Various finds and ruminations on … 4

Climate Change 4

Yes, I’m afraid so. And some are really basic things that have occurred to me as a layperson as I have pondered quite a few views since last posting on this. I’ve been storing my finds on Google. So before I purge the favourites, I’ll share a few with you.

1. Why climate realists and skeptics talk past each other

There does seem to be a lot of that going on…

Truth be told, I’m more interested in people who are overcoming barriers to progress than in the endless “does global warming exist?” debates. When your house is on fire, at some point you stop arguing with someone who says there’s no fire, and you focus on getting your family out. Or if the house is an inescapable planet, you get to work dousing the fire.

But … there’s this awesome metaphor in The Economist that’s useful for understanding how climate realists and skeptics talk past each other. It goes like this: If you view climate science as a jigsaw puzzle, the full picture becomes clear once you’ve got most pieces in place. A loose piece here and there doesn’t obscure the whole picture. If it’s a kitten in a laundry basket you’re looking at, you can be sure it’s a kitten in a laundry basket with only 90 percent of the pieces in place.

On the other hand, if you view climate science as a house of cards, with each piece dependent on another piece, one loose card can topple the whole apparatus. (The chain is only as strong as its weakest link, to add yet another metaphor.) So the improper emails at the heart of the “climategate” uproar or one incorrect report on Himalayan glaciers can seem like a fatal blow, even though the body of scientific work confirming climate change vastly outweighs them.

I find this illuminating. Understanding the difference between jigsaw people and house-of-cards people doesn’t resolve their disagreements. But it’s useful to see how they’re working off different metaphors. And The Economist’s thorough overview of climate science makes a strong case for why the jigsaw metaphor is the more appropriate one…

2. An example of a politically corrupted source?

Ever been to the “denialist” site Global What, from the title, might you have thought it was? Well, objectivity isn’t its long suit. In fact, it is instructive to follow the tabs at the top of the site to the CAP Project.

CEI’s CAP project (“Control Abuse of Power”) aims to fight unaccountable government power.

In recent decades, government has increasingly assumed tax and regulatory powers that impact consumers and businesses nationwide. But many of those important policy decisions are made independently of lawmakers and voters. The $240 billion tobacco deal, for example, was made by state attorneys general and major tobacco companies– not by legislators at the federal or state level. And the PCAOB is comprised of regulators who are unaccountable to the president or Congress or the businesses they regulate.

Unfortunately, businesses are often fearful of incurring the wrath of government officials and regulators. And average citizens are often ill-equipped to wage expensive and complicated challenges to such government abuse of power. But such massive use and abuse of government power cannot be left unchecked.

CAP pursues its mission through public education, regulatory interventions, litigation, and policy research.

The project’s initial targets are the 1998 tobacco settlement and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB). CEI has mounted constitutional legal challenges to both the tobacco settlement and the PCAOB in an effort to restore power and accountability to the people.

As a non-profit public policy organization, the Competitive Enterprise Institute is dedicated to advancing the principles of free enterprise and limited government. We believe that individuals are best helped not by government intervention but by making their own choices in a free marketplace.

It and Global are projects of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.  Checking it out one finds pretty much the usual suspects. This is a case where cui bono? is definitely rewarded. OK, cross that off your list of reputable scientific sites.

3. It’s all over now, Baby Blue!

There’s a feature article in the latest Der SpiegelA Superstorm for Global Warming Research by Marco Evers, Olaf Stampf and Gerald Traufetter. Unfortunately, perhaps because of the time lag between commissioning a print feature article and publishing it, events have overtaken some of its best examples.

Plagued by reports of sloppy work, falsifications and exaggerations, climate research is facing a crisis of confidence. How reliable are the predictions about global warming and its consequences? And would it really be the end of the world if temperatures rose by more than the much-quoted limit of two degrees Celsius?

Life has become "awful" for Phil Jones. Just a few months ago, he was a man with an enviable reputation: the head of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, an expert in his field and the father of an alarming global temperature curve that apparently showed how the Earth was heating up as a result of anthropogenic global warming.

Those days are now gone.

Nowadays, Jones, who is at the center of the "Climategate" affair involving hacked CRU emails, needs medication to fall sleep. He feels a constant tightness in his chest. He takes beta-blockers to help him get through the day. He is gaunt and his skin is pallid. He is 57, but he looks much older. He was at the center of a research scandal that hit him as unexpectedly as a rear-end collision on the highway.

His days are now shaped by investigative commissions at the university and in the British Parliament. He sits on his chair at the hearings, looking miserable, sometimes even trembling. The Internet is full of derisive remarks about him, as well as insults and death threats. "We know where you live," his detractors taunt.

Jones is finished: emotionally, physically and professionally. He has contemplated suicide several times recently, and he says that one of the only things that have kept him from doing it is the desire to watch his five-year-old granddaughter grow up.

Now exonerated**, as you know. See also: Climategate: An Autopsy; The Smoking Guns and Blue Dress Moments of Climategate.

In seeking balance it also pays too much attention to some dubious viewpoints.

A Climate Rebel Takes on the Establishment

One man notes with particular satisfaction how Phil Jones and his colleagues are being forced to confess to one mistake after another. Steve McIntyre lives in a small brick house near downtown Toronto. It is a Sunday afternoon and he is sitting at his well-worn desk, illuminated only by a small energy-saving bulb on the ceiling.

This man, with his thinning gray hair, is an unlikely adversary for climatologists, and yet he is largely responsible for the current tumult in their field. "This is the computer I used to begin doing the recalculations," he says, holding a six-year-old Acer laptop with a 40-gigabyte hard drive. "My wife finally gave me a new one for Christmas."

See: Steve McIntyre, down in the quote mine; McIntyre had the data all along; Mcintyre misunderstood somehow. Yet again….

Here are some survey results for Germany published in “A Superstorm for Global Warming”. The first does testify to two matters wider than just Germany, I suspect: how the issue has been taken off the boiler by politicians since Copenhagen – certainly the case here in Oz; how the “sceptics” have had considerable success.



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