Saturday, December 26, 2009

Losing Your Head: Libertarian Post-Mortem

On second thought, I believe that it will be best to link to the pages where my original conversations take place, to avoid any possible charges of misrepresentation that may come up. Take for example this post I found on the Long Island Libertarian Examiner, titled "Climate Delusion" by Michael Schmitt. In it, Schmitt repeats several old canards, beginning with "It snowed in Texas!" Well, global warming doesn't say it will be warmer, everywhere, all the time.

He then goes on to repeat the old line about how "scientists predicted cooling in the 1970's." I get tired of rebutting this- do people really not understand the difference between science reporting and science? Apparently not, because Schmitt relies on a Newsweek article from 1975 to do his work for him, setting up a current Newsweek article to fall.

In 1975 "Global Cooling" was a "fact" according to Newsweek, and now "Global Warming" is "unequivocal". This would be a joke if it wasn't so serious.

I couldn't have said it better myself. I'd advise against laughter, because by his logic, if anyone is ever once wrong, they can never be right again. Hope you never have to testify under oath after all the doozies in your piece then, Mike. Perjury charges can be a bitch.

I'll ignore the rest of Mike's piece for the time being. I think that an issue such as climate change is the worst nightmare of libertarianism, being the tragedy of the commons writ across the face of the planet. If everyone acting in his own self interest can destroy everything worth having for everyone, doesn't that invalidate it utterly as a political and economic philosophy? Aren't philosophies supposed to serve us, and not the other way around?

So here I cut out and issue my challenge in his comments section:

When referencing the "global cooling" scare in the '70's, it's important to realize that it was a media-driven frenzy with little scientific support. Even then predictions of global warming in peer-reviewed scientific papers outnumbered predictions of cooling by a factor of 5 to 1.

I got this data from a study done by New Scientist, unfortunately now hidden behind their subscription wall. Well, they have a right to make money, and I'll just have to find another way to support my claims. To continue:

At this time, approximately 80% of actively publishing Earth Scientists agree that human industrial emissions contribute to harmful warming.

Source: This January 2009 study. (pdf)

The results of their research have been independently reproduced multiple times.

As a species, we have a marvelous capacity for self-deception. I am preparing for a worldwide panic sometime in the next two to three decades when the effects of warming become unmistakable to even the most dedicated of denialists. You should too.

Okay, simple, straightforward. His ridiculously limited comments section didn't allow links, however, so the assertions just hang there.

Checking back later, I find this response:

H.H.: I'd like to learn more about people like commentator stogie, such as what plans she/he intends to carry out per her preparations, how she/he selects narratives to believe, whether she/he is open minded to challenging criticism (such as the fact that most of the "scientists" who support the global warming narrative are statisticians, geographers and social scientists, not natural scientists who overwhelmingly declare it as a myth) and other information to help understand this malleable human perspective.

Just wrong here. 90 degrees from reality wrong.

Continental philosopher Michel Foucault correctly identified the remarkable capacity for society to control its citizenry through fear, managed perspective and myth.

Okay, first off I'm irritated by the introduction of Michel Foucault into what I consider a science discussion. It has become common, in my experience, for people to regard the debate over global warming as one of politics, theology and philosophy. I believe this is because many people consider the issue in this way: First, will my worldview allow it? Second, what does the science say? This makes a fruitful debate difficult, to say the least, when the answer to the first question is so often "no".

That there is a strong correlation between easily managed subjects and the same constituency being liberal and increasingly dependent upon society for their sustenance seems to be more than a coincidence.

stogie, tell me: what would it take for you to conclude the global warming story was a myth?

Secondly, the political dig immediately following just pisses me off. Such is our world today, however. We live in a world of small men who imagine themselves giants because their philosophy tells them they're 20 feet tall. Oddly enough, these are, in my experience, the most likely ones to rail against the "self-esteem" teachings. And if he considers me "easily managed" he'd probably love to have a long talk with any single one of my Marine Corps NCO's, whose opinions were completely opposite.

Also, he's just plain wrong through all of this. I endeavor to ignore it (unsuccessfully, it turns out) and explain it:

Me: You sound very pomo, like an English or Philosophy major- you're probably in over your head when talking about Climate Science. But to answer your question, I have "selected to believe in the narrative" of Anthropogenic Climate Change by obtaining a degree in Geoscience at a major university. My preparations are a matter of keeping up my physical and mental health, including well as the skills I learned in the US Marine Corps, 8 years of service in which funded my study.

In return for the information I have provided you with, I would like you to provide me with your source for the provably false assertion that natural scientists have overwhelmingly declared global warming a myth. Please carefully review the link below:

Here I split the http address up to the point that it will post, linking to the study from January 2009. I think I have answered old Hatless's questions fairly and rebutted his baseless claim that natural scientists don't support global warming. I continue in a second post, to answer his final question:

ME: To continue, for me to conclude that global warming is a myth would require the invalidation of an enormous amount of experimental evidence, including, but not limited to:

1) The observed fact that CO2 absorbs infrared radiation (IR) in 2.7, 4.3 and 15 micrometer bands, which would otherwise escape from Earth's atmosphere during the nighttime, and that enhanced CO2 content absorbs more IR;

2) The observed fact that burning fossil fuels has reintroduced 500 billion metric tonnes of the stuff the carbon cycle;

3) That the additional CO2 will tip some very sensitive systems out of equilibrium, causing a very high risk of feedback loops reducing the planet's albedo, liberating methane (a stronger greenhouse gas) acidifing the oceans and reducing their ability to absorb CO2, causing sea level rise which will absorb more solar radiation, etc.

Well done, I thought, a succinct overview of my qualifications and the basic arguments behind Global Warming science. A few grammatical errors aside, I think I have made my point clearly and concisely. However, he doesn't like it at all:

H. H.: stogie, your answer that you're both indoctrinated within the AGW fiction-producing institution through its educational programme and your indication that you receive funding through its continuance is illustrative. i do find it interesting how you immediately try to disparage and otherize one who presents you with critical, contrary thought. objective scientists don't rely on such pathetic personal attacks; only those without substantive arguments.

Now, where did I write that I recieve funding through its continuance? Hatless has a reading comprehension problem, as we will see several times. As well, this paragraph doesn't bode well for the conversation. He appears to totally lack the open-mindedness that he demands in me, and doesn't even acknowledge that he's been pwned on his disinformation. The hypocrisy of his final two sentences is also glaring- does he not recognize the fact that I may have been offended by his characterizations in his first post?

H.H.: there are countless and extensive criticisms exposing this "scientific" fraud (that the carbon trading scheme was invented by Enron is a precious irony). since you're apparently in the scientific field, i'd encourage you to consult the highly regarded former AGW-believer Dr. Allegre, or geologist Bruno Wiskel, Dr. Tad Murty or Chris Freitas or countless other natural scientists. You're certainly aware that the majority of the physicists in the APS also have demanded withdrawal from their association with this fraud.

I've know full well what I'm dealing with now: a highly misinformed cherry-picker. So a few scientists have recanted their support for the Anthropogenic explanation? What about the tens of thousands who support it? I'll probably check out the names he dropped, to see if I can spot their issues myself. And the APS claim- I couldn't let him get away with it. However, there is more:

H.H: As my profession is in several decades in quantitative risk management, with degrees in finance, banking, and postsecondary in econometrics and statistics, i find it remarkable that statements by alleged "scientists" such as these are made:

> the invalidation of an enormous amount of experimental evidence

There's that reading comprehension problem again. Does he not understand the scientific method? His next sentence (a quote from a textbook?) would support this thought:

An undergraduate student in business statistics should at least take away the understanding that scientific verification works in the inverse. We cannot prove hypothesis; we can only fail to disprove it. The extensive exposure of the manipulated evidence by IPCC and others, plus the refusal to release data and models, allows any marginal statistician to conclude that we can reject. The case for AGW cannot be made with the data and models provided.

I'm amazed he has all of the degrees he claims to, with his abysmal reading comprehension skills. He also has an extremely biased view. Like Socrates' friends said on the road to Piraeus, it doesn't matter what you say, because we won't listen to you.

Here's where he completely loses his head:

H.H: Your burden of proof cannot be met with objective science. You are as objective as an inquisition-era Roman priest, advocating a faith that masquerades as science. That you apparently profit from it says all about your ethics.

The name of the game is projection, folks.

Me: Isn't it nice for you that you can disregard expertise as "indoctrination?" That way you never have to listen to anyone who disagrees with you, or confront hard evidence.

I laughed hard when you claimed that the APS membership had rejected Climate Change Theory- half of a percent signed a petition to that effect , and their position was repudiated by the society as a body. Google " aps statement on climate change ". Here is an excerpt:

"The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now."

And why so touchy? You attempted to link my beliefs to dependence on government- I made the reasonable leap on your education based on your quoting of Foucault, someone I've only ever heard referred to by English majors.

Please clarify how this criticism is pertinent:

"An undergraduate student in business statistics should at least take away the understanding that scientific verification works in the inverse. We cannot prove hypothesis; we can only fail to disprove it."

I listed experimental evidence which supports Climate Change Theory. I stated that to convince me to discard my support for said theory, that evidence would have to be invalidated. Your comment would seem to support my position- that Climate Change Theory has not been disproven by any evidence, and is therefore supportable.

Then you had to bring up the hacking and theft of the CRU's e-mails. A careful review of the stolen data indicates no improper data manipulation. Some ethical lapses are evidenced, and some quotes look bad when lifted from their context and viewed in a hostile light.

All in all, not so bad, I'm thinking. I need to remember to keep cooler when they bring up the silliness about how Global Warming is a religion. I think I did quite well for having such a hostile and unstable interlocutor.

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