About Those "32,000 Skeptical Scientists..."

One would hope that in the "Information Age," there would actually be more information. And there is. The problem is that there is also more disinformation, and better means of disseminating it. Those who are well-organized and well-funded can easily spread out-right lies long before the truth has a chance to catch up. Nowhere is this more evident than in the global warming debate, an issue that excites a peculiar passion on both sides, but particularly (in my experience) on the side of the deniers.

One bit of nonsense circulating the blogosphere is the tale that 32,000 "leading scientists" are skeptical of climate change. This charge is so easy to debunk, for anybody actually interested in the facts, that you wonder how it could of gotten so much play. But that assumes that anybody is actually interested in the truth, rather then in defending some pre-packaged ideological position. For what it's worth, here is a film that deals with this particular claim:



What saddens me about this debate is that this is an issue where genuine conservatives--meaning those who actually wish to conserve something--should be the leaders and not the deniers. Reverence for the natural order is conservative, or else "conservatism" means nothing at all. The idea that our God-given dominion over the natural order can be expressed as a tyranny, as a bending of nature to our will, no matter how mis-directed that will is, strikes not just at the natural order, but at the moral order as well.

Last week, I published a post which contained some sexual innuendos, which scandalized some of my readers. I suspect, however, that the howls of protest will be much louder in this case. That's okay, so long as we can start a reasonable conversation, one that deals with real issues, and not with trumped up charges from phony "institutes." Let's see how it goes.

48 comments:

Mr. Piccolo,  Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 5:36:00 PM CST  

Good post, Prof. Medaille,

In defense of the climate change skeptics, I think the reason why so many folks are skeptical about climate change is because of the misanthropic attitude of many in the environmental movement.

It is not unusual to find very misanthropic, anti-natalist opinions among the environmentalist set. They blame overpopulation for ruining Mother Earth, and some go as far as supporting China-style population control policies in addition to standard pro-birth control and pro-abortion stances.

Thus, I can see the climate change issue falling into the hands of the wrong people and being used to support anti-natalist, anti-Third World development, and anti-working class policies. But here is where I break with the climate change skeptics.

If climate change is a real, scientific fact (as it seems it very well might be), then conservatives ought to accept this truth and think of alternatives to deal with climate change so that the misanthropes and pro-eugenics types don't get a chance to implement evil policies.

Simply denying the reality of climate change in the face of scientific evidence will not do, and in the long run will probably make things worse.

Reader John Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 5:42:00 PM CST  

I am not a leading scientist. And I don't know whether to believe in man-made climate change. But I believe we're past peak oil, and I'm not betting on the Fuel Fairy bailing us out with 250 mpg of H2O.
So I'm rooting for some pretty serious economic changes consistent with a recognition of limits, and I don't see much of that in the deniers.

Steven P. Cornett,  Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 6:45:00 PM CST  

Dr Medaille,

I myself am a skeptic on man-made global warming, especially given the underreported news of the cherry picking, data destruction, and generally scandalous behavior among the climate scientists at East Anglia University and other places. As a conservative that wishes to conserve nature, I want to protect that nature. But as a conservative, I also want to protect truth. Certainly not when a "theory" is buttressed by deceit as AGW clearly is.

I am a skeptic because, from the evidence before me, AGW simply isn't true! There is noting conservative about acting out what "flows" from AGW since those actions are built on the shifting sands of untruth.

Certainly, there are many changes that need to be made for the betterment of man. Those changes, however, need to be based on the firm foundation of truth, not the shifting sands of a deceitfully promoted theory whose main benefit is to the power elite we claim to stand against.

JimB Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 6:59:00 PM CST  

Based on the “experts” track record of shooting themselves in the foot the past few months I don’t believe it’s necessary to be a “denier” – just stand aside and watch them self-destruct. Their “science” is proving to have about as much value as a Wall Street OTC derivative.

The problem, as Mr. Piccolo has explained so well is that the "science" (junk or otherwise) seems to pick up so many barnacles that by the time the story gets to the people it can barely get any speed. If the scientists were serious about increasing speed and reducing drag in peddling their doomsday scenarios, they’d grab a chipper and diving mask and start scraping the excess appendages off. Until then they won't have an ounce of credibility.

Meanwhile I'll take measures address pollution because I believe that it's the right thing to do, not because Kleiner Perkins, the Oracle of Tennessee, and the UN stand to make billions, or because Prince Philip and David Rockefeller are convinced WE’RE (not they mind you) going to starve if we don't "reduce the surplus population".

Joshua Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 7:40:00 PM CST  

You want to deal with real issues, but you post a nonsense and highly ideologically video, that is full of nothing but nonsequiturs, genetic fallacies, unsubstantiated claims, character assassinations and demagoguery. the video is clearly aimed at liberals (homeschooling "evil" [the reason for the old editions is because they are public domain, so the video did not research], tobacco evil [it is not a sin to use tobacco products according to the Church anyhow], and one scientist who is linked to these and denial of AGW== QED they are wrong). It is just a bunch of nonsequiturs. It harms the credibility of your website that you would post such an obviously ideological video

Have you read Cardinal Pell on this?

JimB Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 7:46:00 PM CST  

Just in from our news room...

Climategate U-turn as scientist at centre of row admits:

* Data for vital 'hockey stick graph' has gone missing...
* There has been no global warming since 1995
* Warming periods have happened before - but NOT due to man-made changes

The academic at the centre of the ‘Climategate’ affair, whose raw data is crucial to the theory of climate change, has admitted that he has trouble ‘keeping track’ of the information.

Colleagues say that the reason Professor Phil Jones has refused Freedom of Information requests is that he may have actually lost the relevant papers.

(at least he didn't say his dog ate it)

Read more:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1250872/Climategate-U-turn-Astonishment-scientist-centre-global-warming-email-row-admits-data-organised.html

Steven P. Cornett,  Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 8:02:00 PM CST  

As I said already, you're swinging with a bad bat there. We have to remember what we're aiming for; which is a society with economics where people matter, to borrow from E.F. Schumacher.

The only way this can succeed is if we build on the truth; ultimately from the teachings of the Church that flow from the Word of God, Jesus Christ. We must not compromise that for anything questionable like AGW, even if we might foresee promising results. If we do, we turn away from God toward an idolatry, a public lie, and our house will fall.

...and great will be the ruin of it.

Praise be Christ the King

Doug C,  Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 8:26:00 PM CST  

You seem to be developing a bad habit of ad hominem attacks. Whether it is labeling climate change skeptics "deniers", taking cheap shots at Sarah Palin, or referneces to members of the Tea Part as Tea Baggers, you do not lend credibility to your arguements.

Only the third paragraph in this post has any substance of an arguement, and it is a straw man. You imply conservatives want to bend "nature to our will, no matter how misdirected that is." That is not a conservative position (although it may be one held by capitalists, socialists, and liberals). Conservatives are conservationists, but that is not the same as preservationists. To preserve means to maintain unchanged, to conserve means to manage responsibly.

The truth is, global warming is man-made, but it is not real. It is the creation of those blinded by ideology who had a cause before they had a theory. Brace yourselves for the cold years ahead, and if we live long enough, we will see it warm again.

Septeus7,  Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 8:45:00 PM CST  

I'm neutral on AGW but I dislike cardon trading and taxing schemes because they don't take into account that many of the advocating such tax where in fact the cause of most the US carbon emissions from coal because they where anti-nukes in the 70s.

Without the neo-Luddite policy created by the advocates of AGW, the United States would already be coal fired power plant free because the rate of Carbon Free nuclear building would had continued there would be no global warming.

I understand it would be unfair to lay all the blame on the greenies but along with Paul Volcker prime rate hike up to 22% American's industrial future was killed.

So when the Luddites Greenies and Paul Volcker agree to pay the problems they caused then I will support Global Warming taxes but without accounting for the past all such carbon regulation become unjust stealing.

Changing topics. Did anyone read the following in the nation?

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20100301/alperowitz_et_al

JimB Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 9:05:00 PM CST  

Septus - I hadn't seen that particular article but there is a massive PR campaign about that project (brought to you by the greenies). There is a blog post about here on DR but I can't find it.

I have some concerns about that project in Cleveland. The first is "The Evergreen Cooperative Development Fund, currently capitalized by $5 million in grants", the second is "The overall strategy is not only to go green but to design and position all the worker-owned co-ops as the greenest firms within their sectors. This is important in itself, but even more crucial is that the new green companies are aiming for a competitive advantage in getting the business of hospitals and other anchor institutions trying to shrink their carbon footprint."

I see a "pay to play" scheme developing on the horizon with some obscure "green certification" being the standard and I suspect this program in CLeveland may be a pilot for it. The Rockefeller has been funding such a program called "B Corp" with "green" and "corporate responsibility" as two of is three legged bottom line. There's a whole lot more to "green" than meets the eye.

http://www.bcorporation.net/

John Médaille Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 9:33:00 PM CST  

Mr. Piccolo, you are correct about the misanthropy of some of the proponents of AGW. However, their position is already proved to be nonsense by the case of China, which has the “best” (that is, the worst) population control policies AND the worst pollution. It is not the number of people that causes the problem, but consumption patterns of a relatively small part of the population. If “population” were the problem, China would be the solution. But now it has both a demographic and a pollution problem.

Reader John. I agree, although AGW is still a problem. Actually, even worse than “peak oil” may be “peak soil,” and the problems are related. The fertilizer industry is a high energy use business. Agri-business thought it didn't have to worry about the soil, because there was oil. Soon there may be neither.

Steven, you allege deceit, but you offer no specifics. How am I to respond?

Joshus, you allege “non-sequitors” and the like, but don't tell us what they are. How am I to respond? Further, they most certainly did not say that homeschooling was evil; they did say that Seitz was scamming the homeschoolers by selling them information they can get for free. Since when is Cardinal Pell either a climate expert or speaking for the Church on this matter?

Jim, not true about the hockey stick, or at least not according to the NOAA. You aren't alleging they are part of the plot as well, are you? If so, on what possible grounds? There has been global warming since 1998; there has been no increase in land temperatures, but a rise in ocean temperatures, which, by the way, is more dangerous. The ocean is a bigger weather maker than the land. And the argument from the Medieval Warming Period is a non-sequitor; the fact that there is natural variation does not invalidate man-made causes. Besides, we have already exceeded the MWP.

Doug, I hardly think it an ad hominem to call AGW deniers deniers. That would seem to be merely descriptive, no?

Sept, I agree about the “cap and trade” nonsense. The worst solution to pollution is to make of it a property right. It is not a right, but a wrong, and should be treated as such. Goldman Sachs is a great supporter of this scheme because they are a market maker in these derivatives in Europe. Like mortgage derivatives, they have an uncertain underlying value, just the kind of thing that makes a market ripe for financial manipulation. It hasn't worked in Europe, and won't work anywhere. Here is an interesting film on this topic: http://www.storyofstuff.com/capandtrade/

I am not quite sure about your point on Volcker. The decline of manufacturing and the financialization of the economy happened later. Volcker's term at the Fed was a failure, but we need not charge him with crimes he didn't commit.

Great story on Cleveland. We must look into this. Anybody from the Cleveland area that can give us some first-hand information?

Steven P. Cornett,  Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 10:28:00 PM CST  

Re: Dr. Medaille,

I did not say you are intending to deceive. I simply stated that the AGW proponents are involved in deceitful and unscientific practices, such as the data destruction that makes their statements unverifiable (and therefore un-disprovable, which makes their claims pseudo-science according to the proper use of the term).

As a verification of the statement about AGW becoming pseudo-science, there are two definitions of it meet the popular expressions of it, and one that fits what East Anglia admitted they did, according to the Wikipedia definition.

1). Lack of openness to testing by other experts:
As the article notes, the raw data has been requested for some time by other scientists and those involved in the issue. The group, and others as well, have worked to prevent such dissemination of information. Moreover, as we now know, this information is now destroyed.
2). Vague, exaggerated, and untestable claims:
Does the reports of "ice-age" freezes caused by the disruption of the salt-water conveyor ring a bell? These claims were made, not coincidentally, a little before the release of the Hollywood disaster film "The Day After Tomorrow." While the media acknowledged the inaccuracies, some hypers of AGW praised the value of the film.
3). Personalization of Issues: Activists regularly calling skeptics of AGW "Global Warming Deniers", and the call for trials and punishment of such by Al Gore and UK Environmental Secretary David Milibrand.

Reason magazine has another article on this disturbing trend.

4). The general attitude to the skeptics, such as you implied in your article, shows an attempt at a reverse burden of proof. In scientific matters, the burden of evidence rests with those making the hypothesis, not on the skeptics of such claims. Yet the backers of AGW have created the atmosphere where the skeptic must "prove" a negative and AGW is invoked to explain every significant weather event. The problem is that a "theory of everything" that sees every event as confirmation, as Karl Popper notes, typically explains nothing.
5). Apparent lack of self-correction, as indicated by the re-appearance of the "Hockey stick" temperature chart for the last 1000 years that makes the Medieval Warm Period disappear. It is the data that makes up the Stick, by the way, that is at the heart of the scandal at East Anglia University.

Another recent example of AGW claims exploding in their faces is the recent admission by the IPCC that the Himalayan glaciers, which were claimed to be "melting by 2035" were based on bad science.

The use of false and politically motivated "knowledge" as the basis of action is deceitful. There is the enough evidence shown to support the conclusion that AGW does meet the criteria for being "pseudo-science," and the continued actions of the EPA and other agencies even in the face of the controversy appear to support that placement.

Steven P. Cornett,  Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 10:59:00 PM CST  

To continue another aspect of my comments:

Are there aspects of our social behaviors that threaten large-scale ecosystems. Most certainly, and we do need to be concerned about them. Some big ones include:

1). The Great Pacific Garbage Patch - yep! You heard it right. There is presently a gyre of marine litter twice the size of Texas in the Northern Pacific.
2). Overfishing - Our present factory fishing culture is destroying wild fishing stocks. Recent reports claim that, at present rates, bluefin tuna is about three years away from the destruction of the breeding stock. The Atlantic Cod stock in the Grand Banks was hunted to destruction in the 1980s, and almost all edible fish stocks are facing similar decline.
As this occurs, the governments use punitive measures that destroy the small self-owned fishing industries. This, unfortunately, leaves the oceans in the hands of the very large-scale factory fishing groups (that can pay for the licenses and hop over the regulations) that are largely responsible for the issue.
3). As I have mentioned previously, there is the abundance of chemicals in our rivers that are causing the "feminization" of fish commonly caught for food and gaming purposes. One of the more effective poisons causing this effect is a byproduct of artificial birth control.
There is also the very use of the government regulation to respond to these issues, which often not only doesn't help nature but leads to the destruction of property and lives.

Surely, there must be a better way of responding to all this.

John Médaille Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 11:00:00 PM CST  

Steven, (BTW, it is "Mr.", not "Dr."; I have but a humble master's degree.) I didn't take your term "deceit" to apply to me, so I am not offended. But I am troubled.

In the first place, it strikes me a silly to allege suppression of free speech when the debates are obviously vigorous, and when opponents are taking out TV ads. Tyranny should be made of sterner stuff.

As for your claims, everybody will grant the error in the Himalayan melt. That it got into the report the IPCC has already acknowledged was a mistake.

But you still allege a lot of things for which you offer little or no substance, such as "lack of openness to testing by others." On what do you base this claim. Certainly NOT the fact that in 1980 (decades before all of this became a controversy) some researches at one university in England threw out some data. That would be meaningful is that was the only data set, which it isn't.

The rest of your evidence seems to be based on Hollywood films. Nobody is being asked to prove a negative. They are being asked to show why the data is wrong. That's the way science (and anything else) works. What else would you expect?

And where is your proof, or even the slightest hint of evidence, for your rather serious charge that the researchers are "politically motivated"? Which researchers? What are their politics? I think one would have to have some very specific knowledge about some very specific persons before making a charge like that.

The test for a Christian is rather simple: Given that someone has the same knowledge of you that you have of these specific researchers, would you consider a charge against yourself of being "deceitful" and "politically motivated" to be fair?

Its a "do unto others," "judge others as you would be judged" sort of thing, isn't it?

Mr. Piccolo,  Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 11:18:00 PM CST  

Prof. Medaille,

I agree. Thank you for the information regarding China and the true nature of the pollution problem. I will have to remember to argue your points when debating misanthropes (there seems to be a lot of them these days).

Steven P. Cornett,  Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 11:25:00 PM CST  

In the first place, it strikes me a silly to allege suppression of free speech when the debates are obviously vigorous, and when opponents are taking out TV ads. Tyranny should be made of sterner stuff.


I pointed out the desire for punishment of skeptics by AGW supporters as evidence of the personalization of issues within that community. This was an aspect of determining whether an idea is developing as a scientific issue or has become pseudo-science, and my contention that AGW has become the later.

Coll Monday, February 15, 2010 at 2:03:00 AM CST  

Hi John and fellow Distributists,

I'm somewhat confused about Global Warming theory in general, and not because I'm disinterested or a bit slow, but that the issue itself is confused. It seems to me a scientific issue in which very little scientific debate occurs, but lots of zealous politics does. . I agree with others that the term "deniers" is divisive as it is used to label not only anyone who only disagrees with the science, but those of us who simply ask for the evidence. "Let me tell you," said Al Gore famously, "the science is solid." If it is solid it aught be no offence taken when questions are asked. Similarly the Climate-gate scandal– whilst I agree that it is a case of either drastic fraud or serious incompetence – does not prove that AWG is not happening. The "fact" that climate change supporters [or whatever name they are given] might include the mandatory birth control and anti religion crowd is irrelevant to the science of the Climate. The "fact" climate change sceptics [or whatever name they are given] might include people who support tobacco usage or segregation is irrelevant to the science of the Climate.
A real concern however, is not in the petty screaming and name calling from both sides, but in the response to it. If the science is real and is as bad as we are told, and I would suggest it is hard for most of us, if in fact any of us to determine this, then work should be done to prepare for it. Instead we see governments putting up taxes, and entrepreneurs developing schemes where a wealthy person can buy indulgences in the form of investment in "carbon sinks" and then justify their rampant consumption on the fact that they are magically neutral. If climate change is coming and we can't stop it, as they say, surely the global focus must be on the fate of the millions of displaced people in the third world, rather than on stopping them attaining a western lifestyle.
The other real concern for me personally are the many serious conservation issues that have be set aside (read: lost funding) because they are not carbon-based issues. The problems with phosphates and the like in water, deforestation of waterways, and rampant industrial sprawl are still as much a concern as they were when they were the trendy issue of the day.
But I am not a scientist, nor an industrialist. I am just a father and a software engineer, and hopefully this year a better gardener than last. And a Distributist. So I do not believe that the centralised global comsumption-based industrial conglomerate will solve the problem any more than I would ask a fox to go and stop whatever it is that is eating my chickens.
Coll.

Chris Campbell Monday, February 15, 2010 at 9:04:00 AM CST  

No one ever address pollution on it own without immediately going to "climate change", whether Greens or Ditto heads.....there is rarely debate about effects of globalization and mass industry...also, what about those solar flares?

As far as conservatism, RL Dabney, a presbyterian, stated well about those 150 yrs ago and esp today that call themselves conservatives:

"Conservatism's history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is today one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will tomorrow be forced upon its timidity and will be succeeded by some third revolution, to be denounced and then adopted in its turn. American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward to perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. This pretended salt hath utterly lost its savor: wherewith shall it be salted? Its impotency is not hard to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It tends to risk nothing serious for the sake of truth."

Daniel Monday, February 15, 2010 at 10:19:00 AM CST  

If I am reading John's words correctly, and interpreting them properly, and that he is actually taking this man-made global warming nonsense seriously, then, simply, words fail me. There is nothing I can say that would be adequate to the occasion other than yes, John, I am denying man-made global climate change.

Those who promote this rubbish remind me of the famous Groucho Marx character who when confronted with some disagreement over an outlandish remark says, "Who are you going to belive? Me, or the evidence of your own eyes?"

Lastly, John, if I may offer what I hope is a helpful suggestion: kindly leave the Junior High-level dirty jokes to your opponents. If we can do nothing else in our debates with people we can at least behave like ladies and gentlemen.

John Médaille Monday, February 15, 2010 at 11:29:00 AM CST  

Daniel, I most certainly do take it seriously, and the reason I do is, well, your arguments. You say that there is "nothing you can say." I assert, there is something you can say: you can point me to serious evidence. Instead, you just ASSERT "rubbish" is the face of all the evidence. I am quite willing to be persuaded to the other side, if they would only offer any evidence. But when they do offer evidence, like the bogus "32,000 leading scientists" claim, it nearly always turns out to be easily debunked.

So give me something to go on, Daniel.

Chris Campbell Monday, February 15, 2010 at 12:37:00 PM CST  

We cannot ourselves change climate, we can pollute it.

There is a movie, hopefully still on Google/youtube taht is called:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5576670191369613647

Several articles out there that point that the 'we are destroying the ozone" is a ploy for foundations/think tanks to get mroe moeny and greater power...also tied to gaia Mother earth worship...

we should address, instead, pollution for industry affecting air quality, water, soil,etc..and ignore the pagainistic Green/Climate change/sky is falling crowd...remember,Distribs are the true "greens" if you will....

This Liberal Monday, February 15, 2010 at 1:13:00 PM CST  

I'm curious, how does the topic of AGW relate to Distributism? I suppose that you could make the case (as many do) that a Distributist society would be more environmentally sustainable, and contribute less to AGW, although I'm not sure this follows directly.

It seems to me that one could be in support of Distributist principles entirely apart from their support or lack of support for the theory of AGW. Perhaps we should be discussing ways in which AGW impacts Distributist efforts or principles? I think discussions on the validity of these theories is best left to other fora.

Donald Goodman Monday, February 15, 2010 at 2:31:00 PM CST  

+AMDG

I'm not a climatologist. But I do know a little about programming, and Eric Raymond, who is politically a nut but computationally brilliant, knows a *lot* about programming, even FORTRAN and IDL. And here's what he found in the leaked "Climategate" programs:

http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=1447

The basic gist of it is as follows:

Wait just a second. Explain this to me like I’m 12. They didn’t even bother to fudge the data? They hard-coded a hockey stick carrier right into the program?!!

ESR says: Yes. Yes, that’s exactly what they did.


That doesn't mean that climate change isn't real, or that it isn't man-made. But it *does* mean that at least some of its proponents, including some of its leading proponents, are fudging. And that makes me wonder.

Praise be to Christ the King!

John Médaille Monday, February 15, 2010 at 4:40:00 PM CST  

Chris, I am not quite sure why you assert that we can pollute the climate, but not change it. Isn't pollution a change to the climate? I'm not quite sure what the source of your confidence on this question. Perhaps you could expand a bit.

As to the movie. It is an hour and fifteen minutes long, so I haven't had a chance to listen to the whole thing. However, I have sampled bits of it to see the tenor of it, and it is not good. The three points I got were not only wrong, there presentation struck me as deceptive.

For example, they dicussed the fact that a rise in the CO2 lags the start of deglaciation in the ice ages by 800 years, and spoke of this if it were something unknown to the climate scientists. But in fact, not only is the process known, it was predicted 20 years ago. The ice ages are controlled not by CO2, but by the Milankovitch cycles, changes in the earth's orbit and the precession and obliquity of its axis. As the ice begins to melt, CO2 is released from the deep ocean, a process that takes from 800 to 1000 years, and which then accelerates the deglaciation. What was deceptive about this presentation is that no climate scientist ever thought that changes in CO2 were responsible for the ice ages, a process that has been understood for some time.

The next point I heard was that the troposphere was not warming, which contradicted the theory. In fact, it is, and in line with the predictions. There was some problems in satellite data that were not corrected for diurnal drift (they crossed the equator at different points each orbit.) The person who put this claim, Bob Carter, has since retracted it: "By mistake the graph that was reproduced in the Telegraph article was for the middle troposphere. Though it does not materially affect the argument or conclusions, I am embarrassed by it because it can be made to look as if I was pulling a swiftie - which I wasn't (intending to)."

I think the next claim I got (although this may be from a different source--people are sending me all sorts of weird stuff) is the the volcanoes put out more CO2 than man does. In the first place, even if this were true, it is meaningless; the planet has evolved to absorb all the CO2 it produces. But in fact, the claim isn't true. Undersea volcanoes do, but the CO2 is absorbed by the new lava fields. Volcanoes in the air put out 242 million tons of CO2, but man-made sources put out 29 Billion tons, or 100 times the volcanoes.

If the rest of the films claims are as flimsy as these ones, it raises no serious scientific challenge. However, I suspect science isn't the point of the film

Donald Goodman Monday, February 15, 2010 at 5:34:00 PM CST  

+AMDG

Well, I finally got to watch the video itself, and I found it rather weak. Certainly, the claims of global warming skeptics are often overblown (people claiming that it's transparently nonsense, for example), but this sort of thing is equally overblown.

This video takes one scientist, says that he used to work for the tobacco industry and is therefore totally unreliable, and then extrapolates from that that the many signers of a given petition are also fraudulent. To say that the number 30,000 is unreliable is fine; to say that this means there's no body of scientists who disagree with climate change is not.

Not to mention that it's circular. Seitz worked for tobacco, so he's unreliable; but when tobacco says he's senile, *that*'s reliable. Are tobacco's opinions reliable or not?

It's just guilt by association. The bulk of the video is about Seitz and his former association with tobacco, which says nothing about his credentials regarding the peer-review process. Then it shows a bunch of folks from Deliverance and says, "These could be leading scientists." Yes, because as we all know, Southerners who dance to banjo music are hillbilly morons not worth listening to. Certainly none of them could be educated and understand the issues.

Whether the signers of the petition in question are all genuine or not is beside the point. The 30,000 claim is clearly questionable; someone would have to go through all the names and check up on every one, and it's unlikely that anyone will do so. But this video is transparent propaganda little better, if at all, from what it purports to debunk.

Praise be to Christ the King!

John Médaille Monday, February 15, 2010 at 6:32:00 PM CST  

Donald, I don't quite understand your complaint. The film does not "take one person"; it takes one claim--that there are 32,000 "leading scientists" opposed to AGW--a claim traces to one person. It is fair to recount his history, a history of "research" paid for by the tobacco industry which somehow could never find a link between disease and smoking. That's not guilt by association.

He has no "peer review" credentials on this issue. Not one. Further, he faked articles and forced the NSA to rebuke him publicly for misleading the public.

Further, the question is not whether "all" the names are genuine, the question is whether ANY of the names are genuine, in the sense of being "leading scientists," or anything else. Anybody who wanted could sign to petition, and no checking was done.

If all that is weak, what would you consider strong? Is there any evidence that would sway you, or is your mind made up forever?

Donald Goodman Monday, February 15, 2010 at 8:01:00 PM CST  

+AMDG

I think it's clear, from my postings, that I don't really have an opinion on climate change. I don't know the issues thoroughly. I am appalled at the nonsense that's been going on, nonsense that's come from both sides of the issue. So it's not a matter of swaying me, because I don't have an opinion to sway me away from.

Anyway, it certainly makes me think that this individual petition is questionable. It doesn't make me think that it's useless, nor that there isn't a large number of scientists doubtful about anthropogenic climate change, because it doesn't address that issue at all.

I disagree with your analysis; it *is* guilt by association. This guy's associated with the tobacco industry (which itself no longer likes him, as the video itself admits), and therefore he's full of garbage about everything. There was no showing of any connection to anyone who has an interest in climate change, as far as I remember. Not to mention the circularity I pointed out; when tobacco supports him, it's Evil, but when tobacco opines about his senility, it's Infallible. And it repeatedly showed people smoking through tracheotomies, which isn't even remotely relevant to climate change. It's designed to evoke an emotional reaction, not a rational choice. Which makes it propaganda, pure and simple.

The problem with the "who agrees with me as opposed to who agrees with you" argument is that there's really no way to convince anyone of the contrary without an unfeasible amount of hard work. The only way to prove or disprove this particular 30,000 scientists claim would be to go through each name on the petition and verify or disprove its authenticity. Is anybody from either side prepared to do this?

Rather than fussing about whether or not 30,000 scientists disagree with anthropogenic climate change, why don't we talk about---oh, I don't know---*anthropogenic climate change*?

A real expose of the issues, including the science on both sides, would be enormously helpful to people like me, who don't want to make their decisions based on emotionally charged propaganda like this video, or on hysterical antiscientific nonsense as is often seen from the skeptics.

Unfortunately, we never see such exposes. Instead, we see Republicans saying, "Climate change is an international conspiracy to bring on world government," and we see Democrats saying, "Anyone who begins to question climate change is a reactionary fundamentalist whacko." Neither of these is helpful to anyone, and this video is just part and parcel of this emotional, irrational milieu.

Praise be to Christ the King!

John Médaille Monday, February 15, 2010 at 8:12:00 PM CST  

Pointing out that a person used 45 million dollars in tobacco company money and claimed is not "guilt by association"; it's pointing to his record as a researcher.

He made the claim that he has 32,000 scientists; last I checked the rules of evidence (and logic) the burden of proof is on the affirmative. No one need disprove his claims, they merely need to point out that he hasn't supported his claims.

And we have talked about AGW, and yes, it is necessary to debunk the more obvious propaganda lies--like this one--that are used to mislead people.

Coll Monday, February 15, 2010 at 9:03:00 PM CST  

"This Liberal" asks what I think are the $32000 and $64000 questions.
Firstly is it possible to be Distributists and disagree on the science of climate change? In my opinion, yes. We are Distributists and we have a history of disagreeing with each other. I'd like to see more tolerance of disagreement, after all we are not advocates of the monolithic all-consuming state or corporation. As to whether the science ought to be debated here, I say that no topic should be off limits. I am Catholic all day even at work. I am a Distributst no matter how clean the air is. However, there seem to be people on both sides of this "debate" who don't follow up with pointers to evidence.

And for the $64,000 question ($72,000 Australian pesos for me) : what are the Distributist aspects of this debate? Excellent question. As you've already touched on Distributism advocates simpler living and localism which, 99% of the time, is less ecologically destructive and has a lower ecological footprint. Secondly the rampant comsumptionism of today leads to problems of usurious decisions being made in production – eg crops grown for biodiesel in the third world so that people in the First world can cruise guilt free in the luxury Hummers, sipping their pressed-wheat grass lattes and non-alcoholic champagne. The goal of the grocer in the distributist society is to earn a living by providing goods for the community and an outlet for producers. The goal of the grocery outfit under the present system is to covert something, anything, into the bottom lines with more black ink (the grocer himself being part of that anything which is to be consumed by the enterprise in this manner).
The other aspect of this is that global ecological problems (whether AWG or whatever) are presently addressed by large global organisations, which will not work out well. The "Big Picture" is important, but it needs to be remembered that big pictures of any value are painted with the tiniest brushes. Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel with brushes with a mere handful of bristles, so delicate was his work. The large paint rollers and high-pressure spray-guns, which the large organisations use to paint their monolithic "big picture" tend to lose a lot of the detail. Large sweeping taxes, global bans on products and techniques, rock concerts and orgies of hand-ringing will be at best futile and at worse making the problem worse.
Like any major problem in society, environmental problems will be solved by local action. The supreme example is Our Lord who started with those people he met in day to day life. The great empire-wide councils etc came later, but the first was the establishment of a consciousness at the local level. Subsidiarity dictates that any global and even national involvement should be to support local improvements.

Athanasius Tuesday, February 16, 2010 at 12:26:00 AM CST  

John,

Climate change is a fact of nature, and it happens in a normal cycle every few hundred years. That is life, and it is something we must adjust to. It is not man made. There is simply no dichotomy between being a genuine environmentalist and dissenting from the man made global warming dogma.
Frankly I find the whole thing superstitious if not asinine. The global temperature during the middle ages was 2-3 degrees warmer than it is at the present, yet medievals did not have worldwide industrialism. That doesn't mean that pollutants are neutral and no regulation is needed, but the whole green house gas concept is a farce, which has lead to the hysteria of suggesting that everyone become vegetarians to stop cows from contributing to global warming. It is pure superstition. It suggests that God, in giving man the ability to create and manipulate technology, could not give him the ability to use it without destroying the planet. It is contrary to the principle of divine economy.

observer,  Tuesday, February 16, 2010 at 12:39:00 AM CST  

The best article I've read on this specific topic, not AGW but the political debate that puts conservatives in the position of not conserving and liberals in the position of being illiberal, was written by Stewart Brand and published in the NY Times.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/15/opinion/15brand.html?_r=1&scp=3&sq=stewart%20brand&st=cse

Bsdouglass Tuesday, February 16, 2010 at 5:28:00 AM CST  

Athanasius, don't you know that the Middle Ages were the "Age of Faith" and that all that incense use triggered their climate change? That's why the liberals can't stand the return of the TLM ;)

Chris Campbell Tuesday, February 16, 2010 at 7:24:00 AM CST  

some discussions here:

http://www.cathinfo.com/index.php?a=topic&t=8752#p12

Chris Campbell Tuesday, February 16, 2010 at 7:31:00 AM CST  

God allows us to pollute and the consequences, true, but to say that man is killing hte ozone layer and changing climate shows a lack of faith in Gods providence....we have changes over the years, min-ice ages, then warm periods, long before factories and cars,etc...God is in charge, He established the seasons and He established the cycles...we cannot destroy the planet, but we can pollute it....the Green movement has a false suppesition that we alone destroy the world and we alone can seave it...saving is Gods domain...we do our part not buy worrying, buying in to the heavy laded pagan/earth worship-but by being good stewards...the environmental movement is based on Govt/big business generated hysteria and fear...problem-action-solution...

Donald Goodman Tuesday, February 16, 2010 at 7:37:00 AM CST  

+AMDG

"Pointing out that a person used 45 million dollars in tobacco company money and claimed is not "guilt by association"; it's pointing to his record as a researcher."

Saying that his former association with the tobacco industry, which ended two decades ago, and which industry itself is apparently dissatisfied with his performance, in order to disprove his opinions about a completely unrelated bit of science, is guilt by association.

That's ignoring the fact that his record as a researcher is irrelevant, *since he's done no research into climate change*, nor has he claimed to have done so.

That's further ignoring the circular argumentation employed, which I've mentioned twice now.

That video was designed to evoke a visceral, emotional response, nor to inform rational people about the issues to enable rational choices.

"He made the claim that he has 32,000 scientists; last I checked the rules of evidence (and logic) the burden of proof is on the affirmative. No one need disprove his claims, they merely need to point out that he hasn't supported his claims."

In logic, there is no burden of proof anywhere; a proposition is either valid or invalid. There's a burden in the sense that the person making a claim has to make a valid one, but there's no hurdle that a proposer must meet once he's made a valid argument.

Seitz's claim is not logical, anyway, nor is the opposition to it. He claims that he can prove that these particular scientists don't believe in climate change. That is a collection of facts. Facts are not reasoned to; they are ascertained. There's no attempt, or necessity, to proceed from one known proposition to an unknown one.

But sure, he's got the burden of proving his claim. He put forward a petition which he says proves it. Buried among the propaganda, there was a bit of useful information in this video regarding the reliability of those claims. Great. But that doesn't mean that (a) there aren't scientists who oppose the theory of man-made climate change, or (b) that this petition doesn't contain many such scientists, or (c) that anthropogenic climate change is true. As such, it doesn't really prove anything.

I don't care how many scientists support or oppose climate change; I care about whether it's man-made or not. Show me the issues, don't show me who supports one or the other.

Stalin opposed capitalism, but that doesn't mean that those who oppose capitalism are Stalinists.

"And we have talked about AGW, and yes, it is necessary to debunk the more obvious propaganda lies--like this one--that are used to mislead people."

Debunking propaganda with more propaganda is a small victory at best.

Saying we've discussed the issues about global warming thoughtfully, and then presenting open propaganda like this as a useful information source, is unhelpful, in my opinion.

Still, I suppose it hasn't been a complete waste, insofar as now I'm applying myself to learning about the whole issue, so I can make an informed decision not based on one man's former association with a tobacco industry that has rejected him, but on the issues themselves.

Praise be to Christ the King!

Donald Goodman Tuesday, February 16, 2010 at 10:06:00 AM CST  

+AMDG

"There is simply no dichotomy between being a genuine environmentalist and dissenting from the man made global warming dogma."

This is clearly true. One can be both a true environmentalist and not believe that man is causing global warming.

"It suggests that God, in giving man the ability to create and manipulate technology, could not give him the ability to use it without destroying the planet. It is contrary to the principle of divine economy."

I don't think this is a fair critique, at least in this discussion. Nobody is suggesting that man *can't* make good use of his resources safely; they're only suggesting that he *isn't* at the present time.

I think the latter suggestion is clearly true, with or without AGW.

My main dispute with the anthropogenic climate change debate is the ludicrous dichotomy that's so often proposed, and that this video is guilty of employing. You're either:
1.) an enlightened, scientific, intelligent, and sophisticated global citizen concerned about the safety of the environment; or
2.) an uneducated, idiotic, ignorant whacko, and probably a churchgoer to boot, and if you do happen to have an education you're obviously in league with the oil interests.
The constant references to anyone who doubts AGW as a "denier," in exactly the same way we refer to Holocaust deniers, only emphasizes the point.

Praise be to Christ the King!

Chris Campbell Tuesday, February 16, 2010 at 2:52:00 PM CST  

Donald says "This is clearly true. One can be both a true environmentalist and not believe that man is causing global warming."

Amen, those are called Distributists!! We are the true "greens", without the big corp/big think tanks/big NGO's and their media minions...want to fight pollution and environmental disasters? Live a distributist life and encourage others to do so...only by getting back to the vision of Fr. McNabb,et all will we really see the difference....no crowded cities, huge belching factories (or less),etc.

another good topic for discourse posted!

Steven P. Cornett,  Tuesday, February 16, 2010 at 5:43:00 PM CST  

Re: Chris,

God gave man the Dominion over the Earth in the same way he gave Saul the Kingship of Israel, and Solomon and his sons kingship of Judah. In both cases, they are intended as a priest-king type of rule; a case of servant leadership. Similarly, the role of husband in a marriage is of the same type of leadership. Christ Himself gives us the model: "Those who would be great among you must be servants of all."

In all these cases, when we violate the role by trying to divide it, as a married couple when it attempts to use contraception to divide the procreative and the live-giving aspects of the martial act, a king attempts to use the rule for his own ends, or when we attempt to use the Earth for our own greeds without regard to our life-protecting duties, we sin. All sin has consequences, whatever it is, and those consequences are always disastrous.

Septeus7,  Tuesday, February 16, 2010 at 6:27:00 PM CST  

Quote from John: I am not quite sure about your point on Volcker. The decline of manufacturing and the financialization of the economy happened later. Volcker's term at the Fed was a failure, but we need not charge him with crimes he didn't commit.

It is true the largest declines in manufacturing happened after Volker but I believe he started the process. It was during Carter that usury laws where repealed along with many other policies that proved quite terrible.

In the case of the nuclear industry, the cost overruns went through the roof because of the Volcker interest rates so nobody wanted to invest especially when we had other political factors (the strange convergence of greens and coal) scaring investors away.

I'm not say we blame Volcker for everything but he certainly bares some of the blame and whatever we do going forward we have some of the history of how got here.

Although I might have come off as anti-green I'm only anti a particular kind of green that is a misanthropic anti-tech trying to undo the industrial revolution and fails to understands some basic physical ideas such as energy density.

I respect AGW folks like Barry Brooks who is a green but offers workable solutions and not stupid projects like windmills and biofuels.

I think it with folks like Barry we should be working with and figuring out how to decentralized/localist and protectionist economics with capital intensive high technology projects that are required for a cleaner environment and a better living standard.

I believe we have to re-industrialized so we should do in a better way that allows more distributed ownership and involved citizens crafting policy. If we work hard and with God's grace de-industrialization could be turned into a blessing if we find a more perfect way to re-industrialize.

I believe that this depression if it teaches more humility and thoughtfulness could be quite good but we must work to make this so because I don't believe this ordinarily the case.

We walk a fine line between many extremist on both sides. I'm as suspicious of as many things labeled "green" as I am things labeled "conservative."

observer,  Tuesday, February 16, 2010 at 7:03:00 PM CST  

God allows us to pollute and the consequences, true, but to say that man is killing hte ozone layer and changing climate shows a lack of faith in Gods providence....

We should put God to the test?

John Médaille Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 8:24:00 AM CST  

Sept, the usury laws were sate laws, and were, in effect, repealed by the Supreme Court, which ruled that every state had to honor the laws of every other state. South Dakota dropped its usury laws, and all the credit card companies moved there.

I agree with you about opposing the misanthropic "greens" (who should really be "reds," as in both "communism" and "blood"). But we strengthen them when we merely ignore the actual science in favor of propaganda. We get labelled as pre-scientific nut cases, unable to do anything but engage in propaganda.

I also agree that the current crises is an opportunity. The last time this happened, we got a basic change from a kind of laissez faire to Keynesianism. But that string is played out, and won't work anymore. What comes next is up to us. I feel pretty sure there will be a period of military dictatorship in the next 5-10 years, but it will not be able to maintain its grip, and its very failure will force re-localization of the economy.

observer,  Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 10:45:00 AM CST  

I feel pretty sure there will be a period of military dictatorship in the next 5-10 years, but it will not be able to maintain its grip, and its very failure will force re-localization of the economy.

I'm hoping you're wrong here, as a "re-localization of the economy" after things fall apart could easily mean the re-imposition of feudalism, in which "lords" are merely the most ruthless of citizens.

John Médaille Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 11:22:00 AM CST  

Observer, you don't hope I'm wrong anymore than I hope I'm wrong; I will love it if I am proven to be the fool on this one. But you are right that "localism" could mean warlordism. But it is in our power to act, to shape our future. The current system has no future; what will be is up to us.

Mr. Piccolo,  Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 1:30:00 PM CST  

While I agree that we need a fundamental change towards more economic democracy (whether we call it distributism, guild socialism, etc.), I think we should be careful not to blame New Deal-style Keynesianism for all of the messes we are currently in. I know most of the people who read this blog are probably not too keen on the New Deal or similar systems, but I think the current system has enough differences from the old post-war consensus that we can say that it is something different, probably best called neoliberalism.

Yes, the neoliberal system does maintain a lot of Keynesian characteristics, mostly to keep the ship afloat, but there are some important differences, like the fact that the neoliberals have largely eliminated the government-corporate-labor alliance for stability, with labor getting the short end of the stick.

The neoliberals have also eliminated many regulations that were probably helpful given the realities of the capitalist system, such as the Glass-Steagall Act.

The result is a Big Government system that primarily works for the rich, whereas the old Keynes-Beveridge consensus system at least worked for most of the population most of the time.

A good number of progressives have been writing about this issue, and even though I don’t agree with them on a lot of issues, I think they make some good arguments, particularly Thomas Frank, who also takes the Democrats to task for abandoning working-class social conservatives.

Frank makes a number of arguments regarding how the Republicans and New Democrats have made government much less effective at actually governing for the common good through things like government worker salary freezes, privatization, tax cuts for the wealthy and subsidies that bring down government revenue and create immense deficits, etc.

Frank also does a good job contrasting Big Government under the neoliberals versus under the Keynes-Beveridge/New Deal consensus. For example, a while back I remember some conservatives complaining about how the D.C. Metro area has become one of the wealthiest in the country. They of course blamed this on Big Government, and they were right, but not in the way they thought.

As Thomas Frank argues, whereas the growth of government during the New Deal consensus era usually involved the growth of a middle-class bureaucracy, the new wealth boom around D.C. is largely the result of the growth of a parasitic lobbyist/government contractor industry, much worse than existed in the period 1933-1973.

It is privatization and other neoliberal policies that have lead to the emergence of private palaces in the D.C. area, which stand in contrast to the modest homes for government workers from the New Deal era.

Now, I think there are plenty of good criticisms of New Dealism/Social Democracy, many of which I have absorbed reading this blog and Kevin Carson’s blog. But where I differ from Carson especially is the belief that government is a bad thing per se and that if the system collapsed people would freely cooperate to make a better world along left-libertarian lines. I don’t think that is realistic. I think if (God forbid) the system totally collapsed, we would end up with rule by gangsters or mafias/militias.

That is why I am more attracted to systems like distributism or guild socialism, because (as far as I know) both of these systems accept a role for the State.

On a happier note, I agree with Prof. Medaille, people need to help each other more, and I really liked the post on “Well Fed Neighbors.” Also, sorry to go off topic with such a long post, but this issue was brewing in my mind for a while.

Brien Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 6:17:00 PM CST  

Mr. Medaille,
Is there a simple, well-written online source for the evidence in favor of artificial climate change that you recommend? Or good books on the subject?

I'm currently undecided at the moment, and would be interested in the truth of the matter.

Regards,
Brien Hartung

Richard Aleman Saturday, February 20, 2010 at 8:46:00 AM CST  

Dear Friends in Christ,

I thought I might weigh on the “global warming” controversy. Given the various positions in this box one is lead to inevitably admit that while we have our disagreements, this debate is certainly not over, unlike our politicians wish to declare.

I side with fellow Review contributor Donald Goodman. It seems that the facts have been obfuscated. As a consequence the layman is bombarded with propaganda in lieu of an authentic and productive demonstration pro or contra.

I think it is fair to say that the term “global warming” is a hijacking of words. Most of us would agree that there is indeed an increase in temperature, yet “global warming” or “climate change” have become political terms just as “free market” and “free trade” have. These words seem innocent enough. Looked upon at face value they do not convey with any exactitude what they truly mean in a political sense. The debate is neither about the warmth of the planet or of cyclical variances in temperatures. If everyone agrees, I would narrow the debate to the environmental effects of industry (although some of the hard-line environmentalists would claim man’s basic needs are destructive to the planet). The question is, as I see it, whether or not the effects of industry (be they through production, acquisition of raw materials, etc.) cause our planet’s temperature to increase. This is not about them producing environmental or health concerns.
I think most distributists would agree they do. Again, the question is whether or not man, through industry, is responsible for the rise in global temperatures.

I admit that I am prejudiced. Whenever any movement or claim rejects the potential for further study, closes the door on scrutiny, or demonizes skepticism with propaganda terms like “denier,” I begin to question its motives. Thank goodness for this prejudice. I wouldn’t have become a distributist without it. The right to question is pivotal in a free society. Labeling and name-calling in place of arguing the facts is catering to trendy society, so that instead of truly presenting the facts we resort to advertising. This is exactly what we distributists have been attempting to squash.

Now no distributist is obligated to believe or not to believe in global warming. As a result, it is my hope we will be able to debate topics like these pro/contra for the new The Distributist Review.

Finally, I wish to say that I am no enemy of science. I want to make this clear unless I am accused otherwise. However, I will also say that growing up I was assured Pluto was a planet. Now it isn’t. I don’t deny empiricism, I only admit to being cautious of fashion.

Chris Campbell Monday, March 8, 2010 at 12:34:00 PM CST  

Steven,

agree God gave us dominion, but it is not absolute, it is in accordance with His Will....

some good discussions!

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