Saturday, January 27, 2007

Harvard Study Disproves Unprecedented Global Warming

I started a discussion in the on-line edition of the Contra Costa Times, which covers the East Bay section of the San Francisco Bay Area. Alice and I lived in this area for many years. Before we met, Alice lived in Dublin thirty miles east of Oakland for about fifteen years, and I lived in Vallejo and Walnut Creek for seven years. Together we lived in Livermore for nine years. Alice’s daughters have lived in the area for several years now, and we visit them frequently.

All of this may explain why I started the discussion in our former “hometown” newspaper by posting “Global Warming – A Stroll Through the European Countryside” in its entirety on the news forum section of I titled my contribution (modestly), “Global Warming Totally Debunked.”

If you have been one of several fortunate visitors to “Strong As An Ox etc.,” you will remember that my post leans heavily on a study from Harvard: "20th Century Climate Not So Hot"

A review of more than 200 climate studies led by researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has determined that the 20th century is neither the warmest century nor the century with the most extreme weather of the past 1000 years. The review also confirmed that the Medieval Warm Period of 800 to 1300 A.D. and the Little Ice Age of 1300 to 1900 A.D. were worldwide phenomena not limited to the European and North American continents. While 20th century temperatures are much higher than in the Little Ice Age period, many parts of the world show the medieval warmth to be greater than that of the 20th century.

When I found this study I said words to the effect of: “Hot Damn! A Harvard study – a Harvard study! Can you flipping believe it!? Harvard!” – that succinctly states my argument that today’s Global Warming has meaning and significance only because Al Gore has cynically milked it to arouse a cult of True Believers; True Believers in the usefulness of Global Warming to put government in charge of all our personal and economic decisions by making the task/objective/campaign/war to stop Global Warming the overarching concern of mankind.

Anyway, I copied and posted my entire article, and was extremely and pleasantly surprised when everything – the links, the graphs – posted identically to what I’d painstakingly crafted on “Strong As An Ox etc.”

I had mentally established criteria for evaluating any replies my article generated. A reply to be considered responsive would have to directly refute the Harvard study on factual grounds, not on the basis of such “proof” as computer generated models of expected future events based on the ability of computers to project the future from selectively chosen data. “Garbage in, garbage out” is not proof of anything, except computers’ abilities to recycle garbage and have it come out smelling like prophecy.

A further criterion: The reply would have to respond to the Harvard study instead of criticizing me personally or professionally for my role in bringing the study to the readers’ attention. Although I am an admittedly partisan Republican supporter, I know for absolute fact I had nothing to do with causing the Harvard study and its conclusions. I assume the same can be said for the Republican Party, since recent surveys of political affiliations in academia show that less than ten percent of faculty and administration in schools of higher education admit or profess support of the Republican Party.

Claiming there is a vast conservative conspiracy that created the Harvard study is not adequate refutation of the study. Name the names. If you know the conservatives did the evil deed, you must know how and with whom they conspired to do it, right?

The reply should also show why a scientific consensus that man is causing unprecedented global warming trumps a scientific study that proves he is not.

This was the opening reply from “coolerhead”:

I find the reaction of the religious right on this issue apt.
On the one hand they are quick to warn that God is ready to return and wreak his vengeance on all sinners, engulfing the world in flaming destruction.
But that fiery end can't come in the form of "global temperature change" because that is merely a liberal hoax.

I replied:

I suppose any things can be connected in some way, but it's hard for me to connect Global Warming with a Biblical fiery end.

I think a belief in man-caused Global Warming is a belief system, a religion, not a science, because there have been many previous periods of global warming, the interglacial periods, and none were caused by man. Why we feel compelled now to take credit for it and turn over control of our lives and economies to governments defies logic.

The Earth itself tells its story, and it is clear and unambiguous. Any reasonable person standing next to an archeologist explaining the evidence of the Medieval Warm Period can never believe in the hysteria fanned by Al Gore and his "consensus-based" scientists.

Coolerhead responded:

Sure, but the world didn't end in those previous periods of "global temperature change."
It is possible and perhaps likely that civilization will end from burning up, whether from greenhouse gasses (which is what the "consensus" scientists have been talking about for decades and currently warn is ominously spiking), or by solar combustion, or nuclear war, etc.
Whatever the manner, it is typical for religious zealots to ascribe disasters to acts of God punishing sinners. If, in 40 years, the Republican position maintains its predominance and the dire predictions (sic) do come about, I fully expect non-Republicans to be blamed for incurring God's wrath.
However, at present, this is a political issue, and the reality of it can be dismissed without consequence. After all, this is not our problem, but that of our children and
their children. It is the Republican thing to do to dismiss and ignore it because it can be plausibly denied.
Like the Iraq War, the only significant block of people who don't hold the majority position are partisan Republicans. I don't mean the position that Global Warming is true, but that it MIGHT be true.
Only partisan Republicans argue that THEY KNOW it is bogus, and they do so ONLY because that is their official party position. After all, the good of the Republican Party is equal to, if not more important than, the good of the country or the world.
If you are wrong, however, you have contributed to the end of civilization for the sake of your Party and its machine.

Time out. Before I post my reply to Coolerhead’s response, please note how he/she/it conveniently proves my point for me:

Sure, but the world didn't end in those previous periods of "global temperature change."

My point precisely. That’s why I don’t think the world will end this time either. Coolerhead is not very aware of irony. It reminds me of the remark Jack Nicholson is reputed to have made that his mother never understood the irony when she called him a “Son of a Bitch.”

My next response:

Republicans did not place the artifacts all across Europe and in tree rings and ice core samples that prove the world was once, and many times before, much warmer than it is today. One study I cite was done by Harvard Astrophysics, not ever considered to be a hotbed of Republicanism.

I'm an agnostic, so the only belief system I can claim is belief in what can be clearly and logically demonstrated to me. Man-caused global warming does not in any way meet that simple test.

The Left amazes me. It can be clearly and easily demonstrated and proven that Social Security will be bankrupt in a decade, yet the Left persists in pursuing their phantoms like global warming because that is the path to power and control over all aspects of individual lives and economic activity. Solving the Social Security disaster would require freeing it from government control, something the Left could never tolerate.

I kept hoping Coolerhead would respond to the challenge presented Global Warming enthusiasts by the Harvard study.

Coolerhead wants nothing to do with it. The words “Harvard” combined with “study” may be part of an auto edit program he has placed in his word processor. He continued.

The Republican Party does not bat 1,000, though its members delusionally (sic) think so. In this case, if you are wrong the consequences will be terminal. Only partisan Republicans actually believe that Global Warming is nothing to worry about, so you shouldn't bother trying to convince anybody outsde (sic) the choir, unless you are in fact an unbiased, informed credible scientist yourself, then by all means state your case. Add light not heat please.
Believe whatever you want but be aware of the scope of your responsibility you are
taking. You are betting your solitary loyalty to the Republican party against the actual potential destruction of the entire world.
In this case I would hope that partisan Republicans will look at what they're being fed before blindly swallowing it down. If they don't, the world, because of those poor Republican tools, may be doomed.

At this point, it doesn’t appear Coolerhead is going to respond to the point that is central to our entire debate, the flaming Harvard study. I reply:

You really need to read what I write before you reply. If you carefully read my original post, you will note at the bottom that there is a study: From Harvard: "20th Century Climate Not So Hot" (Then I reposted the Harvard study, and all the rest of my original post that followed it, including the links and graphs)

I then concluded thusly:

None of this has anything to do with the Republican Party. These are reputable scientists, not politicians.

Since when was a prestigious body of Harvard scientists drafted into the Republican Party? By whom and by what means?

You ask me to add light, not heat, yet you're the one who insists that anyone not believing in the Gospel according to Al Gore is a Republican tool, and I guess from the way you keep responding that you include the Harvard scientists as Republican tools.

I am not and have not claimed to be a scientist. I'm a retired Air Force officer who was a Russian linguist, financial manager, and a Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Warfare Defense Officer. A CPA and an MBA. Smart enough and educated enough to search for expert opinion and weigh the evidence presented.

To me it is a matter of rational thought, not belief, that when, "A review of more than 200 climate studies led by researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has determined that the 20th century is neither the warmest century nor the century with the most extreme weather of the past 1000 years." I find their studies and conclusion credible. If I have to wait to become an Astrophysics researcher myself before I can pass on their findings, then all you civilians have to become military veterans like me before you can pass judgment on the War in Iraq.

And don't criticize doctors until you become one. The same goes for teachers, police, politicians, etc.

By the way, Al Gore was a poor student and is not and never was a scientist or weather practitioner.

In closing, I shouldn't be surprised you don't read any of the things I post before you write your response. An excerpt from your last response: "You are betting your solitary loyalty to the Republican party against the actual potential destruction of the entire world."

The "actual, potential destruction of the entire world"?

You don't even read your own stuff, or you could never have posted a comment like that.

Actual potential"? From

Actual - existing in act or fact; real; existing now; present; current
Potential - possible, as opposed to actual

Anything may be possible, but what is the probability? From all that has gone before, the evidence of which is incontrovertible, the possibility of destruction of the entire world through global warming is very close to zero.

The potential for destroying our personal and economic freedoms through unscientific, energetic, and ill-advised government intervention to
"stop global warming" - too damn high.

Give me a break.

Coolerhead would not “give me a break” by responding to the Harvard study. Instead Coolerhead builds an army of straw men, and proceeds to knock them all down. What they have to do with the Harvard study and its examination of over 200 climate studies that prove our current period of global warming is nothing special is beyond me. Please note the continued unusual usage of “actual” and “potential.”

actual potential refers to potential that does in fact exist as opposed to the potential that does not exist according to your experts.
The potential does exist and it is actual and real.
I don't have a certain opinion because the stakes are too high. Either party can be wrong about issues of personal freedoms, or Social Secrity, (sic) or WMD's, or actual potential benefits of stem cell research (as opposed to non-existent benefits), or whether Terry Schiavo was conscious or not and so on and so forth. Those issues play out and the world goes on.
This one does not belong in the arena of political debate.
But there is no question that you are a partisan Republican fighting for you (sic) party because you are absolutely certain there is no potential based on selected expert opinions that support your view. You have no problem
simply dismissing the massive amount of contrary expert opinions as well as anectodal (sic) data (glaciers disappearing, polar bears and other arctic wildlife disrupting their regimens, etc.), and you also act in a typically Republican manner by trying to characterize my statements as evidence of my stupidity.
I am not a doctor, but I am an MBA and CPA. I am neither Republican nor Democrat. Partisan politics is the bane of civilized progress. It is both the problem and the solution.
Your sir are part of the problem. You would defer all judgement (sic) to the proclamations of the Republican Party and lampoon and otherwise discredit any dissenting opinion. To you the Republican Party's position is beyond reproach. It is for you an essential element of your existence.
But the Republican Party is not always right.
You claim that this one set of opinions now settles the debate. But what of the differing opinions? For you there are none that you will give any credence to, though they are as credible as any you offer up. And I assume you know of these sources by
way of a Republican mouthpiece (Dennis Prager (sp?) perhaps).
I have no doubt a Democrat mouthpiece can match your opinion at least 1 for 1 with at least equal credibility.
This is the problem.
You are indeed bringing heat because you will argue that NO other opinions matter at all except those that confirm what you support.
This is the problem.
The debate is not over as you imply.
This is the problem.
The debate hasn't even begun.
All we have is partisan warfare. I am not your enemy. In fact no one in this country is your enemy, not even if she is a Democrat.
The enemy is ignorance, divisiveness and partisan politics, and you sir support the enemy.
You just don't know it.
You don't know it any more than you know that Global Warming is nothing to worry about simply because the set of experts on your side of your parisan war say one thing while the party you're fighting says the opposite.
You're willing to to bet your individual loyalty in your party, expressed in the automatic embracement of their selected set of expert opinions, along with a concurrent unthinking dismissal of all contrary opinions of at least equal credibility, against the results of a genuine, non-political examination of what could actually potentially be a cataclysmic threat to the very existence of life on the planet.
That is partisan politics at its absolute worst and it is disgusting.
I would implore you and everyone like you, whatever party you support, to confine yourself to merely supporting your party and not hating the other.
On this issue at the very least it is imperative that a consensus scientific determination be made, and not as a result of a polical (sic) victory. Neither Al Gore nor Bill O'Reilly or any other polical (sic) hack can decide this for the entire global population. And certainly not you or I.
If the country can't come together on this one, we're all in trouble. Surely you can see this, can't you?

I finally get a bit impatient and a bit insistent.

Would you just address the Harvard study?

What are its failings or shortcomings?

What does partisan Republicanism have to do with the study and its conclusions?

Would the exact same study, with the exact same conclusions, be more credible if a Republican was not the instrument bringing it to your attention?

The study! The Harvard study! Address it, not me!

I'm not even its reporter. My role is just as simple and as uncomplicated as the mailman who delivers the book containing the study. He may have read the book, may even comment on it: "I think this is interesting. What do you think?"

What do you think? Is the Harvard study interesting?

What about its conclusions that this is not the warmest period of the past thousand years? Isn't the statement that it is the basis for the Global Warmists' predictions of doom?

Obviously we survived warmer periods in the past. We have voluminous proof that the most recent period we survived wasn't all that long ago. Why won't we make it this time?

The Harvard study!

It has the actual potential of settling the whole debate.

Speaking of potential, everything is possible when you don't know what you're talking about.

Coolerhead finally responds:

Okay, here is my initial reaction to your report of the study. I'm not going to read this or any other study because I am not qualified to parse out the findings, but here are the questions that were raised.
First, what about the apparent spike in last couple of years. It is fairly intuitive to expect that at some point the greenhouse effect will begin to advance exponentially, and the abundance of recent ancectodal (sic) evidence strongly suggests that we are
nearing that point. Not that we have reached it , but that we are perhaps a decade, two or three away.
That is, we haven't seen unprecedented levels yet but they are perhaps a couple of decades away because of profligate, unchecked, global industrial activity.
The daunting concern is that if we do reach that point it will be too late to avert a cataclysm. I have heard Republican commentators say that the critical point is in fact inevitable, and nothing we do now will make a difference anyway, so let's just ignore the problem and enjoy life anyway. I reject this with utter disdain by the way.
Whatever the case may be, historical refernces (sic) do not settle the debate. The greenhouse effect is something I learned about as far back as grade school so it is difficult for me to merely dismiss it as a "liberal hoax" given the anectodal (sic) data along with a common notion that attributes the particular Republican position dismissing the issue more because it is too costly to Corporate America than on the merits of any scientific arguments.
I believe I share a common perspective - A natural inclination to perceive (sic) global warming as a known, eventual threat that needs to be impartially and thoroughly monitored and assessed, alongside a view that the Republcan (sic) see-no-evil position is driven more by self-serving economics and politics than anything else. In other words, it is perfectly believable that Republican powerbrokers would go ahead
and throw the world under a bus to serve their immediate political interests.
I expect that if one does not share that second suspicion about Republican motives the first is far easier to overcome. But realistically, only those who regularly drink from the Republican grail can easily dispel the notion from their minds. This is all the harder to do when we are talking about global annhiliation (sic).
The other major question raised is that it seems preposterous that the range of serious contrary evidence is so conveniently dismissed by proving that it hasn't really been all that hot. The claim isn't that the heat has been unprecedented, but that it soon will be, and that by the time it is obvious to everyone, even the sceptics, (sic) it will be too late.
Bottom line is that no one single opinion or set of opinions is going to settle this debate, and (sic) nor should it.
It is unfortunate that there have to be sides on this issue, but since there are, both sides need to acknowledge all the evidence, and I mean ALL the evidence, and assess it for the benefit of every living soul, and not because of a narrow-minded war between political parties.
Global warming is not a black and white issue. Neither party is entirely right or entirely wrong on this (and the same can be said for just about all issues).
We need a more mature approach to politics so that vital problems are productively addressed. The kind of advocacy you are enganging (sic) is, though I am certain it is well-meaning and genuine, serves more to poison the atmosphere than anything else.
Very few things in life are absolute, but the current political climate holds that everything is absolute. This needs to change to account for the subleties (sic) and
complications we all know make problems difficult to solve.
Republicans should find the subtleties that underpin the global warming issue, not what will expediently negates it, and then non-Republicans will listen and accept your motives as genuine and not merely political trickery.
In other words if you resent the easy dismissal of your valued argument, start by practicing what you preach. Republicans typically recharacterize (sic) what they disagree with and tear down that recharacterization. The global warming problem isn't a simple proposition that you flick away without much effort. Look as thoroughly into the problem as you do into your solution and you won't conclude that global warming is total nonsense. A more subtle assessment is called for to benefit the world.
A simple debunking of a complex problem only serves your partisan war, and on this issue as much as any other, the warfare needs to be ended.
So I don't buy either side's position. Working together will get to truth. Fighting a black and white war won't.

So Coolerhead addressed the Harvard study (but not by name), and says that I, by virtue of bringing it up, am engaging in the “kind of advocacy” that “serves more to poison the atmosphere than anything else.”

Coolerhead dismisses the Harvard study by stating “that it seems preposterous that the range of serious contrary evidence is so conveniently dismissed by proving that it hasn't really been all that hot. The claim isn't that the heat has been unprecedented, but that it soon will be, and that by the time it is obvious to everyone, even the sceptics, (sic) it will be too late.”

Coolerhead’s logic is a study in perfect circularity. The (not mentioned by name) Harvard study proves it hasn’t really been that hot. However, today’s hot climate proves that it soon will be, and by then it will be too late.

Didn’t we just agree that the study proved we are not experiencing unprecedented heat? Then how can this heat, which is not remarkable in historical terms, be the sign that we are going to have unprecedented global warming? Don’t the scientific studies I cited in my original post indicate there has been no appreciable warming in recent years? And that there was a thousand years ago, and it has been fully studied and documented?

Coolerhead still doesn’t address why a Republican-free zone like Harvard and its scientists produced a study disproving man-caused global warming, and yet Coolerhead gives all the credit for skepticism to Republicans.

I suppose Coolerhead is applying a syllogism: “Only Republicans are global warming skeptics; therefore, all global warming skeptics are Republicans.”

Coolerhead, that’ll never fly at Harvard.

Please click on the label below to see all my articles on this topic.

No comments: