Global Warming rebuttal

Before I address my nameless critic, a recap:

1. I am idiotic for ignoring evidence about global warming.
2. Me and my horse…well, one can read the comments themselves.
3. Whether or not global warming exists, big oil companies don’t want it to exist, and since big oil companies run the American government, the globe shall warm. (Take note that the article linked in the opening statement discussed the lack of economic feasibility for the Europeans in following the Kyoto treaty).

My verbose critic does not deny that climate science, in modern terms, is in it’s infancy, a statement which is fairly value neutral, but central to my argument. Every science starts somewhere, and every scientist gravitates to his field for some reason. The eugenics movement was an influence on Nazisms ethnic cleansing policy doesn’t mean that Gregor Mendel was anti-semitic or a “doo-doo head”. However, ivy league scientists used the science of eugenics to force sterilization in blacks, in Appalachia, etc. My main point there is that sometimes the federal government can use scientific findings as leverage for horrible policy.

Which brings me to my second point. These days, scientists are under a lot of pressure to produce, and to produce quickly. Sometimes this leads to academic fraud, as was the case in South Korea recently. More often it simply requires a reader to read 4 or 5 papers to get the gist of a scientists work, as opposed to 1 paper back in the 70s.

That’s why the review process is so integral to good research. If a spectacular finding is run up the flagpole without critical review, bad research is disseminated throughout the public. If the right people pick up on it, then bad research can lead to horrible public policy. Consider Michael Mann ,(not the guy who created Miami Vice), who I’m sure is a nice guy. In 1998, not long after the introduction of the Kyoto protocol, Mann, as an adjunct faculty member and PhD candidate published an article in Nature claiming that the world was on an incredible warming trend in the last hundred years. Mann’s Hockey Stick had become a rallying point for environmentalists , and the IPCC, an intergovernmental agency devoted to studying climate change, had pointed to his work as definitive. Before his work was published, many climate scientists believed there were variations in the global warming and cooling periods in the last 1000 years. The Hockey Stick was a good story, however, and the fact that those cycles hadn’t shown up in his model didn’t stop the reviewers at Nature from publishing.

There are some problems with Mann’s findings however. Most glaringly, Mann spliced two data sets into his principle components analysis , and failed to run control data. He relied on tree ring data for the first 900 years worth of data, and then added in surface temperature for the last 100 years. If tree rings are such good indicators of temperature, why mess with the PCA? Wouldn’t adding factors into your data set need to be carefully controlled, and certainly not represented in a single figure? Speaking of which, a simple control proposed by critics of Mann points out the main methodological flaw , namely, random noise thrown into the PCA produces the same results as Mann’s (primary literature here).

In a serious review process, editors would note that work in this manner would need to be controlled, which it obviously wasn’t. Mann issued a retraction, but his academic post is still nice and cozy.

Certainly oil companies have money and power, but just because they disagree with a policy doesn’t make it right. People may not like the fact that other people drive big cars and live in big houses, but before we decide to impose energy rations, the science should be airtight. Scientists have agendas, too.

I didn’t mean to trash climate science. But the media really trumpeted this story, and I think once scientists stray too far into activism, their science suffers (baloney science). There is plenty of this in drug research too, by academics and drug companies. A recent article on heat islands caused by pavement provides some insight on the warming phenomena.

More links:

The Opinion Journal’s take on the issue

Mother Jones take on the issue

Posted at 08:27 pm by Johnny B

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Now for baloney science

AKA Global Warning

TCSdaily has an interesting piece on the lack of economic feasibility of the Kyoto Protocol.

Here’s my very brief take on Global Warming.

1. Chemistry had it’s roots in alchemy, in which very weird men thought different incantations could change the chemical properties of something into gold. It was the folly of many who believed they held dominion over things of this world.

2. Genetics had it’s roots in eugenics, which, with the help of some very active governments:

“Three generations of imbeciles is enough” Oliver Wendell Holmes

this pseudoscience was used as a tool for holocaust and forced sterilization.

3. Neuroscience started with, in modern terms, phrenology, the belief that the shape of the skull determines what kind of person you are. Weird, but not as harmful as eugenics.

Climate science is a science in it’s infancy. Like these other examples, grandiose claims are made based on the first order approximation of what scientists are seeing with a very small fraction of available data.

One problem is interpretation of data using new tools. Let’s say I have a new scanning procedure for detecting the plaques that supposedly cause Alzheimer’s Disease. Now, let’s say It turns out more people have a lot of the plaques than we thought, even if they don’t have any symptoms of AD. What if everyone over fifty had these plaques. Would my paper be titled, “85% of people over 50 have Alzheimer’s!”, or would I rethink my hypothesis that the plaques are really a problem?

Climate science, as a science, is being driven by the media and governments far too interested in limiting the sovereignty of the US, China, India, and Russia. Scientists who might be happy to study non-global warming climate are more than willing to feed the alligators (read:media) more of what they want to hear in order to get a grant funded.

Posted at 10:14 pm by Johnny B

Posted by Name @ 12/13/2005 02:37 AM PST
This is yet another idiotic statement made by a Republican and influenced by Republican rhetoric. (And from a very smart guy too!) You completely ignore the facts and evidence pointing towards the reality of the global warming phenomenon and instead try to liken climate science to alchemy. This reminds me of Jordan’s argument a while back that began with “Of Liberals and Men” and tried to suggest that gutless men with little drive and courage gravitated towards the left. “You liberals and environmentalists are doo-doo heads!” Fuck you and the horse you rode in on. The baselessness of your post and the degenerate attitudes of the right towards the environment and towards Global Warming are rooted in the very first point your make (which in fact has nothing to do with the rest of your post): economic feasibility. It is not in the interest of those a) in big business, b) who are in power c) in Washington, and d) the fools who favor this Administration’s policies and thus approximately fifty percent of the United States, to believe in Global Warming. Interest. Economic interest. Who in the oil, gas, and automotive industries would be willing to say Global Warming is real? Really? Wouldn’t they be risking their jobs? Those people will continue ignoring global warming not because of evidence on the contrary but because they want to continue buying their big cars and nice houses. Economics affects not just how people make decisions but also what they believe in. People in the oil business (and these people rule Washington) are making too much money too dump their business and their fortunes in favor of relaxing the environment and natural resources. That is why global warming doesn’t exist for these people. Not because of your petty ideas of climate science being under developed. Bah.

Posted by John Broussard @ 12/13/2005 10:52 AM PST
Welcome, Name

If you thought “…Grandiose claims are made based on a first order approximation of what scientists are seeing with a very small fraction of available data” meant “environmentalists are doo-doo heads”, I’m sorry for the confusion. I don’t think your comments are appropriate. If you want to present an argument, do so. I can get into more detail on my thoughts here, but I will not tolerate this nonsense.

With regards to your more appropriate comments on oil companies: One way to reduce emissions in general would be to use natural gas and nuclear power instead of coal. If the oil companies are in charge, why not push for more natural gas power plants instead of coal? I’m no coal expert but I don’t think Exxon, BP, etc. own a lot of coal mines.

Posted by John Broussard @ 12/13/2005 10:54 AM PST
Who is this? Please shoot me an e-mail @ mrtcb2@hotmail.com

Posted by Shoobox @ 12/13/2005 12:11 PM PST
I thought Oil Companies are in a perfect position to actually do something about becoming less gas dependent and they are…they have the money and the expertise to do so.

Posted by BP @ 12/13/2005 03:06 PM PST
They also have the motivation. Anyone who believes that combustible fuel engines have an indefinite lifespan is dreaming, and major oil and automotive companies are investing BILLIONS into these alternatives.

In the meantime, it is definitely not in their best interest to tout the virtues of global warming whether it is or is not based on sound science. More could definitely be done, but there is no denying that in the SHORT TERM it is unlikely that oil will be a non-entity in our energy policies, and there is no doubt that that money talks, and we got a “less than impressive” energy bill because of it.

Thanks for the comments, though.

Science stuff

One interesting news item came up the other day:

A study about seasonal changes and learning done right here at Ohio State, by a student down the hall (figuratively), Leah Pyter. She showed that during winter, hamsters have smaller hippocampi (kind of like RAM for your brain instead of your computer).

Other science news: At Salon they talk about hacking the neural code. If I only knew what he was talking about.

Alzheimer’s begins with attention lapses. This news excites me.

One good way to fend of meat-born diseases, and Alzheimer’s Dementia, is to eat curry. In India rates of Alzheimer’s are much lower, and in Professor Gary Wenk, a new addition to Ohio State (brought in to replace someone else), has shown that a chemical in curry powder prevents inflammation in the brain, inflammation which is said to lead to neuronal degeneration. Huzzah for curry!

One more. There is a new scanning technique that can find beta-amyloid plaques, which are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s. Right now we have to wait for an autopsy to confirm if someone has Alzheimer’s. This scan might help predict who will get Alzheimer’s so we can treat it earlier.

Pecan Island coverage

A nice clip of the devastation of Pecan Island, two months after the storm:

The spoils of war

As so eloquently stated by the Logipundit himself, the war of Northern Aggression unleashed a near holocaust on the genteel, kite-flying, aristocratic Southerners. Two of the perpetrators of the scorched earth policy were none other than General William T Sherman of Lancaster Ohio and Ulysses S. Grant from Point Pleasant Ohio, just 25 miles east of Cincinnati.

Now I’m sure in your history books you heard that the War of Northern Aggression was all about “Freeing the Slaves” or some such noble cause. Simpletons! Don’t you know that capitalist interest lie at the root of all war, waiting to profit on the backs of the dead? I once naively thought that the War of Northern Aggression was fought to save the Union, free the slaves, and all that jazz, but now I’ve seen the light! The war was truly fought to line the pockets of Procter and Gamble , which had a “no-bid” contract to sell candles and soap to the Union Army. Procter and Gamble is headquartered in Cincinnati, just 25 miles from where “Unconditional Surrender” Grant was born. Coincidence?

Think about it. Why did Sherman burn down Atlanta? In 1864, there were no electric lights. By burning down Atlanta, Sherman completely destroyed all the candles, not to mention soap. Where were these kite-flying southerners to buy soap and candles? Procter and Gamble.

I smell a documentary.

Posted at 09:26 pm by Johnny B

Posted by BP @ 12/07/2005 03:34 PM PST
lol…you had me “amen”ing for a minute there…

anyway, wind’s picking up…gotta go fly me a kite.