climate in any way that can be considered, even in the most minute, niche way, _compatible_ with a larger warming trend.

It’s statistics vs. “authority,” with the alarmists on the wrong side of truth.

toddseavey said...

And, yes, Chuck’s read the original research — that’s _how_ he came to learn it was all bunk and that, disturbingly, being a “good climate scientist” (much like being a “good” toxicologist or member of several other troublemaking disciplines, I might add) does _not_ mean being even a competent statistician — with the error almost universally leaning in the direction of seeing significance where there is none, the human brain preferring the spotting of meaningful patterns to the doing of complex math.

Perry E. Metzger said...

I am, in fact, not an expert on climate. However, it also turns out that I appear to know a lot more than most people who deny climate change and yet claim to be experts on the subject, probably because I actually bother to read the primary sources. The literature on the subject is, at this point, fairly remarkable. It is also much richer and more complicated than you appear to believe.

I don’t particularly care if Chuck Blake has read the original research, as I don’t know him and know nothing about him, and I have no idea what he has himself said. I asked if you, Todd Seavey, had read the research. If you haven’t, I don’t think you have a reasonable basis for an opinion.

So, here is my challenge to you: one or two issues of Nature ago contained the latest ice core data. The issue is easy to recognize as it has a section of an ice core on the cover, and should still be on the rack at most of the major NYPL branches.

If we are to believe your position, clearly this paper and hundreds of others must all be wrong, but we’ll just start with this one paper. Here is my challenge to you: go and read that paper, and tell me what is wrong with it. I’m not asking you to refute the entire literature, just this one tiny little paper.

Surely that can’t be too hard a task, eh?

Todd Seavey said...

No, I have far better things to do with my time.

I suggest you go to the library and get a copy of Sartre’s _Being and Nothingness_ and read it cover to cover seventeen times.

Perry E. Metzger said...

Good for you if you have better things to do with your time, but then you have absolutely no basis on which to have an opinion on this subject, and your spouting on the subject is intellectually dishonest.

(And for the record, yes, I read the paper I suggested you read. I’ve read many such papers — I subscribe to both “Nature” and “Science”, which are the major venues for such papers. I would never have asked that you do something that I myself would not do. I’ve also read much (but not all) of the IPCC report. “Not all” because a lot of it is references and technical detail.)

Anyway, if you really aren’t willing to educate yourself on this subject, I suggest you instead maintain a dignified silence. There is no shame in choosing to remain ignorant on a topic, but there is considerable shame in having a vocal opinion without an underlying basis.

I don’t need to go to the library for a copy of “Being and Nothingness”, by the way. I have it in my own collection. I’m not very big on the existentialists, though — as much as I like the belief in absolute personal responsibility for your own choices, I cannot square it with the existentialist support for collectivism.

Todd Seavey said...

Obviously, one can never promise in a field this vast to be on top of every important new finding, but I’ll explain in more detail why some of the field’s most basic assumptions, like those of UFOlogy, are wrong enough to render many of the more minute details inconsequential, when I review the warming-skeptics Singer and Avery’s _Unstoppable Global Warming_ as this site’s Book Selection of the Month for November.

Until then, Perry and others will just have to hope the oceans don’t drown us, as the comparable sea level rise over the _past_ century did not. And always — _look to the skies!_

Perry E. Metzger said...

The oceans aren’t going to drown us, and no one reasonable in the scientific community says they will. The IPCC findings say a foot over a century assuming nothing happens to reduce current CO2 output trends, though there’s a bit of an error bar. That’s bad news for Bangladesh, much less important for New York. You might want to know what you’re criticizing before you criticize it. By the way, that is in fact substantially above the rise in the last century — again, you should check your facts before speaking.

Which is, of course, the point here. Sure, you might claim that global warming is on par with UFOlogy, but how do you actually know? Given that you’ve just displayed ignorance on a very simple fact, how do you know you’re not making unwarranted assumptions about other facts?

Perhaps you claim that people you trust have opinions on the subject you find compelling, but given that those opinions are far outside the mainstream, how do you know you should trust them? On topics where my opinions are far outside the mainstream (politics, for example) I’ve spent a lot of time studying the matter so that I had a reason to have an opinion.

Perhaps you claim that in this complicated world you could never keep up with all the controversies out there, and that’s perfectly true. There is nothing undignified about having no opinion on a topic.

However, if you’re going to express a strong opinion on a particular controversy rather than simply say “I don’t know”, isn’t it intellectually dishonest to be ignorant and yet express a strong opinion?

Sean Hastings said...

It seems pretty clear to me that there is a lot of hype associated with the Green message. I certainly don’t know if Global Warming is dangerous to me – I also don’t know if Satan will torture me in the afterlife – but both messages sound like religious people trying to scare me into letting them tell me how to live my life.

As for the “science” behind global warming alarmism…

My understanding of the scientific method is that you gather some data, come up with a theory that fits the data, set up an experiment to test the theory, and publish the results of the experiment.

Gathering data, coming up with a theory that fits the data, predicting the results of a hundred year long experiment, publishing the predicted results 99 years early, and calling for legislation based on the amount of press your predictions get as you collect your Nobel prize… well, it falls a little short of being science as I understand the concept.

I have read the IPCC report. Two major failings that I spot in this summery of the research that has been done are:

1.) A lack of information on the negative temperature feedback caused by cloud albedo as temperatures increase and more water vapor is held in the air as a result.

It seems to me that this might be the primary negative feedback factor in the system, yet it seems to be universally ignored or even claimed as a positive feedback effect as clouds reflect heat back to the ground.

There is definitely some large negative feedback effect missing from the models, or any random temperature walk would end up at a very hot planet state, rather than the historical “hot planet” and “ice planet” strange attractors that we oscillate between. My guess is albedo from cloud cover, but it could be something else.

2.) A lack of information about the probabilities and effects of major random volcanic activity. It seems likely that significant volcanism is the forcing factor that breaks the “hot planet” strange attractor and sends the climate moving back towards the “ice planet” strange attractor.

I would much rather live in a period of moderate global warming than one of significant global cooling, and our proximity to the “hot planet” attractor would indicate that rises in temperature are more likely to be resisted by negative feedback (whatever the mechanism might be) than decreases – so pushing the temperature up as much as we can might logically be the safest thing we can do to prevent significant global temperature change.

There is even some reason to believe that volcanism’s role in the cycle is not entirely random. Claims have been made recently that more volcanic eruptions are occuring as the ice melts, becasue it releases pressure on the ground below it. Environmentalists have been pointing to this as another bad side effect of global warming – saying things like “The earth is striking back!” But if this is true, the additional release of sulfur dioxide is another negative feedback factor that has not been considered in anyone’s models.

Oh, and on an only slightly related note, I noticed that Al Gore has endorsed Barack Obama. I was actually a little surprised by this endorsement of a black man from a noted environmentalist. I mean, black people are well known to have inferior albedo, so they must contribute more to global warming than any other racial type…