Wot, No Spreadsheets? – very OT

I’m gutted that spreadsheets don’t seem to have been implicated in the Climate Research Unit excitement. why read_me_harry.txt instead of read_me_harry.xls?

Spreadsheets are ok for amateur mistakes, but pros use Fortran?

I’m also a little disappointed that the Government Broadcasting Company (BBC) doesn’t seem to be applying its normally fairly balanced reporting to this area.

I’ve had to switch to the Telegraph (FFS) to get some balance. And maybe even the Express!!

Over the last few months I have become more and more sceptical about the motivations and justifications for some of the stuff done ‘to save our planet’. Over the last few weeks I have become more and more sceptical about mans influence on the climate. Over the last few days I have become very sceptical that the research is fit for its current purpose.

As it happens I bought a new USB portable drive last week – 320Gb for 60 quid – I am amazed the CRU couldn’t find a similar amount to prevent the ‘loss’ of their ‘critical to the survival of mankind’ data, out of their alleged budget of 20 million.

What is your take on whether our activities are causing, or about to cause catastrophic changes to our planets climate? And what should we do about it?

Seems to me if the intention was to genuinely cut CO2 rather than fund their mates in ‘green’ industries and carbon trading the govt would be pushing for:

  • Those that can to work a min of 2 days a week from home
  • encourage local sourcing of everything where possible
  • encourage the extending of the lifetime of any and all equip
  • reforesting where ever possible
  • Local community based power generation

As it is it just looks like they are trying to move us away from oil without actually explaining why. And keep their coffers full of course.

For info here is a climate change is our fault website

Here is a climate change is normal website

Here is a WSJ article highlighting the broader concerns raised by the recent fun.

So a couple of guidelines then feel free to add you view below.

This is a fairly heated topic so I’ll moderate comments pretty tightly. The discussion is about the validity of the claim that human activity is the cause of changing climate. Comments in that area are welcome.

Personal attacks, nonsensical arguments and deceptive statements are not, I’ll delete these and publish the reason for your information.

Please keep your comments short and on topic and as polite as possible.

Irrelevant stuff like references to your own or others ‘green’ credentials etc will also go in the big round file.

Don’t feel compelled to comment, I’ll keep comments open for a day orso then close them to ease the moderation. After that if you want to comment just email me and I’ll add it.

Have fun… (and play nice)

cheers

Simon

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40 Responses to “Wot, No Spreadsheets? – very OT”

  1. Dick Moffat Says:

    Oh Simon …. big mistake :-) ……

    Dick

  2. Simon Says:

    maybe – I’ve ummed and ahhed for a few days, feels a bit like sticking my head in a tigers mouth – we’ll see. :-)

  3. martin rushton Says:

    I remember reading at school, long before global warming and climate change became big issues, that the earth was just coming out of its most recent ice age. Krakatoa (sp?) and other major volcanic eruptions supposedly blotted out the sun for months and a prehistoric eruption might have brought the end of the dinosaurs.

    Has fossil fuel consumption and man had an affect on the climate? I don’t doubt it but a mere pin prick compared to what nature has done in the past and will do in the future. Kanut like we still can’t tame the tide/floods and that should be one of the easier forces of nature to influence.

  4. Harlan Grove Says:

    Nonreligious End of the World warnings have been about since Malthus. They’ve been proven to be overstated to date.

    While I’m not convinced about the science behind climate change, there’s no question there are issues that should be of more immediate concern, such as depleted fish populations in the oceans and the growing pollution problem in developing countries.

    As for local sourcing, how many paper mills or factories producing, say, paperclips or twisted pair or coax cables y’all have within 50 miles or your homes or offices? The practicality of local sourcing for MOST goods really is a myth.

    Reforestation would be good, but plant life on the ocean’s surface dwarfs CO2 conversion from land plant life, but humanity is doing its darnedest to screw up the oceans. When it comes to local sourcing, I’d local source waste management – all developed countries should be forced to handle ALL their own rubbish. Also it’s high time to impose waste management duties on manufacturers of plastic resins and styrofoam (to start), but they’re probably the ones who hire the best lobbyists.

  5. John Tolle Says:

    Obviously this is a very broad topic, and a comment in a Spreadsheet-oriented blog is probably not going to convince anyone of anything, but let me throw some things out…

    The question of whether or not human activity is changing the climate is exactly the sort of question we invented science and scientists for. Just like the origin of species, or where the craters on the Moon come from, or how to immunize someone against the flu, it’s not something where good old common sense can tell us much. Somebody has to schlep out and observe, hypothesize, predict, measure, etc. Over the past few centuries, it’s pretty obvious that science as an enterprise is pretty good at answering those kinds of questions – one of the best ways we’ve come up with.

    There really is a firm consensus among scientists from many different fields that human activity is changing the climate. Now, people are free to believe that that consensus is crap, but that essentially means that they believe either the scientists are just wrong, or that they’re dishonest. Not just the occasional loser or screwup we see with any big human activity, but most or all of them.

    If it turns out that you generally trust scientists and their institutions to answer complex, non-obvious questions about the physical world, but think that climate change is either a big mistake or a big lie, it’s probably worth asking yourself why. Jeff Masters had an interesting post on his blog (which is mainly meteorology, I read him for hurricane news, not climate change arguments) recently about the large and well-funded denial industry, and how it parallels similar efforts to discredit science about the health effects of smoking, or the damage done by CFCs to the ozone layer:

    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=1389

    So, it’s probably clear that I think the scientists are as right about this as they are about most stuff. As far as what to do about it, a hardcore free market type like myself actually should favor some kind of carbon tax or cap-and-trade scheme and not a bevy of specific rules about commuting and lightbulbs and whatever else. That lets us have a clear price on the thing we don’t want (CO2, methane), while leaving it up to the market how best to get there. As a bonus, we could even take the revenue and substitute it for taxes on things we know we want more of, like jobs.

    Like I said, probably zero minds have been changed in four paragraphs, but I figured it’s worth saying anyway. And thanks for hosting the discussion – I approve of anyone being willing to moderate something like this in any forum. It really is important!

  6. Dick Moffat Says:

    OK – here I go with a small comment ….

    John Tolle said:

    “If it turns out that you generally trust scientists and their institutions to answer complex, non-obvious questions about the physical world, but think that climate change is either a big mistake or a big lie, it’s probably worth asking yourself why. ”

    Exactly. Until the recent kerfuffle about the emails started to make “Denialism” infect otherwise sensible people, like Simon, we had a chance at exposing this anti-scientific propaganda for what it was – the noise of a series of self-interested interests funnelled through a bunch of nut-bar, anti-government, anti-Obama, anti-everything for no apparent reason, paranoid conspiracy freaks.

    Anyone I know who had an anti-climate-change stance, until recently, to a man fit that profile to tee.

    I am a big fan of the saying “Consider the source” and in this debate it doesn’t take much to see the source. Tragically these same people who have spent the last generation screwing up American civic thought are now infecting the world. They are being given a perfect vessel for legitimtizing their BS through the “false equivalence” of the Cable News networks – most aggregiously CNN..

    This is the Globalization of the end of civil, responsible, sincere, respectful, mature discourse that we have been watching occur here in North America for a generation.

    Welcome aboard ……

    Dick

  7. Harlan Grove Says:

    The contentious issue is data. We only have reliable temperature measurements from the early 1800s on. Is 200 years an adequate time period in which to estimate climate change? Especially when temperatures in the early 1800s were affected by very large volcanic eruptions that did lead to global cooling?

    Also, let’s face it: climate science isn’t like particle physics or physical chemistry. It’s like economics or evolutionary biology, where it’s impossible to repeat ‘experiments’.

  8. Mike Staunton Says:

    There’s just so many silly ideas at the moment – from the US giving subsidies to corn-ethanol and environmentalists wanting the economy closed down

    There’s so much uncertainty but the best flexible policy is to set a carbon price and then tweak it depending on what progress is made

  9. dougaj4 Says:

    I agree with the conclusions of John Tolle, but I see this as an engineering question rather than a scientific one. The difference is the questions we should be asking. The question is not if we can be certain that continuing increasing emissions of greenhouse gasses will result in catastrophic climate change (no, we can’t be sure of that), but rather how should we manage our industrial processes to maximise the long term benefit to mankind. This is an engineering question, requiring consideration of the possible effects of unlikely possibilities, as well as estimates of the most likely outcomes, all based on inadequate information of processes we don’t fully understand.

    The decision on what to do about greenhouse gas emissions can be summarised in three questions:

    1. On the balance of probabilities, is the cost of reducing greenhouse gas emissions likely to be less than the additional economic and social cost of doing nothing?

    2. Is there a small chance that continuing increasing emissions of greenhouse gas emissions will have devastating effects to coastal and/or marginal aricultural land at a country or regional level?

    3. Is there even a remote chance that feedback effects will cause devestating results on a global scale, that could be avoided with a reduction in emissions.

    To make a rational decision to do nothing about reducing greenhouse gas emissions we need to be able to answer with a confident “no” to all three questions. A single “yes” is sufficient to demand that we manage our emissions differently.

    In my opinion the answer to all three questions is a clear “yes”, but even those with a deep distrust of the work of the climate scientists must surely apply equal skepticism to the statements of the “skeptics” and agree that it has not been proved with adequate certainty that continued emission growth will not have disastrous consequences.

  10. Dick Says:

    What we really need is an accountant’s opinion. So here are some thoughts:

    Everyone says “scientists”, but they probably mean climate scientists. They should say that. Even if a majority of scientists believe something, it’s meaningless. I don’t care what a microbiologist thinks about climate change. How many climate scientists are there? If there are 50 of them, it’s not so compelling that 90% of them agree.

    The fewer climate scientists there are, the more likely they’re in a club and subject to group think. That’s a concern, I think.

    Dougaj4 thinks it’s an engineering problem. Shock! :)

    Sadly, I don’t have the time (and I probably don’t have the intelligence) to know for myself what’s right and wrong. I, like most, have to rely on scientific experts. So I wish they’d get their sh*t straight and tell us what they don’t know.

  11. Simon Says:

    Fair points Doug, I actually think its a motivation question as much as engineering – how do we/they encourage efficiency and full cycle responsibility in these processes.

    But equally this stuff does not operate in a vacuum, there is an opportunity cost of not expending those resources on some other urgent needy cause.

    On the data front, one of my concerns is the justification for the adjustments to raw data:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/12/08/the-smoking-gun-at-darwin-zero/
    No probs with adjusting, would just like to know a bit more about why.

  12. dougaj4 Says:

    Dick – when I say it’s an engineering problem, what I mean is it’s a science + accounting (+ some other stuff) problem. Happy now? ;)

    Simon – I haven’t addressed the “what do we do about it” question, just the “is it a problem” question, but with regard to the former I’m more than a little suspicious of the fact that the people who seem to be objecting most strongly to the proposed market based solution (i.e a global emission trading scheme) are those who normally claim that free markets are the answer to everything. Yes there is an opportunity cost; that’s why we use market solutions, rather than relying on falible and corruptible centralised control, isn’t it?

    With regard to the uncertainties about the data, the problem is the uncertainty goes both ways, but we only read about uncertainties on the cooler side. Certainly we should be aware of confirmation bias, as the “skeptics like to point out, but it seems to me that the output of the skeptics has a confirmation bias a mile wide.

  13. Dick Moffat Says:

    You guys are still misisng my point – you are discussing the “skeptic” argument as if they are sincere people with a genuine scientific message.

    IMHO the forces behind the current skepticism are not only bogus but are insincere at best, “nuts” in the middle and most likely straight-forward right-wing anarchist claptrap at worst. Don’t waste any time trying to be sensible as it’s a waste of time to me.

    Dick

  14. Simon Says:

    Dick M, having seen some of the ‘green’ initiatives in the UK I don’t see how the sceptics could be more nutty. In fact it is the blatant ‘not planet friendly’ nature of those initiatives that first raised my bullshit-o-meter. I think the CRU email hack shows them to be just how you describe ‘skeptics’.

    Dick K, agreed, no idea how many climate scientists there are, or how they split across the two schools of thought (funded and heretic?;-)). but I do know there are only 3 or 4 raw data series and the CRU ‘lost’ part of theirs rather than publish it. In what has been described as the biggest scientific scandal of the decade in the UK.

    Doug, when the reported temperature rise is wholly and exclusively based on manual adjustments to measurements(CRU tech term: fudge factors), what exactly is the point in measuring? (see previous link – not saying thats universal, or invalid, but it sure makes me want to look at other raw readings and adjustments and explanations.)

    And of course evidence of warming is not evidence of human activity or CO2 causing it. It sure sounds feasible, but so does the medieval warm period and a bunch of other stuff. Like Dick says I wish they would sort their shit out and give us the facts and the gaps.

  15. Dick Moffat Says:

    “Like Dick says I wish they would sort their shit out and give us the facts and the gaps.”

    He’s right but believe me – the “deniers” will NEVER accept anything. They’re not interested in “facts”.

    Yes some of your scientists have been proven to be a**holes but does that make the thousands of others the same?

    It doesn’t matter now anyway because the energy is building against Climate Change and it will only take a few major political etities to get cold feet now to stop everything. And they will.

    If this talk goes any further like this then I think we might as well give up just see what happens …. Then we’ll see who’s right I guess….

    I feel sorry for MY descendants, but I hope I get to see what happens so I can say I told you so :-) …..

    Dick

  16. dougaj4 Says:

    I think more skepticism about the output of the “skeptics” is warranted.

    This site: http://www.skepticalscience.com/ is a good resource for informed discussion about these things.

  17. Harlan Grove Says:

    Having sat in math and physics classes in the mid-1980s listening (or not) to professors bloviating on the benificence of Chernyenko’s Soviet Union compared to Ronald Reagan’s USA, I have to agree with others that the opinions of most scientists who haven’t specialized in this field are as informed as those of the average drunken teenager.

    There are two classes of skeptics, and I’ll use a US-metric to distinguish between them: those who appear on Fox News, and those who appear on PBS. Yes, the former are whackos. The latter can’t be automatically categorized as such.

    Like most things in the real world for which one’s not an expert, one’s opinions about the motives and biases of the professed experts are more strongly held and argued than one’s opinions on the actual subject matter. This topic is a fine example.

  18. Mike Alexander Says:

    My only comment is this:

    Why the hell do they always have global warming summits in the middle of winter?! And in Oslo no less. You would think these geniuses would know raising global warming awareness is a bit difficult when everyone is freezing their nipples off!

    Have your bloody meeting in the summer for god sake. Have it here in Texas. Step outside in the Texas summer for 10 minutes and you’ll be convinced of some kind of warming. Man-made or not, it’s like walking into a crotch out here.

    That is all.

  19. Jon Peltier Says:

    Ladies and Gentlemen: Mike Alexander, Voice of Reason.

  20. Gordon Says:

    @Mike

    Aye, have they not heard of teleconferencing? Imagine all the CO2 that would be saved!

  21. Paul Mann Says:

    “When I were a lad” we were being told we were all going to freeze to death in another Ice Age. Now some 40 odd years later we are all going to die from to much heat. I wish they would make their minds up.
    Also why has “Global Warming” undergone a name change recently and now appears to be known “Climate Change” is this a case of hedging your bets – i.e. it could go either way?.

    I watched part of a “Climate Change” debate on the telly the other night – Ed Millaband answering questions from concerned members of the public. I missed the beginning but my wife informed me that apparently only pro climate change members of the public were allowed to take part in the debate and ask the “Millaband” questions – apparently “heretics” were not allowed to take part – I do not actually understand how this could be described as a debate.

    It would appear that the biggest natural contributors to CO2 emissions are;

    Animals – hence the great “become a vegetarian” push recently so as to stop cows pumping out methane.
    But taking into account the effect a nut roast has on me I believe I would very soon be replacing the methane output saved by stopping the “meat production” industry.

    Plants themselves

    and

    Water

    So logically, if this is actually the case, if we were to kill all the animals and plants and drain the seas dry would this not contribute greatly to the desired reduction in CO2 emissions and save the planet from extinction?

    Quite frankly, along with I believe a growing number of the public, I am becoming very bored with all of this. As one revelation after another regarding the suppression of “heretic” anti “Global Warming” or is it anti “Climate Change” material, the growing evidence of the use of the subject to raise money for bankrupt governments, such as our own (Gordon has saved the world once surely he can do it again? and again? and again?), via backdoor taxes etc. combined with all the usual scammers jumping on the band wagon, has only turned what maybe a very genuine “cause for concern” subject into one of “oh it is just another money driven scam”.

    At the end of the day everyone is entitled to their own opinions and beliefs but this subject appears to have turned itself into a witch hunt “kill the non believers” I must admit to being a “non believer” but if the Mayans are to be believed come 21st December 2012 it is all not going to make one iota difference anyway as we will all be “brown bread” – but that is another debate.

  22. Lord Says:

    The fact that ‘skeptics’ have to rely on their opponents data demonstrates how little there is to them. If they had data and a case they would offer it for criticism and debate, but all they have is FUD to offer.

  23. Paul Mann Says:

    It is a bit hard to offer any “skeptic” data for consideration, if there is any, when it would appear there is an ongoing “active” program by the “non skeptics”/”true believers” to suppress any “skeptic” data from being published for consideration or debate

  24. Simon Says:

    Mike my overiding memory of Fort Worth is that its hot and smells of horse piss.

  25. Primo Says:

    When global warming was first being proposed (20 years ago?) and climate scientists were still divided over the issue it struck me that virtually all of the solutions involved reducing reliance on fossil fuels because it’s burning those that causes CO2 release into the atmosphere. Now, even the most rabid oil industry lobbyist will admit that fossil fuels will run out eventually, and before they do they will become very expensive to get.

    So, to me it makes sense to find alternatives now (20 years ago) before it’s a crisis situation. The only argument I can see against exploring the possibilities is the short term expense, which is so far a fraction of the cost of, say, deep sea oil exploration.

    As a thought, think of Nasa in the 60’s: if we were determined and really put the funds in we could replace fossil fuels as an energy source within a decade or two, and the benefits are more obvious than putting twelve people on the moon.

  26. martin rushton Says:

    @Paul
    “It would appear that the biggest natural contributors to CO2 emissions are;
    Animals – hence the great “become a vegetarian” push recently so as to stop cows pumping out methane.
    But taking into account the effect a nut roast has on me I believe I would very soon be replacing the methane output saved by stopping the “meat production” industry.
    Plants themselves
    and
    Water”
    No argument with the first source, all animal life converts oxygen into CO2 and water vapour and most especially ruminants produce another greenhouse gas in methane. However, all plants absorb CO2 and in doing so “lock” in the carbon while producing Oxygen with most also producing water vapour in the process. Only in a very slow decomposition process is that Carbon unlocked unless animals intervene by consuming it or humans by burning it. Finally H20 which I am unaware of producing much CO2 naturally. True, chemical reactions involving water can release CO2 but I can’t think of any at the moment that occur naturally without human intervention.

    Agreed we have only had about 200 years of temperature data and what was the margin for error on the thermometers 200 years ago. Agreed if it’s a small “club” of climate change scientists that excludes anyone who disagrees with them then it is dangerous. Am I a sceptic yes. When will I believe, probably when their arguments have less holes in them. I repeat my original points. The climate has always been changing and therefore it is still too soon to tell if human activity over the last 2-300 years has had a major impact on natural change and that natural change can and may still have much more catastrophic affects. Yes, lets take better care of the planet but not by creating a new money making industry.

  27. Marcus from London Says:

    You’re right Simon.

    This is ‘very OT’.

  28. Bob Phillips Says:

    Oh dear Simon, jumping on the scepticism bandwagon as it becomes trendy. Late as ever, have you started working for Microsoft?

    You accuse the government of having an agenda, to keep us all in our place and raise more cash, but I wholeheartedly agree with Dick, the sceptics have an agenda, restraint will interfere with their beloved rampant free market, and we all know how good that is.

    To my mind there is no argument. Whether or not we are responsible for global warming, whether or not our CO2 emissions are causing or significantly contributing to global warming, it is happening and we would be STUPID not to do something about our part because if it is a significant contribution then we are dumping in our own bed. It may be us, it may not, but we should assume the worst, as assuming the best could (will) just be disastrous.

    What really discourages me about all of this is that even those who buy into with the science (note I don’t say agree, it is far too hard to agree and most of us are not capable of that level of analysis) see this as another markey opportunity. Sell carbon credits, grow loads of palm oil. For Christ’s sake, what got us here in the irst place?

    But don’t worry you sceptics. If global warming doesn’t get us, even if we can invent new super clean technogies tomorrow, population growth and the mass migration of the developing world to western consumerism will create ructions on a =n enormous scale, wtaer wars, energy wars, huge disasters, and so on.

    Ever since I have been of an age where I was capable of thinking on my own I have been amazed at how the human race is determined to screw up its own environment, nuclear war, pollution, global warming, and so on, but the biggest threat is population growth and nobody is talking about that. Let’s face it guys, a planet of 6 billion, 9 billion just won’t exist in a hundred years or so.

  29. Simon Says:

    Bob I’m all up for better stewardship of our home, and happy to move to greener, cleaner tech. I’d like to see more openness, more honesty and less greed, on both sides of the debate.
    If scepticism is becoming trendy, and I hope it is, then I hope it pervades all manner of human activity. There is a lot of junk science doing a lot of harm, that could be easily debunked with a healthy does of scepticism.

    Marcus, maybe, maybe not, I managed to tag it with error and quality which I think makes it fair game.

  30. dougaj4 Says:

    I’ve just realised why Simon is so relaxed about this. See the “possibly related posts”:

    “» Codematic is moving”

    Which planet Simon?

  31. Charles Says:

    OK I’ll bite.
    I don’t think you have to be a climate scientist to establish some probabilities.
    Some things are in the 98%+ range, like death and taxes:
    – Atmospheric CO2 levels are high and rising fast
    – High atmospheric CO2 levels have the effect of raising global temperatures.
    – Atmospheric CO2 levels are not the only influence on global temperatures
    – Global Temperatures have fluctuated quite considerably in the last few million years and will do so again
    – the launch next year of O2010 will be accompanied by a lot of hot air
    – Global temperature level measurement is quite sensitive to how and where you measure it.
    – Todays Global Climate models are complex (probably too large for even XL 2010 64-bit) and their temperature predictions are subject to significant uncertainties (not to mention bugs)

    So at the moment I don’t know:
    – which of the many drivers of climate change will dominate in the next 25-50 years, we can always hope it all balances out.
    – How long (years, decades, another century?) we can continue pumping out CO2 and CH4 at an ever-increasing rate before creating events that may be technologically difficult to tolerate or reverse without killing a few billion people.

  32. Simon Says:

    Doug
    Which planet?
    Well it won’t be Uranus, which seems to be from where some of these folks pluck their raw data, adjustments, theories and models.
    boom- boom! (Basil Brush stylee)

    Actually I am not relaxed, I’m very concerned. Concerned our glorious leaders will do the wrong thing as well as concerned they will do nothing.

    Your link was interesting, but as far as I can tell there is no *evidence* of a causative effect, just a theory and an apparent correlation. That’s enough to make some changes for sure, but a little short of what I would prefer to justify turning the world economy upside down. Especially when other analysis has indicated no correlation.

    But hey no one here is going to change anyone elses views, it’s just interesting to hear where people stand, and why, and perhaps what would be required for us to change our minds.

  33. John Tolle Says:

    It’s not clear to me that we have to “turn the world economy upside down” in order to address the problem. In the U.S., U.K., Europe, Japan, etc. we have a broad and stable consensus for taxing 25-50% of our economies to run our governments. Mostly those taxes are on labor, capital, commerce, trade, and so on. What is the drawback to shifting some of our taxation to GHG sources? Even if the denialists were totally right about “junk science” or whatever, it would probably *still* be a net positive. I mean, nobody values burning coal in and of itself, while lots of us think more labor and more capital would be good things. Well, almost nobody – there are a few people who intrinsically value burning coal, and (surprise!) they’re the ones bankrolling a lot of the “skepticism”.

    It seems to me like a lot of the reservations people have about the “evidence” are driven by fears of what the bureaucrats will do with it. But that’s the realm of politics, not science, and the solution is the same as other political problems – get engaged in the political process, painful as that may be. Make sure the politicians don’t give away carbon allowances to their donors. Argue against nitwit command-and-control “climate” policies. Don’t shoot the messengers.

    One of the most frustrating things about the political debate here in the U.S. is that many of the people on the side who used to be a little more economically rational have thrown in fully with the denialists and the “no tax” demagogues. So our response to the problem has been delayed, and it’s likely to take less efficient forms (eg. EPA regulation vs. carbon taxes).

  34. Dick Moffat Says:

    Here’s a guy who explains me thoughts far better than i can :

    http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2009/12/a_lament_from_the_life_sciences.php#more?ref=fpblg

    Dick
    p.s. I know it’s on a left-wing blog – so shoot me :-)….

  35. Simon Says:

    John, all good points, I think its an odd situation. The science was broadly acceptable until there started to be fear of a significant change in economy. Then suddenly it makes sense to re-assess, and now there seems to be some serious gaps appearing.

    Here in the UK every ‘green’ policy in reality would/does decrease quality of life, increase real emissions (but divert from uk, to elsewhere), and they always seem to cost more.

    Anyway thanks for the civilised debate, I’m going to close comments in a couple of hours. So either get in quick or email me laterz.
    cheers
    Simon

  36. Harlan Grove Says:

    Dick – The commenter clearly means the scientific method in the general sense. In terms of the data analysis and mathematical models (there are mathematical models in antibody research other than biostats?) there’s no similarity between the commenter’s claimed specialty and climate science.

    And let’s consider scientists more generally. How many theoretical physicists are there working on string theory, a field devoid of experiments except for really, Really, REALLY wanting the LHC to provide evidence of Higgs bosons. Or cosmologists hypothesizing dark matter rather than considering the possibility that Einsteinian gravity needs tweaking? If physicists, the scientists most closely tied to mathematical methods, are this susceptible to FAITH, isn’t there some rational basis for suspecting some biases in other branches of science?

    Interesting that none of us are addressing the data or the climate model(s) directly.

  37. John Tolle Says:

    I’ll have to leave it by noting that I disagree that the e-mail thing has exposed any serious gaps. Obviously you can find a ton of commentary on the web about the “smoking gun at Darwin” or any other specific thing. I’m an engineer, and I don’t mind admitting that I’m not qualified to critique the details of a specific adjustment to experimental temperature data, and that includes the critique of the critique. But that’s the problem, most people aren’t. The scientific world is just full of techniques that require specialized knowledge to understand properly. That’s why they have all those journals! It all comes down to whether or not you trust the experts, and why or why not.

    As far as the models themselves, I know that a bunch of spreadsheet experts (O.K., I’m actually a spreadsheet amateur…) would know all too well the pitfalls inherent in working with data, making models, and predicting what will happen next based on limited information. But I’d also hope that the same people would also know that models can be very powerful and successful at doing just that, and that there’s nothing inherently suspicious about them.

    Thanks again for hosting an interesting discussion. Just the threat of moderation it seems keeps the real crazies away.

  38. John Tolle Says:

    I apologize for hogging the end of the thread, but this is an interesting post specifically about the Darwin data:

    http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2009/12/trust_scientists

  39. dougaj4 Says:

    Since it looks like the comments are still open, and just so John doesn’t have to feel too guilty (:)), I’ll make a few more comments:

    1) It’s not true to say there is no “evidence” of a causative link. There is a ton of evidence. It isn’t conclusive proof, but in science nothing is ever conclusive proof.

    2) Skepticism is a good thing, but the so called climate change “skeptics” are only skeptical of evidence that does not support their pre-determined position. That is the opposite of skepticism.

    3) There will always be doubt about what the climate is going to do next. That’s why we need to consider the consequences of being wrong. It seems to me that the consequences of doing nothing, when we should have done something, are far far worse than the consequences of doing something when we didn’t really need to.

  40. Simon Says:

    Doug you win the last comment prize

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