Thursday, May 22, 2014

Climate Change & Renewable Energy - 5: Anti-CC

Addressing the Anti-Climate Change position in general and specifically what has been brought up in local discussion groups.  

I think the main argument against climate change is that the solutions proposed are too drastic.  To some extent that is true, if by solution you mean the extreme positions of "abandon cars completely", "become a vegetarian" (I actually read that), and other extreme positions by people who have no knowledge of the numbers involved.  Most people are not just innumerate, they are actually terrified of numbers and data and will just make up stuff based solely on their own internal convictions.  Avg. Joe/Jane climate alarmist is no different.  These people probably do more harm to the climate change position by proposing unrealistic solutions then if they were on the other side.  The only real changes that would make a difference are to stop burning coal, and use far more fuel efficient transportation.  Fortunately, as I pointed out earlier, this is now not an unrealistic scenario and is happening quickly in certain parts of the world - see:

I have read a lot of scientific articles by scientists arguing against climate change.  The format is always the same.  Some discussion about some fine points that no non-specialist in that sub-field has any knowledge of, followed by the conclusion that since the science leaves unanswered questions we should do nothing, followed by thanks to a major oil or coal co. for funding for the research.

One web site that puts a lot of work into refuting the claims against climate change is here:
Another anti-climate change debunking site (via Wayne Amacher) quoting scientists is :

"Unanswered questions" is in the nature of science.  Every answer leads to more questions.  There are unanswered questions about gravity but that doesn't mean that we can't use Newton's laws of gravity to make meaningful calculations.  We don't know much about dark matter or dark energy which comprise 90% of the energy-matter in the universe, yet the physics taught in college and high school enables us to build the advanced tools of modern society. 

Yes, computer models have bugs, imperfections, and are subject to revision.  Still, we can design bridges that stay up, communication satellites that stay where we put them, and make predictions based on computer models that imperfectly model stresses on bridges, cars, and computers we haven't yet built.  Without all these computer models, current society would not work.  

The computer models for climate change have generally proven correct, but with variance.  Complex dynamics have a lot of room for variance.  But, we have ice core samples containing air of the period going back 800,000 years.  There is more indirect evidence of atmospheric composition going back to the Permian Extinction 252 Million years ago ("the Great Dying") when 90% of all species went extinct.  This was apparently due to catastrophic climate change due to sudden vast increases in greenhouse gas content of the atmosphere from volcanic action, or from spontaneous coal fires, or from methane gas emanating out of the sea floor.  C.f.,

The other argument is that there is a giant conspiracy or group think that freezes out climate change dissenters by denying them funding, tenure, and publication.  Yes, that is undeniably true.  Also, if you deny evolution, or claim that Newton's laws don't work on large scale objects, or that the earth is flat, you will not obtain funding, not get tenure, and not get published, (except at a few fundamentalist Christian colleges).  Because the weight of evidence is overwhelming for all these, including climate change.  That is the importance of the National Climate Assessment 2014.  It provides 800+ pages of data, charts, tables, and citations putting the climate change denial arguments to rest.  After you've read that, climate change deniers may change their mind.  See 

Specifically: one reader sent a link from Forbes on climate change skepticism.  It is typical of a lot of climate change skepticism.  It is a conversation (meaning no hard data or links to research or quotes) with a distinguished researcher, Dr. Fred Singer, who points out that computer models may not be 100% accurate all the time, that some phenomena are due to natural causes and quoting two distinguished researchers as saying there are unanswered questions.

The Forbes article is here:
Dr. Fred Singer's Wikipedia entry is here:

FWIW, Dr. Singer has also argued *against* a connection between passive smoking and lung cancer, UV-B rays and skin cancer, and CFCs and stratospheric ozone loss.

This Forbes' article is a perfect example of popular media denying climate change.  It has no data, cites general truths without assigning weights to the importance of different effects, no links to verify anything stated, and no counter arguments from the other side.  It is published in a magazine owned by a very rich climate change denier.

Also sent in was a link to an opinion piece.  In a companion piece Mr. Krauthammer argues for fewer CO2 emissions by using nuclear plants:   

Someone else mentioned an article from the Cato society noting a German professor withdrew from a climate change-denying group because he was pressured by colleagues to do so.  As would any bio professor who joined an anti-evolution club or physicist who joined a flat-earth society.  Perhaps the researcher was naive or just likes to be on the unpopular side of arguments.  None of his colleagues apparently wanted to be on the unscientific side just to be argumentative.  Very likely his research institution didn't want to endanger its prestige by being even remotely associated with the anti-climate change pseudo-science.  Why is this a surprise?

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