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Blunderov
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Re:The Flipping Point
« Reply #60 on: 2006-09-27 17:26:19 »
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Quote from: Iolo Morganwg on 2006-09-27 13:03:33   


...That such a call comes from such a venerable scientific society is disturbing and should raise concerns worldwide about the intentions of those seeking to silence honest debate

[Blunderov] Iolo, I share your jealous concern for free thought and conversation. But I think the turn of phrase "honest debate" is what must be bothering the Royal Society.

They seem to me to be objecting to paid sophists deliberately distorting the climate debate on behalf of commercial concerns.

Even so, it is an extreme step to take. Grown-ups ought to recognise sophistry usually, and take it from whence it comes. I surmise that the Royal Society considers the climate problem to be serious and the solution thereto a political one.

Feeling compelled to make such an appeal must have been very distasteful to the Society. 

Best regards.
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Re:The Flipping Point
« Reply #61 on: 2006-09-28 09:03:43 »
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Dear Blunderov,

The debate has, as I predicted, shifted. Between specific isotopes in ice trapped bubbles of CO2 having been proved to be manmade, satellite temperature monitoring proving that the rate at which Earth is radiating heat has increased (which proves that the temperature has increased), direct infra-red measurement of continuous paths proving overall rises in surface temperatures, gravitational analysis of icecaps and glaciers proving that they are losing mass at startlingly high rates, along with the wide gamut of changes which indicate global warming (heating would not be out of order), no scientist can make the statement that these things are not happening.
As I intimated to Iolo, the analysis shows that global warming is the only hypothesis which has predicted the rise in temperatures.
The trouble that scientists have with this behavior is that today, the scientific method asserts that for science to operate effectively (always remembering that science is an emergent process, not a goal), scientists are required to be honest. When they are not, they lose their credibility and it used to be that they were then forced to seek positions at religious institutions. This is no longer the case. Today, extremely well endowed or funded "institutes", "organizations" and "trusts" - all funded by people with vested interests, when faced with facts they don't like, simply put out a barrage of expensive publicity to murky the waters and allow arguments that because whatever hobbyhorse they are riding has not been proved harmful, that it must be safe. And if one horse won't run, they tend to have hundreds more to create spurious noises of mutual support. While nobody with real work to do can afford the time it takes to respond to even spurious claims with rigor. This is what the royal society is objecting to.

The trouble with the claims, as unctuous as they are fervid, that this is equivalent to censorship are as errant as claims that all perspectives have equal merit, that "intelligent design" must be given "equal billing" with evolution or one is censoring the poor "ID religionists." Clearly, not all claims have equal merit, though sometimes it is difficult to determine where the merits lie, unless one is acting from knowledge and within the discipline. Even had anthropogenic climate change still been open to interpretation, which it is not, as anyone familiar with the Royal Society - or Newton's - history would know, calls by the Royal Society to still debate would not be new although today this is based on a scientific consensus (which can still be wrong), not personal opinion.

Newton, a mean and an unpleasant bully, was always more a dissenting priest and occult alchemist than a scientist in the modern sense. He was always far more mindful of his positions (of whom nobody was more conscious than he was himself) than the merits of his arguments, he repeatedly used his position to silence his opponents - and when he could, which was frequently, he would utterly destroy the careers of people who disagreed with his assertions with as little consideration as the latter day White House going after an inconvenient weapons inspector. Some of this may be forgivable on the grounds that with the level of Mercury he carried in his blood, neural damage must have been fairly extensive, but even taking that into account, he was as nasty, as sporadic and as willfully mean as only a self-confessed fundamentalist (which he was), self-righteously convinced of the rectitude of his opinions, can hope to carry off.

Kind Regards

Hermit
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With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion. - Steven Weinberg, 1999
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Re:The Flipping Point
« Reply #62 on: 2006-10-01 13:27:54 »
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[Blunderov] What was that story about how if you boil frogs very slowly they don't notice until they're almost completely cooked?

Ribbit.

http://www.counterbias.com/710.html

Crisis Overload: Peak Oil, Peak Grain and Peak Water

August 4 2006
Counterbias.com
by Mathew Maavak

A deadly combination of heat and drought is slowly wreaking a trail of devastation across much of the globe, and the full extend of this scourge will only be felt as winter nears.

The current phenomenon took meteorologists by surprise as it was unusually global in its reach. Like Murphy's Law, everything that could go wrong did.

Nourishment for winter burnt up under an unusually fiery weather, along a food chain that progressed from withered wheat crops to cattle that were hastily sold off for lack of grazing grounds.

Crops that survived wilted under the sun, yielding produce of lowered quality and quantity; leading ultimately to higher prices. Alarmingly, these were scorched in the surplus granaries of the United States, Europe and Australia.

In the United States, the first half of 2006 was the warmest since 1895, when weather data was first compiled, and the pollinating and tasseling times have since been set back by triple digit Fahrenheits.

The full heat though will be felt in winter. The US Department of Agriculture, the International Grains Council and a motley array of other agro organizations are downsizing the total grain forecast for this year and nobody knows how bad it will get.

In Ukraine alone, the harvest forecast has been cut down to five million tons from the 21 million registered last year. In Poland and Hungary, some crops are expected to be 40% below normal yields, while milk production dropped by 20 percent in Italy.

Lester Brown, President of the Earth Policy Institute, predicts that 20 million tons of global harvest may have winnowed up as summer chaff.

In June, he warned that the global cupboard - or "reserve" - of grains were at its lowest levels since the early 70s. According to this calculation, there's enough basic grain to keep people alive for 57 days, if a combination of disasters strike.

And there is no better place for that to begin than in the Middle East.

In 1973, abysmally low inventories of wheat and an Arab-Israeli war sparked off an oil embargo, runaway global inflation, and upheavals that have scarred societies till today.

The price of wheat shot up six times. According to Brown, if that were to happen today, wheat could fetch $21 a bushel, about six times the current price.

Food prices are likely to rise worldwide, and for a third of the world's population - which subsists on less than $2 a day - a subtle hike in the price of staples would hasten the process of slow starvation.

Not so in the European Union, which, has some 13 million tonnes of "intervention" grain stocks. Just how this works under the current trade regime is left to the imagination. With the recent WTO talks stonewalled over US farm subsidies, think of a trade regime that can technically deprive natives - whether American or Korean - from getting the first dibs of their own food sources.

Limited stocks lead to higher prices which can be afforded by the limited rich, who are usually the fittest in any food fight.

The futures markets for grain are already registering record highs alongside crude oil. One could be forgiven for being ignorant of the Minneapolis Grain Exchange or the broader London futures market till this point.

Some of these futures are being bet on the ethanol fuel industry. According to Christopher Brodie, a partner at UK-based commodities hedge fund Krom River, this tussle over grain adds a Hobson's choice to the Peak Oil dilemma.

"Once the ethanol plants open, we will link the price of petrol to the price of bread, because the price of wheat will be settled by who pays more, the oil industry or the food industry."

Like Murphy's Law, bad news only gets worse. The only sunshine spot here was the brief picking season which blossomed in Europe due to the warmer weather. Fruits and vegetables matured faster than expected, with supermarkets registering fantastic sales.

Fruits, however, cannot be stored for bread in winter, and man cannot live on canned strawberries and pickled cabbages alone for Christmas. The best Santa can do is to bring a truce to the Holy Land, the ancient epicenter of any recorded global crises.

The ongoing war in Lebanon is taking our eyes from a possibly epic humanitarian disaster, the same way the heatwave of 2003 killed 52,000 Europeans in one of the deadliest climate-related disasters in Western history. Close to 15,000 Frenchmen were parched to death when the media focused on the humanitarian crisis du jour in Iraq.

The death toll during the first few months of Operation Iraqi Freedom didn't come close to the summer time victims of Jacques Chirac's eloquence.

When people are being French-fried or freedom-fried - on either end - it is great to divert their attention to an external cause. Wars can be sparked off by any cockamamie reason; profit, wealth and still waters await for those who prevail.

Statesmen ranging from Kofi Annan to Mikhail Gorbachev have repeatedly warned off future wars waged over the most basic of natural resources - water.

China and India - two of the most populous nations - have long-running issues with the Brahmaputra River while Turkey and Syria nearly went to war over a Euphrates dam. The fertile Nile in Egypt may be parched black by a clogged Blue Nile source in Ethiopia, or a diverted White Nile font in Uganda and Sudan.

The giant Iguazu falls on the Brazil-Argentina border has now flowed to a trickle, enough to strain ties between the two South American giants.

Back in the Middle East, Israel may permanently cross the Hasbani and Litani rivers it has long coveted in Lebanon; a dormant casus belli that is rarely mentioned in the media.

Imagine a world when peak oil meets peak grain and peak water at a confluence called peak mayhem?

And we have not even skimmed the surface of troubled waters ahead, spawned by the troubles we caused before.

When the heatwave struck Germany, officials in its eastern zone fretted over World War II-era munitions which may surface on dried-up riverbeds.

Those time bombs never cease to tick.

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Re:The Flipping Point
« Reply #63 on: 2006-10-06 13:03:12 »
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Hermit, I will respond to your request to clarify my position shortly, but first, let me present the following:


Quote:
As I intimated to Iolo, the analysis shows that global warming is the only hypothesis which has predicted the rise in temperatures.

I agree.

See the two studies below, in particular the 1st one, for an important event in climatology.

The matter has significance because there is now clear empirical evidence that solar effects (NB. not greenhouse gas effects) are responsible for all the global warming that may have happened since the industrial revolution.  This is peer-reviewed work published in major journals and the crucial empirical finding is published in Proceedings of the Royal Society.

Additional to the information below, I point out that a mere 2% increase to cloud cover would compensate, more so in fact, for the maximum possible predicted warming due to a doubling of CO2. To explain: Records of cloud cover are extremely short due to the fact that satellites, which were only there from the mid 80’s, measure cloud cover. Further, from the mid 80’s to the late 90’s there was a noticeable decrease in cloudiness, plus, during the same period the reflectivity of the Earth decreased - to the point that IF there were a constant solar irradiation the reduced cloudiness would have provided additional surface warming of 5 to 10 Watts/sq metre. This is approximately 2-4 times the warming estimated to have been caused by anthropogenic GHG’s since the industrial revolution. For e.g. the IPCC claims a warming effect of a mere 2.4 W/sq metres.


***************************************************************

Getting closer to the cosmic connection to climate

A team at the Danish National Space Center has discovered how cosmic rays from exploding stars can help to make clouds in the atmosphere. The results support the theory that cosmic rays influence Earth’s climate.

An essential role for remote stars in everyday weather on Earth has been revealed by an experiment at the Danish National Space Center in Copenhagen. It is already well-established that when cosmic rays, which are high-speed atomic particles originating in exploded stars far away in the Milky Way, penetrate Earth’s atmosphere they produce substantial amounts of ions and release free electrons. Now, results from the Danish experiment show that the released electrons significantly promote the formation of building blocks for cloud condensation nuclei on which water vapour condenses to make clouds. Hence, a causal mechanism by which cosmic rays can facilitate the production of clouds in Earth’s atmosphere has been experimentally identified for the first time.

The Danish team officially announce their discovery on Wednesday in Proceedings of the Royal Society A, published by the Royal Society, the British national academy of science.


The experiment

The experiment called SKY (Danish for ‘cloud’) took place in a large reaction chamber which contained a mixture of gases at realistic concentrations to imitate the chemistry of the lower atmosphere. Ultraviolet lamps mimicked the action of the Sun’s rays. During experimental runs, instruments traced the chemical action of the penetrating cosmic rays in the reaction chamber.

The data revealed that electrons released by cosmic rays act as catalysts, which significantly accelerate the formation of stable, ultra-small clusters of sulphuric acid and water molecules which are building blocks for the cloud condensation nuclei. A vast numbers of such microscopic droplets appeared, floating in the air in the reaction chamber.

‘We were amazed by the speed and efficiency with which the electrons do their work of creating the building blocks for the cloud condensation nuclei,’ says team leader Henrik Svensmark, who is Director of the Center for Sun-Climate Research within the Danish National Space Center. ‘This is a completely new result within climate science.’


A missing link in climate theory

The experimental results lend strong empirical support to the theory proposed a decade ago by Henrik Svensmark and Eigil Friis-Christensen that cosmic rays influence Earth’s climate through their effect on cloud formation. The original theory rested on data showing a strong correlation between variation in the intensity of cosmic radiation penetrating the atmosphere and the amount of low-altitude clouds. Cloud cover increases when the intensity of cosmic rays grows and decreases when the intensity declines.

It is known that low-altitude clouds have an overall cooling effect on the Earth’s surface. Hence, variations in cloud cover caused by cosmic rays can change the surface temperature. The existence of such a cosmic connection to Earth’s climate might thus help to explain past and present variations in Earth’s climate.

Interestingly, during the 20th Century, the Sun’s magnetic field which shields Earth from cosmic rays more than doubled, thereby reducing the average influx of cosmic rays. The resulting reduction in cloudiness, especially of low-altitude clouds, may be a significant factor in the global warming Earth has undergone during the last century. However, until now, there has been no experimental evidence of how the causal mechanism linking cosmic rays and cloud formation may work.

‘Many climate scientists have considered the linkages from cosmic rays to clouds to climate as unproven,’ comments Eigil Friis-Christensen, who is now Director of the Danish National Space Center. ‘Some said there was no conceivable way in which cosmic rays could influence cloud cover. The SKY experiment now shows how they do so, and should help to put the cosmic-ray connection firmly onto the agenda of international climate research.’


Publication data

Published online in “Proceedings of the Royal Society A”, October 3rd

Title:  ‘Experimental Evidence for the role of Ions in Particle Nucleation under Atmospheric Conditions’.

Authors:  Henrik Svensmark, Jens Olaf Pepke Pedersen, Nigel Marsh, Martin Enghoff and Ulrik Uggerhøj.

For more information and supporting material: www.spacecenter.dk/media

--------------------------------

Details of solar particles penetrating the Earth's environment revealed

Co-ordinated efforts by China/ESA's Double Star and ESA's Cluster spacecraft have allowed scientists to zero in on an area where energetic particles from the Sun are blasting their way through the Earth's magnetic shield. Solar material penetrating the Earth's magnetic shield can represent a hazard to both astronauts and satellites.

On 8 May 2004, one of the two Double Star satellites (TC-1) and all four Cluster spacecraft found themselves in the firing line. For about 6 hours, the Cluster spacecraft were buffeted every 8 minutes by intense flows of electrically charged particles released by the Sun. The Double Star TC-1 spacecraft had it even rougher, being blasted every four minutes for eight hours. During such events, magnetic channels created by the merging of the Sun and the Earth's magnetic fields allow solar particles to break through the Earth's magnetic shield and penetrate the Earth's environment. Physicists call the occurrence of these magnetic channels Flux Transfer Events. Each magnetic channel appears like a curve shaped tube that can be anything from 5000 to 25000 kilometres in diameter. One end of the magnetic flux tube is connected to Earth while the other end is connected to the solar wind.

The basic physical mechanism responsible for the occurrence of flux transfer events is called magnetic reconnection. In the 1950s, space physicists believed that magnetic reconnection let solar particles break through at a steady rate. That view changed in the late 1970s, when several studies showed that the magnetic reconnection could also be intermittent and take place in pulses, lasting a few minutes. Each pulse produces a magnetic flux tube (a Flux Transfer Event).

On 8 May 2004, these magnetic flux tubes swept over Cluster and Double Star again and again. As the Cluster and Double Star data clearly showed, the same location underwent magnetic reconnection several times, creating new successive magnetic flux tubes to channel more charged particles towards the Earth. The observations stopped probably because the spacecraft moved out of range and not because the reconnection region weakened in any way.

The data from the five spacecraft allowed scientists led by Aurélie Marchaudon of the Laboratoire de Physique et Chimie de l'Environnement, Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and Université d'Orléans, Orléans, France to triangulate the location of the magnetic reconnection region, and to deduce its size. They found that the reconnection site was located on the daylight west side of the Earth's magnetic shield and was around 25000 kilometres across. A computer simulation of the event, conducted by Jean Berchem of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and his team, confirmed the possibility of magnetic reconnection occurring at that location.

Although intermittent reconnection has been observed in the past, this was one of the longest series of continuous observations ever taken of a magnetic reconnection region in the Earth's magnetosphere. Perhaps most surprising is that 8 May 2004 was just relatively a normal day for the Earth's magnetic field. There were no large magnetic storms on Earth, or spectacular aurorae to fill the night sky. However, Cluster and Double Star revealed that energetic particles from the Sun were blasting their way through the Earth's magnetic shield and penetrating the Earth's environment.

Each day, Cluster and Double Star return more observations that allow scientist to understand the invisible magnetic turbulence high above our heads.

-------------------

- iolo

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Re:The Flipping Point
« Reply #64 on: 2006-10-06 13:07:58 »
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Friday 6 October 2006

Global warming: the chilling effect on free speech
The demonisation of 'climate change denial' is an affront to open and rational debate.
Brendan O’Neill

SOURCE: Spiked Online

Whoever thought that serious commentators would want it made illegal to have a row about the weather? One Australian columnist has proposed outlawing ‘climate change denial’. ‘David Irving is under arrest in Austria for Holocaust denial’, she wrote. ‘Perhaps there is a case for making climate change denial an offence. It is a crime against humanity, after all.’ (1) Others have suggested that climate change deniers should be put on trial in the future, Nuremberg-style, and made to account for their attempts to cover up the ‘global warming…Holocaust’ (2).

The message is clear: climate change deniers are scum. Their words are so wicked and dangerous that they must be silenced, or criminalised, or forced beyond the pale alongside those other crackpots who claim there was no Nazi Holocaust against the Jews. Perhaps climate change deniers should even be killed off, hanged like those evil men who were tried Nuremberg-style the first time around.

Whatever the truth about our warming planet, it is clear there is a tidal wave of intolerance in the debate about climate change which is eroding free speech and melting rational debate. There has been no decree from on high or piece of legislation outlawing climate change denial, and indeed there is no need to criminalise it, as the Australian columnist suggests. Because in recent months it has been turned into a taboo, chased out of polite society by a wink and a nod, letters of complaint, newspaper articles continually comparing climate change denial to Holocaust denial. An attitude of ‘You can’t say that!’ now surrounds debates about climate change, which in many ways is more powerful and pernicious than an outright ban. I am not a scientist or an expert on climate change, but I know what I don’t like - and this demonisation of certain words and ideas is an affront to freedom of speech and open, rational debate.

The loaded term itself – ‘climate change denier’ – is used to mark out certain people as immoral, untrustworthy. According to Richard D North, author most recently of Rich is Beautiful: A Very Personal Defence of Mass Affluence: ‘It is deeply pejorative to call someone a “climate change denier”…it is a phrase designedly reminiscent of the idea of Holocaust denial – the label applied to those misguided or wicked people who believe, or claim to believe, the Nazis did not annihilate the Jews, and others, in very great numbers.’ (3) People of various views and hues tend to get lumped together under the umbrella put-down ‘climate change denier’ – from those who argue the planet is getting hotter but we will be able to deal with it, to those who claim the planet is unlikely to get much hotter at all (4). On Google there are now over 80,000 search returns, and counting, for the phrase climate change denial.

Others take the tactic of openly labelling climate change deniers as cranks, possibly even people who might need their heads checked. In a speech last month, in which he said people ‘should be scared’ about global warming, UK environment secretary David Miliband said ‘those who deny [climate change] are the flat-earthers of the twenty-first century’ (5). Taking a similar tack, former US vice president-turned-green-warrior Al Gore recently declared: ‘Fifteen per cent of the population believe the moon landing was actually staged in a movie lot in Arizona and somewhat fewer still believe the Earth is flat. I think they all get together with the global warming deniers on a Saturday night and party.’ (6)

It is not only environmentalist activists and green-leaning writers who are seeking to silence climate change deniers/sceptics/critics/whatever you prefer. Last month the Royal Society – Britain’s premier scientific academy founded in 1660, whose members have included some of the greatest scientists – wrote a letter to ExxonMobil demanding that the oil giant cut off its funding to groups that have ‘misrepresented the science of climate change by outright denial of the evidence’. It was the first time the Royal Society had ever written to a company complaining about its activities. The letter had something of a hectoring, intolerant tone: ‘At our meeting in July…you indicated that ExxonMobil would not be providing any further funding to these organisations. I would be grateful if you could let me know when ExxonMobil plans to carry out this pledge.’ (7)

One could be forgiven for asking what business it is of the Royal Society to tell ExxonMobil whom it can and cannot support – just as we might balk if ExxonMobil tried to tell the Royal Society what to do. The Society claims it is merely defending a ‘scientific consensus…the evidence’ against ExxonMobil’s duplicitous attempts to play down global warming for its own oily self-interest. Yet some scientists have attacked the idea that there can ever be untouchable cast-iron scientific facts, which should be immune from debate or protected from oil-moneyed think-tanks. An open letter to the Society – signed by Tim Ball, a professor of climatology at the University of Winnipeg, and others – argues that ‘scientific inquiry is unique because it requires falsifiability’: ‘The beauty of science is that no issue is ever “settled”, that no question is beyond being more fully understood, that no conclusion is immune to further experimentation. And yet for the first time in history, the Royal Society is shamelessly using the media to say emphatically: “case closed” on all issues related to climate change.’

Or as Charles Jones, an emeritus English professor at the University of Edinburgh, put it in a letter to a publication that recently lambasted climate change deniers, ‘[W]e are left with the feeling that [climate change] is a scientific model which is unfalsifiable and which has not been – and indeed cannot be – the subject of any theoretical counter-proposals whatsoever. As such, it must surely be unique in the history of science. Even a powerful model such as Relativity Theory has been the object of scientific debate and emendation.’ (8 )

For all the talk of simply preserving the facts against climate change deniers, there is increasingly a pernicious moralism and authoritarianism in the attempts to silence certain individuals and groups. This is clear from the use of the term ‘climate change denier’, which, as Charles Jones argued, is an attempt to assign any ‘doubters’ with ‘the same moral repugnance one associates with Holocaust denial’ (9). The Guardian columnist George Monbiot recently celebrated the ‘recanting’ of both the tabloid Sun and the business bible The Economist on the issue of global warming. (‘Recant’ – an interesting choice of word. According to my OED it means ‘To withdraw, retract or renounce a statement, opinion or belief as erroneous, and esp. with formal or public confession of error in matters of religion.’ Recanting is often what those accused before the Spanish Inquisition did to save their hides.) Pleased by the Sun and The Economist’s turnaround, Monbiot wrote: ‘Almost everywhere, climate change denial now looks as stupid and as unacceptable as Holocaust denial.’ (10)

Some take this moral equivalence between climate change denial and Holocaust denial to its logical conclusion. They argue that climate change deniers are actually complicit in a future Holocaust – the global warming Holocaust – and thus will have to be brought to trial in the future. Green author and columnist Mark Lynas writes: ‘I wonder what sentences judges might hand down at future international criminal tribunals on those who will be partially but directly responsible for millions of deaths from starvation, famine and disease in decades ahead. I put [their climate change denial] in a similar moral category to Holocaust denial – except that this time the Holocaust is yet to come, and we still have time to avoid it. Those who try to ensure we don’t will one day have to answer for their crimes.’ (11)

There is something deeply repugnant in marshalling the Holocaust in this way, both to berate climate change deniers and also as a convenient snapshot of what is to come if the planet continues to get warmer. First, the evidence is irrefutable that six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis; that is an historical event that has been thoroughly investigated, interrogated and proven beyond reasonable doubt. (Although as the American-Jewish academic and warrior against Holocaust denial, Deborah Lipstadt, has pointed out, even the Nazi Holocaust is not above debate and re-evalution; it is not a ‘theology’.) There is no such proof or evidence (how could there be?) that global warming will cause a similar calamity. Second, it is, yet again, a cynical attempt to close down debate. The H-word is uttered as a kind of moral absolute that no one could possibly question. We are all against what happened during the first Holocaust, so we will be against the ‘next Holocaust’, too, right? And if not – if you do not take seriously the coming ‘global warming Holocaust’ – then you are clearly wicked, the equivalent of the David Irvings of this world, someone who should possibly even be locked up or certainly tried at a future date. At least laws against Holocaust denial (which, as a supporter of free speech, I am opposed to) chastise individuals for lying about a known and proven event; by contrast, the turning of climate change denial into a taboo raps people on the knuckles for questioning events, or alleged events, that have not even occurred yet. It is pre-emptive censorship. They are reprimanded not for lying, but for doubting, for questioning. If this approach was taken across the board, then spiked – motto: Question Everything – would be in for a rough ride.

Sometimes there is a knowing authoritarianism in green activism. The posters advertising George Monbiot’s new book are targeted at various celebrities and businessmen judged to be living less than ethical green lives, with the words ‘GEORGE IS WATCHING YOU’ (12). It comes straight out of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Some institutions employ Orwellian doublespeak when they use the word ‘facts’. They are not talking about submitting theories or hypotheses or evidence for public debate and possibly public approval – they are talking about using ‘facts’ precisely to stifle public debate and change the way people think and behave.

So in a report on global warming titled Warm Words: How Are We Telling the Climate Story and Can We Tell it Better?, the British think-tank the Institute for Public Policy Research argued that ‘the task of climate change agencies is not to persuade by rational argument but in effect to develop and nurture a new “common sense”…. [We] need to work in a more shrewd and contemporary way, using subtle techniques of engagement…. The “facts” need to be treated as being so taken-for-granted that they need not be spoken.’ The IPPR proposes treating us not as free-thinking citizens who should be engaged, but as consumers who should be sold these ‘unspoken facts’: ‘Ultimately, positive climate behaviours need to be approached in the same way as marketeers approach acts of buying and consuming…. It amounts to treating climate-friendly activity as a brand that can be sold. This is, we believe, the route to mass behaviour changes.’ (13)

Nurturing a new common sense? Changing mass behaviour? Behind the talk of facts and figures we can glimpse the reality: an authoritarian campaign that has no interest whatsoever in engaging us in debate but rather thinks up ‘shrewd’ ways to change the way we behave. From the description of facts as ‘so taken-for-granted that they need not be spoken’ to the lumping together of climate change deniers with Holocaust deniers – and even Holocaust practitioners – we can see a creeping clampdown on any genuine, open debate about climate change, science and society. This represents a dangerous denigration of free speech. When George W Bush said after 9/11 ‘You’re either with us or against us’, he was widely criticised. Yet greens, think-tanks, reputable institutions and government ministers are using precisely the same tactic, drawing a line between good and proper people who accept the facts about climate change and those moral lepers who do not; between those who submit to having their common sense nurtured by the powers-that-be and those who dare to doubt or debate.

If anything, the green’s black-and-white divide is worse than Bush’s. At least his was based on some kind of values, allowing us the opportunity to say yes or no to them; the green’s divide is based on ‘facts’, which means that those who decide that they are ‘against’ rather than ‘with’ can be labelled liars, deniers or crackpots like moon-landing conspiracy theorists or anti-Semitic historians.

Effectively, campaigners and officials are using scientific facts – over which there is still disagreement – to shut down what ought to be a political debate about what humans need and want. This is the worst of it. Whatever side you take in the climate change clash of facts, this undermining of debate should be a cause of concern. In place of a human-centred discussion of priorities and solutions we have an unconvincing battle over the facts between two sides – between those in the majority who claim that their facts show the planet is getting a lot hotter and it will be a disaster, and those in the minority, the ‘deniers’, who say the planet is getting a little hotter and it won’t be so bad. We could urgently do with a proper debate that prioritises real people’s aspirations. If parts of the planet are likely to be flooded, then where can we build new cities and how can we transport the people affected by the floods to those cities? If natural disasters are going to become more frequent, then how can we urgently and efficiently provide poorer parts of the world with the kind of buildings and technology that will allow them to ride out such disasters, as millions do in America every year?

We need to elevate the human interest over the dead discussion of fatalistic facts – and challenge the ‘You can’t say that!’ approach that is strangling debate and giving rise to a new authoritarianism.

Visit Brendan O’Neill’s website here.

(1) Himalayan lakes disaster, Margo Kingston, Daily Briefing, 21 November 2005
http://webdiary.com.au/cms/?q=node/986

(2) Climate denial ads to air on US national television, Mark Lynas, 19 May 2006
http://www.marklynas.org/wind?bloggin=296&b_sortorder=asc&b_sortby=title&b_startat=0&b_step=50

(3) Why do people become climate change deniers?, Richard D North, Social Affairs Unit, 30 June 2005
http://www.socialaffairsunit.org.uk/blog/archives/000485.php

(4) Why do people become climate change deniers?, Richard D North, Social Affairs Unit, 30 June 2005
http://www.socialaffairsunit.org.uk/blog/archives/000485.php

(5) Miliband warns ‘flat earthers’ on climate change, Herald, 28 September 2006
http://www.theherald.co.uk/politics/70968.html

(6) See Global warming: time for a heated debate, by Daniel Ben-Ami
http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/article/1675/

(7) Royal Society tells Exxon: stop funding climate change denial, Guardian, 20 September 2006
http://environment.guardian.co.uk/climatechange/story/0,,1876538,00.html

(8 ) Letter to the RSA Journal, June 2006
http://www.rsa.org.uk/journal/letter.asp

(9) Letter to the RSA Journal, June 2006
http://www.rsa.org.uk/journal/letter.asp

(10) The threat is from those who accept climate change, not those who deny it, Guardian, 21 September 2006
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,1877286,00.html

(11) Climate denial ads to air on US national television, Mark Lynas, 19 May 2006
http://www.marklynas.org/wind?bloggin=296&b_sortorder=asc&b_sortby=title&b_startat=0&b_step=50

(12) See the Turn up the heat website
http://www.turnuptheheat.org/

(13) See Warm Words, published by the ippr, August 2006
http://www.ippr.org.uk/ecomm/files/warm_words.pdf

reprinted from: http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/article/1782/

---------------------

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Re:The Flipping Point
« Reply #65 on: 2006-10-06 19:32:16 »
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[Brendan O’Neill] One could be forgiven for asking what business it is of the Royal Society to tell ExxonMobil whom it can and cannot support – just as we might balk if ExxonMobil tried to tell the Royal Society what to do.

[Hermit] These cases are not congruent and to assert that they are is a blatant rhetorical device. The "business" of ExxonMobile is not the same as the "business of the Royal Society", and no amount of literal equivocation will make it so.

[Brendan O’Neill] The Society claims it is merely defending a ‘scientific consensus…the evidence’ against ExxonMobil’s duplicitous attempts to play down global warming for its own oily self-interest.

[Hermit] For the purposes of appropriate rigor, I would want to see the actual words of the Royal Society in context, rather than a raw elided assertion, with no provided references, made by Brandon O'Neill. This is so frequently the case with "micro quotes" that I think my skepticism is justified, particularly when it is coupled with a set of adjectives which appear to have been selected by Brandon O'Neill and which are highly prejudicial towards the subject of his defence. This is a classic marker for a straw man argument, and as such should have been footnoted to hell and back for it to be perceived as valid.

[Brendan O’Neill] Yet some scientists have attacked the idea that there can ever be untouchable cast-iron scientific facts, which should be immune from debate or protected from oil-moneyed think-tanks.

[Hermit] What "some people say", even what "some scientists say" is not germane to what the Royal Society said, or to what anyone should think. It is a purely rhetorical device having no evidential value. As this is being raised by Brendan O’Neill, it smacks of a near complete lack of comprehension of the scientific method - or yet another straw man hypothesis. The probability that the former is the appropriate conclusion is greatly increased by the fact that his assertion is quite blatantly wrong. Facts are not disputable. Hypotheses, theories, interpretations, the appropriateness of treatment and establishment of evidential weights are disputable, but even that disputability needs to be retained in context and evaluated by people who understand what they are discussing. Brendan O’Neill, having apparently failed to comprehend the methodology has disqualified himself from this discussion. At this point I would normally not have bothered treading further, I continued with this paragraph only to drive home the point.

[Brendan O’Neill] An open letter to the Society – signed by Tim Ball, a professor of climatology at the University of Winnipeg, and others – argues that ‘scientific inquiry is unique because it requires falsifiability’: ‘The beauty of science is that no issue is ever “settled”, that no question is beyond being more fully understood, that no conclusion is immune to further experimentation.

[Hermit] This is partially true, yet in the context, dealing with deliberate non-scientific distortion of public perception, the argument is irrelevant and the impression it creates, inaccurate. Science doesn't spend much time attempting to come up with proof that smoking is good for you anymore, not because it is bad policy, but because the evidence that it is not good for you is overwhelming. I cannot think of a single scientist who argues that just because "no question is beyond being more fully understood" that smoking might be good for you, or that we should apply funding to research in an attempt to prove that it is not really bad for you. Even less likely that the scientific community would grant their approbation to a marketing campaign extolling the scientifically proven benefits of smoking, even though, in some peculiar circumstances, this may actually be true. While such truths depend on subtle context related issues, the use of such arguments in an environment which cannot comprehend the critical importance of context strongly mitigates against granting a scientific imprimatur to them. Such arguments belong within the scientific community, not in marketing campaigns intended for the general public, because the very fact that they are necessarily decontextualized by the public's lack of discriminatory capacity makes such arguments deeply dishonest.

[Hermit] On a point of order, asserting "that no conclusion is immune to further experimentation" strongly suggests that the speaker is in desperate need of "Philosophy of Science 101." Conclusions are not derived from experiments but through the scientific method, only one small part of which is experiment, and while it is true that falsifiability is required for a conclusion to be "scientific", this should not be interpreted to qualify the probability of a scientific conclusion being overturned. For example, while there definitely are known "strange effects" out there, including negative resistance, and this can be proved by experiment, this has in no way invalidated the conclusion ("Ohms law") which is the strong theory that current is directly related to voltage over impedance.

[Hermit] As I see it, the scientific community continues to receive and employ funding to investigate non-greenhouse related heating and climatic effects - because they are still important. My understanding is that the scientific community does in no way object to people examining and modelling other hypotheses and theories, and submitting them for peer review and publication. My comprehension is that the objection by the Royal Society and other bodies of scientists is to the funding of a multiplicity of non-scientific (i.e. without publication in refereed journals, without relying on the scientific method and failing to garner recognition by scientists engaged in the field) non-research driven organizations who have been addressing the public, not the scientific community, in what appears to be a deliberate effort to create the impression that there is not a strong consensus that the Earth is warming due to anthropogenic effects, where a complex of factors are implicated, with "greenhouse gasses" being a central causal mechanism. The fact that these efforts are being driven by the deep, profit-driven, self-interested pockets of the fossil fuel industry and their stooges should be alarming to everyone, not just to climate scientists and others who have expended the effort and taken the time to understand what seems to be happening.

[Brendan O’Neill] And yet for the first time in history, the Royal Society is shamelessly using the media to say emphatically: “case closed” on all issues related to climate change.’

[Hermit] As previously observed:
  • This is not "the first time in history," as in so many other things, Newton got there first.
  • This is not, so far as I understand, what the Royal Society said or did. Repeatedly stating so does not make it so.
  • What the "case" is is extremely relevant to its status. Yet I don't see "the case" defined. This is sloppy debating practice and will cause the person doing it to lose all academic respect and credibility.
  • If the "case" is "global warming" then we are dealing with a fact, not a theory.
  • If "the case" is "significant anthropogenic increases in greenhouse gases" then we are again dealing with a fact, not a theory.
  • Facts are not open and closed. They just are.
  • Theories can be supported or not supported, depending on how well or poorly they are based on reality, provide an explanation of all the observed facts, incorporate "good science" and make testable predictions. Where a theory predicts and explains observed facts, as anthropogenic global warming does, an alternative theory has to explain the same facts, make better predictions, be simpler, be more widely applicable or some combination of the preceding in order to gain currency.
  • So far the emergent "theory of anthropogenic global warming" appears well supported and therefore has gather the approval of a vast majority of the scientific consensus.
  • While ignoring deniers* is not the same thing as saying "case closed", any more than ignoring ID is not the same thing as saying "case closed" for Darwinism, it seems to me that the likelihood of the "theory of anthropogenic global warming" being overturned is not terribly different from the likelihood of Darwin's theory of adaptation being overturned.


Regards

Hermit

PS The rest of that article seemed to be pretty lousy, but this one paragraph leapt out and did a hornpipe on the button of my BS detectors - which is why I took the time to dissect it.

(C) Hermit 2006. This article was first posted on the BBS of the Church of Virus at http://www.churchofvirus.org/bbs and may be freely linked to, copied in full or cited in part, so long as this attribution is carried in full.


* Hitler killed a lot of people. A large number of those killed by Hitler were Russians. A smaller number were communists other than Russians. A smaller number yet were Jews. Smaller in numbers, yet vastly higher in percentages, were the Rom (aka Roma or Gypsies). Even more people were killed by the Allies. Some of these deaths were a result of blatant ethic cleansing (e.g. the 3 million Austro-Germans of the Sudetenland). Many more groups who were victimized, of greater and lesser size and significance can be identified. Courtesy of good marketing, the Jews are the one group people think of when genocide is mentioned.

Unfortunately for the market dominating awareness of "6 million", not all concentration camp victims were Jewish. Another major issue with these numbers is that even where some victims of Nazi genocide can be shown to be Jewish or of Jewish extraction (to the 32nd degree in some claimed cases!), that does not necessarily mean that they were killed because of their Jewishness. For example, a Pole (Some 6 million Poles were killed, but there were only 3.25 million Jewish Poles before the war. Why should the Jews be separated from the rest of these "inferior people" murdered by the Nazis?) , a communist, socialist, scientist, anti-Nazi intellectual, homosexual or anti-eugenic doctor might well have been killed because of what he said, did or even with whom he associated. Jews, many being smart people, were well represented in all these groups. That being so, should they all be counted as being "Jewish victims" of the Nazis when this is clearly not why they were sent off to be worked to death or killed?

Until questions like these can be discussed openly, without threat of legal sanctions, and an unbiased examination performed (if this is ever considered worthwhile), I don't think that this case can ever be referred to as either closed or proven.
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Re:The Flipping Point
« Reply #66 on: 2006-10-07 04:16:36 »
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Quote from: Hermit on 2006-10-06 19:32:16   


  • Theories can be supported or not supported, depending on how well or poorly they are based on reality, provide an explanation of all the observed facts, incorporate "good science" and make testable predictions. Where a theory predicts and explains observed facts, as anthropogenic global warming does, an alternative theory has to explain the same facts, make better predictions, be simpler, be more widely applicable or some combination of the preceding in order to gain currency.

  • [Blunderov] Thanks to my education here at Virus I was well ready for my creationist taunter the other day. He opened with the infamous "Evolution is just a theory" ploy. I suppose it must have worked well for him in the past, but very soon the confident little smile turned into a worried frown.

    I informed him that evolution was "only a theory" in a very technical sense of the world and that, to all intents and puposes, this "theory" is a 24 karat fact. I explained about weak and strong theories. I explained that the theory that the sun rises every morning is also "only a theory" but that it is a very strong theory with no known violations.

    I offered to give him my car on the spot if he could show me just one rabbit bone in a Triassic layer. Things were apparently becoming desperate for my interlocuter, because he then proceeded to inform me that a world wide conspiracy of scientists, spanning two centuries and every continent, had deliberately and consistently forged all layer dating data in order to deprive creationists of their rightful prey. This, I was informed, was because most scientists were atheists. He was duly disabused of this notion too. And I again offered to give him my car on the spot if he could prove his conspiracy theory.

    I still have my car of course.





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    Re:The Flipping Point
    « Reply #67 on: 2006-10-07 15:00:25 »
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    Erm, I think most scientists are atheists. At least, this is true for scientists regarded as being competent by their peers where surveys have been taken (e.g. NAS and AAAS). It is a not unexpected consequence of considering that answers are important ("Some god-thingie did it" is not an answer, it is the end) and learning how to think rigorously ("why do I consider this likely to be true?"). While academics in this country (and others) have had visits from the police for saying similar things (one of the people having trouble with "belief"), my observation is that there is a massive conflict between people vesting a truth value in anything unproven and the critical thinking required to work effectively in the hard sciences. While mathematics and astrononomers still have a fair number of believers in their ranks, this inclines me to question whether the disciplines belong in the hard sciences at all.

    For substantiation, read this article about a 1998 survey published by Nature. Then for amusement, read this wonderful report on the reaction of an American Congress-crittur who was at the time on the House Science Committee (the house ought to be ashamed of itself, but it does go some way towars explaining why science in America is in as dismal a shape as it is). Both sources are useful when dealing with idiots, because what Traficant said is on the record (and I have found that it is much easier to get a believer to accept the rantings of a fellow delusional, than a rigorous research project performed by a rationalist :-) )

    In this "argumentative phase" of your existence, you may find talkorigins.org absolutely invaluable, particularly their archive which is full of crunchy goodness.

    Have fun, don't lose your car on a technicality (i.e. if you must bet something on the result, go and get a nice R 100 note and keep it in your wallet.)

    Kind Regards

    Hermit

    PS Somewhere in the CoV archives is an article I wrote devastating the Genesis creation myths by contrasting their timelines with reality. If you run across it, please let me know.
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    Re:The Flipping Point
    « Reply #68 on: 2006-10-07 17:11:32 »
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    [Blunderov] Hermit, thanks for the links and the, as always, good advice. This argumentative phase happened all unbidden. I was taken somewhat by surprise by (what I now realise was) a pre-planned double-team attack. (I expect most atheists find themselves singled out for special attention from time to time. Word gets around to the strangest places.) My emphatic reaction was probably as much a product of surprise as it was of conviction.

    I must have been misinformed, or perhaps I misremembered, about the ratios of believers to non in the sciences. What I remembered was that a majority of scientists were believers, but that those at the very top of their specialities were, almost to a man, atheists.

    Meandering back to the subject of the thread, here is another bulletin which I happened across that seems germane.

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/10/attribution-of-20th-century-climate-change-to-cosub2sub/

    <snip>
    Attribution of 20th Century climate change to CO204 October 2006, 17:08:04
    The discussion of climate change in public (on blogs, in op-eds etc.) is often completely at odds to the discussion in the scientific community (in papers, at conferences, workshops etc.). In public discussions there is often an emphasis on seemingly simple questions (e.g. the percentage of the current greenhouse effect associated with water vapour) that, at first sight, appear to have profound importance to the question of human effects on climate change. In the scientific community however, discussions about these 'simple' questions are often not, and have subtleties that rarely get publicly addressed.

    One such question is the percentage of 20th Century warming that can be attributed to CO2 increases. This appears straightforward, but it might be rather surprising to readers that this has neither an obvious definition, nor a precise answer. I will therefore try to explain why.</snip>



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    Re:The Flipping Point
    « Reply #69 on: 2006-10-07 18:18:44 »
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    Quote from: Hermit on 2006-10-07 15:00:25   

    PS Somewhere in the CoV archives is an article I wrote devastating the Genesis creation myths by contrasting their timelines with reality. If you run across it, please let me know.
    [Blunderov] I remember it vaguely. Genesis has the world created twice if I recall. Not sure if my e-mail archives go back that far but I'll have a look.

    In the meantime, I've found this at The Temple of the Screaming Electron (Heh, I love this site  )

    http://www.totse.com/en/religion/christianity/contradi.html
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    Re:The Flipping Point
    « Reply #70 on: 2006-10-11 05:11:49 »
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    Why the Frogs Are Dying
    Climate change is no longer merely a matter of numbers from a computer model. With startling swiftness, it is reordering the natural world.

    Threatened Breed: A blue poison frog in the Zurich zoo
    Siggi Bucher/Reuters
    Source: Newsweek International
    Authors: Mac Margolis, Lindsay Whipp [Monteverde], Karla Bruning [New York], Fernando De Freitas [Darwin, Australia]
    Dated: 2006-10-16

    Draped like a verdant shawl over Costa Rica's Tilarán Mountains, the Monteverde cloud forest has long been a nature lover's idyll. Hidden birds flirt to the whisper of rushing streams and epiphytes tumble from the mist, while delicate flowers bloom impossibly from the jungle's maw. With luck you might even catch the iridescent flash of the resplendent quetzal, the elegant symbol of the Central American rain forest.

    There's one member of this pageant that won't be turning up, however: the Monteverde harlequin frog. Named after its palette of yellow, red and black, this miniature amphibian—a member of the genus Atelopus—had thrived in these Costa Rican mountains for perhaps a million years. Yet the last time

    J. Alan Pounds, an ecologist who has studied the cloud forest's wildlife for 25 years, spotted one in Monteverde was in 1988. Its cousin, the golden toad, went missing about the same time. Indeed, the more scientists search, the grimmer the situation looks. A study by 75 scientists published earlier this year in the journal Nature estimated that two thirds of the 110 known species of harlequins throughout Central and South America have vanished. And that may be just the beginning.

    The loss of a species is sad enough, not least a jewel like the harlequin, which one researcher described as a tropical Easter egg. What has puzzled scientists is why. For millennia, this denizen of tropical America survived by adapting to whatever changes nature threw its way. Suckers lining the underbelly of tadpoles allow them to cling to rocks without being flushed downstream. The adult's carnival-like costume warns potential predators to stand clear or risk a deadly dose of tetrodotoxin. But apparently there's one peril the harlequin couldn't trump: climate change.

    Monteverde gets its lifeblood from the trade winds, which blow moisture uphill where the air cools and condenses into clouds. An ark of plants, insects and animals flourishes in the cool misty mountains. Gradually, though, a warming trend has raised nighttime temperatures and increased cloud cover, which makes for cooler days by blocking solar radiation. The subtle change, which might go unnoticed by us bipeds, is thought to have been ideal for chytridomycosis, a disease caused by a waterborne fungus that has flared up throughout tropical Central and South America. Scientists believe the chytrid disease kills the frogs by blocking their natural ability to absorb water through their porous skin (and perhaps also by releasing a toxin), essentially causing them to die of dehydration. What really frightens researchers, however, is the potential implications of the die-off. "There's basically a mass extinction in the making," says Pounds. "I think amphibians are just the first wave."

    For years now, eminent researchers have been warning of a gathering climate disaster. The findings at Monteverde, and scores of other research stations around the globe, have shaken people's complacency. This was not just another computer model spitting out mathematical warnings but a whole living genus on the brink. Alarmed at the portents, a network of conservationists is trying to evacuate the remaining harlequin frogs to fungus-free zones and frog farms. But such heroics may be futile. Scientists monitoring wildlife around the world are echoing Pounds's research. Their conclusion: many more species will perish.

    A global temperature rise of a mere 0.6 degrees Celsius over the last century has sent shock waves through the animal kingdom. From the desiccating rain forests of Australia to the thawing Arctic, the warmer weather is expelling animals from age-old homelands, scrambling mating and nesting habits, and putting competitors on a prickly collision course. As habitable spaces get smaller, competition for food grows fierce. Meanwhile, insects and pests, which flourish in the heat, abound. So may the diseases they carry, like dengue fever, avian pox or cholera. Scholars are asking whether the loss of individual species could have a knock-on effect all through the food chain. "We are seeing problems from pole to pole; we see them in the oceans and we see them on land," says Lara Hansen, chief climate-change scientist at the World Wildlife Fund. "There are very few systems that I can think of that are untouched by climate change."

    Not all the science points to disaster. Some species can adapt to the changing climate. But to what extent? "Climate change is happening a lot faster than the process of evolution can," says biologist Camille Parmesan, at the University of Texas. "The fact that species are going extinct is telling you that they didn't adapt."

    Still others parry that the havoc credited to climate change owes more to deforestation or diseases spread by humans. Yet to many experts, that misses the point. "We already know that all kinds of diseases respond to climate conditions. We also know that the interaction of species, especially predators and parasites, can also complicate the equation—which is something the computer climate models don't take into account," says Pounds. "That makes the impact of climate change difficult to predict, but probably even more severe than you'd imagine."

    The trouble at Monteverde only heightened a mystery that had scientists stumped for years: why do whole species of wildlife disappear in apparently pristine parks and nature preserves? There had been no shortage of theories to explain the demise of the harlequins, from acid rain to an overdose of ultraviolet rays. By the late nineties, attention shifted to the chytrid fungus outbreaks, which many amphibian experts concluded were the smoking gun. But Pounds wasn't satisfied. After all, it wasn't just harlequins, but all kinds of amphibians that were dying. And if the chytrid disease was killing the frogs, what was behind the deadly outbreak?

    In time, Pounds learned that the fungus flourished in the wet season and turned lethal in warm (17 to 25 degrees Celsius) weather—exactly the conditions that climate change was bringing to the cloud forest. More important, he found that 80 percent of the extinctions followed unusually warm years. "The disease was the bullet killing the frogs, but climate was pulling the trigger," says Pounds. "Alter the climate and you alter the disease dynamic."

    In a broad survey of scientific literature, Parmesan and Wesleyan University economist Gary Yohe recently concluded that hundreds of animals and plants had responded to climate change by jumping their biological clocks. Yellow-bellied marmots stir from hibernation 23 days later than they did in the mid-1970s, when temperatures in the Rocky Mountains were 1.4 degrees cooler. Some 65 bird species in the U.K. are laying eggs nearly nine days earlier than they did in 1971. Others have literally fled, pushing north to cooler climes or to higher altitudes. Nearly two dozen species of dragonflies and damselflies are now wandering nearly 90 kilometers north of their habitual range in the U.K. of four decades ago, while in Spain a steady warming trend has reduced the habitat of 16 species of highland butterflies by a third in just 30 years.

    On a boundless planet such artful dodging would not be a problem. But climate change is beginning to crowd animals together. Canada's red fox has moved 900 kilometers north into Baffin Island, where it is trespassing on the grounds of the Arctic fox. Scientists are reporting a complex ripple effect at Monteverde. The same warming trend that makes for hotter nights in the wet season also provokes prolonged dry spells in summer, attracting all sorts of fair-weather strangers. One is the aggressive keel-billed toucan, which has climbed from the foothills to the cloud forests, competing for food and nesting spots with the quetzal.

    On the ground, Pounds's team has noticed a dramatic decline in the population of lizards, and some snakes like the cloud-forest racer and the firebellied snake, which once fed on the harlequin frogs. The loser, again, looks to be the quetzal, which is already capturing fewer frogs and lizards—a key protein and calcium source for its nestlings. "When interactions between species are disrupted, the outcome can sometimes be devastating," says Pounds.

    Pests are the big winners in a warming world. A parasite called the nemotode, which dies off in the heat, has compensated by breeding faster, which causes fertility to plunge, or even death, among infected wild musk oxen. A kidney disease has flourished in the warming streams of Switzerland, ravaging trout stocks. Meanwhile, the oyster parasite, a scourge to shell fishermen in Chesapeake Bay, has crept all the way to Maine because of milder winters. Though there's little hard science linking climate change to farm pests, most agricultural experts say it's a matter of connecting the dots. "There is good evidence that warmer conditions favor more invasive species," says David Pimentel, who studies invasive plants and pests at Cornell University. "Invasive plants can compete with native varieties and cause extinctions."

    Global warming is taking an especially heavy toll on specialists, species whose biology tailors them to specific geographic areas and narrow climate and temperature ranges. A recent casualty is the honeycreeper, a tiny songbird found only in the mountains of Hawaii. It has been decimated by a plague of avian pox carried by mosquitoes that have moved steadily farther into the highlands.

    An even bleaker example is the pika, a small, mountain-dwelling lagomorph related to the rabbit, with a low threshold for heat; it starts to die as soon as the mercury tops 24 degrees, which is exactly what is happening in its native habitat. Nine of 25 pika communities known in the western United States in the 1930s have now vanished, while fully half of those that once roamed the Tian Shan Mountains of northwest China are gone.

    One of the most besieged of all the specialists is the polar bear, which hunts seal from floating chunks of sea ice. Warmer currents in the Arctic Ocean have hastened the breakup of ice floes and forced the bears to swim greater distances for their meals, putting them at risk of drowning or starving. Already bear watchers say the average weight of polars in Hudson Bay has dropped from 295kg to 230kg—near the threshold below which they stop reproducing. Polar bears now top most green groups' endangered lists.

    More than polar bears will be in trouble if atmospheric temperatures rise two more degrees—far from the worst-case climate forecasts. The Greenland ice shelf would melt, posing a threat to a whole web of life that depends on ice, including plankton, which feed fish, which are eaten by seals, which are meals for both polar bears and Inuk hunters. In the Southern Hemisphere, many researchers have already linked sharp declines in penguins like the rock hopper, Galápagos, blackfoot, Adélie and the regal emperor to warmer ocean currents, which have flushed away staple food supplies like krill, a coldwater crustacean.

    The loss of creatures is alarming enough. What about losing an entire ecosystem? For most of the last two decades, Stephen Williams, a tropical ecologist at James Cook University in Australia, has been studying the evolutionary biology of the Australian rain forests. The sprawling experiment was meant to plot how wildlife evolved in the mountainous cloud forests along the coast of northeast Queensland, where thousands of unique animal and plant species have thrived for 5 million years. But when Williams ran his data through a computer model, testing for a modest rise in world temperatures (3.5 degrees Celsius over a century), he was floored. By 2100, his team concluded, up to 50 percent of all species would be gone. "I expected to see an impact, but this was shocking," says Williams.

    Perhaps what is most alarming about Williams's study is that even if not another tree ever falls to the chainsaw or bulldozer, one of the planet's most heralded World Heritage sites will still be under silent siege. "We're looking at losing most of the things that the protected areas were put in place to preserve," he warns. Already the populations of the gray-headed robin and a small frog belonging to the species Cophixalusneglectus are beginning to thin, while marsupials, reptiles and a host of forest birds are fleeing the heat ever higher up the mountainside, to where the life-giving clouds have retreated. "Soon," says Williams, "there will be nowhere to go." Nowhere, perhaps, but heaven.
    Except for the appropriately ff Message USA, all the International Newsweek editions this week bear a picture of "The first victim of global warming".
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    Re:The Flipping Point
    « Reply #71 on: 2006-10-11 08:41:28 »
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    Not to appear flippant but climate changing is nothing new, and species die or adapt as a result; question is, is it our fault?

    ----



    Quote from: Blunderov on 2006-10-07 17:11:32   

    [Blunderov]Meandering back to the subject of the thread, here is another bulletin which I happened across that seems germane.

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/10/attribution-of-20th-century-climate-change-to-cosub2sub/

    <snip>
    Attribution of 20th Century climate change to CO204 October 2006, 17:08:04
    The discussion of climate change in public (on blogs, in op-eds etc.) is often completely at odds to the discussion in the scientific community (in papers, at conferences, workshops etc.). In public discussions there is often an emphasis on seemingly simple questions (e.g. the percentage of the current greenhouse effect associated with water vapour) that, at first sight, appear to have profound importance to the question of human effects on climate change. In the scientific community however, discussions about these 'simple' questions are often not, and have subtleties that rarely get publicly addressed.

    One such question is the percentage of 20th Century warming that can be attributed to CO2 increases. This appears straightforward, but it might be rather surprising to readers that this has neither an obvious definition, nor a precise answer. I will therefore try to explain why.</snip>

    Thanks Blunderov,

    . . . it looks like Gavin is trying to wiggle out of the fact that attribution has failed. Attribution studies cannot provide evidence for AGW because they cannot disprove the null hypothesis.

    Continuing to predictions …

    . . . onto ENSO, a number of scholars including Hansen predicted a super El Niño as part of a trend from higher CO2--the thinking is that more frequent and intense El Niño states will occur to deal with the increased heat budget from CO2 as a green house gas.

    NOAA's declaration about El Niño:


    Quote:
    "El Niño conditions are likely to continue into early 2007"

    Refer – NOAA

    NASA images here:

    Look at that El Niño go


    However, Hansen predicted a very strong intensity of this year El Niño, seen the last two maximum episodes (88, 97/98), the NOAA now predicts a moderate El Niño, as predicted by Theodor Landscheidt in 2003 (published 2004) -- no computer needed, just a fine functioning brain and the right solar studies.

    Refer:
    Solar Activity: A Dominant Factor in Climate Dynamics
    El Niño Forecast Revisited

    - iolo … who wonders why an amateur working ‘out of field’ could do better than the pro’s working ‘in field’ …? Any illumination on this would be much appreciated.

    PS. Hermit. I very much enjoyed and wholly appreciated your post of Reply #65 on: 2006-10-07 00:32:16. Wonderful stuff – I learnt a lot. Thank you.



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    Re:The Flipping Point
    « Reply #72 on: 2006-10-11 09:29:38 »
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    [Iolo Morganwg] PS. Hermit. I very much enjoyed and wholly appreciated your post of Reply #65 on: 2006-10-07 00:32:16. Wonderful stuff – I learnt a lot. Thank you.

    [Hermit bows] My pleasure.

    PS If, for any year, we can say that the options are that the El Nino is going to
    • Stay the same or strengthen
    • Stay the same or weaken
    Then I bet that for every year we will find at least two people who can hardly pronounce El Nino, let alone spell it, yet who have made predictions at least as good -and sometimes 100% better - than all the expensive computer modeling in the world. And if it does not change, or even if it does, but the change is not terribly significant, then both of them, even tshould they made opposite predictions, will claim to be right. Fascinating.
    « Last Edit: 2006-10-11 19:15:21 by Hermit » Report to moderator   Logged

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    Re:The Flipping Point
    « Reply #73 on: 2006-10-11 19:25:48 »
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    Dear Iolo

    I meant to raise this in my previous note, but forgot.

    Can you provide a general falsification of the following statement, or show that it is not properly scientific in some fashion?

    The weather tomorrow will usually be practically the same as it was today.

    I can tell you that it is true much more often than not (ie it appears to make a falsifiable predictions), and that it is indubitably true far more often than any other weather prediction system we have invented. Use of this system will guarantee any amateur to outperform the weather forecasters as a matter of routine.

    So why do we still have weather forecasters?

    Regards

    Hermit
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    Re:The Flipping Point
    « Reply #74 on: 2006-10-13 18:44:05 »
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    Dear Hermit,

    Weather forecasts are always correct . . .




    . . . .

    Except for time and place!   (1)

    OK OK … moving on.

    To be able to predict weather the following ingredients are needed:

    1.) A decision about which variable is of interest.
    2.) Rules governing how to calculated a result.
    3.) Knowledge about the outcome by chance (probability = Pc) long term average.
    4.) Observed outcome (probability of observed outcome = Pp) of a specific day.

    If Pp > Pc - the prediction has a value exceeding zero if it stays that way over a period.

    In most parts of the world the prediction "The weather of tomorrow will be the same as today" has a P around 0.6.
    In Sweden, for example, it is a more accurate prediction during winter than during summer with P = let say around 0.65.
    Hence, a prediction with any value has to beat P = 0.65.  If it does not then it should not be called a prediction.

    It follows from the reasoning above that there has to exist a number of predictions before the quality of it can be decided using simple statistics.  Let us say that 15-20 predictions about temperature makes it possible to say if the forecaster has a skill better than the outcome of chance. Most forecasters will not wait that long to claim their competence.

    Is this reasoning sound?

    All the best,

    - iolo . . . who is delighted that the rabid George Monbiot does not govern my future when he suggests in his new book that, "When we've finally gotten serious about global warming, when the impacts are really hitting us and we're in a full worldwide scramble to minimize the damage, we should have war crimes trials for these bastards – some sort of climate Nuremberg...."

    PS. Anyone seen the front-page news about another recording breaking weather event? No, no,  . . . not of the usual type we see about a scorching earth or the hottest in (insert place followed by month, year, day, etc.), but about Detroit recording its earliest measured snow since Oct. 13, 1909 (by 1 day!). No doubt someone will claim this is what the AGW models predicted . . . 

    1. The weather systems are there and they will move somehow, but the longer time they want to predict where they will go, the less precise are the calculations.
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