I have recently become aware of two camps of thought with regard to global warming/climate change, niether one relating to religion vs science. On one side is the internationally recognized theory of rapid devastating change and on the other a token uncertainty of the actual changes occuring in terms of what effects we may be facing and how quickly they will emerge.

As a "regular sort" I don't really know a lot of the science involved with our changing conditions and so I guess that puts me in between the two in this arguement. They both have very valid points and the answer to this riddle is important- so what do you all think?

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I have not been presented with any of the evidence that I hear spoken of so often.

- National Geographic has a good primer, though over-simplified for some of us science geeks.

- RealClimate.org is more science-geeky if you want to get into the nitty gritty.

- If you're looking for some raw, "But can we see any of the changes right now?" type stuff, go to images.google.com and search for glacier before after. Also do a google search on "larsen ice shelf."

There. Now you've been presented with some of the evidence! Yay!

And just like being presented with evidence for Evolution in science class, you either choose to believe it, or you argue that there are missing links. There are some rogue scientists who say it's a hoax. You haven't personally touched the fossils/melting glaciers for yourself. Your favorite politician says it's a scam. Just because most of the scientists in the world say so doesn't mean it's true.
Touching the melting glaciers is all very emotive but the fact is the climate changes, it always has done, nobody that I know denies this. It may not change in a way that we like and it certainly does not change in a way we can predict and its almost certainly impossible to stop it.I am sure that ten thousand years ago when the ice sheets started to retreat from europe, Uuuugh said to Bluuug 'But Ive been there and Ive touched the melting glaciers myself. Clubbing Today says its due to us not worshiping the third rock on the left.'
Jez, you're in grand company with lots of famous people who said various scientific endeavors were impossible. It's pretty easy to predict that the Earth will heat up if we add thick puffy blankets of insulation around it, which we are doing. The current warming is not predicted by any naturally occurring trends that have caused warming in the past. But then, I guess heavier-than-air flight was impossible, too.
Touching the melting glaciers is all very emotive but the fact is the climate changes, it always has done, nobody that I know denies this.

So if I sprinkle rat poison on my salad would you say I'm not doing myself any harm because everyone gets sick from time to time? Because for all I know I could get killed in a car crash tomorrow?
So, humanity is NOT having any sort of an effect on the world? No one sais that the climate doesn't change on its own. No one has ever made this claim. The claim that IS made is that we are having an effect on our climate that would not occur naturally. We ADD to climate change.
sigh.....no I am not saying that humanity is having no effect I am saying that the effect is an unknown amount in a trend which would occur anyway and is exactly the type of behavior which led to a succesion of iceages and warm periods over the past couple of billion years, and as the trend towards warming or cooling is a natural feature of the climate it might be slightly more sensible to say OK we know the climate changes, we cannot stop it so why don't we try to work with those changes instead of trying to fight them?
Jez, how do you know this warming trend would occur anyway? How do you know this warming is exactly the type of behavior which led to a succession of ice ages and warm periods over the past couple of billion years? How do you know this trend isn't caused mostly by human activity? How do you know that anthropogenic greenhouse gases are not the primary driver of this warming trend? Climate researchers around the world have spent the last several decades ruling out those possibilities based on abundant evidence to the contrary. If you know something they don't, please present your evidence. So far, what you've said looks like a completely uninformed opinion based on wishful thinking. If you don't have any actual knowledge to inject into the discussion, then you're not helping.
If you know something they don't, please present your evidence. So far, what you've said looks like a completely uninformed opinion based on wishful thinking.

And that seems to be the trend, one that endears me less and less to the climate-deniers. One side says, "I believe X and here's some credible science sources to back it up." The other side says, "I don't believe X just because" offering little or no credible sources to back it up.

Jason, I think it was you who turned me on to this site:
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11462-climate-change-a-guide-...

John, Jez, if you find something in this article series that is scientifically flawed, and you have some equally credible data to back it up other than "I just don't buy it," awesome. Otherwise, the wishful-thinking defense only strengthens the case for AGW.
Bah, just a hysterical ANTI-earth science ANTI-biological science status quo idolatrer. He chooses his own skepticisms. Unfortunately, hidden driving economic forces can supplant science in these discussions. But of course he doesn't fess up to why he's only anti-science on environmental issues, as if they weren't 'serious sciences' duh
Why even bother reading people like that?
He's only skeptical as long as his pocketbook won't suffer. He's biased and disinforms.
Not my kind of atheist.
If one is to go for science against woo, one must go all the way, not stop at pocketbook.
John, that's an impressively flawed article. (Linked here also in case the thread gets tangled.)

Here's yet another person who is daunted by complexity (which he also overstates), refusing to believe something is possible because it's difficult and large. He says, "No one person can or ever will 'look at all the data.' A person can look at an infinitesimally small chunk of data that's out of all meaningful context, but let's get real here: the Earth is about the most complicated system imaginable." If any one person were actually required to "look at all the data", most scientific endeavors would grind to a halt. He is simply making an argument from incredulity. Just because he's overwhelmed by all the data, that doesn't mean that scientists don't have the necessary tools to make sense of it.

In fact, this is pretty much the way science always proceeds. Look at all the data in astronomy. Holy crap, that's a lot of data! Yet we still are fairly confident that we know how stars are born, live, and die. It is ridiculously defeatist to look at a giant pile of data, throw up your hands, and declare mission impossible. Real scientists see a giant pile of data and dig right in trying to make sense of it. Or would Dunning prefer that we not tackle things like epidemiology, because there are so many data points that no one person could ever look at them all?

To be blunt, this is an intellectually retarded position to hold. It would imprison us in the Dark Ages if science were conducted the way Dunning seems to think it should be. What an intensely silly thing to say. How perverse is it to complain that a scientific field suffers from too much data? It's certainly preferable to having too little. He should be embarrassed for saying something this stupid.

Further, he sets up and knocks down the strawman of stopping our carbon emissions overnight: "We musn't keep generating greenhouse gases at the current rate, and we can't simply stop it all. And in the attempt to find a happy medium, we can't expect every individual and company to make expensive and complicated changes, in many cases without good alternatives, out of the generosity of their hearts." Nobody is suggesting that we can stop emitting greenhouse gases overnight, or that companies should sacrifice competitiveness in order to save the planet. But we'll never stop emitting GHGs if we don't make an effort to. And government subsidies and taxes are a simple way to push companies to do the right thing without crippling them. Just like we've done since, oh, I don't know, the invention of governments, companies, and taxes.

And why in the world shouldn't we aim for zero carbon emissions? Once again, Dunning retreats in the face of a daunting problem. Just because it's big and will take time doesn't mean we shouldn't get to work on it. Quite the reverse, in fact.

I agree with Dunning that coal is a killer, the worst of the fossil fuels by far. And I'll hold my nose and support nuclear power, even though I'm not confident that humans are capable of dealing with the waste responsibly for thousands of years, when we have an economic system that has trouble looking past the next fiscal quarter. But fission is probably going to have to be part of the short-term solution, and fusion part of the long-term solution.

Dunning is correct that cost/benefit analyses should be pursued, but the problem there is that our cost accounting systems have historically valued ecosystem resources and services at or near zero. It's not clear to me that Dunning understands this. He doesn't mention it. And if we continue making our decisions based on the idea that the services provided by ocean, air, and forest are free, we're never going to come to the correct conclusions. If our cost/benefit analyses underestimate the damage that will be done by climate change because the analysts don't believe that accurate predictions can be made, then we will just continue to operate with our heads in the sand.

It's something of a side-show to whine about inequities in the Kyoto Protocols. A political framework to deal with the problem of global warming is inevitably going to favor some at the expense of others. Arguing on fairness grounds won't get us very far, however, considering that the industrialized countries were the biggest part of the problem to date, and the developing countries won't sit still for a solution that prevents them from making progress. But ultimately, arguing that we have to have a level playing field is silly, because there's no way to make it perfectly level in any case, and because the countries that attack the problem on their own will generate technology that other countries will want to buy or copy because they will end up cheaper in the long run. But if nobody invests up front, that won't happen. Fortunately, many countries are acting unilaterally, or nearly so. They're the ones that will reap the economic rewards.

But it's disturbing that Dunning thinks so very little of the human capacity to understand our planetary systems, and indeed, of the power of science generally. This is not what I expect from modern, educated people. I am certainly astounded to see atheists hold this view. By rights, atheists should very much believe in the power of science and the dangers of wishful thinking and ignoring problems. Skepticism taken so far that nothing is believable is less than useless.

Dunning concludes by asking for more science, hopefully before it's too late. Which sounds reasonable. Except we've done the science. Enough to understand the problem, how bad it is likely to be, and what we should do about it. He just doesn't want to believe it. And by his standards, no amount of science could ever be sufficient to inform responsible decisions.
Uh, John, TNT666 didn't say money isn't real. And everybody has financial incentives to do bad things. Saying that something good will cost something doesn't mean we shouldn't do it.
And back to you. Never said money doesn't exist, just saying that if your kind were honest you'd say this:

"Willing to go with science as long as it doesn't hurt my pocketbook or the world's dominant richest' pocketbooks"

Then you wouldn't need to be providing bogus anti-Gore (I mean frankly who even cares about Gore? it's not like he invented the darned topic, and any self-designated skeptoid' who makes a living out of criticising Gore is just as irrelevant as Gore himself) and irrelevant references and just so that we can hear 'both sides of the debate'. There are no more 2 sides to this debate than there are 2 sides to the evolution/creationism debate, It's moot.

It is academic scientists against big money (and their bought scientists). And this won't change no matter how many pseudo-web-references you waste here...

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