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The agenda of "Science"
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, April 12, 2006

John Stossel takes a look at some of the problems inherent with public funding (aka "government funding") of science:
If you're a scientist working for private industry, it helps to invent something useful. But if you're a scientist trying to get funding from the government, you're better off telling the world how horrible things are.

And once people are scared, they pay attention. They may even demand the government give you more money to solve the problem.
His point? While science is science, how it is funded (and why) may drive the findings of various studies more than we'd like to admit.

For example:

In the late '80s and early '90s, the media used a few small studies of babies born of cocaine-addicted mothers to convince America that thousands of children were permanently damaged. Dr. Ira Chasnoff, of the National Association for Perinatal Addiction Research and Education, after studying only 23 babies, reported that mothers were delivering babies who "could not respond to them emotionally." He told People magazine the infants "couldn't respond to a human voice." This led to a frenzy of stories on "crack babies." Many people still believe "crack babies" are handicapped for life.

It isn't true. It turns out there is no proof that crack babies do worse than anyone else. In fact, they do better, on average, than children born of alcoholic mothers.

Nevertheless, Rolling Stone told us these children were "like no others." They were "automatons," "oblivious to affection," and "the damage doesn't go away." Education magazines warned that soon these children would reach the schools, which would be unable to control them.

It was terrifying news — thousands of children likely to grow up wild and dangerous.

It wasn't until several years later that the myth started to unravel. Emory University psychologist Claire Coles had her graduate students spend hours observing "crack babies" and normal babies. Her students did not see what Chasnoff had seen. In fact, they couldn't tell which children had been exposed to cocaine.

Coles told me, "They couldn't really tell whether they were looking at the effects of cocaine or the effects of alcohol or the effects of poverty, and everybody ignored that. They just said, 'This is cocaine.'"
Not that this is any different than the "publish or perish" culture in academia:
Coles said, "If you go to an agency and say, 'I don't think there's a big problem here, I'd like you to give me $1 million,' the probability for getting the money is very low."
It's all about securing funding. And you have a better chance of securing public funding by appealing to the particular agenda of those likely to provide the funding:
It's also easier to get funded if what you conclude feeds someone's political agenda. The idea of crack babies was perfect. It met the needs of liberals and conservatives. Conservatives wanted to demonize cocaine users. Liberals wanted more money for social programs.
"Science", in some cases, has become solely dependent on public funding and, as Stossel notes, because of that one has to be wary of the dire warnings it often puts out. It may be difficult, but we need to try to differentiate between "science" and science:
Next time you hear dire "scientific" warnings — and demands to surrender more control over your life to the government in order to avert disaster — remember the crack babies. The only disaster coming may be an activist-induced panic.

Think about that when you hear dire predictions about global warning or avian flu.
Just one more thing to add to your daily list of items from which you need to separate the wheat from the chaff. In this day and age, skepticism is definitely healthy.
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
With all respect, this is a foolish post. Government funding of basic science is essential because there is too little ROI for industry to do it. Do you propose that there be no government-sponsored basic research? The fact that research projects targeting specific problems must be politically palatable to secure funding is a non sequitur. Do you propose that tax dollars be geared toward things that are NOT problems? And what any of this has to do with global warming escapes me entirely (except in the FOX-NEWS sense), since no one with any sense denies that global warming is occurring.

 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
David pretty much made the first point I wanted to. When suggesting that something is bad, it’s always important to consider the alternative. The only realistic alternative to government funding of science is funding only for science that leads to something useful - which in today’s corporate culture means something profitable within the next few quarters. That’s an intensely stupid idea that in the longer term guarantees our becoming a second- or third-tier economic power.

Also, enough with the "disproof by fallacy" already. One scientific mistake does not indict all of science or even all of government-funded science. Let’s not overlook when and how the "crack baby" mistake happened, either. It was during the Reagan era, which means it wasn’t exactly part of the liberal agenda on which you blame all of the world’s ills. We’re having this conversation because of government-funded science, both at ARPA and at CERN. Some of those reading this might be alive to do so only because of government-funded science. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater, or drown it in the bathtub either.

Yes, skepticism is healthy, but cherry-picking is not skepticism. A true skeptic subjects all claims and counterclaims to analysis, not nit-picking some and swallowing others whole.
 
Written By: Platypus
URL: http://pl.atyp.us
Government funding of basic science is essential because there is too little ROI for industry to do it.

And these are the only options, David?
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
Perhaps it would be wise to make a distinction between funding for the research-based ’hard’ sciences (Chemistry, Biology, Physics, etc.) as opposed to the ’soft’ observation-based social sciences.

There is quite a difference between funding aimed towards elucidating a biochemical pathway and funding to draw conclusions from observing a group. The former takes considerable time and undergoes strict peer review. The latter is where an agenda comes into play.
 
Written By: intelrupt
URL: http://
McQ, with all due respect, this is hogwash.

Hi. I’m an actual scientist, with actual government (DoD and NSF) funding. And I can tell you: the best way to get government funding, in an era when fewer than 1 in 10 grant requests are funded, is to do good science.

Grant applications are evaluated on the quality of past work, the potential scientific impact, and the coherence of the research program. Rotating panels of top scientists in each field review applications. And believe me, scientists like nothing better than to poke holes in one another’s work. That’s how the culture operates.

The single best way NOT to get funded is to make unfounded claims, or to pursue lines of research that other researchers have shown to be unlikely.

 
Written By: Mithras
URL: http://mithrastheprophet.blogspot.com
It seems you raised the ire of an army of strawmen, Bruce.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://
David Shaughnessy wrote:
"And what any of this has to do with global warming escapes me entirely (except in the FOX-NEWS sense), since no one with any sense denies that global warming is occurring."
And I wonder if he means that in the sense that:

a) Mars is warming up almost as fast as the Earth, and we have no idea why that’s happening either.

0r

b) Arbitrary definitions of global warming can be made and applied to arbitrary recent (geologically) time periods to "prove" global warming is happening in some major part owing to human economic activity, even if there exists much evidence to the contrary.

Or

c) The despite the fact the Kyoto targets were thouroughly and badly missed both in terms of specific national goals and in overall terms, no global warming took place for these 7 years, so even though global warming is definitely happening, we don’t have the first clue why or when except in hindsight, so we shouldn’t make any policy decisions with respect to any theories purporting to explain it.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
so even though global warming is definitely happening, we don’t have the first clue why or when except in hindsight, so we shouldn’t make any policy decisions with respect to any theories purporting to explain it

So let’s wait until we’re all dead . . . and then act. Excellent public policy choice.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
Today’s Wall Street Journal article in the Op/Ed section on global warming alrmists by Richard Lindzen is also relevant to your piece.
 
Written By: RAZ
URL: http://
"So let’s wait until we’re all dead."

What, impoverish ourselves a la Kyoto when there is zero, nada, zip, zilch, no evidence that ANYTHING we do will be of any use?

Oh you’re a smart one, you are.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
It’s a case of, "Don’t just do something, stand there." Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
impoverish ourselves a la Kyoto when there is zero, nada, zip, zilch, no evidence that ANYTHING we do will be of any use

With respect, I think you are confusing politics and science. FACT: We are aerating massive amounts of hydrocarbons. FACT: The ice caps are melting and that water has to go someplace. You may say that the evidence that greenhouse gases are causing global warming is inadequate to take corrective action, but it defies reality to say that there is no such evidence. When you conflate politics and science the standard of proof can be elevated up to the level of religious certitude. In my view, that’s bad public policy. Frankly, I don’t even understand how global warming became such anathema to a segment of the American public. I think it is no more than wild speculation to assume that we will become "impoverished" if we agree with the rest of the world to curtail greenhouse gases.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
I think it is no more than wild speculation to assume that we will become "impoverished" if we agree with the rest of the world to curtail greenhouse gases.
Except Kyoto DID NOT APPLY TO CHINA AND INDIA! And now it’s proponents claim it was only the "first step" because it only knocked off .1 degree in global warming.

And David, we impoverish ourselves IF we throw the money away on projects that are unnecessary or that REDUCE economic activity. We may all be EQUALLY impoverished so that relative positions do not change, but that is not to say that there won’t be impoverishment.

And of course, the reality is that REAL enviromental action a la Kyoto will KILL millions of third Worlders. After all they live closer to the edge and are more dependent on First World aid and trade.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
In this day and age, skepticism is definitely healthy
Ahhh.. I dunno about that....

;)
 
Written By: Robb Allen (Sharp as a Marble)
URL: http://sharpmarbles.stufftoread.com
Except Kyoto DID NOT APPLY TO CHINA AND INDIA! And now it’s proponents claim it was only the "first step" because it only knocked off .1 degree in global warming.

And of course, the reality is that REAL enviromental action a la Kyoto will KILL millions of third Worlders. After all they live closer to the edge and are more dependent on First World aid and trade.


Well, these certainly are valid concerns that must be addressed and presumably can be, if we are motivated to do so.

And David, we impoverish ourselves IF we throw the money away on projects that are unnecessary or that REDUCE economic activity. We may all be EQUALLY impoverished so that relative positions do not change, but that is not to say that there won’t be impoverishment.


Curtailing greenhouse gase emissions equals impoverishment? I just don’t buy it. In any event, the risks attendant global warming are enormous — catastrophic, actually — so if we are to err, I think it prudent to err on the side of caution.

And, returning to the main post, I think the evidence suggests that it is the global warming deniers, whatever their motivations, who are twisting the science, not the reverse.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
"Curtailing greenhouse gase emissions equals impoverishment? I just don’t buy it."

Exactly. Looks like the anti-scientists aren’t above using some scare tactics of their own.
 
Written By: Platypus
URL: http://pl.atyp.us
And, returning to the main post, I think the evidence suggests that it is the global warming deniers, whatever their motivations, who are twisting the science, not the reverse.
Then you can’t possibly be that well acquainted with the science. The argument isn’t that there is no warming going on, it’s that the warming is not truly global and that there is no truly scientific evidence of anthropomorphic causes.

You must at least be aware of the Oregon Petition signed by over 17,000 scientists, including more than 2500 physicists, geophysicists, climatologists, meteorologists, oceanographers, and environmental scientists, in addition to over 5,000 scientists who specialize in chemistry, biochemistry, biology, and other life sciences that are relevant to the whole global warming issue.

I don’t consider their "review" any more dispositive than any other review of published data (as opposed to actual scientific studies), but they certainly lend more credibility to the skeptics than you seem willing to grant.
"Curtailing greenhouse gase emissions equals impoverishment? I just don’t buy it."
Exactly. Looks like the anti-scientists aren’t above using some scare tactics of their own.
What scare tactics? Do you have any clue how those greenhouse gas emissions are to be reduced? It would necessarily require a significant reduction in the economic production of the United States and Europe to say the least. Go read the Kyoto Protocol. It would be interesting to learn how severely reducing economic output does not lead to impoverishment.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://
Ah yes, the Oregon petition. The one with Michael J. Fox, Benjamin Franklin Pierce (from MASH) and Geri Halliwell (Ginger Spice) on it. The one that has been "independently verified" by an unidentified party who can’t be contacted. The one that suggests you print out copies and give them to all your friends, who can then send them in to where they won’t be checked for validity. The one that even its author has conceded probably only contains about 2000 real signatures, most from scientists in fields unrelated to climatology. Appeal to authority or popularity is invalid anyway, but the OISM petition doesn’t even meet that standard.
 
Written By: Platypus
URL: http://pl.atyp.us
except you can’t be sure that even if we cut the emissions it’s going to do anything other than have a dramatic impact on our economy.

How about natural cycles?

How did we have ice ages, then ’global warming’ without us to produce greenhouse
gases that you seem so sure are the direct cause of the recent warming trend.
What about volcanic eruptions that spew enough dust and gas into the air to cause mini-ice ages? (and those are documented).

It would be nice if Mother Nature never ’moved our cheese’, but she does it all the time regardless of what we do to help or hinder.





 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
So what about natural cycles? Just because X can have a certain effect doesn’t mean Y can’t have that effect as well. Replace X and Y with natural cycles and human activity, in either order, to see that. Your response is a non sequitur, in no way refuting theories of anthropogenic climate change.
 
Written By: Platypus
URL: http://pl.atyp.us
except you can’t be sure that even if we cut the emissions it’s going to do anything other than have a dramatic impact on our economy. . . . How did we have ice ages, then ’global warming’ without us to produce greenhouse gases that you seem so sure are the direct cause of the recent warming trend.
I just don’t get it. Are you in favor of greenhouse gases? If so, why? If not, and since the evidence is strong (if not compelling) that greenhouse gases are causing global warming, shouldn’t we curtail greenhouse gases? Or are you in favor of global warming, and, if so, why?

By the way, the ice age was a bad thing, and if we can prevent another one — or some analogue thereof — I think we ought to try. It’s not rocket science.


 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
"Curtailing greenhouse gase emissions equals impoverishment? I just don’t buy it. In any event, the risks attendant global warming are enormous — catastrophic, actually — so if we are to err, I think it prudent to err on the side of caution."

Let’s see, the price of gas rises a buck a barrel last summer, and people worry about a recession. Yeah, its a real stretch to imagine that transforming our entire oil-based economy would result in serious transition costs. Estimates range as high as $2 trillion knocked off GDP for the US alone. And that’s just to achieve a minor reduction in the warming trend that doesn’t affect major economies like China and India (where, by the way, I imagine most industries affected by Kyoto would just relocate.

The interesting thing is that supporters of action on GW attack detractors of the worst case global warming scenario on a "better safe than sorry" theory, but aren’t willing to apply the same approach to analyzing the economic costs (which can be equally catastrophic for humanity, and which, by the way, I’ve never seen seriously disputed). And if we’re playing "what if we’re wrong," what if we’re wrong about the link between human activity and global warming? We’ve then accomplished nothing and in the process seriously damaged the modern capitalist system, the only thing that would be likely to produce a real solution to the problem.
 
Written By: Sean
URL: http://www.myelectionanalysis.com
But what it DOES suggest Platypus is that humans may NOT be responsible for Global Warming, as there has been previous periods of warming, WITHOUT human intervention. It is not my job to or Looker’s job to advance an argument, but rather the Climatologists job to advance an argument, and theory, that distinguishes THIS global warming from others. And if they can not, then it may well be that human actions ARE IRRELEVANT. It simply comes down to the rules of debate and argumentation, the person changing the status quo needs to provide a positive reason for change.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
t is not my job to or Looker’s job to advance an argument, but rather the Climatologists job to advance an argument, and theory, that distinguishes THIS global warming from others.
...which they have done. You might not accept it, but the evidence has been presented and neither appeals to authority/popularity nor references to utterly irrelevant matters change that.
the person changing the status quo needs to provide a positive reason for change
Actually it’s the person making a claim, not the person changing the status quo. A climatologist might argue that we’re already changing the status quo and need to stop.
 
Written By: Platypus
URL: http://pl.atyp.us
The interesting thing is that supporters of action on GW attack detractors of the worst case global warming scenario on a "better safe than sorry" theory, but aren’t willing to apply the same approach to analyzing the economic costs (which can be equally catastrophic for humanity, and which, by the way, I’ve never seen seriously disputed). And if we’re playing "what if we’re wrong," what if we’re wrong about the link between human activity and global warming? We’ve then accomplished nothing and in the process seriously damaged the modern capitalist system, the only thing that would be likely to produce a real solution to the problem.
I have a few questions:

1) Why do you assume that working to curtail global warming by limiting greenhouse gases will "seriously damage[] the modern capitalist system? Won’t there be new capitalist opportunities? Isn’t the hallmark of capitalism adaptability?

2) How will "the modern capitalist system" "produce a real solution to the problem," since you simultaneously argue that curtailing greenhouse gases will seriously damage this system?

3) What is the alernative? Do nothing? Is that sensible considering the potentially grave environmental consequences?
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
what about natural cycles? Um, other than the fact that you’re prepared to drastically modify our economy when our presence here on the face of the planet may in fact have nothing at all to do with the bulk of the warming trend, gee, I can’t think of any reason why wondering if it’s a natural cycle would have any relevance at all.

Your premise is that it MUST be us, my contention is it may not be us. Human arrogance. I’m not prepared to savage our economy for it just yet.

The last theories of anthropogenic change I had to endure, even though the warming trend we’re undergoing has been underway since the late 1800’s was that we were headed for an Ice Age.
Presumably we’ve learned a lot more since then, but it’s still a based on
incomplete data, using models that aren’t exactly perfect and frequently
making assumptions to fill in the gaps based on the modelers pet theories
about how it all ties together, depending on which side of the coin they’d
like to see come face up in the toss.

So, yes it IS warming. No I’m not convinced we’re making a statistically
significant contribution to that warming.
Any changes are going to cost money, so I’d just a soon we didn’t p*ss a bunch away playing Chicken Little when in fact we may have to spend it to deal with a problem that we could not possibly have prevented.

 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
By the way, the ice age was a bad thing, and if we can prevent another one — or some analogue thereof — I think we ought to try. It’s not rocket science
Wow - so you want us to use our knowledge and abilities to stop an ice age from happening, but freak out IF the planet warms up.

How do you know the ice age was a bad thing? Circle of life and all that. Not to mention the nice things the retreating ice left behind like, say the fjords.
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
1) You’re talking about disrupting the basis of the modern economy, which I think we will both agree is oil. This isn’t tinkering around the edges here. Again, Kyoto — a very, very, very modest proposal that trims around the edges of the warming problem — would have huge consequences for our economy. I honestly can’t imagine what a true solution to the problem would entail (and haven’t seen an estimate). I mean, you’re talking about converting just about *everything* that runs on power to a different source — everybody would either have to buy or convert their cars, lawnmowers, chainsaws, to say nothing of power plants, airplanes, etc. Again, I’ve never seen a study that hypothesizes the costs would be modest, though I could be wrong.

2) That statement was with regard to the "what if we’re wrong" with regard to the sources of greenhouse gasses — in other words if there is in fact a substantial alternate cause. I’m not saying that modern capitalism *will* produce such a solution, I just think its more likely to do so than a state-run economy.

3) Perhaps. My only point is that the average economic forecast and the average global warming theorist forecast both have some pretty dire consequences — its a true Scylla and Charybdis. I rather think you don’t set the ship full-bore toward one of those monsters without knowing with reasonable certainty that there aren’t any safe passages around them.
 
Written By: Sean
URL: http://www.myelectionanalysis.com
"How do you know the ice age was a bad thing? Circle of life and all that. Not to mention the nice things the retreating ice left behind like, say the fjords. "

I’d rather think the numerous cities thought to be located off the coasts of India and Japan that are now undersea are rather nostalgiac for the days of the ice age . . .
 
Written By: Sean
URL: http://www.myelectionanalysis.com
David and Platypus:
"I just don’t get it. Are you in favor of greenhouse gases?"
You certainly don’t get it. There is on balance no evidence whatsoever that greenhouse gasses originating through human activity contribute to a general warming of the globe. Therefor, I don’t give a d@mn about them, unless they are thick enough in one area as to make respiration difficult. I certainly should and do vehemently oppose my or anyone else’s life being made harder or more expensive because you think an unproved, ill-supported assertion is true.

FYI, I have to go on a business trip, I won’t be able to reply until Thurs. night at the earliest.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Platypus you’re wrong on a number of points.
...which they have done. You might not accept it, but the evidence has been presented and neither appeals to authority/popularity nor references to utterly irrelevant matters change that.
No what they have said is that THIS period is man made, without advancing any theory as to previous cycles. This cycle may NOT be man made.
Actually it’s the person making a claim, not the person changing the status quo. A climatologist might argue that we’re already changing the status quo and need to stop.
Ok, Climatologist make a claim that global warming IS happening and that it IS man-made. They need to advance a theory that differentiates this cycle from previous cycles. And the phrase you use is apt, "might argue that we’re already changing the status quo and need to stop." yes they are making a CLAIM, an argument. They need to explain why warming, if it is occuring, is cause mostly by green house gasses and not solar activity. To explain why MARS is also experiencing a period of warming, without any human beings or green house gasses. Now one study suggests that there has been NO warming for the last 7-8 years... so obviously the amount of warming is not entirely beyond dispute.

Oh and BTW, the argument about status quo and envrionment is actaully a little silly. There is no status quo for an environment is there, it is DYNAMIC.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
"There is no status quo for an environment is there, it is DYNAMIC."

But . . . But . . . Joe, I thought earth was in *balance*!!!
 
Written By: Sean
URL: http://www.myelectionanalysis.com
I just don’t get it. Are you in favor of greenhouse gases? If so, why? If not, and since the evidence is strong (if not compelling) that greenhouse gases are causing global warming, shouldn’t we curtail greenhouse gases? Or are you in favor of global warming, and, if so, why?
In other words, "Are you still beating your wife?" Nice of you to try to trap us in a ’loaded question’ (I happen to love greenhouse gasses. I keep a bottle of CO2 in a fridge outside in the garage to keep my beer carbonated).

If you want to lower CO2 drastically, cut down the friggin’ rain forests. New growth is more efficient at removing the CO2. Hell, the founder of Greenpeace is even pushing this idea.
 
Written By: Robb Allen (Sharp as a Marble)
URL: http://sharpmarbles.stufftoread.com
There is on balance no evidence whatsoever that greenhouse gasses originating through human activity contribute to a general warming of the globe.
There is none so blind as he who will not see.

OK, I’m convinced. There is no global warming. And, if there is, it’s not caused by greenhouse gases. And if it is, it’s not us generating the greenhouse gases, it’s the trees doing it. Oh, and by the way, George W. Bush is a great president; too bad he can’t run again.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
Well David I’d say have to say your posting is an admission of defeat...Darn US we just would not be convinced of the rectitude of your beliefs! Oh well. Dude, mayhap the problem is on YOUR side, not ours, you know you just didn’t advance that a convincing set of arguments.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Ah yes, the Oregon petition. The one with Michael J. Fox, Benjamin Franklin Pierce (from MASH) and Geri Halliwell (Ginger Spice) on it.
Yeah that one, as described below:
Of the 19,700 signatures that the project has received in total so far, 17,800 have been independently verified and the other 1,900 have not yet been independently verified. Of those signers holding the degree of PhD, 95% have now been independently verified. One name that was sent in by enviro pranksters, Geri Halliwell, PhD, has been eliminated. Several names, such as Perry Mason and Robert Byrd are still on the list even though enviro press reports have ridiculed their identity with the names of famous personalities. They are actual signers. Perry Mason, for example, is a PhD Chemist.
Wikipedia provides some of the critiques of the OP here.
Scientific American took a random sample of 30 of the 1,400 signatories claiming to hold a Ph.D. in a climate-related science. Of the 26 we were able to identify in various databases, 11 said they still agreed with the petition—one was an active climate researcher, two others had relevant expertise, and eight signed based on an informal evaluation. Six said they would not sign the petition today, three did not remember any such petition, one had died, and five did not answer repeated messages. Crudely extrapolating, the petition supporters include a core of about 200 climate researchers – a respectable number, though rather a small fraction of the climatological community.
So even according to Scientific American, which is by no means an unbiased publication, there are several climatologists who disagree with the global warming theories. Are they all just quacks? Should they just be dismissed as bad scientists? Or is there maybe something to their research?
The one that has been "independently verified" by an unidentified party who can’t be contacted.
Cite?
The one that suggests you print out copies and give them to all your friends, who can then send them in to where they won’t be checked for validity. The one that even its author has conceded probably only contains about 2000 real signatures, most from scientists in fields unrelated to climatology.
Again, cites?
Appeal to authority or popularity is invalid anyway, but the OISM petition doesn’t even meet that standard.
Not big on "appeal to authority", eh? Then I suppose the words "scientific consensus" never pass your lips when discussing global warming?

The point is, as I stated previously, actual scientists involved with study climate change are not at all convinced that human activity is causing global warming. Pretending that the issue is settled is spurious at best, and the critics deserve more respect than they’ve been given (see, e.g., the vilification of Bjorn Lomborg).
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://
OK, I’m convinced. There is no global warming. And, if there is, it’s not caused by greenhouse gases. And if it is, it’s not us generating the greenhouse gases, it’s the trees doing it. Oh, and by the way, George W. Bush is a great president; too bad he can’t run again.
Yes, that’s it....the only thing missing is the interruptions and shouting over the others.

No one here has said there is no global warming, firstly.
Secondly, I won’t speak for the others, but I think I made it plain that I haven’t seen it proven that we’re causing it yet. This means that I am willing to admit it is us, if it can be proven.
It’s still a point of contention, among reputable scientists, who, rather than
being hysterical about the whole thing, are working to prove it one way or another.

It’s pretty obvious that you’re reasonably convinced, nay, I’d go so far as to say certain that it’s us, which is fine, but also it’s clear that you’re not going to even begin to admit it might not be.
Oh, and by the way, George W. Bush is a great president; too bad he can’t run again.
and that bit pretty much says it all, since it really has nothing to do with anything, though as long as you’ve dragged Presidents into the discussion, one might observe that during the period from 1997 to 1999, when it was to be signed, the previous administration did not sign the Kyoto protocol.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
"FACT: The ice caps are melting..."

The average global warming is less than 1 degree centigrade. If the ice caps are melting, where are the areas of extreme cold that would be needed to counterbalance this in order to maintain the 1 degree average?

 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
I haven’t seen it proven that we’re causing it yet. This means that I am willing to admit it is us, if it can be proven. It’s still a point of contention, among reputable scientists, who, rather than
being hysterical about the whole thing, are working to prove it one way or another.
As I see it:

Risk = Certainty x Consequences

In terms of global warming/greenhouse gases:

Certainty: It is reasonably certain (see above) that greenhouse gases are a major contributor; I agree that there is not absolute certainty, but then there never is. (The concept of "proof" can be elastic and elusive. Just ask O.J. Simpson’s criminal jury.)

Consequences: Catastrophic (even if limited to the economic dislocation emphasized by the global warming/greenhouse gas fans here).

Risk: Severe

See, it all very scientific. Convinced? . . . I thought not.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
Oh, and by the way, George W. Bush is a great president; too bad he can’t run again.
and that bit pretty much says it all, since it really has nothing to do with anything, though as long as you’ve dragged Presidents into the discussion, one might observe that during the period from 1997 to 1999, when it was to be signed, the previous administration did not sign the Kyoto protocol.
First, someone above alluded to Al Gore’s book; hence the political reference. Which seems doubly appropriate since the things being said here by the GGL’s (Greenhouse Gas Lovers) are strikingly similar to what spews from the Bush Administration. Just a coincidence, I’m sure. Second, what makes you think I liked Clinton? I didn’t. But he’s not as bad as Bush.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
David,

But any complete analysis would be a Risk-Risk analysis (the newfangled term for cost-benefit analysis).

In other words you have to weigh the high risk of negative impacts of *action* against the risk of inaction. What many "GGLs" are saying is that it’s not pretty either way, and action may actually be uglier than inaction.
 
Written By: Sean
URL: http://www.myelectionanalysis.com
But any complete analysis would be a Risk-Risk analysis (the newfangled term for cost-benefit analysis). In other words you have to weigh the high risk of negative impacts of *action* against the risk of inaction. What many "GGLs" are saying is that it’s not pretty either way, and action may actually be uglier than inaction.
Sean,

I agree up to this point: action may actually be uglier than inaction. I see no evidence whatsoever to support this, just wild speculation that capitalism-as-we-know-it will be destroyed in we cut back on fossil fuel. I have not seen any "proof" that capitalism is so fragile, and I don’t believe it. Capitalism will adapt. People will make money. On the other hand, the risk from global warming (as scientifcally proven above) is grave, and it is doubtful that the planet is as adaptable as capitalism is.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
David,
Risk = Certainty x Consequences
In terms of Nuclear War:

Certainty: It is certain that in the course of human events some group or nation will employ nucler weapons. It is not certain how many, but it IS certain that they will be used

Consequences: Catastrophic even if limited to the economic dislocation

Risk: Severe

See anyone can play that game. Just take some issue with severe consequences and put it together with some certainties and you’ve got a formula for, something....

As others point out a more complex equation and comething closer to reality would be...an equation that measured the UNCERTAINTY of the "certainty" and the degree to which green house gasses DO contribute to current warming, plus a measuremnet, net, of the consequences, BTW not all are negative. A warmer Earth is more conducive to plant growth, yielding more forestation and more food. A warmer planet means certain areas may see reduced heating costs and that some illnesses will be reduced. So the consequences need to be more thoroughly examined to equal NET CONSEQUENCES. THEN, those consequences and risks need to be measured against the costs and consequences of the proposed remediation.

Kyoto comes up wanting on both sides, because your "certainties" aren’t all that certain, are they. How much EXACTLY or even ROUGHLY do green house gasses contribute to any warming occuring? What are the NET consequences. On the other hand, Kyoto adds billion or trillions to the cost of doing business in the US and Europe, doesn’t touch India or China all for the net reduction of .1 Degree F. AND probably not even that, as those industries displaced in the US and Europe will locate to China and India, which having LAXER enviromental standards will continue to produce Green House Gasses, but also even larger amounts of other pollutants.

End result Kyoto makes the US and Europe poorer, for a less than .1 Degree F difference, PLUS adds to the overall pollution of the planet. Nope Kyoto doesn’t make it past the post with me. Now this may or may not make you happy, but this seems to be the accepted truth....after all the .1 Degree comes from Global Warming Climatologists. The rest pretty much follows from economics. As to the burden, note that Europe, Canada, and New Zealand are ALL rethinking their commitment to Kyoto as the costs become clear. New Zealand has moved from a net winner, in terms of green house credits, to a net payer. Almost every nation that RATIFIED kyoto has seen its Green House gas emissions INCREASE, and they wonder how to meet the REDUCTIONS mandated. Note increases in gasses, with a minimal economic increse, in the case of Europe. It wold seem that for Europe to do it’s "Duty" Europe WILL HAVE TO BECOME POORER. Europe’s economic growth has been 1-2% for much of this period and they can not reduce output of gasses, it would appear obvious that in order to reduce output Europe will have to have NEGATIVE growth, in the short-medium term, in order to meet it’s Kyoto obligations.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
David,

I just don’t see how you can look at it any differently. Like I said, the worst case estimates (since we’re dealing in worst case global warming estimates) for Kyoto, which offers modest improvements to global warming at best, are $2 trillion. And regardless of what you think of the statistics, the underlying reasoning makes sense. Do you disagree that the industrial revolution is built on the internal combustion engine? Because to *really* combat global warming, I don’t see how you do it without replacing the internal combustion engine in most of its applications. There might be the technology to do so cheaply in the future, but as of right now, what it would take is the government mandating that I junk my perfectly good Ford Explorer and purchase some cr*ppy hybrid. Now you say that’s good for Ford, but the response is to cite the classic "Economics in One Lesson." Because the money that I am spending on a $30K car that I don’t really want or need would otherwise go to putting a new roof on my house, so the carpenter loses out. For some the choices are more severe — a year at college foregone, not hiring a new employee, not purchasing health insurance. Taxes have to be raised to pay for the new power plant — substantially since our technology is still immature, which adds more of a burden to lower and middle class taxpayers (sorry, but the amount of money gained from taxing the "rich" *is* limited). Maybe we have to ration power because all we *really* have as non-carbon-based sources of power is solar, with its obvious shortcomings (and nuclear, which is disfavored for other reasons). At any rate, you multiply those inefficiencies by millions of pieces of ICE-driven equipment, and you have a serious economic problem on your hands.

Again, I have yet to see a study that suggests that significantly reducing greenhouse emissions would not entail substantial economic disruptions. And with good reason, I imagine.
 
Written By: Sean
URL: http://www.myelectionanalysis.com
"global warming/greenhouse gas fans here"
As long as you continue to frame the argument with this sort of thing - ie, that because we’re suggesting caution about spending a great deal of money to, and I repeat myself, address a problem that we may not be causing in the first place, we are therefore ’fans’ of global warming, there’s not much hope for reasonable discussion is there?

You’re clearly willing to spend a great deal of money to address the problem even if it may not prove useful or practical. Feel free to invest such sums of cash or credit as you have available to you in this effort. I suggest I will join you when it has been proven to MY satisfaction that I should begin spending
MY money in the effort as well.

To date, despite your assertion that
Certainty: It is reasonably certain (see above) that greenhouse gases are a major contributor
is unproven by ’science’.
If it were proven beyond reasonable doubt, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Here is some ’science’ for you though
http://apollo.lsc.vsc.edu/classes/met130/notes/chapter18/long_term.html

Note the contention that for much of earth’s history the climate was 8-15
degrees of centigrade WARMER than it is today.
Meaning what we’re seeing is not warming above normal, it’s a return from cool temperatures to "normal".
Now this one - http://apollo.lsc.vsc.edu/classes/met130/notes/chapter18/last_1000.html
indicates the earth’s temp for the last 1000 has been ’below normal’.
See, it all very scientific. Convinced? . . . I thought not.
Ditto.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Just a suggestion to prove the lack of ’consensus’ surrounding climate science that most are so willing to trumpet (i.e. "FACT: The ice caps are melting"):

Whatever you think is ’fact’, go google the opposite. You will most likely find other ’facts’ that refute your previous ’fact’. Hence why it is so illogical to form policy around such a misunderstood phenomenon.
 
Written By: intelrupt
URL: http://
In terms of Nuclear War:

Certainty: It is certain that in the course of human events some group or nation will employ nucler weapons. It is not certain how many, but it IS certain that they will be used

Consequences: Catastrophic even if limited to the economic dislocation

Risk: Severe

See anyone can play that game.
Yes, that’s why we should try really really hard to prevent nuclear war. As for the comments regarding insufficient evidence, lack of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, Google, etc., I have already addressed that point. My view is that the legitimate scientific consensus, including, I believe the primary U.S. climatologist, is that 1) global warming is occurring; and 2) greenhouse gases generated by human beings are a significant cause. What else can I say? I’m sure you can find someone who will contest it until doomsday. We can only operate on the best available evidence.

As for Sean’s economic consequences, I don’t doubt that moving away from the the internal combustion engine (at least the gasoline-powered variety), will have financial costs. I am all for minimizing those costs and whatever other untoward consequences may result. But even assuming the accuracy of the 2 trillion estimate, well, we are already projected to spend 1 trillion in Iraq; see that as you will. And, please, can you even begin to estimate the economic consequences if global warming continues apace or accelerates? Good god, the cost in coastal property in the U.S. alone will dwarf the 2 trillion, I would imagine.

You can argue forever if you wish, but the scientific consensus is that global warming is a serious problem; and that greenhouse gases are a primary cause of global warming. Ergo: something must be done. That’s how I see it. I simply do not believe it is prudent to expect god to tap us on the shoulder and say, hey, you know that global warming/greenhouse gas thing, well, it’s for real. No. We are on our own here. God help us.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
Well David, you make some assumptions and grund them as FACT:
1) Global Warming exists
2) Green HOuse Gasses drive it...

What if 1) is incorrect, new study finds no warming for last few years, or 2) is untrue? If 2) is untrue or if the human contribution is minimal what is your answer? Indeed what if this is a natural warming cycle of the planet? Do we kill several BILLION people and then say, Oooops or say it was worth it otherwise the temperature might have climbed another 1 Degree?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
"but the scientific consensus is that global warming is a serious problem; and that greenhouse gases are a primary cause of global warming. Ergo: something must be done."

but that’s the fallacy. just because something is a problem, or even a serious problem, or even a critical problem doesn’t mean we "have to do something." if i were king i could stop deaths in airplane accidents in a millisecond by outlawing planes, but no one doubts that this will cause more deaths in the long run than it solves (driving is in fact much more dangerous, and there would be serious impacts on commerce). Or for that matter, I could "save" several thousand lives each year by banning cars, but of course there would be even more severe disruptions. Indeed, we would be doing *something* to defeat global warming by immediately banning the internal combustion engine, but I have no doubt this would kill more people than even the worst case scenario of global warming.

The two trillion is just US costs of complying with Kyoto, which is at best a little baby step toward solving the problem. there are simply more issues involved than "global warming bad, phase out CO2 emissions now." It might be more efficient to mitigate the damages (eg floodwalls), there might in fact be substantial benefits to gw (Siberia becoming aerable land, agriculture thrives in a C02-rich environment). There’s an assumption built in to most global warming analysis that we live in is the only climate suited for us, and any deviation brings down hurricanes, thunderstorms, and the other plagues of egypt. That doesn’t really seem possible to me, especially given what we know about our varying climate history.

and quite frankly, much of the history of science has been people proving the consensus wrong. if we’d always listened to consensus, we’d still believe in spontaneous generation and the Earth being flat. i do find it disturbing the extent to which kyoto supporters respond to what strike me as at least reasonable criticisms of gw by saying "but the experts say this."
 
Written By: Sean
URL: http://www.myelectionanalysis.com
Ya’ know, John Stossel might be humorous if he wasn’t so pathetic.

This argument is so full of holes. Yeah, that’s right, John. Let’s be skeptical of scientists who are not employed in the private sector. After all, it was the researchers employed by the tobacco industry that warned us of the dangers of smoking wasn’t it? (uh, no.)
And it was privately employed scientist that warned us of the dangers of,
Asbestos? (uh, no)
Dioxin? (uh, no)
Lead? (un, no)
Need I go on…

The funny thing is, Stossel parades this anti-global warming “agenda” of his own. All while having no scientific background of his own (except of course his diploma from the Michael Chrichton School of Science Fiction). Which gives him the street cred to give us this gem,
It’s also easier to get funded if what you conclude feeds someone’s political agenda.
Isn’t though, John?
After all, when it comes to political agendas, we should turn our eyes to those conniving scientists. Or not.
Dozens of federal agencies report science but much of it is edited at the White House before it is sent to Congress and the public. It appears climate science is edited with a heavy hand. Drafts of climate reports were co-written by Rick Piltz for the federal Climate Change Science Program. But Piltz says his work was edited by the White House to make global warming seem less threatening.

"The strategy of people with a political agenda to avoid this issue is to say there is so much to study way upstream here that we can’t even being to discuss impacts and response strategies," says Piltz. "There’s too much uncertainty. It’s not the climate scientists that are saying that, its lawyers and politicians."
(…)
Asked what happens, Piltz says: "It comes back with a large number of edits, handwritten on the hard copy by the chief-of-staff of the Council on Environmental Quality."

Asked who the chief of staff is, Piltz says, "Phil Cooney."

Piltz says Cooney is not a scientist. "He’s a lawyer. He was a lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute, before going into the White House," he says.
What, you say? Skepticism? Political agenda? Uh-huh. Damned scientists.

John Stossel, self-proclaimed libertarian; More skeptical of scientists than he is of our current government.
Like I said…, pathetic.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
You can argue forever if you wish, but the scientific consensus is that global warming is a serious problem; and that greenhouse gases are a primary cause of global warming.
"global warming is a serious problem".
Granted, it is. If the estimates for the rise in sea-level are even marginally close we’d see rather substantial coastal changes, and since most of our population resides on the east and west coasts of the continent, rather large demograph shifts (or large projects to protect those cities which actually can be protected in a practical sense - like....Chocolate City....sorry just couldn’t resist). To say nothing of the effects it has on Europe, the Indian Subcontinent, etc.

"Greenhouse gases are a primary cause" -
what other primary causes are there? Do we know?
Are those primary causes attributable to man? What percentage of the overall total of primary causes do they constitute?
Can those other primary causes be reduced?
Are the proposals for reduction in our greenhouse gas emission going to have any signifcant effect on the overall warming trend, or are they in fact a ’feel good’ expenditure that will result in no total improvement because they are in fact not the cause of the majority of the problem.

If the temperature charts are at all reflective of global temperatures historically, it has very little to do with humans making greenhouse gases (or you can choose to ignore those charts all together as they argue clearly for a normal temperature warmer than that which we have today, and hence indicate running around doing ’something’ will not suffice unless what you are doing is preparing for a rise in ocean level, and a climate change, instead of dumping money into changing our economic base to a point where we might not be able to deal with a rise in ocean level effectively).

What you don’t like is that Mother Nature is about to move your cheese and you’ve concluded that dashing about attempting to do ’something’ is going to prevent that from happening.

Do you, by chance, lose sleep thinking about the next dinosaur killer lurking in deep space with our planetary address on it?


 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Let me try it this way, step by step, so I can see where I lose everyone:

1. Gasoline-powered engines cause air pollution. Correct?

2. Air pollution is bad. Correct?

3. If we’ve made it this far: Even ignoring global warming altogether, what is wrong with attempting to phase out gasoline-powered engines?
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
#3. Not sure how you havent figured that part out yet.
 
Written By: Chris
URL: http://
David:
1. Gasoline-powered engines cause air pollution. Correct?

2. Air pollution is bad. Correct?

3. If we’ve made it this far: Even ignoring global warming altogether, what is wrong with attempting to phase out gasoline-powered engines? Or the cheap transportation of goods is IRELEVANT to the current maintenace of the world’s populace and its standad of living, RIGHT? And the use of labour-saving ICE machines in agri-business is NOT NECESSARY for the production of mass quantities of food, consumed in the developed and NON-DEVELOPED world, and a rise in cost or drop in quantity will notadversely affect the planet’s population, RIGHT? The production of large amounts of electircal power thru the combustion or oil or coal are not necessary for the maintenace of modern technic society and the disappeaance of 25-50% of the planet’s GNP will not adversely affect the health and well-being of the human populace, RIGHT?

With me so far David? As Thomas Sewell says, we need to talk about trade-offs. How poor do you want to be? How many Africans have to starve for a better ecology? In your paint-by-numbers world you never seem interested in the CONSEQUENCES of your proposals. And yet, WE’RE the dogmatic ones?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
1. Gasoline-powered engines cause air pollution. Correct?

2. Air pollution is bad. Correct?


Air pollution is not necc. bad (harmful) at all levels and in all places. In other words, for some level of air pollution the amount of harm is negligible and the cost to eliminate it would be too high (for any rational person anyway). Air pollution is demonstrably harmful in a place like Mexico City, but not in small town USA.

3. If we’ve made it this far: Even ignoring global warming altogether, what is wrong with attempting to phase out gasoline-powered engines?

Nothing, if the benefits of the phase-out exceed the costs (all the costs) and the effort to do so isn’t forced on people.
 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
How many Africans have to starve for a better ecology?
The choice is people starving in Darfur or me driving an Explorer? You’re kidding, right? People are already starving in Darfur and I already drive an Explorer. Listen, I am not advocating an overnight banishment of the combustion engine, but I do believe cleaner power should be a goal. What is wrong with that? And why do you assume that the gas-engine cannot be replaced? Perhaps it’s my imagination, but you truly do not appear to see air pollution as a problem at all. I think a clean environement is a legitimate societal goal; it is not the only legitimate societal goal, true, but I never claimed it is. I get the impression that you don’t agree. Do you? If so, how much is the clean environment worth?
what is wrong with attempting to phase out gasoline-powered engines? Nothing, if the benefits of the phase-out exceed the costs (all the costs) and the effort to do so isn’t forced on people.
Well, the first proviso I certainly agree with. But the second . . . no, that just sounds like a paean to pure capitalism, and that’s something I do not believe in. Say it, it won’t hurt: air pollution is bad.

Over and out for me, so fire away.



 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
Jeez David,

How about this one. Your arguments are simplistic and overwrought. You could state

1. Farting is a form of air pollution.

2. Farting is caused by people and animals

3. There are billions of people and animals on earth

4. Air Pollution is bad

5. Ergo, lets pahse out people and animals.

See how easy it is to make a totally ASSinine argument. ;)
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
David, you’ve stuck with this comment thread for quite a while now. With so many folks chiming in, I will assume it was an honest mistake that you failed to respond to one of the first comments. I’ll repost it for your consideration:

Government funding of basic science is essential because there is too little ROI for industry to do it.

And these are the only options, David?
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
A clean environmentn is worth something, but it’s not worth the loss of a significant portion of the planet’s GNP and population...
what is wrong with attempting to phase out gasoline-powered engines? Nothing, if the benefits of the phase-out exceed the costs (all the costs) and the effort to do so isn’t forced on people.

Well, the first proviso I certainly agree with. But the second . . . no, that just sounds like a paean to pure capitalism, and that’s something I do not believe in. Say it, it won’t hurt: air pollution is bad.
War is BAD David, but sometimes war is less bad than its alternative. So you’re willing to do things that cost more than they benefit? So you’d be willing to spend $5 to get $2 worth of benefit, which is perfectly acceptable...FOR YOU. But mayhap I don’t want to give up $5 for $3 worth of benefit, so that’s the point DON’T FORCE IT ON ME.

You seem to live in a black and white world, air pollution bad, no air pollution good, BUT ask yourself this, IF the cost of no air pollution was a return to an era circa 1400 AD would it be worth it? Or if it means reducing the World GDP by 10-20% would that be worth it, bearing in mind that the loss of capital will affect the POOREST of the most, and could well lead to dozens of Zimbabwe’s and Darfurs around the globe.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Jeez David,

How about this one. Your arguments are simplistic and overwrought. You could state

1. Farting is a form of air pollution.

2. Farting is caused by people and animals

3. There are billions of people and animals on earth

4. Air Pollution is bad

5. Ergo, lets pahse out people and animals.

See how easy it is to make a totally ASSinine argument. ;)
Your conclusion is wrong. What should be phased out is flatulence. Please do your share.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
Brilliant repartee, David....
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
"Please do your share. "

Think globally, act locally David.

As for your syllogism, there’s not that much per se that’s wrong with it. You just don’t seem to accept that there can be very serious costs and consequences to weigh against action on air pollution, and that might at some point outweigh the benefit to be gained. At that point, I don’t think we can go much farther.
 
Written By: Sean
URL: http://www.myelectionanalysis.com
Government funding of basic science is essential because there is too little ROI for industry to do it.

And these are the only options, David?
Good, I’m happy to return to the original post. I honestly don’t know if those are the two options. They are the only two I can think of, but I’d certainly be interested in hearing other ideas.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
You seem to live in a black and white world, air pollution bad, no air pollution good, BUT ask yourself this, IF the cost of no air pollution was a return to an era circa 1400 AD would it be worth it? Or if it means reducing the World GDP by 10-20% would that be worth it, bearing in mind that the loss of capital will affect the POOREST of the most, and could well lead to dozens of Zimbabwe’s and Darfurs around the globe.
The answser to the question is no.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
Good we’re making progress. There is an upper limit of pain to yor desire to do good, so air pollution and thermal pollution are not unmitigated evils, as you ra willing to tolerate a certain amount of them rather than face the costs of the alternative. Now we can bargain.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I honestly don’t know if those are the two options. They are the only two I can think of, but I’d certainly be interested in hearing other ideas.

I have done research that was funded by non-profits. And of course there are researchers who fund themselves. And there are watchdog groups or consortiums who are able to fund research that can be accepted a little more easily than when a company reports on its own products - UL and the like.

Personally, I am always very skeptical of Stossel. Should I be? (infinite loop warning!) But he makes a good point, in general. Any claim that is "backed by science" needs to be checked out, and not just accepted dogmatically. Many findings are spun into sensationalist news stories for the purposes of attracting viewers/readers, or by the scientists themselves, who are subject to feeling that their research is the most important in the world. Peer review has taken a bad rap lately - in the press, of course, for sensationalist reasons, of course. But peer review is good, and it works, if allowed to, and if differing views are treated scientifically.

The round and round that has gone on in this discussion is not likely to sway anybody, and it is representative of a lot of what goes on with "scientific" findings - a complex system is studied, facts are gathered, a partial understanding is gained, hypotheses are formed, speculation grows (none of this is bad per se!) and most people end up believing what they wanted to believe in the first place. In the hard sciences, this is generally less controversial, because most systems there are not both complicated and urgent. The global climate is an unfortunate exception.

But in the soft sciences, it can be a broader problem, for several reasons. These include:

1) Everybody thinks they understand the soft sciences to some degree,
2) They don’t, actually.

Government funding of the sciences has its drawbacks, but as noted above, it’s not fair to blanket all federally funded science as garbage. Most is not. Reasoned skepticism is appropriate - both the "reasoned" part and the "skeptic" part. If that is all Stossel and McQ are advocating, then there is no reason for scientists to get defensive.

However, politicians who try to prop up their policies with convenient "scientific" findings, cherry-picked, should be put on the defensive.
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
what is wrong with attempting to phase out gasoline-powered engines? Nothing, if the benefits of the phase-out exceed the costs (all the costs) and the effort to do so isn’t forced on people.
Well, the first proviso I certainly agree with. But the second . . . no, that just sounds like a paean to pure capitalism, and that’s something I do not believe in.

No, it’s a paean to freedom.

Say it, it won’t hurt: air pollution is bad.

No, air pollution at certain concentrations, for certain periods of time, is bad. Say it, it won’t hurt, everything is not black and white.

 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
I’d like to point out this little gem in one of lookers comments:

"...running around doing ’something’ will not suffice unless what you are doing is preparing for a rise in ocean level, and a climate change, instead of dumping money into changing our economic base to a point where we might not be able to deal with a rise in ocean level effectively."

Basically, the money we would spend trying to reverse the warming trend might be better spent improving the global economy, in turn developing technologies and institutions to cope with and adapt to whatever environmental risks that arise.

I consider this a better approach, as it doesn’t entail such major governmental intrusions.
 
Written By: equitus
URL: http://
what is wrong with attempting to phase out gasoline-powered engines? Nothing, if the benefits of the phase-out exceed the costs (all the costs) and the effort to do so isn’t forced on people.
Well, the first proviso I certainly agree with. But the second . . . no, that just sounds like a paean to pure capitalism, and that’s something I do not believe in.
No, it’s a paean to freedom.


Capitalism and freedom are not synonyms.
Say it, it won’t hurt: air pollution is bad.
No, air pollution at certain concentrations, for certain periods of time, is bad. Say it, it won’t hurt, everything is not black and white.
You are wrong. Air pollution is bad; it’s just worse as it gets worse. And let me address your black-and-white fixation. I believe it is you, not me, who has this worldview. Something can be bad but still necessary. The goal is to reduce the bad thing to the extent practicable. Think about it; it’s not that complicated.

 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
Basically, the money we would spend trying to reverse the warming trend might be better spent improving the global economy, in turn developing technologies and institutions to cope with and adapt to whatever environmental risks that arise.

I consider this a better approach, as it doesn’t entail such major governmental intrusions.
I think this view simultaneously underestimates and overestimates capitalism’s capabilities.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
The base line is that no one appears to be indicating they disagree with the idea we have gotten a little warmer lately. No one is advocating spewing greenhouse gase into the atmosphere with the objective of contributing even a 1/100th of a degree to warming the earth.
I think the point is none of those who are against your plan to reduce the greenhouse gases a’la Kyoto style treaties believe it’s an effective use of capital based on the return it will produce. I have no desire to lower my standard of living so the Chinese and Indians can catch up and then we can all go merrily to hell together anyway.

Look at the historical temperature record and explain it away. As yet you haven’t refuted it, or even addressed it.

The Moche in Peru and Anasazi in the American Southwest probably thought they could alter the environmental course by sacrificing virgins, sheep, their enemies and their best crops. The ruins of their cities are the best evidence that thinking the environment must remain static so you can be happy is a path to disaster.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
"Capitalism and freedom are not synonyms."

No, but where there is general freedom, it is inevitable there will be captalism.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Examples of why "global warming"—as pogue, platypus, and David want us to think of it—is a complete and utter crock.

Oh and not merely:
"where there is general freedom, it is inevitable there will be captalism"
but also:
"where there is general freedom, it is inevitable there will be ubiqitous captalism"
Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Anyway to get back on the actual discussion of science in general instead of global warming in particular:
Grant applications are evaluated on the quality of past work, the potential scientific impact, and the coherence of the research program. Rotating panels of top scientists in each field review applications. And believe me, scientists like nothing better than to poke holes in one another’s work. That’s how the culture operates.
As someone who has also done professional research, I can make one bitter comment about all that. The bad thing about these sorts of application reviews is that there is a lot of bias on these committees towards the big name brains. Much of these decisions are influenced by the reputation of the researcher and the research institution.
 
Written By: Jeff the Baptist
URL: http://jeffthebaptist.blogspot.com

 
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