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Global warming debate driven by ideology, not science, author Naomi Oreskes says

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  • worf Mcallen, TX
    March 1, 2011 11:38 p.m.

    Like standardized testing, global warming is a tool used to create a need for spending and regulations.

  • Jash Clearfield, UT
    March 1, 2011 4:49 p.m.

    Re: Stochra

    1) While ice core records seem to indicate a strong correlation between CO2 and temperature, changes in CO2 lag behind changes in temperature by an average of 800 years.

    2) Ice core data has been shown to be more of a low frequency moving-average measurement of CO2 levels. (Van Hoof et al., 2005) In other words, large swings in CO2 levels would not have been captured in this record.

    3)Plant stomata data show much greater variability of atmospheric CO2 over the last 1,000 years than the ice cores.

    Needless to say, the ice core records have their flaws. 50 years from now, it will be interesting to see how modern analytical records of today compare to ice core records correlating with today.

    I do not debate that global temperatures and CO2 levels are increasing. I do debate the two theories most commonly implied with this data: 1) That man is forcing increases in CO2 levels and 2) That increasing CO2 levels force the global temperature to increase. Presently, these two theories are speculative at best.

  • stochra Holladay, UT
    March 1, 2011 2:40 p.m.

    To Jash - When talking about longer time scales, there certainly are other processes that affect CO2 levels. And I don't have any expertise to talk about the reliability of ice cores.

    What I do know is that it is very easy to measure CO2 levels in the air - just look at the amount of absorption of certain frequencies of infrared light. And those measurements have shown that CO2 levels have increased about 25% since the late 1950s at a very steady rate.

    The only hypothesis I've heard other than human activity to explain the recent increase is volcanoes. That's just silly, and it is arguments like this that convince me that those who dispute global warming have no case. Why would volcanic activity lead to a steady increase in CO2, as opposed to wild fluctuations from years when there is lots of volcanic activity compared to years where it is minimal? And why wouldn't an enormous volcano such as Pinatubo (which made St. Helens seem like a backyard barbeque) not show up as a big spike on the CO2 record?

  • Jash Clearfield, UT
    March 1, 2011 1:02 p.m.

    Re: Stochra

    Assume our emissions and deforestation truly "are the only explanation that makes sense" for CO2 increases. How do you account for historical CO2 ppm increases from 200 to 280 ppm 300000, 200000, and 100000 years ago when we were not engaged in these activities?

    Also, what confidence do we have that CO2 levels do not decrease in the ice cores over 100000 years.

  • Sensible Scientist Rexburg, ID
    March 1, 2011 12:48 p.m.

    To be fair, the author should point out politics-driven policy on the other side: those who favor pervasive government control and power favor measures to address global warming.

    Bias is never just on one side!

  • Jash Clearfield, UT
    March 1, 2011 12:11 p.m.

    The comparison of medical science regarding tobacco and global warming "science" is disingenious.

    Studies involving tobacco are able to draw on a large population of individuals who have used the product and compare them to populations that have not. Because large populations exist, statistics can be applied to conclusively link an individuals use of tobacco to higher risk for a variety of diseases with a high level of confidence.

    With global warming however the sample size is one: the earth. Statistically it would be bad practice to conclusively link the global rise in temperatures with man-made greenhouse gases when your historical and physical sample size is one.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    March 1, 2011 11:33 a.m.

    To "stochra | 8:29 a.m." actually, CO2 levels have been measured for over 100 years. Prior to the 1950's, the measurements were taken chemically. The interesting thing is that the chemical measurements show large variations.

    You should also read about how CO2 is only a significant greenhouse gas when the humidity levels are very low, so CO2 only plays much of a roll in deserts, and around the poles. Even there, its roll is not great.

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    March 1, 2011 8:34 a.m.

    Article: "[Oreskes] said free market fundamentalists see such regulation as harmful to free enterprise..."

    Any genuine free market fundamentalist would see the current system as market failure and would be clamoring for market-oriented regulatory mechanisms to capture the true costs of economic decisions. As it stands now, some costs of energy use are externalized, i.e. the costs are borne by someone other than the consumer. The consumer gets a subsidy (or grant or transfer) on the backs of others not involved in the market transaction. Adam Smith's Invisible Hand cannot function properly if the market does not send accurate price signals to consumers. Ironically, free-market conservatives often deride market-based policies such as pollution credits and cap-and-trade that aim to internalize externalities and allow consumers to make free, rational economic choices. They apparently prefer to receive subsidies from a distorted market.

  • stochra Holladay, UT
    March 1, 2011 8:29 a.m.

    Mc - What I'm saying is that CO2 levels in the atmosphere have been directly measured since the 1950s. The measurement is very easy, and there has been a steady increase in those levels every year since the measurements were started. If the primary factor was volcanic emissions, then where is the increase in those emissions to explain the rise of CO2? And especially, a huge volcano such as Pinatubo would have caused a spike in CO2 levels. It didn't happen. So while humans aren't responsible for the baseline levels of CO2 (about 270-280 ppm), our emissions and our deforestation are the only explanation that makes sense for the increase to the current 390 ppm.

  • Mc West Jordan, UT
    March 1, 2011 5:55 a.m.

    stochra: Nobody is arguing against climate change. Climate change is inevitable and cyclicle. We will have warming and we will have cooling. CO2 is not the only factor in that and CO2 levels are not simply man-caused. If they are not only caused by man, then they can not be controlled by man anymore than we can control a volcanic eruption. That is the point.

  • stochra Holladay, UT
    Feb. 28, 2011 11:47 p.m.

    The nature and quality of the comments by those who would argue against the existence of global warming is what convinces me it is real. For example, runwasatch claims the output of CO2 from volcanoes dwarfs that of humans. And yet, the level of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased at a steady rate for at least the past 50 years. Have volcanic emissions increased steadily over that time? Why wasn't there a spike after Mt. Pinatubo blew in the early 1990s? If that's the best argument against climate change, then I think the theory is quite strong.

  • z1freeride Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 28, 2011 11:25 p.m.

    Interesting comments here. The way the Deseret News wrote the title made it seem that scientists who believe that global warming is caused by humans are ideologically motivated. The REALITY is that Naomi Oreskes is arguing the EXACT opposite.

    Hilarious.

  • tabuno Clearfield, UT
    Feb. 28, 2011 10:44 p.m.

    A history professor professing to discard scientific evidence of global warming is like a philosophy professor attempting to deny the medical profession's belief that smoking cigarettes leads to cancer.

  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 28, 2011 10:21 p.m.

    "Global warming debate driven by ideology, not science, author Naomi Oreskes says"

    Yes, so true.

    And if you want to see the extremities of ideology over science, just take a listen to folks like Ms. Oreskes. To most of the "global warming" zealots (think Al Gore and his ilk), actual SCIENCE is a virtual unknown.

    They dwell in an imaginary world where "consensus" trumps actual data and theory is more important than empirical evidence.

    The convictions so adamantly shouted by extremists like DeChristopher have NOTHING to do with science.

    It is a shame that such a sham has been allowed to claim scientific credibility for so long.

    Incidentally, this is not to say that every prediction that is screeched from the environmental pulpits may not actually come to pass. What this IS to say is that calling their predictions "scientific" is a mockery of real science and a farce.

  • Murray Dad Murray, UT
    Feb. 28, 2011 9:23 p.m.

    Absent in any 'discussions' of Global warming is the ability to seperate an input - increased mean annual temperature (fact) from the closed system that is the earth and its atmosphere. Temperature change is but one factor in climatic system, and to say that it operates without cause from, or effect to, the system is simplistic. And I doubt that the discussion here will be no different; ideology is driven by perception, real science is systemic and based on facts.

  • dave31 Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 28, 2011 8:50 p.m.

    The older we get the more we become accustomed to the fact that "fads" come and "fads" go. It seems like yesterday that my kids were coming home with their "Weekly Reader" warning of the coming "Ice Age." It's interesting that the global warming proponents consider it to be "Weather" when things are going contrary to their predictions. Otherwise it is "Climate."

  • Emajor Ogden, UT
    Feb. 28, 2011 8:30 p.m.

    Here we go again. Every time there is a global warming article in the paper, armchair scientists creep out of the woodwork to tell us how it is or is not happening. Folks who can't tell the difference between global climate and the weather in their backyard. Folks who think that watching the news gives them as much knowledge on the matter as years of research experience.

    If you don't want carbon caps or other economic restrictions, just say so. That's a perfectly valid position. But don't debate the science if you are clueless.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 28, 2011 8:15 p.m.

    @Truth

    The majority of scientific journal articles on the matter in the 70s said global warming. There was never any global cooling consensus. Also Al Gore is a scientist, he really doesn't matter at all when it comes to what is going on with regards to science.

    @Dubbledub

    No evidence? Warming temperatures, rapid Arctic sea ice loss (February 2011 is lowest on record). Clear scientific evidence that the greenhouse effect is real and that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. Observations that show the rate of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is higher than it's been (by far) in hundreds of thousands of years and it's not even close (going from 280ppm to 380ppm in the past century but never being above 300ppm the previous 600k years).

  • B-727 Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 28, 2011 8:01 p.m.

    What twaddle.

    Ms. Oreskes, do you really expect us to believe that renowned non-partisan scientists like Freeman Dyson of Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study (arguably the world's foremost mathematical physicist) are in the pay of a shadowy cabal similar to the hired "scientists" who shilled for tobacco companies?

    Your absurd claim is all too typical of the repulsive ad hominem attack tactics commonly employed by AGW zealots.

    Tell us, Ms. Oreskes, what do you think of "scientists" who mix data sources in a deliberate attempt to "hide the decline" of global temperatures? What of those who secretly conspire to prevent publication of papers that oppose the AGW hypothesis? What of those who secretly admitted among themselves that they couldn't understand why there has been no statistically significant increase in global temperatures since the mid-1990s and those who urged each other to evade the Freedom of Information Act by destroying E-mails and other documents (Climategate)?

    If you want to do something useful, Ms. Oreskes, why don't you insist that the climate science community clean up its act and conduct itself according to the long-standing standards of conduct that prevail in other scientific disciplines?

  • runwasatch Ogden, UT
    Feb. 28, 2011 7:54 p.m.

    Ever want an interesting read, google the CO2 output of a volcanic eruption. A single eruption dwarfs the amount of CO2 ever put out by man and his machines.

    On the bright side, this global warming farce has shown that liberals - who are so eager and quick to accuse the religious right of being idiot sheep - are just as sheepish...Baaa

  • DUBBLEDUB Scottsdale, AZ
    Feb. 28, 2011 7:32 p.m.

    Uh, no duh it's ideological. All this time and not a shred of evidence that greenhouse gases are the "culprit" of natural ebbing and flowing of our environmental climes? What is ridiculous is that I'm sure everyone on earth is on board with a cleaner planet - that we all have a responsibility to avoid polluting this place. I'm sure we all want cleaner cars, cleaner factories, etc, etc (except maybe industry leaders who have to pay for cleaner technology) - that's just common sense. But to perpetrate a bogus notion that evil man is greedily killing this planet with gluttonous consumption of fossil fuels is disingenuous at the least.

  • Ralph Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 28, 2011 7:20 p.m.

    There is an imaginary debate.

    After all, you can't *prove* the moon isn't made of cheese. Have you ever touched the moon, yourself? Do you really believe all those greedy scientists who tell you the moon is made of rock? Follow the money.

  • LDS Tree-Hugger Farmington, UT
    Feb. 28, 2011 6:57 p.m.

    Follow the money.

    ...

  • TRUTH Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 28, 2011 6:56 p.m.

    Well of course its Political.....we knew that the first time we saw Al Gore refer to himself as a scientist~

    Global Warming is as big a Joke as Global Cooling was in the 1970's....its all about redistributing the wealth!