Monday, January 31, 2005

Global Warming from Tolles

Tolles is back up and posting. Last week's post was typical of the Tolles genre: smear those who disagree with you, cite an article favorable to you (frequently from some absurdly anti-American source), and assume metaphysical levels of malice and/or stupidity from anyone who disagrees with you.

The true beauty of his post can be found here:

For some time the right, in this county and abroad, has been quite successful at mucking up the issue of global warming. Throw up a bunch of bullshit, hope something sticks.
So, anything anyone says to counter him is automatically placed off limits. He KNOWS global warming and all the dire predictions are 100% guaranteed true. Yet, oddly enough, he mocks those in the "faith based science club". Then, he compounds the giggles by concluding with:

I'm sure this report won't change many minds, but that won't change the reality of the situation.
Here is the deal, Mike: I guarantee you I am more open to the possibility of global warming becoming a problem than you are to the possibility that it is, at the least, extremely overblown.

While I have a rule against arguing religious issues with people, I'll make a couple of points:

At the risk of being accused of simply "Throw[ing] up a bunch of bullshit, [to] hope something sticks...

First, one reason reports like this one don't change many people's minds is this:

"[W]e have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements,
make little mention of any doubts we might have . . . decide what the right
balance is between being effective and being honest."---Stephen Schneider
See, when leading environmentalists call bullshit on themselves it makes it hard to believe the scare stories they then relate.

Second, on the issue of Watson getting fired: I suspect it has little to do with Exxon telling President Bush that Watson is too pro-Kyoto. Incidentally, the idea that "Exxon did it" comes directly from an Al Gore speech, so kudos for good unbiased reporting. Dr. Pachauri's views were well known before his appointment; he is an environmental activist. Plus, the US didn't "put him in his post" as the article says, there was a vote of member nations. Dr. Pachari won 76 to 49 over Dr. Watson. But don't sweat the details when they are anti-Bush, right. Here is an alternate theory on why Dr. Watson got canned:

What really ticked off the Bush Administration was Watson's behavior in Shanghai on January 20–21, 2001. There the IPCC adopted its latest compendium on climate change. Watson approved the insertion of a new "storyline" (that's what the IPCC now calls its future projections) that predicted a silly warming of 11°F in the next 100 years. Those of us in the scientific community who had reviewed the document the previous summer never saw this outlandish projection because it was inserted after the general peer review.
The reason it wasn't subjected to that customary process was that it never would have passed. One peer scientist is John Christy of the University of Alabama, who has developed the satellite temperature history, which shows very little warming in its 23 years of existence. Commenting on the 11°F forecast a hearing chaired by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Christy said that was the one forecast made by the U.N. "that was not going to happen."
It's also worth noting that the U.N. made 244 other temperature forecasts, all cooler than 11°F. But Watson pointed to the hottest one and said that it "adds impetus for governments to find ways to live up to their commitments [under the Kyoto Protocol] to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases." Then, in a remarkable insult to the American people, Watson said, "A country like China has done more, in my opinion, than a country like the United States to move forward in economic development while remaining environmentally sensitive."
Six months later, the Washington Post reported that China had fudged its emission figures. The U.S. Embassy reported Chinese emissions had dropped "little, if at all," which should have been obvious to anyone (e.g., Watson) who could see the opaque air of Shanghai.

Let me point out that changing substantive findings after peer review is a big, big no no for reasons that should be obvious. This change was one of the many egregious things Michael Crichton pointed out in his book. Mike, you take a cheap shot at the book. Have you read it?

Why exactly are there 244 different temperature forcasts? Does it give you any pause that the lead author picked the most extreme one as the basis for his prescriptions? Does the absurd reference to China's pollution policies make you think for a second that there is a good deal of politics involved in the science of this issue?

Third, I am sure you consider both of these conservative bullshit, but it is worth remembering that the exact same scientist who are sounding a global warming alarm were sounding a global cooling/new ice age alarm 25 years ago. Also, what ever happened to the population bomb that was going to lead hundreds of millions of death by starvation in the 80s and 90s? Both theories were taken seriously by scientists.

Fourth, predictions of gloom and doom are based on computer models of what might happen. They are, thus, only as good as the assumptions that are entered. The layman's way of expressing this is to say: the weatherman has a difficult time predicting the weather more than 5 days out; these scientists are making claims about what the weather will be like in 100 years. A more sophisticated way of looking at it is to take the future oriented computer models and compare them to actual data from the past. In other words, we are testing the assumptions about temperature change by running those assumptions against actual data. The problem (for radical environmentalists) is that when you do that you find that the models grossly overestimate wheather changes.

For example, the International Panel on Climate Change models would predict a 0.7 degree celcius increase from 1978 to 1998. The reality was a decrease of roughly .01 degrees. When disinterested scientists find that their model not only doesn't adaquately explain reality, but that their predictions are not even in the proper direction, they typically scrap the model and try again.

Finally (for now), for a nice chuckle check out the unfortunate graphics on this graph, which shows CO2 levels increasing with a plane headed for two tall office buildings as a backdrop.


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