Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Reality Gives The Best Ass-Kicking

As per my long-standing policy, I will not entertain comments that question the reality of global warming. While the idea, most recently made plain in an op-ed by Katrina VandenHeuvel in The Washington Post, that near-unanimous acceptance of a theory makes it true, is no way to talk about science, with each and every published scientific study, we find the evidence mounting that (a) the planet is warming at an increasing rate: (b) the reasons for that trend is the burning of fossil fuels, releasing carbon dioxide to the atmosphere that traps heat; (c) absent action about a decade ago, the upward trend of global temperatures and the concomitant climate catastrophes will increase.

A simple graph makes the first point clear enough, even for the scientifically challenged:

Temperatures trending upward over the past 130 years mean . . . c'mon people . . . the planet is getting warmer.

One would think this would be enough to silence people who repeat Sen. James Inhofe's (R-OK) mantra that global warming is a scam. Alas, one would be wrong.

Last week, a team led by physicist Richard Muller released the first fruits of research on global warming. As Kevin Drum noted, Muller was a bit of a darling among climate skeptics. A physicist who insisted that global warming deniers had some good points, he did what scientists do. He went around and gathered money from rich philanthropists, some of whom are climate change troglodytes, and created the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project. An aside - this is what real scientists do; they actually do research and study stuff, rather than make comments about the size of Al Gore's house. Anyway, BEST used completely different sets of analytical methods, including different statistical methods and modeling and they discovered . . . well, I'll just let Muller tell you what they found:
In the press release announcing the results, Muller said, "Our biggest surprise was that the new results agreed so closely with the warming values published previously by other teams in the US and the UK." In other words, climate scientists know what they're doing after all.
So, first we have the simplest of scientific techniques - a graph that shows temperatures going up. Then, we have a physicist who expressed wariness over climate change models who did his own research and discovered . . . climate change models were right! That's even better than counting the number of published articles!

Yesterday, Charlie Pierce noted another little fun fact:
Of all the Alerts for which I have subcontracted with the firm of Google and Sons, the ones regarding Shishmaref are the ones I open automatically. Shishmaref is a barrier island in arctic Alaska where I spent a week a couple of years ago. Shishmaref is being devoured by the Chukchi Sea. This is because the sea does not freeze as early as it used to freeze, nor does it stay frozen as long as it used to. This is also because Shishmaref has lost most of its permafrost in the ground. Both of these conditions are due to the changes in the global climate that have been wrought by human activity and, of course, have been exaggerated by scientists desperate to suck up that sweet, sweet grant money. Sometime in the next couple of decades, the people of Shishmaref will be the first environmental exiles in North America.
What follows is not addressed to folks like Inhofe whom, I would guess, knows that when he denies global warming he is doing so at the behest of his paymasters in the oil and gas industry. I always follow Chomsky's advice, viz., speaking truth to power is useless because the powerful already know the truth. Rather, it is important to speak the truth to folks who feel overwhelmed by information, claims and counter-claims.

The planet is getting warmer. The evidence, and scientific study of that evidence, shows that each and every day. This isn't written to scare anyone. I don't hate capitalism (well, I'm not a big fan of it, either . . .), or America, or technology. I don't want to reverse the marvels of the technological revolution so much as continue to create more marvels that are safer for the planet as a whole.

Incidentally, my guess is the couple trolls who occasionally stop by here and insist they do not accept global warming neither know nor care all that much about the issue; as with so much else in Trollistan, my guess is they only see an opportunity to act like a douchebag, and grab hold with both hands. So, yeah, I'm gonna delete your comments as best as I can, if you decide to put some on here.

For folks who genuinely aren't sure, only because of information overload, rest assured - there is good solid information out there. Use some common sense, do some digging (Google can be a friend), and you, too, can come to understand what's going on.

Virtual Tin Cup

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