Possible Insight

Even More Reason to Be a Skeptic

with 7 comments

Things just got worse if you put your faith in the “consensus” about catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (AGW).  You’ll recall that the disclosure of internal emails undermined confidence in both the surface temperature record and the peer-review process that qualifies research for inclusion into the blue ribbon International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports.

Now we find out that some of the more sensational claims about potential consequences contained in the IPCC AR4 report are not actually backed up by peer-reviewed research. Instead, they come from assertions made by advocacy groups such as the WWF and Greenpeace. Then there’s the dependence on anecdotal newspaper and magazine reports.  Oh, and an amusing reference to a boot cleaning manual from an Antarctic tour operator.

It all started with the infamous, “Himalayan glaciers will be gone by 2035,” claim, which was substantiated solely by a WWF report. Not cool because IPCC rules state they should only reference peer-reviewed research from respectable journals.

Things get worse.  Bear with me here.  The story is a bit involved, but it reveals how feckless the guys at the top of the AGW food chain can be. India’s environmental minister tried to call BS by referring to, you know, actual measurements of glacial retreat.  But the chairman of the IPCC called this “voodo science.” Of course, the scientist who lead the development of that section of IPCC AR4, eventually admitted that the claim about glaciers disappearing by 2035 was not supported by peer-reviewed research. And it turns out that the chairman of the IPCC was actually informed about the problem months earlier.

Now for the cherry on top of this crap sundae. The chairman of the IPCC runs an institute that received a ton of money based on… wait for it… the claim that Himalayan glaciers would be gone by 2035.

I realize that people want to defer to the leading scientists in an area.  It’s perfectly rational. In fact it was what I did before I started looking into AGW myself.  But there should be some evidence that will cause you to update this position. I think we’ve reached that point.


Written by Kevin

February 3, 2010 at 3:17 pm

Posted in Climate, Government, Science

7 Responses

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  1. I think you are now preaching to the choir about the premise of unpredictability and the role of humans and what we can and cannot do to intentionally improve “temperature and climate on Earth” for the better. Further harping on this would put you in the category of “protesting too much” and cast suspicion on your agenda and motives, which would erode your credibility on the facts.

    What I would personally love to hear from you more on is (a) what are the major implications for us individually and (b) at the group/policy level.

    Rafe Furst

    February 15, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    • I disagree. I still encounter a lot of intelligent, reasonable people whose only position on this is to defer to the “consensus”. So it certainly seems worthwhile to point out major new evidence that impeaches the process that arrived at the consensus.

      Are you personally convinced (given the current evidence) that strict greenhouse gas controls will have little effect on the probability of catastrophic global warming? If so, I would love to see a post stipulating to that and why you found my arguments convincing. If not, then I still have work a lot of work to do on this topic.


      February 15, 2010 at 1:26 pm

      • Yes, I am convinced that the topic of temperature, let alone all the other variables that go into climate is so complex that intentional intervention on aspects like greenhouse gasses is like treating a symptom and not the disease. I am convinced of this because I am predisposed to understand complexity and your evidence triggered the schema.

        But if I was not predisposed, the piling on of evidence wouldn’t actually change my mind. What “intelligent, reasonable people” need once their assumptions have been violated is alternatives. Alternative explanations of phenomena and alternative actions. Otherwise we/they will spend our energy fighting about the “facts” and being in denial of the evidence and post-hoc rationalizing, etc. Giving the addict a less harmful (hopefully constructive) addition, rather than the reasons why their behavior needs to change, is what produces the best results. I haven’t met a human being yet who’s free from cognitive biases, including involving their own ego into their arguments.

        Jiu Jitsu, not wrestling 🙂

        Rafe Furst

        February 15, 2010 at 6:15 pm

  2. So I see that the most recent comments were made after Gates gave his zero climate emissions talk at TED.

    If the public is picking sides based on who’s playing on which team, I know who I’m betting on right now. Cognitive bias makes it easy to write off Gore, but much harder to ignore Gates.

    [Not speaking at all to facts, just public perception.]


    February 16, 2010 at 4:14 am

    • I absolutely agree, which is why I write these pieces despite Rafe’s insistence that they are unnecessary. I imagine Bill Gates’ rule of thumb is to get his information only from those of the highest status in their field (those closest to his own meteoric status). In the climate world, the highest status individuals have fraudulently achieved that status (in contrast to Bill, btw) and built up an impressive machine to reinforce that status.

      That’s why I think it’s important to point out evidence that should lower their status.


      February 16, 2010 at 10:52 am

  3. I don’t know. This website is called the emergent … .

    I find this information reassuring. Please forgive me if free-associate for a little bit.
    History Channel : Life After Humans – most of what we build is gone within two hundred years – most.
    My Father was chief spec writer for B&H Architects and Engineers. He wrote most of the specs for the buildings that make up the Toronto Skyline. My youth listening to him talk about the nature of buildings and construction leads me to agree at-large with the stuff on the History Channel.

    One life form’s garbage is another life form’s food.

    google : “dirty ice” + climate -Cream.

    Dirty ice heats up the snow.

    Anthropogenic Global Warming never made sense to me.

    I never hear about things like the ratio of nitrogen and oxygen and methane etc. in the air changing. The whole concept of green house gas “buildup” made no sense. 100 years of buildup should have enlarged the net size or density of the envelope of atmosphere. If not, then where did all that gas disappear to?

    For me it was like having a piece of food stuck stubbornly between two teeth.

    This is how I feel about natural selection.

    As regular commenter and reader, I would encourage you to confront frauds.



    February 22, 2010 at 12:21 am

    • Having a hard time integrating your free association. What about answering the questions:

      1) Do you think the climate is changing in a way that impacts human and/or non-human life at a rate that has not been seen in recorded history? If so, what can/should be done about it?

      2) Natural selection: do you feel it is a useful model, a harmful model, or irrelevant?

      Rafe Furst

      February 22, 2010 at 9:50 pm

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