Thursday, February 15, 2007

Hot Under the Collar

Since jra doesn't allow comments on his blog, I'm using this post to respond to his "Another theory of climate change" post. Blogwar!

Actually, this is not so much a rebuttal as an encouragement to read the original Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report attackedreferenced in the Times Online article which prompted jra's post. Unless you failed high school science, the Summary for Policymakers (1.3MB PDF) shouldn't take you more than half an hour to get through. (Thanks to The Science Creative Quarterly for providing an actual link, which Times Online cleverly omitted.) The complete report will be published this summer by Cambridge University Press.

And, just to be fair, here's a link to the dissenter's publications: Henrik Svensmark has written several papers on his cloud-cover-and-cosmic-rays theory since 1997. I'll also point out that Svensmark's own 1997 article references the 1992 IPCC report, and even he does not deny the role of human activity in global climate change--he merely questions whether other, natural factors have a greater effect, and if so, how much greater?

There's no question that the discussion of global warming has become politicized and polarized, and that is unfortunate as well as inconvenient. While it's true that our best science is still lacking--the IPCC itself admits that their understanding of solar irradiance and how it affects global climate is low (see figure SPM-2 on page 4 of the Summary for Policymakers)--it's still science.

I have no problem with "considering all the possibilities," as jra says, but that should include all the possibilities--including the prevailing view that greenhouse gases are a major cause of global warming--and should mean judging each hypothesis on its scientific merits, and not whether or not you think people have been brainwashed into believing it.

If you don't buy the science behind how to determine the causes of radiative forcing, fine. Just make sure you're questioning the science, not the politics.



amoeba said...

The evil jra is Jeff R. Allen

I wonder, since he shows a photo of a fuel station Nella Oil Company on his home page. I wonder where this might lead?

Google revealed:
NELLA Oil Co. is a third-generation family business. It dates back to the former Beacon Oil Company, founded in 1931 by Walter B. Allen.

Perhaps there's a link between Jeff R. Allen and Walter B. Allen?

Nella is Allen reversed.

So it would seem that JRA has a vested and familial interest in denying Global Warming.
There's a surprise!
Despite his protestations about believing in Science, it's clear that he cares little either for science or the facts.
What makes a theory right is not thousands of scientist working on it because there's no money for any other idea. What makes a theory right is it's ability to explain things that the other theories can't explain, no matter how popular or unpopular it is. endquote
How true! But what about all the money spent by fossil fuel energy companies on anti-GW propaganda?

CKL said...

Just to be clear, Jeff and I are good friends, and his family is not in the oil business. :) I was actually a climate change doubter for a few years, in and just after college, but the evidence at this point is overwhelming.

The June 2007 issue of SEED Magazine has a nice article by Chris Mooney about how scientists must become better communicators if they're going to reach out to the general public on issues like this. As difficult as it may be, they have to get their heads out of the details and just give people the big picture. Fight sound bite with sound bite.