Friday, March 9, 2012

Get the Facts, on Climate Change

Will we respond to logical arguments? Or are we intractable?
© 2012 Stephen Kent Stephenson, sks23@cornell.edu. All rights reserved.

Recently I sent out this email, and a similar tweet:
From: Steve Stephenson
Date: Thu, Mar 8, 2012 at 12:20 PM
Subject: A grandfather's plea

http://www.ted.com/talks/james_hansen_why_i_must_speak_out_about_climate_change.html

The asteroid on a near term collision course with Earth is a memorable analogy.

Small Government and Big Business won't be able to fix this.

_Steve
sks23cu.blogspot.com/2012/01/rational-voting.html
One of the recipients replied with:
Steve, you are under the influence of the democrats. You need to get the facts. The earth goes through this stuff all the time. Read below. I do not think we should be putting crap into the atmosphere but use the correct reason not the BS put out by the democrats.
[Then there was a copy of http://www.guidetothecosmos.com/newsletter-Sunspots.html] , which starts off, "On February 9, 2012, Norwegian scientists posted new research demonstrating a strong correlation between the duration of our Sun’s sunspot cycles and subsequent temperature changes in Northern Europe."]
 So I went to the web to find reputable information on climate change and responded:
Hmm ... well the facts are, "97% of climate experts agree humans are causing global warming." That's number 4 on this list, http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php. This is from the scientific community, not the Democrats.

You'll always find those who make their money being contrarians and sensationalists. The guy you cited seems to be of that ilk. Even though he claims to have a PhD in Physics, it doesn't seem like he has or had a career in academia or research. See http://www.guidetothecosmos.com/about.htm, where he gives no dates, no positions, nor programs. And nowhere are there references to his peer reviewed research papers on climate ... or any other research topic.

Also, the article he wrote on his web page that you copied, refers to new research by Norwegian scientists posted February 9, 2012. As he did not provide a link to the original posting, I tried to search for it using Google and could not find anything. In particular, ScienceNordic, a site dedicated to reporting all research from Nordic countries, has no mention of it. I emailed ScienceNordic asking for their help locating the paper (email copied below); I'll let you know when I receive an answer.

On http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-scientific-consensus.htm
In the scientific field of climate studies – which is informed by many different disciplines – the consensus is demonstrated by the number of scientists who have stopped arguing about what is causing climate change – and that’s nearly all of them. A survey of all peer-reviewed abstracts on the subject 'global climate change' published between 1993 and 2003 shows that not a single paper rejected the consensus position that global warming is man caused. 75% of the papers agreed with the consensus position while 25% made no comment either way, focusing on methods or paleoclimate analysis (Oreskes 2004).

Several subsequent studies confirm that “...the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely nonexistent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes”. (Doran 2009). In other words, more than 95% of scientists working in the disciplines contributing to studies of our climate, accept that climate change is almost certainly being caused by human activities.

We should also consider official scientific bodies and what they think about climate change. There are no national or major scientific institutions anywhere in the world that dispute the theory of anthropogenic climate change. Not one.
Your view that "The earth goes through this stuff all the time" is answered, I think, most directly by item 1 on http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php, "Climate's changed before." Clicking on the link there takes you to a page that includes this,
It is obviously true that past climate change was caused by natural forcings. However, to argue that this means we can’t cause climate change is like arguing that humans can’t start bushfires because in the past they’ve happened naturally. Greenhouse gas increases have caused climate change many times in Earth’s history, and we are now adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere at a increasingly rapid rate.

Looking at the past gives us insight into how our climate responds to external forcings. Using ice cores, for instance, we can work out the degree of past temperature change, the level of solar activity, and the amount of greenhouse gases and volcanic dust in the atmosphere. From this, we can determine how temperature has changed due to past energy imbalances. What we have found, looking at many different periods and timescales in Earth's history, is that when the Earth gains heat, positive feedbacks amplify the warming. This is why we've experienced such dramatic changes in temperature in the past. Our climate is highly sensitive to changes in heat. We can even quantify this: when you include positive feedbacks, a doubling of CO2 causes a warming of around 3°C [= 5.4°F].
What does that mean for today? Rising greenhouse gas levels are an external forcing, which has caused climate changes many times in Earth's history. They're causing an energy imbalance and the planet is building up heat. From Earth's history, we know that positive feedbacks will amplify the greenhouse warming. So past climate change doesn't tell us that humans can't influence climate; on the contrary, it tells us that climate is highly sensitive to the greenhouse warming we're now causing.

Having recently become a grandfather like Dr. James Hansen, I want to leave a world that is physically and economically healthy to my grandkids and their kids.

I'm registered on my town's voter list as an "undeclared." I want to be able to analyze the facts and vote for those I think will work most effectively toward resolution of the primal issues. I always try to see the "big picture" in any issue set, so I find the views in this Skeptical Science page very appropriate.

Because the mantra of all the Republican candidates is "smaller Federal government" and "business is the solution to everything", they are not the party that will solve the climate change issues. There has to be a strong Federal government that will work internationally to resolve them; one that does not trade humanity's future for business profits. The Democrats do have warts, but since the Republicans have opted out of solving the climate change issues, the Democrats are the only game in town.

I think most American scientists would agree.

And the real facts can be found at Skeptical Science.

_Steve K
sks23cu.blogspot.com/2012/01/rational-voting.html
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Steve Stephenson <sks23@cornell.edu>
Date: Fri, Mar 9, 2012 at 7:24 AM
Subject: missing research paper?
To: editor@sciencenordic.com

On your website I can't find the research posting referred to in
http://www.guidetothecosmos.com/newsletter-Sunspots.html.

Does it exist?

_Steve
sks23cu.blogspot.com/2012/01/rational-voting.html
The reply I got was:
As suspected, democrats are ready to believe the hype, the fact is, the temp of the earth has been decreasing for the last ten years. The president and Al Gore are making millions getting people to believe this crap, while they destroy the US. You really need to stop watching the mainstream news media and start watching FOX.
 To which I responded:
> ... the fact is, the temp of the earth has been decreasing for the last ten years.

False! The facts are here: http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-cooling.htm

> The president and Al Gore are making millions getting people to believe this crap

The information is not "crap" if it's true; and it is. Also, the
fossil fuel interests are making multiple trillions while destroying
the Earth; the only home we have.

> You really need to stop watching the mainstream news media and start watching FOX.

The only reason to watch FOX is to reinforce self aggrandizing
beliefs, not science. Why would I ignore the mainstream (meaning
majority consensus) and listen to a fringe network expressing minority
views, especially about science (which relies on majority consensus
building)?

You should start hearing.

Please comment on this post.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Something from Nothing

Important science impacting philosophy and religion.

© 2012 Stephen Kent Stephenson, sks23@cornell.edu. All rights reserved.

On Stitcher I listen to a science podcast called, "Quirks and Quarks", from Canada. The last segment of the January 21, 2012 episode is about an excellent new book by renowned physicist and cosmologist Lawrence Krauss, "A Universe from Nothing: Why there is Something Rather than Nothing". (I read it on my iPhone Kindle Reader.)

Clicking a link at the end of the segment text takes you to Dr. Krauss's Media Page. It contains a must watch video, "A Universe From Nothing", predating the book, that explains the quantum mechanical physics of the instability of nothing forcing the emergence of something.

Also on Dr. Krauss's Media Page is the video, "Quantum Man: Richard Feynman's Life in Science (CERN talk)". As a counterpoint to the prevailing education mantra that English is more important than STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), Dr. Krauss reports that on the undergraduate entrance exams to Princeton, Feynman got the highest ever recorded score in Physics and the lowest ever recorded score in English. But, "In a 1999 poll of 130 leading physicists worldwide by the British journal Physics World he was ranked as one of the ten greatest physicists of all time." So at least in Feynman's case, English was not all that important. This supports the sentiments in my post, PAAC, not WAC.

I personally have struggled on the one hand with childhood instruction in a fundamental Baptist religion, and on the other hand my observations of various seeming paradoxes within those teachings, and clashes with rational scientific thoughts and theories. I agree with Atheist Alliance Int'l. that throughout history and even today many crimes against humanity have and are being committed in the names of various religions and superstitions. But the ceremonies and didactic methods of formal religions are attractive, as described in this TED talk. So while not yet ready to embrace outright atheism, pantheism has a lot of appeal. The Cosmos is God, and we're part of the Cosmos!