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 Post subject: And the Big News in Science This Weekend Was...
PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2012 8:33 pm 

Joined: Fri May 04, 2007 8:14 pm
Posts: 1747
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/30/opinion/the-conversion-of-a-climate-change-skeptic.html?smid=go-share and he goes a step further by concluding that it's almost wholly due to human activity.

Ironically, he came to this conclusion in the course of a study funded by the Koch brothers with the intent of debunking global warming.

There's still room for doubt, of course, at least with regard to reasons for the warming. and I'm sure that there will be other scientists who will try to affirm or debunk the study. But science is working as it should. People come up with new information and revise their beliefs accordingly, if the evidence disproves their beliefs.

Muller, BTW, is a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, and a former MacArthur Foundation fellow.


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 Post subject: Re: And the Big News in Science This Weekend Was...
PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2012 8:37 pm 

Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2010 3:31 pm
Posts: 405
Anyone who claims that humans are not influencing the planetary climate is an idiot, its simply a matter of degree and how to mitigate any damages.


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 Post subject: Re: And the Big News in Science This Weekend Was...
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 2:23 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 3:05 pm
Posts: 1321
The skeptics have started changing their tune recently: most of them now acknowledge that the climate is indeed changing, but they're claiming that humans have no (or only a small) role in it, and that what we're seeing is part of a natural cycle.

Of course climatologists are aware of long-term cycles from all of the known natural forcing factors (changes in the earth's orbit around the sun, changes in solar activity, etc.) and have tested for their influence; none of these natural factors can explain the patterns we've seen over the past 50 years. But of course there's always the possibility that a long-term cycle hasn't been discovered yet.

With any complicated system, whether it's climate or the human body, there's going to be debate about the cause of just about any phenomenon, because there are so many possible explanations. Look, for example, at the debates raging over the causes of the obesity epidemic. On the one hand you have the mainstream view that it all boils down to overconsumption of calories (people are eating too much and not exercising enough), but there are thousands of skeptics who challenge this view, claiming that it's not just the number of calories but where those calories come from (e.g., simple carbohydrates). And there are others who blame one food item in particular: e.g., wheat, or sugar. And others who blame technology (it's all due to TV, the internet, and cellphones, which keep us from moving more). And on and on. It'll probably take a few more decades of research before there's broad agreement, and even then there will still be skeptics (and there should be, because skepticixm is a vital component of science...we have to keep questioning).

Same goes for climate change.


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 Post subject: Re: And the Big News in Science This Weekend Was...
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 7:42 am 

Joined: Fri May 04, 2007 8:14 pm
Posts: 1747
I agree wholeheartedly with Brad. The article I linked to (actually an opinion piece by Muller) says:
Quote:
How definite is the attribution to humans? The carbon dioxide curve gives a better match than anything else we’ve tried. Its magnitude is consistent with the calculated greenhouse effect — extra warming from trapped heat radiation. These facts don’t prove causality and they shouldn’t end skepticism, but they raise the bar: to be considered seriously, an alternative explanation must match the data at least as well as carbon dioxide does.

And I think that's exactly right. Skepticism is important, but positions, both pro and con, should be backed by data. And each position should be able to stand up to counter-data (is that a real word?). The piece goes on to say:
Quote:
It’s a scientist’s duty to be properly skeptical. I still find that much, if not most, of what is attributed to climate change is speculative, exaggerated or just plain wrong. I’ve analyzed some of the most alarmist claims, and my skepticism about them hasn’t changed.

Hurricane Katrina cannot be attributed to global warming. The number of hurricanes hitting the United States has been going down, not up; likewise for intense tornadoes. Polar bears aren’t dying from receding ice, and the Himalayan glaciers aren’t going to melt by 2035. And it’s possible that we are currently no warmer than we were a thousand years ago, during the “Medieval Warm Period” or “Medieval Optimum,” an interval of warm conditions known from historical records and indirect evidence like tree rings. And the recent warm spell in the United States happens to be more than offset by cooling elsewhere in the world, so its link to “global” warming is weaker than tenuous.

The careful analysis by our team is laid out in five scientific papers now online at BerkeleyEarth.org. That site also shows our chart of temperature from 1753 to the present, with its clear fingerprint of volcanoes and carbon dioxide, but containing no component that matches solar activity. Four of our papers have undergone extensive scrutiny by the scientific community, and the newest, a paper with the analysis of the human component, is now posted, along with the data and computer programs used. Such transparency is the heart of the scientific method; if you find our conclusions implausible, tell us of any errors of data or analysis.

And that's the way it should be. You may or may not agree with him, but he's opening up his data and methodology to scrutiny. He doesn't reserve the right to refuse to discuss his conclusions.


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 Post subject: Re: And the Big News in Science This Weekend Was...
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 8:35 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 3:05 pm
Posts: 1321
FYI, there's quite a bit of controversy about Muller's latest findings; see here:

http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/28/converted-skeptic-humans-driving-recent-warming/

In addition to the value of skeptics, it's important to remember that science isn't done by vote: one person who's right is worth 10,000 who are wrong. The scientific debate over climate change will probably take decades to resolve, but in the meantime there are policy decisions to make. And when it comes to forming policy, it does matter what the majority thinks. I can't think of responsible defense for forming policy based on the views of a small minority of experts in a given field, particularly when there are influential economic interests that support those views.


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 Post subject: Re: And the Big News in Science This Weekend Was...
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 11:55 am 
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VinTek wrote:
He doesn't reserve the right to refuse to discuss his conclusions.


Are you suggesting that some do reserve that right?


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 Post subject: Re: And the Big News in Science This Weekend Was...
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 12:35 pm 

Joined: Fri May 04, 2007 8:14 pm
Posts: 1747
DoingHomework wrote:
VinTek wrote:
He doesn't reserve the right to refuse to discuss his conclusions.


Are you suggesting that some do reserve that right?

I reserve the right not to discuss my suggestions. :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: And the Big News in Science This Weekend Was...
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 12:36 pm 
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brad wrote:
it's important to remember that science isn't done by vote: one person who's right is worth 10,000 who are wrong.


Provided the "right" person is supported by consistent evidence that is openly subjected to extensive and on going peer review.

When I first saw the original post this morning my immediate reaction was "So what?"

Then I read about this Muller guy at lunchtime and my refined reaction became "Oh, ok, now I know who he is...so what?"

The point is, science is not about rallying support of signing up enough experts to support your point of view. It is about coming up with explanations that are consistent with all available evidence. Even though Muller is an "expert," his opinion matters no more than anyone else's What matters is what the evidence supports. Even though he has been pointed to as a critic, he has never been that. He simply questioned the analysis techniques that had been used...and rightly so!

It's a great discussion, but I think the newsworthiness is in how the politicians and public continue to pretend there is controversy rather than in one scientist becoming convinced that the data does indeed support the current theory.


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 Post subject: Re: And the Big News in Science This Weekend Was...
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 12:44 pm 
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VinTek wrote:
DoingHomework wrote:
VinTek wrote:
He doesn't reserve the right to refuse to discuss his conclusions.


Are you suggesting that some do reserve that right?

I reserve the right not to discuss my suggestions. :lol:


You're catching on. Now quote some Shakespearean sonnets to support your position on global warming and you might get some followers. At least your opinion will gain Constitutional protection.


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 Post subject: Re: And the Big News in Science This Weekend Was...
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 1:02 pm 

Joined: Fri May 04, 2007 8:14 pm
Posts: 1747
DoingHomework wrote:
You're catching on. Now quote some Shakespearean sonnets to support your position on global warming and you might get some followers. At least your opinion will gain Constitutional protection.

Well, I think Bill had this to say about solar activity causing global warming:
Cassius wrote:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings"
Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)


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 Post subject: Re: And the Big News in Science This Weekend Was...
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 1:08 pm 

Joined: Fri May 04, 2007 8:14 pm
Posts: 1747
VinTek wrote:
DoingHomework wrote:
You're catching on. Now quote some Shakespearean sonnets to support your position on global warming and you might get some followers. At least your opinion will gain Constitutional protection.

Well, I think Bill had this to say about solar activity causing global warming:
Cassius wrote:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings
Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)


Okay, so it's not from a sonnet. So sue me.


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 Post subject: Re: And the Big News in Science This Weekend Was...
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 2:25 pm 

Joined: Fri May 04, 2012 2:23 pm
Posts: 810
Savarel wrote:
Anyone who claims that humans are not influencing the planetary climate is an idiot, its simply a matter of degree and how to mitigate any damages.


I don't know, I'm a skeptic. And perhaps, I am an idiot. And even more, mayhaps an unedumacated one. I have only loosely studied how the earth was 100's of millions years ago. Whether we are in a cycle or a fractal of a cycle, time will tell. And we can argue around and around, but I'm not here to convert you.

In the meantime, the better question is, what are you going to do today about the postulated and impending combustion of our globe? Many people pump their fist in the air and say, I told you so while dancing a jig. Perhaps even some pointing and laughing is in order as well. then they jump in their Prii and drive 50 miles home where the AC is running. What modern convenience are you willing to give up to save mother earth? Most blab on about solar/wind energy but never give me a straight answer. I want action today! Most will not offer up a sacrifice and mumble that they are only a drop in the bucket. They only wish others to sacrifice.

_________________
Bichon Frise

"If you only have 1 year to live, move to Penn...as it will seem like an eternity."


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 Post subject: Re: And the Big News in Science This Weekend Was...
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 2:25 pm 

Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2008 7:35 am
Posts: 1148
Location: Maryland
VinTek wrote:
DoingHomework wrote:
You're catching on. Now quote some Shakespearean sonnets to support your position on global warming and you might get some followers. At least your opinion will gain Constitutional protection.

Well, I think Bill had this to say about solar activity causing global warming:
Cassius wrote:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings"
Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)


I hate when people put tons of stuff in quotes, and this is my first quote, so to this all I can say is touché. HA!!


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 Post subject: Re: And the Big News in Science This Weekend Was...
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:11 pm 

Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 3:05 pm
Posts: 1321
Bichon Frise wrote:
What modern convenience are you willing to give up to save mother earth? Most blab on about solar/wind energy but never give me a straight answer. I want action today! Most will not offer up a sacrifice and mumble that they are only a drop in the bucket. They only wish others to sacrifice.


"Sacrifice" is the wrong way of looking at it. I've spent years reducing my greenhouse gas emissions to where our emissions are about 80% below those of the average U.S. household, but I've never really made any sacrifices that I can think of. I'm cheating because I happen to live in Québec, where almost all our electricity comes from hydropower, which doesn't produce greenhouse gases, but I used to live in places where my electricity use did contribute to climate change, and I was able to reduce my emissions with no real pain and some financial benefit.

Forget renewable energy for now, you can get a long way toward reducing your emissions just by following the points below:

The keys are:

1. Improve energy efficiency in your home and office. As Amory Lovins says, energy efficiency is not only a free lunch, it's a lunch you're paid to eat. There are very few energy efficiency improvements you can make that will not pay for themselves in a few years or less, and after that it's all profit. Lawrence Berkeley Lab even did a comparison years ago of investments in energy efficiency and investments in the stock market, and ROI of energy efficiency improvements beat the market indexes in most cases. EPA's Energy Star program saves Americans $18 billion/year on their energy bills, which is something like twice EPA's entire operating budget. What's not to love about that?

If you rent and don't own your home, you can still save. I got my electric bill down to $35/month while living in rented apartments and cottages in New England, one of the regions in North America with the highest electricity prices (well, nothing like Hawaii, but still).

There are zillions of websites telling you how to improve energy efficiency in your home or office. Google is your friend. You can start here: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/wycd/.

2. Transportation: You don't need a Prius to save the world, but it helps to think long and hard about how much car you really need, and whether you even need a car in some cases. My Toyota Matrix is 8 years old and only has 45,000 miles on it. I used to drive that much every two years. Now I take public transport or ride my bike. No sacrifice, and in many cases fewer headaches (it can take 20 minutes just to find a parking place in my city) and better health (biking is good exercise).

3. Waste: Recycling is all well and good, but the biggest benefits come from source reduction (reduced packaging, not buying stuff you don't need) and reuse. All the benefits of "frugality" apply here, and don't necessarily involve sacrifice unless you see frugality as a sacrifice in itself.


Last edited by brad on Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: And the Big News in Science This Weekend Was...
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:16 pm 

Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2010 3:31 pm
Posts: 405
Bichon Frise wrote:
In the meantime, the better question is, what are you going to do today about the postulated and impending combustion of our globe? Many people pump their fist in the air and say, I told you so while dancing a jig. Perhaps even some pointing and laughing is in order as well. then they jump in their Prii and drive 50 miles home where the AC is running. What modern convenience are you willing to give up to save mother earth? Most blab on about solar/wind energy but never give me a straight answer. I want action today! Most will not offer up a sacrifice and mumble that they are only a drop in the bucket. They only wish others to sacrifice.


A concerted effort by our government leaders could begin to mitigate future damages. This is a worldwide problem and not something any one munincipality or even nation can solve.

However, there is no sense in attempting to right the wrongs we can see in front of use. Most notably, create a long term strategic plan to switch to renewable electricity for all power production, and to switch from gasoline based transport to electric(or other clean fuel). Solar panels in parking lots and on rooftops, for example. Over time these could add up to serious increases in power without increases in emissions. That would allow a slow transition to electric vehicles(provided we can find better batteries), and electric powered light rail for mass transit in our cities.


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