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Why Global Warming Alarmism Isn't Science

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  • Why Global Warming Alarmism Isn't Science

    This thread has been prompted by this post. If you wonder what the connection is between the latter post and the article below, see the NCA assertion in the latter part of the article. Perhaps, maybe, posts at Watts Up With That? are not questioning 'conventional science', but rather global warming alarmism.

    Last edited by John Reece; 08-24-2014, 10:55 AM.

  • #2
    Science is a method, a process, of finding out about the world. It’s been very successful in revealing all kinds of aspects of the world. The work of science is often highly technical, and hard work. The discoveries made about the world by working scientists, using the scientific method, have all kinds of implications and applications.

    Alarm and denial are two kinds of response to scientific discoveries or claims. Denial is the response of rejecting the claim. Alarm is the response of deeming the claim to reveal risks that should be addressed by action or policy. It may (depending on the case) be rational or irrational to respond with denial or with concern to scientific claims. But that is just the response; not the science itself.

    The role of committees and pronouncements

    In 1863, President Lincoln established the National Academy of Sciencescharged with providing independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology”. The benefits of having such a body should be clear. Governments are not well suited to read through scientific literature and sort out questions of science that are relevant to their decision making. Science doesn’t define good policy, but it does gives a solid base of knowledge essential for the non-scientific tasks of forming good policy.

    In advising the government on scientific issues, the NAS is not defining a set of dogmas. It’s simply summarizing useful information. Scientists don’t take a lead from the NAS for what is known scientifically. It goes the other way around. The NAS takes information from scientists.

    Scientists, in the meantime, continue working a bit like a large herd of cats, chasing up all kinds of subjects, and having all kinds of disagreements. Individual published scientific work might go in all kinds of directions; because it DOESN’T appeal to dogma. Some of it pans out, some of it doesn’t, and it really does take a significant level of expertise and scientific literacy to sort out for yourself from first principles what is actually well established. That’s why the government uses groups like the NAS.

    Climate science alarms

    The NAS reports and pronouncements cover many aspects of science of relevance to governments and decision makers generally. Climate is one of these. In the scientific literature are claims that are indeed alarming. If those claims are well founded, then there certainly ARE significant risks and issues that good government should address. So the NAS speaks to climate science.

    What it presents is pretty much the same as what EVERY scientific body presents; because honestly, this isn’t genuinely scientifically controversial at all. There are lots of open questions; lots of things only suspected rather than established (though this is still important for proper risk analysis), and lots of things established about as solidly as science establishes anything. In particular, it is very well established indeed that:
    • Earth is heating up.
    • The primary cause of this in the present is human induced changes in the atmosphere.
    • There are significant consequences for humanity; costs, risks and opportunities.
    • The consequences become more costly and negative as the extent of heating increases.

    As you go into details, of course, there’s lots that is still unknown. Just as for ANY active field of science, there are some fundamental basics that are thoroughly settled, and ongoing work on matters that are far from settled. Climate science is a very active and rapidly moving area of science.

    A good NAS resources on this topic is:
    This 36 page booklet is freely downloadable; though you may need to register at the NAS website. It’s simple, clear and presented as 20 common questions and answers, plus appendix.

    The role of consensus

    As scientific research progresses, a consensus will tend to arise within the scientific community on certain claims or theories. Identifying points on which an effective consensus exists is a convenient summary of the state of scientific knowledge, easily accessible to non-experts. It is not, however, of any value as a scientific argument for other scientists in that field. It’s just a description of what points have, so far, been accepted pretty much across the board by working scientists.

    Consensus is almost never entirely universal. I have a particular interest areas of science where there is a small vocal disagreement being expressed by some scientists against well established and scientifically uncontroversial discoveries. Over the years, this has lead me to look into evolutionary biology, geology and deep time, health sciences, cosmology, general and special relativity, archaeology; as well as climate of course.

    For working scientists, what is much more important than consensus is consilience and consistency; which is when scientific claims hold up under a range of independent lines of evidence telling the same story. Consensus is a consequence of that; not the cause. In stark contrast, the criticism or denial of conventional climate science stands out for being a mish-mash of mutually contradictory isolated claims. The few contrarian pieces which do appear in scientific literature in general quite quickly get refuted with specific and concrete flaws within a few years.

    Climate science denial

    The article cited in the OP is wrong. The inference of global warming, and the human causes for that, are solidly science. They’d still be solidly science even if there was a good scientific argument against them; science deals frequently with competing hypotheses. (In fact, the arguments against the basics of warming, and its causes, are not good at all; they are invariably dreadful.)

    The implications of warming are significant and very properly recognized all over the world as an issue with important consequences for policy and decision making by government, organization and individuals. Even for those who have a degree of scepticism about the levels of confidence; the matter is still very properly a risk and potential cost to be considered.

    The article cited in the OP is gets a lot more wrong than this, of course. It is produced, as far as I can see, by a group of lawyers; it is riddled with errors, confusions, and appeals extensively to some of the worst sources available for misinformation on climate. But that’s another issue. There’s a lot of that around and I’m not much concerned to list and explain all the problems. As I make time for writing in this subject, I will instead focus on responding to the arguments actually presented rather than those simply appearing in a link.

    John has given quite a lot of posts to consider. I hope to respond to some of them as time and energy permits. And I must say, engagement with John directly is friendly and refreshing, despite our substantive disagreements. I look forward to providing a few more counterpoints in this forum.

    Cheers -- sylas
    Last edited by sylas; 08-25-2014, 12:17 AM. Reason: fixed a url tag

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    • #3
      The article cited in the OP is wrong. The inference of global warming, and the human causes for that, are solidly science.
      which, oddly, failed to accurately forecast the current hiatus in temperature increases, which in turn has not been adequately explained, though hypotheses have been advanced with the claim that they adequately explain the phenomenon - not to say that the forecasts are any more accurate now than they were before the bandaids were applied.

      (In fact, the arguments against the basics of warming, and its causes, are not good at all; they are invariably dreadful.)
      which have not (to the best of my knowledge) been directly addressed by the "human cause" adherents. All that has been made available is a repeat of the theories (that failed to forecast the current hiatus) as fact. Perhaps though, someone has explained why the increase in atmospheric CO2 is caused by human activity this time, when in the past it increased after global warming had begun. Nor have any explanations for

      The primary cause of this in the present is human induced changes in the atmosphere.
      which, oddly, mimics the changes that are shown to have occurred in distant past occurrences of global warming.


      The facts - global warming/climate change is real: human activity could logically be expected to be a factor.
      Sea levels are rising and have been doing so fairly consistently for in excess of 100 years. The pace of that change hasn't increased since the (attributed to) human contribution to global warming is said to have begun.

      Forecasts based on climate models have been inaccurate.
      Current temperatures haven't reached those attained 500 years ago, much less those that existed 1000 years ago. In fact, current temperatures have barely risen to (if indeed they have actually reached) the 3000 year average.
      Objections such as these, and others, have not been directly addressed (to the best of my knowledge). Any time an objection is raised, it is met with the mantra: the science is settled.

      The "we can't explain this, nor that, nor the other, and our forecasts were wrong: but we are right anyway" approach by human-caused-global-warming adherents is more reminiscent of ideological mantra than scientific investigation. While that position is maintained, skepticism is warranted.
      Last edited by tabibito; 08-25-2014, 02:15 AM.
      sigpic1 Cor 15:34 εκνηψατε δικαιως και μη αμαρτανετε αγνωσιαν γαρ θεου τινες εχουσιν προς εντροπην υμιν λεγω

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      • #6
        That’ll do, because we all deserve a good lie-down and a Bex.
        Wot?! No cup of tea? This country was built on the solid foundation of a bex, a cup of tea, and a good lie down. Don't mess with our traditions.
        sigpic1 Cor 15:34 εκνηψατε δικαιως και μη αμαρτανετε αγνωσιαν γαρ θεου τινες εχουσιν προς εντροπην υμιν λεγω

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        • #7
          Climate Alarmism: Do it for the Kittens!

          From Roy Spencer, PhD

          Comment


          • #8
            I love the comment by one who says, "Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity"!



            Securely anchored to the Rock amid every storm of trial, testing or tribulation.

            Comment


            • #9
              Originally posted by mossrose View Post
              I love the comment by one who says, "Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity"!

              Comment


              • #10
                I hate cats - if AGW kills more of them I'm all for it!
                Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

                Comment


                • #12


                  Securely anchored to the Rock amid every storm of trial, testing or tribulation.

                  Comment


                  • #13
                    so if we ate all the cats then we would stop global warming?

                    Comment


                    • #14
                      What about the benefits to the "sea kittens?" PETA should be active supporting global warming.
                      Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

                      Comment


                      • #15
                        Originally posted by John Reece View Post
                        . . .Kiwis Await Our Climate Victims . . .
                        This makes sense because the southern hemisphere is already warmer than the northern. That means it would take less adjustment for . . . oh never mind.
                        Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

                        Comment

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