Anthropogenic Global Warming: sense on science

The Weekend Oz for May 23-24 contained three short letters, written in response to a letter by someone called John O’Hagan about climate change. Here is O’Hagan’s letter:

Sceptics should consider the views of a real sceptic (Letters, 21/5). In his Sceptical Essays, Bertrand Russell accepted “any well-established result of science, not as certainly true, but as sufficiently probable to afford a basis for rational action” and “must be accepted by non-experts as more likely to be right than the opposite opinion.”

This describes the attitude of rational people to science. Yet deniers single out climate science for a much more extreme form of scepticism. This reveals them not as true sceptics, but as ideologues.

As expected, yet another expression of ‘we’ve got the science and science is science so shutup and by the way you aren’t rational’ from an alarmist.

The three letters are:

[From Ingvar Warnholtz]: John O’Hagan (Letters, 22/5) should be aware that scientists never play with a full deck. Theories are subject to conditions such as limitations, omissions and even ignorance.

[From Chris Moore]: John O’Hagan combines two quotes from Bertrand Russell into one to give it some validity. A complete undoctored quote from Russell states: “Science does not aim at establishing immutable truths and eternal dogmas; its aim is to approach the truth by successive approximations, without claiming that at any stage final and complete accuracy has been achieved.” Please take note, doom merchants.

[From Jeremy Hearn]: The essentials of the scientific method are: gather data, form a hypothesis, test the hypothesis. No hypothesis is ever proven, it simply hasn’t been disproved. Data about climate has been gathered since people first talked about the weather. Computerised models are hypotheses of how climate will behave in the future. Most of them have not been disproved by the failure of their predictions. That is not ideology, it is science.

Finally, we are coming back to a balance in the debate about anthropogenic global warming, and messages about science –accurate messages – are being used by the sceptics to counter the inaccurate messages about science that the alarmists have used so often to bolster their case and silence their opposition.

The sceptics’ case is strengthened by the failure of the alarmists to provide any evidence in support of anthropogenic global warming and to predict temperature movements using their models.

There is hope yet that we can have an informed debate about this issue at some stage in the near future.

UPDATE: John Derbyshire, writing at Takimag, launches an all-out verbal assault on alarmist stupidity and ignorance:

The whole climate change business is now a zone of hysteria, generating far more noise—mostly of a shrieking kind—than its importance justifies. Opinions about climate change are, as Greg Cochran said, “a mark of tribal membership.” It is also the case, as Greg also said, that “the world is never going to do much about in any event, regardless of the facts.”

If we did do anything the effect would likely be puny compared to, say, a single major volcanic eruption. Mother Nature laughs at our climate change fretting.

Consider ice ages for example, like the one we are currently living through.

Ice ages last for tens of millions of years. We don’t know how many there have been. Our planet is 4½ billion years old; we only have clear evidence of ice ages for the last billion years, in which time there have been four ice ages, covering a total of one-third of a billion years. In its “normal” condition—the other two-thirds—the Earth is ice-free all the way up to the poles.

The present ice age started around 2½ million years ago. Our best guess is that it’ll continue for several million years more.

Within this ice age there have been ups and downs. The downs are called “glaciations,” the ups—comparatively warm spells, like the one we are currently in—are “interglacials.”

(When people say “ice age” they are generally referring to the last glaciation, which peaked around 20,000 B.C. and ended about 10,000 B.C.  Hearing “ice age” thus misused when the speaker means “glaciation” is so common it’s not worth correcting, like hearing concert music called “classical music.” It does, though, tell you that the speaker’s grip on climatology is less than firm.)

The climatic changes here are sensational. At the peak of the last glaciation in 20,000 B.C., the pleasant suburb where I am writing this was buried under an ice sheet several hundred feet thick. It is possible that during one of the earlier ice ages, 700 million years ago, the entire planet was covered with ice, down to the equator.

When Ma Nature means business, stuff happens on a stupendously colossal scale.  And Bill Nye the Science Guy wants Rutgers graduates to worry about a 0.4ºC warming over thirty years? Feugh.

Finally, the tide is reversing. People are seeing through the alarmism and laughing at it. Laughter is the key – it is the universal solvent for dissolving pretension, intellectual tyranny and rule-by-fear.

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About Stebbing Heuer

A person interested in exploring human perception, reasoning, judgement and deciding, and in promoting clear, effective thinking and the making of good decisions.
This entry was posted in Democracy and freedom of mind, Nullius in verba, Reasoning, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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