The Digital Divide on 12/11/09

The Digital Divide
Air date: 
Fri, 12/11/2009 - 11:00am - 12:00pm
Short Description: 
What is climate change?

In the aftermath of damaging hacked emails between climate scientists, and as global leaders and community activists convernge in Copenhagen, we take a step away from the politics to look at the science behind studying climate change.  While global warming has risen in the past decades from being viewed as a crazy idea from the environmental left to a global concern unifying the naitons of the world, sceptics still claim that "bad science" is being used to support this effort.

We hear from Andrew Rice, a professor of physics at Portland State University, to learn exactly what concepts and techniques scientists have used to produce data that supports the evidence that climate change is occuring in direction that will negativly impact the planet.


Science works by comparing predictions to observations

Many of the warming believers state that "Global is a fact" or are of that opinion.  Which is kind of arrogant for a discipline that has only been around for 30 years or so.  Especially when areas of science which have been around much longer, and which have been quite controversial, are still considered theories.  As in the Theory of Relativity and the Theory of Evolution.  So in deference to Einstein and Darwin, I think that we should all call global warming a theory.

Science works when competing theories are put forth, predictions are made, results are collected and analyzed and then conclusions are drawn.  There is nothing in the scientific process that defers to popularity.  Because in many instances, the consensus theory is shown to be the incorrect one.  For example, look at Copernicus and Galileo, who encountered much derision from the scientific and cultural communities  - and who ultimately turned out to be correct. 

To re-emphasize, in science a theory is used to makes a prediction, evidence is collected, analysis is done and a conclusion is made about the quality of the theory.  Having followed the debate since 1994, it seems that these are the main predictions made by the global warming believers:  1)  the Northwest Passage will be "ice free" as 2) the poles rapidly melt, 3) that there will be "enormous and catastrophic" hurricanes and typhoons,and 4) that both the atmosphere and oceans will warm up. And now it is important to look to see if these predictions are coming true.

Here is some data that I have come across that indicates that the above predictions might not be coming true. Of course this analysis process is the most important to the scientific debate, since the comparisons of reality and predictions shows which way the truth lies. I am having a difficult time making the hypertext buttons work on this comment page, so if it dosn't work with a click, then it will work by cut and paste.

Now on to some data which appears to confound the predictions made by the alarmists:

1) The headline from this cached Story from the Ottawa Citizen states that mid summer  "Ice choking Northwest Passage" but that "Top U.S. institute still predicts 'extreme' melting"    

2)   On Dec 11th, 2009, the New York Times ran a story stating that "The National Snow and Ice Data Center released its summary of summer sea-ice conditions in the Arctic on Tuesday, noting  a substantial expansion of the extent of “second-year ice” — floes"    

3) Ryan N. Maue's Seasonal Tropical Cyclone Activity Updat  From Florida State University states that "Global and Northern Hemisphere Tropical Cyclone Activity remains near 30-year historical lows -- three years in a row now of considerably below-average activity globally" 

4a) The Latest Global Average Tropospheric Temperatures are failing to show the predicted  temperature increase


4b)   NPR reports on a NASA finding that shows that ". . .the oceans have not warmed up at all over the past four or five years . . ." 


The theory of Global Warming is not yet settled yet, as witnessed by its inablitlity to predict the observed data that ice is again accumulating in the Northern lattitudes and by its failed predictions of increaced hurricane and cylclone activities.  Lastly, there is strong evidence that the atmosphere and oceans are in fact cooling.  Therefore the alarmist community should stop asserting the "truth" of their beliefs and they should begin to engage in an honest debate with those that they dis-agree with.



Thanks for the comments

We'll be posting the audio online soon.

I'm assuming you heard the program, but in case you didn't, a key point of the conversation was that there is still scientific debate as to how climate change will specifically affect the planet in the future.

But that is separate from the overwhelming evidence detailing how the climate has changed over the past few decades.  As in the Clean Air Act example that was mentioned in the intervew illustrates - society found it necessary to act immediately, even though much of the finer science around it was still being worked out.  These articles you have referenced show how scientists are still debating about how badly things will play out in the future.  But it is an invalid arguement to stretch that doubt to the underlying science that, while seeing much debate in blogs and on Fox News, has become a general consensus among scientists in the field, as my guest explained.

The key arguement is that when the scientific community agrees that there is enough convincing evidence to act, we should.  A New York Times article recently compared this to Cheney's adoption of the “precautionary principle” to deal with nuclear threats:

Your comparison of Copernicus and Galileo, though out of context for how radically different the scientific community and society were back then, actually parallels the rise of climate change science and illustrates how something unpopular eventually can be accepted, as we see nations confronting this challenge right now in Copenhagen.

Thanks for commenting, this is a very important debate.

Good Debate - corrected for spelling errors

I sometimes think that the biggest problem that we face as a nation is the inability to discuss dissenting opinions without coming to blows (figuratively, I hope :-). 

Your post speaks of the need for immediate action, with the imperative of oncoming disaster acting as impetus for drastic action.  In the case of Global Climate Change, the argument unfolds as follows (In my opinion):  We must curb green house gases because global warming is going to destroy the planet so we must absolutely end its production.  Because the consequences are so great, we don't need to be self critical, and that anyone who doesn't see the problem, or refuses to admit it, is getting in the way!

The problem being for me is that this pattern of "crisis then reaction" has occurred previously.  Recently and with very unfortunate consequences.  But before  going to that other example, I think that it would be instructive for each of us to look at a time in our own past when we wethered a personal catastrophe by not giving into that "crisis - reaction" instinct.  Likewise, I imagine that we all can think of a time when we did give in  -  and what happened next.

So here is the blunt example.  It's intentions are not to insult those who believe in Anthrogenic Climate Change, but rather to serve as a stark reminder.  The crisis was Saddam Hussein's WMD's, immediate action was needed because the UAV's were on a 48 hour launch status and so we must invade now. 

Both Iraq and Global Warming are Hegelian dialectics, in my opinion.  And we both know that this is certainly the case for the Iraq invasion:  a problem was told to the peoples and they were frightened, they clamored for safety, the power structure responded "give us your freedoms and we will protect you", most of the people (sheeple) agreed, and of course here we are now.  With American soldiers committing war crimes and Co-intel pro likely reading this post while I write it :-).

What I am saying, then, is that in a time of crisis  - it is the best idea to think calmly and critically.  Which means looking at all options, instead of jumping to the obvious conclusions.  Which requires courage, because in crisis  - we all get tunnel vision.

Again, thanks for the conversation and the exchange of respect.





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