You Know How I Know Global Warming is Mostly Baloney?

Because the people arguing against Global Warming "skeptics" feel the need to resort to ad hominem attacks and highly emotionally charged wording to make their case.

Some zingers:

"In his recent opinion piece, National Post's Terrence Corcoran displays how out of touch he is with the recent National Academy of Science's findings on Confused?climate change. It is not worth debating the misinformation he purports, so we will just post a link to his piece and let it speak for itself."

"I am not a scientist, but I do know that in science, much like any other profession, it helps to know the background of the information source." Standard "shill of the energy industry" accusation.

And those are just from the front page. Anyone who disputes Global Warming is called a "spinner." Any information calling Global Warming into doubt is "disinformation" even if it's simply a matter of differing opinions. Honestly, I'd much rather hang with the skeptics than with people like this. I wonder what they'd say about Michael Crichton?

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Wow Sean, you actually just

Wow Sean, you actually just stole the words right from my mouth. Our site isn't about ad-hominem attacks... while those are definitely enjoyable, and we do dabble in the art from time to time, our site is about showing the skeptics for who they. Am I going to the argue the science with some right-wing politico hack with no background in science whatsoever? NO!

I would just be falling into their trap of making it appear there is a debate on climate change, and besides the DeSmogBlog team's knowledge-base lies in detecting spin, not science -- we are willing to admit that we are not scientists, unlike the mass of so-called "skeptic" scientists (and yourself)who have never actually published an article in a reputable peer-reviewed journal.

By the way Sean, big thanks for the post, it only gets me more hits.

Phil, my assumption is that

Phil, my assumption is that if they could actually attack the arguments being made by anti-global-warming sorts, they would. Since they're doing otherwise, that seems to indicate they really have nothing to say about the actual arguments being presented.

"Do you know how I know X is

"Do you know how I know X is mostly baloney? Because people who assert X do A, and A is bad."

That's about as pure an ad hominem argument as you can get, and yet your A includes engaging in arguments ad hominem.

Congratulations. I think my head is about to explode.

So what if global warming is

So what if global warming is happening. Nobody can accurately pin down distinct individuals for guilt and properly assess what their punishment can be, because it's the aggregate of all human action. So we just have to live with it. "Better to let a thousand guilty men go free, etc..."

That’s about as pure an ad

That’s about as pure an ad hominem argument as you can get

No it isn't. Sean was pointing out that the *arguments themselves* were weak. That is not ad hominem. Sure, he included in his comments the person of the arguer, but that doesn't make it ad hominem because he is reasoning from the weakness *of the arguments*. An ad hominem necessarily attempts to distract attention from the arguments themselves.

There are several levels to

There are several levels to global warming:

a) is it happening

b) if it is happening, how much of it is due to human activity

c) if it is happening, how much is it happening

d) if it is happening, how bad is it really

The folks like Al Gore who warn that the Earth is doomed if we don't act fast need to jump *every* hurdle above, *every single* hurdle. If it's not happening, *or* if it is not human caused, *or* if it is not happening all that much, *or* if it is not really all that bad, then the global warming alarmists are wrong. In order for them to be right, they need to be right on all four points.

Sean isn't so much pointing

Sean isn't so much pointing out that the arguments are weak as that some arguments are weak. Fair enough, but you can't conclude from a weak argument that the conclusion it's intended to support is wrong. I hear lousy arguments for correct conclusions all the time.

Constant, I would argue that

Constant, I would argue that your (b) is irrelevant, except to the extent that it affects (e) what can we do about it? There is a rather large engineering problem involved in effectively terraforming our own planet.

Sean isn’t so much

Sean isn’t so much pointing out that the arguments are weak as that some arguments are weak.

Well, I have other things to do with my time than wade through muck, so if the front page banner arguments are muck, time's up.

jessie, modern science, and

jessie, modern science, and i use that term laughably in this argument has absolutely no way of quantizing that kind of data out of the historical record. for all they know temperatures could have fluctuated 50 times more in the past than in the last century. the technology simply does not exist to ascertain that kind of sampling rate and time period with ANY kind of acuracy, let alone publishable data.

Constant, I would argue that

Constant, I would argue that your (b) is irrelevant, except to the extent that it affects (e) what can we do about it?

In other words, it is irrelevant except that it's relevant.

A lot of people believe that

A lot of people believe that global warming does not exist simply because the planet gradually gets warmer and cooler with time, but the fact lies within the word "gradually." Gradually, not quickly. The rising and falling of earthly temperatures takes millions of years. An advancement in temperature of one degree celsius, in the past, took a thousand years. Since the 1950s, the temperature has risen several degrees. That's only fifty years, if my mathmatical skills are functioning properly.

Sarcasm is the most

Sarcasm is the most primitive form of criticism.

Constant: I didn't mean that

Constant:
I didn't mean that the folks at DeSmogBlog necessarily have anything better in their archives---never having read through their archives, I won't venture a guess---I just meant that the most competent proponents of an idea give you more information about its merits than the least competent ones.

This criticism fails to

This criticism fails to differentiate the work of scientists from the work of pundits. And this is coming from an anthropogenic climate change skeptic.

Brandon Berg,

Nicely put.

This criticism fails to

This criticism fails to differentiate the work of scientists from the work of pundits

If we're going to differentiate the arguments of pundits from the arguments of scientists, we must also differentiate the conclusions of pundits from the conclusions of scientists. And also differentiate the conclusions of scientists speaking within their own specialty - their own area of actual scientific competence - versus scientists who venture outside, possibly even within the confines of a scientific paper.

And let's not forget...

“The Soviet economy is proof that, contrary to what many skeptics had earlier believed, a socialist command economy can function and even thrive.” - a scientist, supposedly speaking within his own area of actual competence

Yeah. Real scientific.

Yeah. Real scientific.

I would just be falling into

I would just be falling into their trap of making it appear there is a debate on climate change, and besides the DeSmogBlog team’s knowledge-base lies in detecting spin, not science – we are willing to admit that we are not scientists, unlike the mass of so-called “skeptic” scientists (and yourself)who have never actually published an article in a reputable peer-reviewed journal.

Woo hoo! Two more zingers! I haven't published an article in a reputable peer-reviewed journal, therefore I have nothing intelligent to say about the science. And of course it's a "trap" to believe there is any debate on the issue.

My point is that if one has to resort to those types of "arguments," they must not have much substantive to say, and you've made my point perfectly.

The debate I want to hear is about what we should be spending our money on, and why Global Warming is an issue more worthy of our attention than poverty and disease, or even worthy of any attention while those issues still rage.

It seems pretty clear to me that climate change of some kind will happen; it seems probable that the earth is getting warmer, and it seems probable that humans play a role in that. What is absolutely not clear and is certainly the subject of debate is the extent to which the planet will warm and what the effects will be, because unless we are pretty sure it's going to be bad and that we can do something we are pretty sure will help, we're just flushing money down the toilet that could have gone to much more worthy cause.

So shut up about your opponents and tell me why I should pull out my checkbook for you and not for Bill and Melinda.

Oh, and I don't mind getting you more hits. Since it's simply not going to happen that the government does anything substantive about global warming, your blog is more likely to cause people to be interested in (privately) investing in and working on alternative energy sources, and that's a Good Thing. I just wish you could be more like Michael Crichton and stay out of the spin game.

Either way, global warming

Either way, global warming demolishes statist claims about how great the state is, so why are we complaining?

The real counter to Sean is

The real counter to Sean is that the article which claimed "this doesn't deserve a response", actually gave a pro-forma one if you clicked on "read more", by giving links to 3 alternate newspaper pieces and a study by the NAS. So the ad hominem by desmogblog was not the whole argument. He's just a little tired of apologists who are mostly cranks and charlatans.

C'mon man, a little ad hominem is good for the soul!

Of course the claim by NAS (which is probably representative of scientific consensus) is that the hockey stick graph in question is "likely accurate" not "definitely accurate" or "certain".

I did have a problem with another article from a day or two earlier where desmogblog attacked another GW skeptic, but in that case, the *only* evidence offered as argument was ad hominem (how much the guy got paid by oil interests, etc.) with no rebuttal offered to the actual claims.

If Jim is still reading, I seriously recommend he reconsider that kind of attack, or at least back it up with a proforma rebuttal of claims, as in the post sean linked.

BTW, I'm starting to come around to the idea that the alarmists have it wrong, but the problem in their claims is mostly the answer to Constant's hurdle d), and more critically the complete failure by most to consider the cost-benefit analysis of what we can do about it vs. alternate investments in improving the world.

I agree with Brandon.

I agree with Brandon.

There are plenty of ad hominems---I'm assuming---to be found on both sides of this particular political issue---on any controversial political issue, in fact.

But to go from the premise, "Somebody on this side of the issue makes bad arguments," to the conclusion "Their side is wrong" is really quite the stretch. If everybody on that side of the issue is making argumentation fallacies, that's a different story---but that's not the case here. The evidence is quite strong that global warming is occurring and is anthropogenic; the fact that a bunch of assholes agree with that conclusion doesn't negate the actual evidence in favor it, no more than the fact that Beck is a libertarian disproves libertarianism.

The real question is whether

The real question is whether there is enough warming to counteract a large volcano eruption or asteroid impact.

Warming is good for some, inconvenient for some. Ice Age is bad for most.

Sean, if you want to learn

Sean, if you want to learn more about such issues, I'd stay away from that particular blog. Try Richard Posner's Catastrophe.

Try realclimate.org and

Try realclimate.org and scienceblogs.com (Chris Mooney's "The Intersection" blog addresses the climate change issue).

In response to Constant's list of hurdles, hurdles a and b have been jumped, and c and d partially jumped.

Actually, Scott, I think I

Actually, Scott, I think I understand the issue pretty well at this point, along with the motivations and incentives on each side. Agreed, CO2, when its emission changes atmospheric composition significantly, is a pollutant. And the EPA will be just as effective in controlling it as they are with other pollutants, i.e. they will take credit for what the market would have taken care of anyway while reducing market efficiency along the way. Meanwhile, people will be distracted from real issues like trade barriers, war, police abuse, and poverty.

No it isn’t. Sean was

No it isn’t. Sean was pointing out that the arguments themselves were weak. That is not ad hominem. Sure, he included in his comments the person of the arguer, but that doesn’t make it ad hominem because he is reasoning from the weakness of the arguments. An ad hominem necessarily attempts to distract attention from the arguments themselves.

Sean was saying "I know global warming is mostly baloney because many of its supporters engage in ad homniem argumentation." He did not say that he had found a bunch of invalid arguments which were invalid because they were ad homniem. That would have been a valid critique of a particular class of purported argument for the existance of global warming.

His argument was precisely of the form "People who believe A do X, X is bad, therefore A is probably invalid." From there, presumably, the implication is that if A were valid, people wouldn't have to resort to doing X, which pretty much ignores the fact that any time you have a controversial proposition with political implications, you can find all sorts of asshats and wingnuts (by which I don't mean to include present company, for the record) making all sorts of invalid arguments.

Ummm, no. If this were a

Ummm, no. If this were a trial and all the DA could say about the defense's expert witnesses is that they were paid by the defendant, the witness would not be considered impeached.

Likewise, when the people on one side of the debate can say nothing but "so and so is a shill" and "such and such is just spin" I'm not inclined to side with them. That's all I'm saying.

And anyway, I'm not exactly on the side of the oil industry. I think the US needs to stop using its military to keep oil flowing freely and make the oil industry absorb those costs instead so that the free market can do its work and get us onto alternatives. In other words, even though I'm agnostic when it comes to Global Warming, it's not like I think the status quo should continue.

Ummm, no. If this were a

Ummm, no. If this were a trial and all the DA could say about the defense’s expert witnesses is that they were paid by the defendant, the witness would not be considered impeached.

True, Sean, but we wouldn't conclude from that that the defendant was innocent, which is what you seem to be doing.

(Difficulties with the burden of proof set aside, since they don't survive the analogy.)

Incidentally, today's WSJ

Incidentally, today's WSJ contains an article entitled "Hockey Stick Hokum" that cites a study by statisticians Wegman, Scott, and Said. They conclude that Mann's "Hockey Stick" graph of global temperature changes is wrong, and that his "papers are plagued by basic statistical errors that call his conclusions into doubt." Wegman also perceives that the climatologists advocating global warming have "a self-reinforcing feeback mechanism and, moreover, the work has been sufficiently politicized that they can hardly reassess their public positions without losing credibility."

Is the earth warming? Perhaps, but the evidence is far from conclusive, and the policy prescriptions are unencumbered by any reasonable sense of priorities or economics.

His argument was precisely

His argument was precisely of the form “People who believe A do X, X is bad, therefore A is probably invalid.”

And yet here we have his own restatement of an argument which I already understood (by means of my special psychic power of understanding what other people are waying, I suppose):

As Sean explains (not that he had to): Likewise, when the people on one side of the debate can say nothing but “so and so is a shill” and “such and such is just spin” I’m not inclined to side with them. That’s all I’m saying.

Substance is the same, the superficial form has changed, and the argument is revealed (from my point of view, *again*) to be a burden of proof argument. Not ad hominem.

We live in a real world

We live in a real world where nobody's perfect. We need to make decisions based on what we can find out, based on uncertain knowledge. The concept of "burden of proof" - whether it is met or not - is an epistemic concept. If one side does not meet its burden of proof then that affects our conclusion.

We are like a court of law. At the end of the trial, the judge needs to make a decision. The reason we need to make a decision is that we need to act. The need for action is something that Austrians can probably explain.

Anyway, I think a lot of

Anyway, I think a lot of people here are overlooking something which directly undermines Sean Lynch's contention: the fact that poisoning the well, personal attacks, etc. are common tactics used by many people against those who claim that anthropogenic climate change is underway. This presents an interesting paradox - if one way to judge whether something is hokum or not is the level of personal attacks, etc. associated with the claim, then what does it say about the issue when all sides are attacking one another via these methods?

Constant, Anecdotal evidence

Constant,

Anecdotal evidence is exactly that, anecdotal evidence. One scientist saying something stupid does not undermine the entire scientific enterprise. I think we can readily agree, however, that scientific studies based on careful work using careful language are something that is common - indeed dominant - in the realm of science.

Now here is a bit of my anecdotal evidence: having perused a lot of climate change literature put out by climatologists I can say that for the most part they use guarded language, are not triumphalist in their claims, and seem to be well within the mainstream of what they say about the evidence they have uncovered. I'm still a skeptic but I remain open to a contrary conclusion.

In sum I would continue to argue that treating the position of pundits as the position of the actual work in the field is simply wrongheaded.

jeffmeh,

As a heads up, that particular criticism of the "hockey stick" has been around for at least two years.

How I Know Global Warming is

How I Know Global Warming is Mostly Baloney
The climate change discussion veers from logic to rhetoric....

Personally, if people were

Personally, if people were not warming the Earth with their greenhouse gases I would be suprised, because my very simple mental model of the situation (pumping greenhouse gases into the air) draws me immediately to the conclusion that we must be warming the Earth.

I'm not arguing for a position on what is probably the case in my opinion, I am arguing for a position on the state of the argument. So don't go saying "I told you so" when (as I think is likely) we get better evidence of what my mental model says is probably happening.

In response to Constant’s

In response to Constant’s list of hurdles, hurdles a and b have been jumped, and c and d partially jumped.

Let's start with b:

b) if it is happening, how much of it is due to human activity

What do we see in the news? We see:

Climate changes such as global warming may be due to changes in the sun rather than to the release of greenhouse gases on Earth.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/56456.stm

Let's look at a:

a) is it happening

What do we find in the newspapers? We find:

There IS a problem with global warming... it stopped in 1998

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2006/04/09/do0907.xml&sSheet=/news/2006/04/09/ixworld.html

Anecdotal evidence is

Anecdotal evidence is exactly that, anecdotal evidence. One scientist saying something stupid does not undermine the entire scientific enterprise.

I do not know how to respond, and the reason I do not know how to respond is that you didn't quote what particular statement you were replying to.

You’re free to keep on

You’re free to keep on with political yapping about how there is no global warming if you like.

Pay attention. I said I think there is global warming. Here are my exact words, posted here:

"Personally, if people were not warming the Earth with their greenhouse gases I would be suprised, because my very simple mental model [*] of the situation (pumping greenhouse gases into the air) draws me immediately to the conclusion that we must be warming the Earth."

[*] simple but I think essentially right

Now, the fact that you can't seem to pay attention shows me that something is inhibiting your mind from operating effectively. What is that? Usually, it's politics, which makes people dumb.

The issue is what is the

The issue is what is the best explanation of the best available empirical evidence, not proof. You only get proof in logic and mathematics.

You're being inconsistent. Just above you talked about contradiction, which strictly speaking concerns logic and is not entirely appropriate when discussing empirical evidence. It's a well known point that no matter what the evidence, you can always add epicycles to a theory to save it, so of course evidence can never strictly contradict a theory. It's a question of goodness of fit.

I understood "contradict" in a loose sense and then used "prove" in a loose sense as well. If you don't like "prove" then drop "contradict".

BTW, even Michael Crichton

BTW, even Michael Crichton agrees (as he stated at the Skeptics Society conference on The Environmental Wars) that (a) the greenhouse effect is real, solidly established physics, (b) CO2 levels in the atmosphere have dramatically increased, and (c) the cause of that CO2 increase is human activity. If you're going to argue for global warming skepticism, those are not the weak premises to attack.

Here's a nice little summary of the history of research on atmospheric CO2 as the primary driver of global temperature:

http://www.aip.org/history/climate/co2.htm

Re: Bob Carter's op ed in

Re: Bob Carter's op ed in the Telegraph claiming global warming "stopped" in 1998:
http://mediamatters.org/items/200604200005

2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005 were all hotter than any year on record prior to 1998, and the first half of 2006 has been the hottest first six months on record for the United States.

Re: the BBC story on the sun's contribution to global warming may be underestimated: true, but that does not contradict anthropogenic causes as the main contribution, which is well established
http://www.dukenews.duke.edu/2005/09/sunwarm.html

"This study does not discount that human-linked greenhouse gases contribute to global warming, they stressed. "Those gases would still give a contribution, but not so strong as was thought," Scafetta said."

BTW, it might be better to go to primary scientific sources than rely on newspaper op-eds to get an accurate picture.

Re: Bob Carter’s op ed in

Re: Bob Carter’s op ed in the Telegraph claiming global warming “stopped” in 1998:

2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005 were all hotter than any year on record prior to 1998, and the first half of 2006 has been the hottest first six months on record for the United States.

Well, duh. That's what one would expect. If global warming stops in 1998 and temperature does not significantly cool after 1998 (which is what one would expect from the statement since global cooling wasn't claimed), then it would follow that 2001 etc. would be hotter than years before 1998.

As for 2006, that's not much to go on.

that does not contradict anthropogenic causes as the main contribution

It contradicts the statement that it is firmly established that anthropogenic causes are the main contributor. Also, your quote says nothing about "main". The issue is whether (a) (b) etc. have been *proven*. Not whether they have been *disproven*. You are shifting the goal posts.

BTW, even Michael Crichton agrees (as he stated at the Skeptics Society conference on The Environmental Wars) that (a) the greenhouse effect is real, solidly established physics, (b) CO2 levels in the atmosphere have dramatically increased, and © the cause of that CO2 increase is human activity. If you’re going to argue for global warming skepticism, those are not the weak premises to attack.

All that can be true and not pass any of the four hurdles I mentioned earlier:

a) is it happening

b) if it is happening, how much of it is due to human activity

c) if it is happening, how much is it happening

d) if it is happening, how bad is it really

Sean, Both sides of most

Sean,

Both sides of most issues with political content are jerks. I'm well educated in science and I think certain things are pretty well established:
1) The hockey stick graph is a mistake.
2) Theoretically human activity should raise the temperature of the earth, unless we have something drastically wrong.
2a) We don't know by how much.
3) The evidence is that we are seeing some degree of global warming.

All that said it really is a non-issue. It's hardly worth talking about if it weren't for all the bad things to anti-capitalists are proposing. We've adapted to far worse in the past and in far shorter time frames. Can anyone say Chicken Little?

I think arguments that claim that global warming isn't happening actually make the situation worse, since we can't get on to more important issues. One should say, "Yes, and so what?".

Constant, :roll:

Constant,

:roll:

I think arguments that claim

I think arguments that claim that global warming isn’t happening actually make the situation worse, since we can’t get on to more important issues.

Nonsense. There is plenty of discussion of the different issues, for example by Lomborg, who focuses on cost and benefit of various things we can do. Anyway life isn't all about political tactics, about what sort of talk serves *the movement* best; and sometimes a scientific issue can be debated for some time. For example Einstein questioned certain aspects of quantum mechanics until his death, but no one suggests that Einstein was anti-scientific. Politics is polluting this issue, and it is polluting the issue on the pro-global-warming side, because it is causing people - like you - to suggest that other people just shut up about their doubts for political reasons.

Constant, You're free to

Constant,

You're free to keep on with political yapping about how there is no global warming if you like. I think however that people like Rush Limbaugh, Dixon and the like claiming it isn't happening are just reinforcing the credibility of the other side. The issue and the solution are politically tied together whether you like it or not. If in fifty years it is quite clear that global warming is occuring who do you think people are going to listen to? Is it going to be the ones who poo-pooed the idea or the socialists who were promoting the issue?

Where can I find the

Where can I find the original, complete version of the "then" graph in the WSJ editorial of 7-14-06, with whole Y axis?

Thanks,

Iris

Here's the data Carter is

Here's the data Carter is commenting on when he says global warming stopped in 1998.

http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/info/warming/

And here's the associated press release from the researchers who collected it:

http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/press/2006-02-hotspots/

"The issue is whether (a) (b) etc. have been proven. Not whether they have been disproven. You are shifting the goal posts."

The issue is what is the best explanation of the best available empirical evidence, not proof. You only get proof in logic and mathematics.

Castillon, Yes, I am aware

Castillon,

Yes, I am aware that that criticism of the hockey stick has been around for a couple of years, but I had not seen it in the MSM.

Constant: I grant your point

Constant:

I grant your point for a loose sense of "proof" and "contradiction" on empirical matters, and withdraw the second half of my 4:39 p.m. comment.