Patterico's Pontifications

2/20/2008

Notes From A Proud Global Warming Skeptic – Part 12 [Environmentalism, The Politcs of Fear, and the Search for Meaning]

Filed under: Buffoons,Environment — Justin Levine @ 11:30 am



[posted by Justin Levine]

Peter Suderman points to a must-read essay concerning why global warming has morphed into a false religion.

It serves as a great companion piece to the ‘The Infantilism of  Anti-Americanism’ that wrote about earlier. Both deal with the existential crisis among the Western affluent, and the different roads they can take to try and hide from their depression.

‘The Politics of Fear’ essay manages to encapsulate why I’ve felt Al Gore has made for such a sorry public figure. The man can’t contemplate living life without the adoration and aggrandizement of others within a larger social movement. First he sought it in Democratic politics. When that house of cards caved in on him, he sought refuge in the ‘meaning’ of global warming. His Nobel Prize will probably make him forever trapped in his own delusions. After all, its difficult  for even the bravest people to admit when much of their life has been built around a fraud.

Regardless of how many awards, riches or standing ovations Gore may receive for being a true believer, I will always think of it as a wasted life.

27 Responses to “Notes From A Proud Global Warming Skeptic – Part 12 [Environmentalism, The Politcs of Fear, and the Search for Meaning]”

  1. When you say you are a “proud global warming skeptic” does that mean that you are skeptical that global average temperatures are rising? And that you are proud of that skepticism?

    stef (2addec)

  2. Will we be saying the same thing about Obamma?

    davod (5bdbd3)

  3. Really nice links here.
    It’s the end part of Gurevitch’s essay that I found interesting….

    “As critics of the war on terror struggle to find a new legitimating principle, it appears they face a risk of renovating and reviving the same obsession with security and survival.”

    ….Uh yah, what, exactly does being a critic (or not) of the war on terror have to do with whether or not one buys into environmental rhetoric? Mr. Gurevitch seems trapped, as are many Gore and global warming critics, in a dichotomous world where if you support a war then you MUST think Global Warming is a fraud or enviromentalists are hysterical Cassandra’s trying to scare us into some new moral unity…well or else you are one of of those closet “liberal” John McCain types right?. Support of one has nothing to do with support of the other in the real world.

    The more interesting link was to Peter Suderman’s posts which I agree with in idea. Yah, time to stop arguing the data and start thinking CAREFULLY about what to do if anything. Since “action” really translates into “money” and effort people should do the smartest looking they can before leaping. It great that economists are thinking carefully about the issue.

    EdWood (c2268a)

  4. Ed Wood –

    Sorry. But you completely misread the essay if that is what you took away from it. There is nothing in it to suggest that if you a critic of the war then you must be a global warming alarmist. What he DOES suggest (with ample justification) is that many of the people who first pushed global warming on to the political stage happen to be from the same camp that criticized war supporters for “scaring” the nation into supporting their agenda – thus pointing out the hypocrisy that they are using the same fear tactics regarding their own political movement (in some cases perhaps to specifically divert attention away from the war on terror issue that they disagree with).

    To analogize – Gurevitch is saying all elephants are gray. Ellie is an elephant, therefore Ellie is gray. Then you come along and say “How dare he suggest that everything gray is an elephant!”

    I implore you to carefully read the essay again. If you do so with an open mind, I’m sure that you will realize that you took the sentence out of context and misinterpreted it.

    Justin Levine (b5c8e2)

  5. Scaring people to get what you want is an old tactic. The essay did make a nice analogy. The worrisome aspect of the GW issue is how it’s skewing research grants. People who are trying to get funding to study solar radiation are having trouble. My old professor used to say more people were living off cancer than dying from it. The same applies to global warming.

    Mike K (f89cb3)

  6. Justin Levine- Yah my knee jerked. I re-read the article but I still just dont buy it. I can see what the man is saying but it seems too forced. My take on “politics of fear” is that people are using “terrorism’ and ‘you’ll help the terrorists” to justify all sorts of legislation that a lot of people really don’t like, move unpopular news out of the spotlight with conveniently timed “terror alerts”, and squash dissent with accusations of being disloyal, “helping the terrorists”, or being defeatist. Al Gore showing a movie and whipping up some of the predictions (200 foot sea level rise…uh….NO) is just not anywhere near in the same league. Mr Gurevitche’s essay is trying to equate the two and it’s just way too much of a stretch for me.

    Now if a Dem somehow manages to stumble into the presidency and then they start trying to up the capitol gains tax coz…uh…you know…gotta save the world from global warming. Then I’ll be a lot more inclined to agree with the essay.

    EdWood (c17350)

  7. Antarctica is getting colder and if its global how come the southern hemasphear has not been affected?

    krazy kagu (591d76)

  8. Justin,

    stef had a good question in #1.

    I mean, global warming is pretty much accepted, isn’t it? It’s just the cause that is in dispute — or so I thought.

    My take has always been: we easily could be the cause, and if we are, that is bad. Plus, there are clear deleterious effects from our pollution anyway. So why not act like we are the cause, just to be on the safe side?

    But then, I’m a tofu-eating environmentalist.

    Patterico (4bda0b)

  9. The process embodied by the ipcc, enc., is simply not scientific. The end – otherwise I’d be writing for hours, even based upon only my own observations of the process.

    And, yes, even the alleged fact of warming itself on a “global” scale is unproven, though it wouldn’t bother me if the atmosphere was warming “on average”: the surface stations are corrupted – not intentionally, and they were never intended to worry about “global” temps to begin with, their data appears to be manipulated or mishandled, the sea surface samples for temperatures are not collected scientifically, the satellite temps are not doing what they are supposed to do and are being “adjusted”, the tree rings don’t work, etc., etc..

    I even have a problem with what a “global” whatever temperature average means to begin with. Etc..

    The whole enterprise needs to be started over.

    J. Peden (a77183)

  10. krazy,

    the fact antarctica is getting colder and the southern hemisphere isn’t getting hot as fast as the north, is in line with predictions of the climate models. Basically, the significant difference between the northern hemisphere and the southern is that the north is mostly land and the south is mostly ocean. If you want to educate yourself on the subject, look into the science behind deep sea thermal storage.

    chris (1a5917)

  11. Steph and Patterico –

    I’ve addressed this question in the comments to previous posts in this series, but its certainly worth repeating again.

    No – I’m not skeptical that for the past 20+ years or so, the Earth has been on an overall general warming trend relative to the temperature period before it. There is ‘consensus’ on that fact. But that is the extent of it.

    But yes, I’m very skeptical as to both the CAUSE of global warming, and the notion that it will continue to increase unabated unless society acts. I suspect that this heating cycle is largely natural and that temperatures will eventually go through an equally natural cooling cycle even if the amount of greenhouse gases that mankind produces happens to increase.

    I am also very skeptical of the argument that global warming will being about catastrophic changes in the world, even if global temperatures continue to increase at their current rate for the foreseeable future. I suspect that the effects will be minimal, and even to the extent that they might be tangible, they will be just as beneficial in some quarters than not.

    In short, when I use the phrase “global warming”, I am obviously using short hand to refer to the notion of MAN-MADE global warming as is commonly used in its current political context. I do not mean to imply that I think the world actually has been in a cooling trend the past few decades. But its all largely irrelevant. The current warming trend is one that can only be observed through scientific instruments, not through actual human observation. There has never been a year in history where some “record setting temperature” hasn’t been recorded in some part of the world.

    The global warming “movement” is a monster hoax on par with past superstitious claims that the world would end at the start of the new millennium.

    Justin Levine (b5c8e2)

  12. chris –

    Do you deny the notion that global warming alarmists point to the supposed increased rate of glaciers melting in the Antarctic as ‘proof’ of global warming theory? Are you telling me you haven’t heard that ‘evidence’/argument?

    If you have heard it, how do you square it with krazy’s challenge? If the fact that Antarctica is getting colder is somehow “in line with predictions” of global warming as you suggest, then why do some in the global warming alarmist camp go to great lengths to deny it?

    Justin Levine (b5c8e2)

  13. stef had a good question in #1.

    I mean, global warming is pretty much accepted, isn’t it?

    It’s Accepted WisdomTM, sure. The only thing we know for a fact is that average temperatures have risen slightly over the past century. We don’t know if that represents a long-term trend, a coincidence, or part of a cycle we don’t understand. The last ice age didn’t represent a long-term trend toward “global cooling,” though it must have seemed that way at the time.

    My take has always been: we easily could be the cause, and if we are, that is bad.

    That doesn’t follow. Whether a warming trend is caused by humans or not is one issue. Whether it’s good, bad or indifferent is another. What has one to do with the other? Are you suggesting that if nature gives us milder winters and a longer growing season, that’s good, but if we inadvertently did that for ourselves by conveniencing ourselves in other ways, it’s bad?

    Plus, there are clear deleterious effects from our pollution anyway.

    Not from carbon dioxide.

    So why not act like we are the cause, just to be on the safe side?

    Because there is no such thing as a safe side. Every action or inaction has costs. Complying with something like Kyoto would utterly destroy our economy, all to make a modest dent (at best) in a global warming trend which (1) may or may not be caused by us in the first place, (2) may or may not be bad, regardless of the cause, and (3) is probably inevitable at this stage even if its proponents are right.

    Xrlq (62cad4)

  14. Justin,

    The mechanism by which glaciers in Antarctica are losing mass is different than that by which say glaciers in the Peruvian Andes are.
    In the Andes, ice loss is caused by melting as average air temperatures increase.
    In Antarctica, the glaciers flow from the land into the sea. Once the seaward end of the glacier begins to break up, the ice behind it has less to hold it back, it accelerates and flows faster. So it can take only a brief and temporary rise in sea temperature to “free” the big ice buttresses at the end of the glaciers – that are usually grounded on the sea bed – and get the ice behind flowing more freely. As the sea temperature and air temperature are two different things, it is possible for both the antarctic to be getting “colder” and the glaciers to be losing ice at the same time.

    The climate is an incredibly complicated system, and climate science is still in it’s infancy, so knowledge is not exact or complete, and there are always going to examples of changes and effects that seem counter intuitive. And of course it may in the end turn out that whatever changes occur to the climate are entirely natural and nothing at all to do with the billions of tons of carbon mankind has released into the atmosphere.

    It’s best not pay too much attention to alarmists of any particular political hue or stripe, but look to the science. Manabe and Stouffer have a paper titled “role of ocean in global warming” published in the journal of the meteorological society of Japan, 2007, which is a good place to start.

    chris (1a5917)

  15. Perfect timing Justin, I was looking for a way to contact you to see if you had seen this article yet. I find it interesting how people that believe the scam are so much more skeptical of contrary evidence than they are of the supporting.

    Justin (747191)

  16. “But yes, I’m very skeptical as to both the CAUSE of global warming, and the notion that it will continue to increase unabated unless society acts.”

    Maybe you should come up with a different self descriptor then. Because you sound like buffoon when you are skeptical of the fact that the globe is warming.

    “The only thing we know for a fact is that average temperatures have risen slightly over the past century.”

    What makes you qualify the rise as “slight” ?

    stef (394243)

  17. #15 Justin,

    This article is easy. Maybe the guy misspoke himself.

    Mr Brenan says…”A NOAA report shows that ice levels which had shrunk from 5 million square miles in January 2007 to just 1.5 million square miles in October, are almost back to their original levels.”
    So Mr Brenan is saying that all the ice in the Arctic in the dead of winter (January 2007) that had melted over the summer (only 1.5 million sqMiles in October) is BACK! See? No global warming!!!! …based on the fact that thaws in the summer and then freezes in the winter????

    Then there was the list of anecdotes about how cold the winter was this year. NO global warming because the winter was cold for one year! See???

    One year’s worth of data is meaningless. You have to follow the data over many years and see where the temperatures are going (up overall or down overall), which is why your linked article is, unfortunately, mostly hand waving.

    If you want a really good (although dated) treatment of the issue check out Robert Ehrlich’s book 8 Preposterous Propositions. He has a pretty clear eyed chapter on global warming (which agrees with Justin Levine on most of its points incidentally).

    EdWood (c2268a)

  18. “You have to follow the data over many years and see where the temperatures are going (up overall or down overall), which is why your linked article is, unfortunately, mostly hand waving.”

    Not to mention that a rise in global average temperatures may actually mean colder climates for some location. A rise in global average temperatures may shift climate patterns so that some places end up colder and others warmer but the overall average is warmer. Global warming doesn’t mean everyplace will experience the same uniform rise in averages.

    stef (f6dcb6)

  19. +0.7 degrees C in 100 years is the generally accepted number I’ve seen. While that number may blow some people’s skirt up, I think it’s not absurd to call that change “slight”. Usually at this point a AGW believer will generally answer that this number is part of a trend and one can expect… Well, none of the predictive models is very good at actual prediction. They are excellent at the fluid dynamics modeling of the air and seas, but the land-based effects and solar effects are not excellently modeled.

    bonhomme (063f7a)

  20. stef – Re: # 16.

    Bonhomme nailed it # 19. +0.7 degrees C in 100 years is my understanding as well. If that doesn’t qualify as “slight” in everyone’s book, then I just don’t know what else to say about your question in that regard.

    As to your contention that I sound like a buffoon for saying that I’m a skeptic on “global warming”, my reaction is – oh well. I take your judgment as a badge of honor. Everyone who intellectually honest realizes that when people use the phrase “global warming” in a debate today, 99% of the time they are using it as a shorthand way of referencing the notion of man-made global warming that will cause widespread catastrophe if drastic economic and social measures aren’t taken to fight it. If you aren’t willing to own up to that fact – again, I just don’t know what else to say to you in response. Frankly, it sounds like you’d rather try to create side-issue distractions than try and defend the faulty science behind the global warming hoax.

    Justin Levine (b5c8e2)

  21. chris – Re: # 14.

    You write something that I can definitely agree with.

    The climate is an incredibly complicated system, and climate science is still in it’s infancy, so knowledge is not exact or complete, and there are always going to examples of changes and effects that seem counter intuitive. And of course it may in the end turn out that whatever changes occur to the climate are entirely natural and nothing at all to do with the billions of tons of carbon mankind has released into the atmosphere.

    It’s best not pay too much attention to alarmists of any particular political hue or stripe, but look to the science.

    Here, here. But this admission contradicts the thrust of your other comments. If you admit that climate system is “complex” and that the so-called science behind it is still “in its infancy”, then aren’t you really admitting that there is no hard science at all on the question that we can draw conclusions from?

    You admit that “there are always going to examples of changes and effects that seem counter intuitive”. But would you not also admit that much of the alarmist coverage of global warming stems from purely anecdotal evidence such as the rate that a glacial region is melting? Or the fact that a particular city achieved a higher than normal temperature on a given day? Since the alarmist camp only relies on transitory anecdotal evidence to support its claims, it stands to reason than contrary evidence of the same nature should be given hefty weight and not simply dismissed as you seem anxious to do.

    Justin Levine (b5c8e2)

  22. I have also read somewhere that rainfall is not considered in climate models.

    How can something such as that not be considered?

    The answer given is that rainfall cannot be accurately predicted in the climate models, so it is left out.

    reff (bff229)

  23. the fact antarctica is getting colder and the southern hemisphere isn’t getting hot as fast as the north, is in line with predictions of the climate models.

    Only one rebuttal: then why does Kevin Trenberth, an ipcc author of Chaper 3, say that the ipcc makes no predictions whatsoever, and that the Models can’t possibly make predictions as to any regional weather/climate state because the Models are not “initialized” to any actual climate state to begin with?

    He states this in an article at the blog of Nature Magazine.

    J. Peden (3aa1cc)

  24. So why not act like we are the cause, just to be on the safe side?

    Because the alleged cure to the alleged disease looks like it just might be worse than the alleged disease. At best, the ipcc intentionally and specifically did not study the “costs” of the Kyoto Protocols. How does that make scientific sense?

    And when was the last time you heard of a possible/likely benefit from GW? The ipcc is not looking for benefits, at least nowhere near to the same extent that they keep postulating disasters. I don’t recall any possible benefit to GW mentioned in the ipcc 4AR’s SPM4 – Summary For Policy Makers.

    The ipcc “scientific” process does not attempt to disprove its own hypotheses/conclusions. That’s not scientific.

    Moreover, the ipcc seems to have intentionally constructed its cures, the Kyoto Protocols, so that they can’t possibly work, merely by excluding Countries containing 5 billion of the Earth’s 6.5 billion people from having to follow them.

    This raises the question of whether the ipcc even believes its own “scientific” conclusions. China certainly doesn’t.

    It just goes on and on.

    J. Peden (3aa1cc)

  25. It is unfortunate that so many people have bought in to the anthropogenic global warming mistake when they could have investigated the issue themselves using credible sources readily available on the web. Some people are concerned about the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The assessment that there is over 50 times as much carbon in the ocean as exists in the atmosphere, http://www.whoi.edu/oceanus/viewArticle.do?id=17726 , does not appear to be very widely known. Apparently no one did any real research before or they would have discovered that 440 mya the planet plunged into the Andean-Saharan ice age, http://www.scotese.com/climate.htm , when atmospheric carbon dioxide was over ten times the present level, http://earthguide.ucsd.edu/virtualmuseum/climatechange2/07_1.shtml (http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/Reference_Docs/Geocarb_III-Berner.pdf if the original paper is preferred). With a little further real research they would have discovered that, in the current ice age, temperature trends have changed direction at many different temperature levels. See temperature anomalies from http://cdiac.ornl.gov/ftp/trends/temp/vostok/vostok.1999.temp.dat supplemented with recent data from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/anomalies/anomalies.html or ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/anomalies/annual.land_and_ocean.90S.90N.df_1901-2000mean.dat . This could not occur if there was significant positive feedback. If they had also looked at the carbon dioxide level from http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/co2/vostok.html they would have discovered that the change in atmospheric carbon dioxide level typically lagged average earth temperature change by hundreds of years. If they had looked at the temperature data and Law Dome carbon dioxide data http://cdiac.ornl.gov/ftp/trends/co2/lawdome.combined.dat and the recent data from Mauna Loa ftp://ftp.cmdl.noaa.gov/ccg/co2/in-situ/mlo/ or other sources from http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/co2/ they might have also noticed that there is no correlation, except possibly for the 22 years from 1976 to 1998 when carbon dioxide level and average global temperature both increased. None of the data shows any significant influence of carbon dioxide level on temperature.
    Peer review biased by group-think is de facto censorship. The result here is a plethora of papers advocating that human activity is causing global warming and a paucity of ‘peer reviewed’ published papers that objectively investigate the extent to which human-produced carbon dioxide is contributing to global warming. Since this is the case, it’s probably going to have to get a lot colder before very much changes in most of the media. It will get colder eventually and a lot of people are going to look pretty foolish. It might even get warmer first like it has four other times in the last 11000 years but that’s not likely since we are past due for the coming glacial age. During the coming glaciation, half of the population will starve because rice does not grow on ice.

    Dan Pangburn (de8082)

  26. J. Levine #21
    “Since the alarmist camp only relies on transitory anecdotal evidence to support its claims, it stands to reason than contrary evidence of the same nature should be given hefty weight and not simply dismissed as you seem anxious to do”.

    Um….no and no.

    First no…I suppose you could define away all modern data as “transitory” since the series are less than, say 1000 years long…although ice core data would have to be dismissed using some other method. But smart “alarmists” use data taken over reasonably long periods of time. The other “alarmists” of course are hand waving as you said.

    re. the second no…
    Nobody, not “alarmists” nor “naysayers” gets to use transitory evidence AND get taken seriously. No.

    EdWood (c2268a)

  27. J Peden get right down to it in #24….what’s going to happen when we really get into the “what to DO” phase coz that is when the real money and risk start popping up. I just heard a talk where a guy was saying that foresters might want to plant a different species of tree in their tree farms so that, 40 years down the road, they have a viable crop…but the guy was really talking about INVESTING money based on a SPECIFIC g-warming model; the one that says the state will get dryer as opposed to the one that says the state will get wetter (and they do both exist…along with about 6 other models that show the same trend but get to different conclusions based on their different assumptions).

    That is why I really like the links in this post – coz if people are talking about what to DO, especially what governments and big budgets can do… who gets to farm what where, who has to use less oil, who has to work on population control… all those global policies…then it’s time to be extra extra careful, even if you completely buy into the “hoax”.

    EdWood (c2268a)


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