Skeptic Strategy for Talking About Global Warming
Posted by greg2213 on May 31, 2011
Ira Glickstein, PhD, has posted an interesting article at WUWT on how Skeptics should discuss Global Warming with “Astute Audiences.” Based on his article, I’d label Dr. Glickstein as a “luke warmer” rather than a skeptic, but it’s well worth reading.
What should a responsible Skeptic say to an astute audience? When recently invited by the “Technology, Engineering, and Science Plus” group in my community to give a talk and answer questions, I knew I would have an attentive room of tech-savvy professionals. However, they might not be fully tuned in to the details of the Global Warming controversy. Furthermore, they were likely to have opinions closer to the supposed “mainsteam science” orientation than mine.
So here is my 1 cent worth regarding various points. Dr. Glickstein’s comments are in bold.
I assume by “Astute Audience,” and the example above, that he’s talking about audiences capable of understanding the discussion, even though they might not be fully up to speed on it.
I distinguish their reasoned views from the far out, unscientific rantings of people I refer to as Alarmists and their equal and opposite reaction opponents, who I call Disbelievers.
If we’re talking about just the science here, then maybe this statement is Ok. However, no one on the “disbeliever” side is even remotely es extreme as those on the Alarmist side. Let’s face it, “there is no global warming” is far closer to actual fact than anything put out by the alarmists, given the size of the error bars for any measured warming.
The reaction is hardly equal or opposite. Now, if the disbelievers were arguing that we’re falling into an ice age at 2-6C per century, and demanding massive government action, etc., to fix it, then he might have a point. Actually, the warmists were arguing exactly that in the 70s. (It’s a cyclic media supported hysteria that will cycle around again in a few years.)
He attributes part of the current warming to CO2, which is probably a reasonable assumption, but first… let’s explain the prior warming periods and the catastrophic warming at the end of the last ice age, none of which were CO2 driven. Those need to be explained before the CO2 assumption is regarded as fact. The “We can’t think of anything else” argument is a poor excuse.
How much of the rise in CO2 is attributable to human use of fossil fuels is also estimated differently. Warmists would blame humans for nearly all of it, while Skeptics would say less than half.
Maybe I’m just a disbeliever, but it seems to me that a skeptic would want proof that CO2 (or any factor) drives the warming, not assumptions. That experts in the field have estimates ranging from essentially zero to 6C or more means that there is no proof. Just conjecture. It also doesn’t explain how the 30’s, the MWP, and prior periods were warmer.
If the “climate sensitivity” was several degrees then the Earth wold have burned up long ago.
I am quite sure that Global Warming is REAL…
Sure, as long as we’re talking about that .6 to .8C and the flattening of temps over the last decape plus. And that the error bars of the measurements are rather large and that there is some evidence of data fudging.
However, the warming is PARTLY Due to Rising CO2 Levels and human actions are PART of the Cause.
Yeah, maybe. Prove it in regards to how the current warming is so much different from the greater (and much greater) prior warmings.
We cannot fight something with nothing, so we need something more than a passive policy of do nothing because nothing is necessary.
Say what? We need an aggressive policy of countering the amazingly bad policies being proposed by the alarmists.
Therefore, I favor reduction of the carbon footprint by efficiency, conservation, recycling, and so on, plus the introduction, if and when economically practical of so-called “Green” energy, including Nuclear, Water, Wind, Biomass and, particularly, “Clean” Coal.
Sigh… Nothing wrong with been a reasonable green. Clean air is a nice thing to have. CO2 isn’t the demon, though. Wind, as direct power generation, will probably never be practical.
If nothing else, these will do minimum harm and, if successful, will reduce US dependence upon foreign oil...
What will reduce our dependence on foreign oil is using our own resources of coal, gas, etc., until some form of nuclear/fusion power becomes available. Wind is pretty worthless for direct power generation and solar/biomass are niche projects.
The consequences of another oil embargo by disgruntled countries would be farm more damaging than Global Warming. We won’t achieve energy self-sufficiency with these cute little green ideas and Eurpoe is kindly demonstrating how economically damage a green economy is.
You may be surprised that I favor some version of a straight Carbon Tax, collected at the mine, well, and port, with the proceeds returned on an equal basis to citizens and legal residents...
Oh please. So we get to pay more so that an already grossly overfunded government can lavish more money into pet projects and then somehow tease us by offering to return some money that’s already been spent? At best any money returned will be from the IOU collection, as it is with Social Security.
To be fair, his remark on the tax wasn’t regarding Global Warming, but was to reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources. Still, I think it’s a bad idea.
As one commenter says, “The unintended consequence of a carbon tax is, that once enacted, it will never go away, but grow into another pile of tax money that will be tossed to special interests.”
Now, if it was signed into law and if it could be enforced that all of the money collected would go into, oh, say, fusion research, then I might hold my nose and reluctantly agree to it. But no, he seems to like the socialist redistribution idea.(Ooooo… I used the dreaded socialist word. Gasp! Does anyone actually believe that any of that money would go back to the people who actually paid it? After the Gov takes its cut?)
This commenter makes a good point:
I see no harm in supporting research into alternatives, but that would not require another new tax. All we would need to do is transfer the funding currently wasted on global warming modeling the derivatives based on that modeling. There’s many billions there.
- Increased energy prices and/or rationing are highly damaging to developing countries, which need cheap, abundant energy in order to lift their peoples out of poverty.
- “Carbon” taxes are regressive taxes (they hit the poor more than the rich).
- The practical social consequences of “anti-carbonism” can fairly be described as undesirable (if not downright evil). Among these consequences are increased world food prices brought about by bio-fuel policies in the USA and the EU, which cause hunger and starvation.
This one puts it well:
The science side of the AGW debate is quite simple: If the reliability of the published temperature record is open to question; and if the reliability of the General Circulation Models is open to question, then the fundamental premise of AGW is therefore open to question. (source)
Overall, the post and comments make for a fascinating discussion. I think his basic analysis of the issues is generally Ok and his solutions are…lacking. I see no value in meeting the alarmist halfway and I see no value in mitigating Global Warming until such time that it’s proven that GW is actually more damaging than beneficial and that we actually can mitigate it. Until that time I think any such monies are far better spent on improving the lot of the poor people of the world, bringing them affordable power and food.
Links to stuff:
- No GreenHouse effect on Venus
- Vikings and Climate Change – So this must have been a time of rapidly diminishing CO2?
- More on Greenland: Greenland and AGW
- Before the Hockey Stick destroyed science – (also here) – this team predicted warming till around the year 2,000, then cooling. They got that part right, though the predicted cooling was much larger than what we’ve seen.
- Mann’s Hockey Stick, Climategate, and FOI – in a nutshell – an easily grasped explanation of the FOI issues.