Climate Change! An excellent discussion!

It all started with this:

Most Americans don’t believe humans responsible for climate change, study finds

An article from The Guardian UK.

Then things got interesting.

Earth-001

My Excellent and Intelligent Friend Who Happens To Be a Conservative writes:

“Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.”

I respond:

That’s a great quote. I like it a lot, but it doesn’t discount all scientific inquiry as baseless and inconstant.

150 years ago Darwin wrote On the Origin of Species. And yeah, we’ve learned a lot more since then, but the basic tenets still hold true in the vast number of cases.

The current majority viewpoint could, conceivably, be wrong. All the scientists who support the idea of climate change could be misinterpreting the data. But then again, the handful of scientists who make public their disagreement with the science could be misinterpreting theirs.

I would seriously hesitate to attribute it all to some kind of liberal conspiracy however. It may well be something that the administration uses to push changes through that you (or I, even) don’t like, but I’ve met scientists who would describe themselves as conservative and who still interpret the data their getting to support climate change.

So it goes, ever on, and we just keep muddling through somehow.

M.E.I.F.W.H.T.B.C:

Who said “liberal conspiracy” or that the scientific inquiry is “baseless and inconstant?” The thing is that the issues, especially with science, are almost never ‘settled.’ And somehow everyone is ready to stamp ‘FACT’ on this one and start writing policy.

Talk about people for doomsday scenarios and conspiracy theories? Greenpeace is saying that the world will end if we don’t go crazy against global warming. I remember a few years back they were all up in arms about how the world would be ending due to acid rain. What happened there? I don’t remember much being really done to stop that. Yet…I didn’t melt last time I walked in the rain.

Basically, just because one (or a thousand) “scientist” says something doesn’t make it fact. There are a lot of lousy “scientists” out there. Every time I see these articles I wonder, “Where are the lists of these scientists’ names? What are their qualifications? Where are the study findings? What were their parameters?”

ME:

I was just taking the ideas you were putting forth and extending them to their extreme for effect. If climate change is in fact junk science, then someone in the administration knows this and they are using it anyway as a tool to get people to accept changes they want to put through. replace “climate change” with “terrorism” and you’ve got the samething. Which isn’t discounting the threat of terrorism or fundamentalist islamic hegemony but you see what I mean.

Acid rain didn’t become a problem precisely because we put policy in place that reduced the causes of it. Acid Rain would probably not have ended the world, but it would have been a major problem had we not done something about it. It wasn’t just “ignore it and it will go away.” That’s actually a pretty strong argument for doing something about climate change.

There are a lot of lousy scientists out there. There are also a lot of lousy plumbers out there. I’m not sure what your point is.

There are also a lot of really good scientists out there who are aware of the scrutiny their findings will undergo. Not just for climate change science. For any theory there are peer reviews and people look very closely at the data and try to replicate the experiments and if it passes muster then the results are published.

If not, then the results aren’t published. That’ not burying something, that’s good science. There isn’t some science god who decides what gets published and what doesn’t. This is the same argument the creationists use.

M.E.I.F.W.H.T.B.C:

The point is that people simply say that “scientists say this thing!” and they act like that proves it. Who are these people? And more importantly, what have they actually done to prove it? A lot of people seem to know that people have studied climate change, yet know one really knows anything further than the basics.

Creationists? WTF? I am asking where the studies are. And if it is so solidly KNOWN, then why does no one ever show anything more than percentages of people who think one thing or another?

It’s like Penn and Teller say…who knows? The only thing I know is that it is not ‘settled’ as all you trendy green people seem to think. Saying something in science is ‘settled’ with this much debate actually out there is bad science.

ME:

Well, we don’t really have to know everything. I mean, … unless I do the experiment myself and interpret the data myself I have to rely on other people to do it. We do that all the time. I don’t have to know how to fly a plane in order to air travel. I don’t have to understand the minutiae of horticulture to eat a tomato. Because there are people that do that for me, and who have a duty to report what they find. Whether we like the answers or not, we have to stop quibbling sometime.

M.E.I.F.W.H.T.B.C:

But Hilary Clinton (as well as many bumper stickers in the previous 8 years) said that “dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”

Why all of a sudden is that over?

ME:

It’s not. It’s most certainly not. But you have to see the difference between politics and science.

The flat earthers … can dissent all they want. It doesn’t make the earth any less round.

But your argument isn’t dissent anyway. You’re not saying that Climate Change is unfair. You’re saying that the majority opinion on Climate Change is incorrect. 

Now, we haven’t even gotten into what should be done about it. You can certainly dissent on what should be done about it. Whether you think cap and trade and fuel efficient cars is the right way to deal with the issue, but the underlying issue of the science isn’t something you can have an opinion on. It either is or it isn’t.

I don’t necessarily agree with the approach the administration is taking on a lot of things. And I can say so until my dying breath. If you don’t like the administration’s policies than do something about it. Or complain.

I mean, shit, that’s all I did during the Bush years. 🙂

M.E.I.F.W.H.T.B.C:

See… I understand the difference with science. But I disagree with you (HA).

I CAN have an opinion on science. I can do that because right now there is conflicting evidence. And you can quote your “90% of scientists” all you want, though I don’t know where that ‘fact’ comes from. Maybe 90% of scientists who Kevin Norris has spoken to.

Dissent is how things happen in science. Assumptions and facts a like are looked at by many different minds, and if something looks fishy people test it. And right now all the global warming people seem to marginalize or completely ignore any scientific studies that disagree. Like they are somehow less believable than the other scientists.

See, this is where politics and science merge. When you start declaring things settled by claiming your side is the only side.

ME:

I concede you the point.

But I would still say that what you’re talking about is not really opinion so much as it is your stance on a certain issue.

I would go so far as to say that probably the truth is somewhere in the middle of straight “Man-made Climate Change” or “No Man-made Climate Change”. But one side is righter (more right?) than the other, and that’s not something you can have an opinion on. When the dust settles, it comes down to whether your stance is correct, or my stance is correct.

M.E.I.F.W.H.T.B.C:

Okay…fine. When the nuclear dust settles we will see whose face is more red (or blue!).

ME:

And you’re right about dissent being how things happen in science. I mean, if you want to look at how all this came about, I would recommend this show:

To What Degree: What Science is Telling Us About Climate Change

Episode 2 – From the Margin to the Mainstream: The History of Climate Change Research

And not just because I (disclosure!) produced it. In fact I wouldn’t recommend it because it is deathly dull and a bit unpolished, but the information is good.

What you’re saying used to be the prevailing belief until someone dissented (I’m not sure about this word, is the only thing–I might choose a different one. Or maybe I wouldn’t. Actually dissent might be the right word after all) and we eventually got to where we are today. This isn’t something that was just invented overnight and everyone agreed. A lot of people staked their careers on their experiments being sound.

Anyway.

M.E.I.F.W.H.T.B.C:

I understand it wasn’t an overnight phenomenon. But it was moved along in large part due to the political sympathy the idea has. Everyone wants to save the planet.

But I will not watch anything you produced! BIAS! 😛

For anyone who can’t understand…

😛 = sarcasm

ME:

well fair enough i guess. but i didn’t really have a bias going into this. And besides, this is just a history show.

/End Conversation for Now

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