Friday, July 13, 2007

The Battleground Shifts...

These days, yet another screed from the NRSP's Tom Harris wouldn't normally be worth the effort of a post. He is merely a faux scientist, a low grade Denier, and his Natural Resources Stewardship Group a discredited front for the Canadian wing of Big Oil. (Unfortunately, I think that Green Party Leader Elizabeth May's decision to take him on in this set of battling Op Eds is likely to do more to maintain his profile than her own). However, in amongst the same-old same-old there are signals as to where the Denialist industry will next attempt to take the debate:

Activists maintain that “the consensus of world scientists agree” that our CO2 emissions are causing a climate crisis. Nothing could be further from the truth. Climate science is an immature discipline in which intense debate rages among experts about the causes of climate change. Variations in the brightness of the sun and “land use change” are the leading contenders believed to be responsible for most of the past century’s modest warming

Note the two "leading contenders": solar cycles...and a new one..."land use change" (or at least a quick search of the NRSP website and a buzz through Google shows that this term begins turning up more often in June of this year). Since the "Blame the Sun" crowd has suffered a major set-back in recent days, expect to start hearing more about "land use changes": about Urban Heat Islands, and how the instruments cannot be trusted to give accurate readings due to (incompetence, cover-ups, and) the ever increasing amount of paved space around our cities. In other words, "Land Use Change" will become what "Solar Cycles" has been: a vague theory to invoke as an alternative to the conventional science so it doesn't look like the Denialists are merely engaged in "negative campaigning".

And expect to hear the names Roger Pielke Sr. and Anthony Watts come up more frequently. Pielke Sr. is a real, honest-to-God meteorologist from Colorado State University, and I would probably call him the Alan Feduccia of climate science. His website is a mix of legitimate cautionary tales re climate change research (some glaciers aren't retreating!), and the center of a kind of personality cult where Deniers with some facility in math come to pray to his courage in the face of the "great swindle". As for Anthony Watts, he leads a gang of rogue "citizen scientists" who have currently fanned out across the lower 48 with their digital cameras in an effort to embarrass the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) with pictures of Al Gore BBQing in close proximity to temperature sensors, thus single-handedly creating an upward bias in instrument readings of the climate record. These pictures as they emerge are then posted on far-right websites where people who haven't a clue as to what they mean nevertheless comment knowingly on the failures of mainstream Climatology.

Unfortunately, this end of the science tends to be the "mathiest", and meeting or even understanding the arguments likely to come up will likely require boning up on some of the crap you slept through during college. But this is where I see the focus shifting over the course of the next six months. Get out your spreadsheets and your old stats textbooks, people!


Anonymous said...

yaaaa !! cuz Al Gore is not a failed eveangelist and almost president . . . he's a climatologist.

Anonymous said...

I knew the importance of stats and 'mathiness' and never slept through those courses. The only ones who called them 'crap' were the Artsies. "What does Calculus tell us about beauty and art?"

I guess we know what you majored in.

Anonymous said...

That was hilarious -- especially about catching Al Gore barbecuing next to a temperature station.

That conjures up a pretty funny picture:

Big Al with his "Inconvenient Truth" barbecue apron flipping burgers and keeping the already cooked ones warm under the Stevenson Screen.

I see Gore and Denailists as a kind of "Yin and Yang" -- opposites yet each containing the seeds of the other.

If Gore did not exist, there would be no internet :-) and if the internet did not exist there would be no denialist cottage industry. And if there were no Denialists, Gore would not be jetting around the country promoting his movie, but if that were the case, denialists could not attack Gore for jetting around the country, and on and infinitum (and nauseum)

Perhaps we should just put Al Gore and the denialists (there must be what, 5 of them at this point?) on a rocket and send them off to Mars where they can debate whether "Global warming is as real on mars as it is not on earth".

Anonymous said...

Well, my degree is in engineering, and I find this climate change denying crap to be insulting to the theory that humans are intelligent. The deniers lose every argument they throw forth so they keep trying to shift the grounds of the debate. And while they'll deny global warming until their (dry, hot) dying day as being total hogwash, they'll enthusiastically promote any off-the-wall wacko idea of possible "alternatives" to what is obvious to scientists around the globe.

Some BT has a link to a website where readers are sending in photos of weather stations, pointing out (beause they are such experts) where the temperature gauge is in relation to sidewalks, air vents, blah blah blah. Because where the temperature gauge sits in podunk, texas will somehow counter the fact that glaciers continue to disappear on every continent on the planet.

Geesh! Grow up already.

Anonymous said...

We've all heard about the "Urban Heat Islands".

but what i am waiting to hear about are the "Bourbon Heat" islands.

You know, the temperature stations where the readings are taken by a blurry-eyed guy with a bottle of whiskey in one hand and a pencil to jot down the daily temp reading in the other.

With the way that the standard (It's the Sun) denialist theories are dropping like flies, I'd say we may not have to wait long for photographic "proof" (of the alcoholic kind.)

Anonymous said...

so the Goreacle's demon seed son got busted with a whack of illegal drugs while doing > 100mph in a Prius.

Go figure. A green, drugged out road raging speed demon.

And then when he gets released from jail, his sister arrives to pick him up - driving a 400HP V8 Maserati.

Like Papa, like progeny. Just a family of GhG spewing hypocrites who won't practice what they preach, make hundreds of millions of dollars profits off the gullible class of Warmonger Believer members of the Hockey Club and laugh all the way to the bank off fools who promulgate the Great Fear Campaign.

Anonymous said...

There's nothing I love more than a criticism by a right wing hypocrite about how hypocritical Gore is.

Anonymous said...

Land use change is totally legitimate to consider as a climate change element, but I don't see how it helps a denier, unless it is solely an example of observation bias.

Land use change, for example, is the disappearance of massive carbon sinks like the Amazon forest, in favour of emitting agricultural use. I can't think of something much more anthropogenic.

bigcitylib said...

Anon 3:26:

Actually, you are right about that. With Pielke himself, I think it is an issue of CO2 hogging all the limelight, and all efforts being bent towards cutting CO2 emissions rather than dealing with other, additional problems. With some of the people that use/misuse his work, its probably an excuse to do nothing.

(although Pielke mutters about U.N. conspiracies and etc. occasionally)

Russell McOrmond said...

It is interesting, but I heard some of the "mathiness" arguments months ago. Some fellow bloggers (in their case Audio) discussed what one of the hosts called "Faith-Based Warming", coming up with some mathematical argument that you can't "average" the temperature to find the average global temperature.

Given the initial purpose of mathematics was to come up with langauge to explain the natural world, when the math contradicts natural sciences it is the math that is wrong.

He did prove one of the points he was trying to make, which is that you can't try to open this debate (What I would call publicly admitting to being a denier) and then have people treat you like a regular person. The last two articles on their BLOG was the audio BLOG where the debate was launched, and a final article talking about that debate -- and nothing since then.

Anonymous said...

oming up with some mathematical argument that you can't "average" the temperature to find the average global temperature.'

They were probably referring to this paper which basically says that there is no such thing as a global average temperature.

The foolishness of the paper was pointed out by Eli Rabett and commenters on his blog, who thoroughly analyzed the paper an showed what rubbish there claim is.

Basically, the authors of the paper based their conclusion on some FAULTY (completely bogus) assumptions:

1) that the air at the surface of the earth is not in local thermodynamic equilibrium [UNTRUE: in reality, it is in local thermodynamic equilibrium to a very high degree of accuracy]

2) that all methods of averaging are equal when it comes to averaging temperatures and that there is therefore no valid physical reason for choosing one over the other -- as climate scientists at NASA and in IPCC have done [FALSE: there are very good physical reasons why climate scientists have used the averaging method they have.]

The paper was nonsense and should never have been published to begin with.

Anonymous said...

Cut down a tree, put down asphalt. Record higher temperatures. Declare it "proof" of global warming. Unbelievable. Go back to your French Lit. Hisotry class, or basket weaving, or whatever your victim sciences degree is in. But don't pretend to be even remotely capable of even basic scientific understanding.

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