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Denial Is Not a River in Egypt

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I’ve grown accustomed to it over the years. I’ve never been fully convinced that Global Warming was really happening, and I’ve never concealed my opinions to that effect. As a result, I’ve been called any number of derogatory epithets, leading off with “denier,” a throwback to the Germans (and a few others) who steadfastly refused to believe that the Third Reich was systematically eliminating Jews, gays, and other human beings they considered undesirable. But questioning GW is markedly different from denying the Holocaust; there are solid, massive amounts of evidence, including eyewitness accounts, to document Hitler’s Final Solution.

Global Warming, on the other hand, is supported by far less real, tangible evidence, and much of the theory hangs on the predictions of computer models, which in most sciences are a useful tool, but because they can and do tend to be imprecise, only on a theoretical level. Indeed, one such model, Michael Mann’s infamous “Hockey Stick” graph proved to be so distanced from reality as to become a world wide laughingstock. And, of course, we GW deniers aren’t denying (and thus excusing) genocide. As I said, there’s a difference.

But the real difference lies in the reality of what has been transpiring in Earth’s atmosphere. For 15 years, nearly the past two decades, the atmosphere has not warmed, even though carbon dioxide released into it is increasing; an estimated 100 billion tons of CO2 were added to the atmosphere between 2000 and 2010.

Now, before all you true believers rise en masse to crucify me, let me assure you that it is not my intention to flat-out deny the possibility of GW. Just as I believe there is not enough good evidence to confirm its existence beyond the shadow of a doubt, so too, one cannot at this point say, “That’s it, folks, move on; nothing to see here,” like a cop at an accident scene. What does seem to be happening, however, is that there is now, on the part of some scientists, a modicum of doubt, at least as to the potential severity of the GW phenomenon; a doubt that, for many of these scientists and government officials, did not exist until now. Concurrent with the emergence of that doubt, we are now seeing some of the scientists themselves taking a second look at their computer models and other data, seeking explanations for what at the moment, are puzzling anomalies that are not congruent with much of the thinking until now. Even NASA’s James Hansen, one of the chief standard bearers for Global Warming theory, has observed publicly, “The five-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade.”

The question of what is actually going on is centered on what the scientists term, “Climate Sensitivity,” which, as its name implies, simply refers to how much (or how little) the climate will react to changes in CO2 levels over time. According to the UK’s venerable conservative (in the American sense) journal, The Economist,

This is usually defined as how much hotter the Earth will get for each doubling of CO2 concentrations. So-called equilibrium sensitivity, the commonest measure, refers to the temperature rise after allowing all feedback mechanisms to work (but without accounting for changes in vegetation and ice sheets).

The rule of thumb for the effect that CO2 has on the atmosphere’s temperature has been that each doubling of the amount of absorbed carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will result in roughly a 1 degree Celsius rise in its temperature. There are, however, other variables which complicate this theory. As The Economist notes, these variables complicate predictions for two reasons:

About Clavos

Raised in Mexico by American parents, Clavos is proudly bi-cultural, and considers both Spanish and English as his native languages. A lifelong boating enthusiast, Clavos lives aboard his ancient trawler, Second Act, in Coconut Grove, Florida and enjoys cruising the Bahamas and Florida Keys from that base. When not dealing with the never-ending maintenance issues inherent in ancient trawlers, Clavos sells yachts to finance his boat habit, but his real love (after boating, of course) is writing and editing; a craft he has practiced at Blogcritics since 2006.
  • Clav

    Though certainly not irrelevant, Doc, your question is beside the point; that these scientists engaged in questionable practices opens the door to such behavior occurring in any lab at any given time, published or not.

    I’m not surprised to hear this; practically all of humanity cheats on something. Some more than others.

    Unlike some folks, I don’t set scientists up on a pedestal; they’re just people, and some of them can be downright evil (just like other, less exalted people); Mengele and others who gave their services to the Nazis readily come to mind, as well as those who toiled on the atomic bomb, whomever invented mustard gas, etc.

    Just people.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Clav, it is because scientists are just people that the scientific method, and later the peer review process, were developed.

    Most dodgy research will be spotted by other scientists and either won’t make it past peer review or won’t make it into the submitted paper in the first place, and any that does sneak through will almost certainly be discredited sooner or later as other scientists scrutinize it and try to reproduce the results.

    A famous example is that of the now defrocked Andrew Wakefield, a British M.D. whose 1998 paper published in The Lancet, purporting to show a link between vaccines and autism, was later retracted by that august journal after he was found to have fudged, altered and in some cases made up his data to get the result he wanted.

  • zingzing

    “In the April-May issue of Scientific American, in an article titled, “Why We Cheat,” authors Ferric C. Fang and Arturo Casadevall offer this interesting insight…”

    of course, there’s a one-in-three chance that they’re just making it up. unless you’re just choosing which science to believe… still, i’d bet that if one of your colleagues came up to you and asked “are you and have you always been perfectly honest in everything that you do here,” you’d nitpick your past til you found something that fits the idea of “questionable.” everything’s questionable.

    “some of them can be downright evil… Mengele and others who gave their services to the Nazis readily come to mind, as well as those who toiled on the atomic bomb, whomever invented mustard gas, etc.”

    mengele was a madman and a torture-artist, whose “experiments,” as if he didn’t know what the end result would be, had very little practical or scientific purpose.

    the scientists who worked on the bomb protested its actual use. the control of atomic power has been of huge benefit to mankind (as well as a huge detriment). i don’t think you could call those men evil. i think you could call them foolish, and it’s pretty difficult to see people smart enough to create what they did being dumb enough not to see the end game. still, if they hadn’t, someone else would have. it’s hard to call someone evil just because they got somewhere first with the rest of the world right behind them.

    the french and the english developed mustard gas. so… i suppose karma did a number on that one.

  • Clav

    mengele was a madman and a torture-artist, whose “experiments,” as if he didn’t know what the end result would be, had very little practical or scientific purpose.

    OK, you’re right, he wasn’t evil or a scientist, just a physician, and they certainly don’t know shit about science.

    the scientists who worked on the bomb protested its actual use Oh well, as long as they protested it while they built it, they don’t count either.

    the french and the english developed mustard gas.

    Oh right; they’re europeans, no way they would be evil.

  • Zing zing

    “OK, you’re right, he wasn’t evil or a scientist, just a physician, and they certainly don’t know shit about science.”

    He was evil, but he didn’t give a shit about the scientific method. Which is what I said…

    “Oh well, as long as they protested it while they built it, they don’t count either.”

    I don’t know that they did. It was pretty much after they were done that they made any statements against it. Did you ignore the last two-thirds of what I wrote on purpose?

    “Oh right; they’re europeans, no way they would be evil.”

    The insinuation was… Oh, what’s the point?

    Science can and has been used for evil purposes, but your examples (other than mengele, who was just a quack) are examples of militaries using science to evil ends, which, I’ll agree, is a problem with science. Science has unleashed chemical, biological and atomic and nuclear weapons all during the 20th century. 90% of the other breakthroughs in those areas has been beneficial to mankind, and the technology those breakthroughs have created save, extend and better lives, which should not be ignored when making an argument for or against science.

    Such was the politics of the day, however, that those breakthroughs were bankrolled by the search for the ability to kill more efficiently. Now that we can destroy the earth 100 times over, I think we’ve reached the end point of that game and we can move on. Science is neither good nor bad, it’s just how we use it.

  • Cardinal Glick

    “All right, mistakes were made.”

  • DR Mengele

    You villainize me, but what about him? I love science!

  • STM

    Can’t disagree with any of this.

    My main worry in regard to this article is the photo of the author in a titfer.

  • STM

    The English aren’t Europeans, BTW.

    Europeans live on “the continent”.

    Most Poms hold this view.

    Doesn’t mean they aren’t evil, though.

    World HQ of Evil is at Twickenham.

  • Clav

    Stan,

    1. The titfer is one of my most valued possessions; as such, it is reserved for special occasions only; my author pic is not a special enough one.

    2. The Brits are entitled to their opinion, as are we.

    3. I hope all is well with you and yours, and that all of you are enjoying all the new things in your lives.

  • Dr Dreadful

    The titfer is one of my most valued possessions

    As it should be. Made from genuine croc leather, hand-wrestled to death by Stan himself when the beast crawled up his u-bend one day while he was trying to have some quiet time in the library.

  • S.T.M

    Lol.

    Mate, we DID have a story here recently in tropical Darwin about a pet python that escaped and re-emerged some days later up another bloke’s dunny (toilet).

    The poor bugger went to take a leak and lifted the lid to find a python’s head hissing upwards.

    Mind you, Darwin’s the kind of place where you might find a crocodile in your swimming pool, or a water buffalo cooling off in your backyard spa, so it’s not that shocking up there.

    Me, I’d have been on the next plane south.

    Good on ya Clav, and you do look rather smart in a decent titfer.

    Cheers boys, it’s 3.06am; I’m off for some zedds.

  • Clav

    Doc,

    I was buying your little dissertation until I came to the part where you spoke of Stan “trying to have some quiet time in the library,” whereupon your credibility was instantly defenestrated

  • Dr Dreadful

    Perhaps I should have put the word library in inverted commas.

  • S.T.M

    Imagine if you’d been half asleep in the middle of the night and sat on the bloody thing (the python, not the hat).

    Shit.

  • Clav

    Stan’s idea of a “quiet time” is sliding down the face of a 20 footer on Bondi Beach…

    Just sayin’

  • S.T.M

    Defenestrated? Stop using the thesaurus, you blokes.

  • Clav

    But I do get it now, Doc…

  • Dr Dreadful

    Thesaurus? It’s called a “book what tells you other words for things”.

    Call yourself a reporter? Crikes…

  • S.T.M

    They don’t get 20 footers at Bondi, Clav. Lucky if it gets to six foot there. That’s big enough for me.

    But down here in the southern middle bit, where I’ve decided to set up stumps, there’s plenty of 20 footers.

    Most of ‘em have laceratingly sharp teeth, though, and a dirty great fin in the middle of their backs, and they’re generally pretty hungry by the time they get to you, because getting to you means their eyesight isn’t that good and they’ve missed out on a nice seal or two for dinner.

  • Dr Dreadful

    And that’s just the haddock.

  • S.T.M

    I did get bitten by a spider a few weeks back though while I was cleaning out my pool filter. It must have been trapped in there for a while because it wasn’t real happy when latched onto my hand.

    Wasn’t too bad though … I only hallucinated for two days.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Stan –

    My wife went home for a little while earlier this year (I had to stay stateside)…and one night she killed one of the hand-sized spiders (with a machete, no less) that like to jump on you when you’re least expecting it, and the next day she chased down and chopped up a freakin’ cobra with a large kitchen knife! She chased it out of the outside kitchen and it crawled into a small pile of rocks in what passes for our back yard. She dug into the rocks and went all vegan Hannibal Lecter on it.

    Sure, it was small, a little less than a foot long, but she chased it down, dug it out of a pile of rocks, and killed a freakin’ cobra!

    This is my wife killing spiders and poisonous snakes with big knives…and she really doesn’t get why I tell her just how sexy that is, and why I bragged so much about it to our friends. I mean, Angelina Jolie might play tough in the movies, but this is real life….

  • S.T.M

    Lo.l My wife just screams and yells, “Quiiick. Aaaaah. Halp me. There’s a (insert your own nasty -snake/spider/toadfish/etc).”

    She can deal with snakes as she knows to walk away slowly and calmly but big, black or grey, spiders, not so much.

    Cheers mate

  • S. T. M

    BTW Clav, if you’ve still got that Aussie titfer handy, it’s Anzac Day here today (April 25), which means you can legitimately wear it all day from sunrise Thursday (your time). I saw plenty around town today. Not many WWII vets left now, and certainly no World War One vets. Plenty of your mob marching. Good to see all those of your age who put their lives at risk for their country getting due recognition. Not before time, either.

    Cheers champ

  • cindy

    Here is a pic for your wife STM.

    There was a spider…

  • :(
  • S. T. M

    Lol. Nice one Cindy. The one that got me wasn’t far off the size of that house. And like the house, it no longer exists.

  • S. T. M

    Sad and poignant song, too; thanks to whoever posted it. I love the Pogues, too. Cheers.

  • S. T. M

    You “two” are also up very early. Or late, whichever the case may be.

  • Clav

    Damn, that’s a sad song! I had never heard it before, but it sure brought back some long-buried memories. I’m thinking about all those names on the wall…

  • S. T. M

    Probably not a bad day to be thinking of them …

  • Clav

    Stan,

    You bet I still have the titfer! It’s one of my most treasured possessions; and I still want to meet the bloke who gave it to me.

    Anzac Day, huh? Tonight I’ll raise a glass to our Aussie friends in Nam. A fierce, brave lot; every man jack of them!

  • S. T. M

    They were pretty damn fierce getting on the squirt today at the street party outside my office, which followed the march.

    The bagpipes were just getting warmed up ahead of the mini rock concert when I arrived at work.

    The pipes are the missing link between noise and music.

  • Clav

    The pipes are the missing link between noise and music.

    QFT.

    A little of them goes a long way!

  • S.T.M

    Speaking of which, here’s another one for the boys: The Green Fields of France, a lament for a young British soldier killed in WWI, and an anthem for the futility of war.

  • Dr Dreadful

    [takes off metaphorical titfer]

    “The Green Fields of France”, composed by Scottish folk singer Eric Bogle, is probably the greatest anti-war song ever written.

    The Fureys’ version is the best and most nuanced IMO, although a group called The Men They Couldn’t Hang recorded one back in the 80s that did a great job of conveying the sense of anger and loss.

    Bogle emigrated to Australia more than 40 years ago and now lives down your way, Stan, just outside Adelaide.

    He also wrote one of the other all-time great anti-war songs, “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda”, about a soldier at the Battle of Gallipoli.

  • Clav

    He also wrote one of the other all-time great anti-war songs, “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda”, about a soldier at the Battle of Gallipoli.

    To which Cindy linked in # 127, above…

  • Dr Dreadful

    And of which I would have been aware if YouTube worked on this computer… :-)

  • roger nowosielski

    Quite unrelated to the intended topic of this thread, STM, but I just ran, inadvertently, (in John Lakes’s recent article’s comments thread of all places) into the following account of what’s presumably some kind of discrimination (racial, economic, you tell me) in the land of Oz:


    Homeless Kiwis, not vagrants or bums, denied help from the Australian state..”
    .

    What gives, STM? True or false?

    In any case, it does look as though the economic and other kinds of trouble I and troll have been alluding to on other threads are beginning to make their appearance in your neck of the woods.

    Say it ain’t so!

  • Dr Dreadful

    I have a strong suspicion there’s another side to that story, Rog, but let’s see if Stan knows more.

  • roger nowosielski

    Anyway, Dreadful, the following seems to be a nice, concise account of the New Zealanders.

  • S.T.M

    I’m not going to comment, except to say that Sydney is hardly an economically depressed place, and there’s a sh.tload of work to be had.

    You could work for one day as a casual labourer in Sydney – and like I say, there’s no shortage of jobs – and buy an airline ticket to NZ. Work for two and you’d get a return ticket and some spending money.

    I don’t buy it. Like Doc, I suspect there’s a bit more to it than meets the eye. What that is, I don’t know. Certainly the government has changed the laws recently regarding welfare eligibility.

    The unemployment rate remained under 5 per cent during the GFC, and is only just above that now, and that’s Australia wide.

    Out of all the state capitals, Sydney’s really the one place where anyone can get a job if they want, and one that pays reasonably well all things considered.

  • S.T.M

    It’s 3am – again – so this will be The Last Post for the night.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    No worries, Stanno, I fixed your duff link for you.

    Sweet dreams!

  • Clav

    For all the fallen — and I do mean all: Taps

  • Dr Dreadful

    I looked at a couple more links, and like Stan, quickly arrived at the realization that the Kiwis’ plight isn’t as straightforward as that blog post makes out.

    Working with the homeless as I do, the issues faced by many of these New Zealanders – mental illness, depression, physical disability, drug and alcohol abuse – are all too familiar. I can all but guarantee you that none of these unfortunate people is living under a bridge for the sole reason that they lost their job.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Lines read out every year at the Festival of Remembrance in London’s Royal Albert Hall, from a poem by Laurence Binyon:

    They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
    Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
    At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
    We will remember them.

  • Clav

    Very nice verse, Doc. Interesting the poet focused on the upside (if that’s the right word) of dying young.

    And we do remember them…

  • Glenn Contrarian

    That’s one thing that all of us – whether Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or atheist, whether democratic, communist, totalitarian, or theologic – can agree upon: the sacrifice given by those that fell in the line of duty. We may with all proper justification condemn those who assigned that duty, but not those marched the endless miles to face the soul-searing horror that we are told by those who have been there is combat.