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My view: Climate argument is shortsighted

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  • NorthboundZax Makanda, IL
    May 19, 2013 8:12 p.m.

    There certainly has been global warming over the past 15 years as well as the last 40. Only the most cynical reading of the data would suggest otherwise. The whole notion of "no global warming in the last 15 years" hinges on the fact that 1998 was an extraordinarily warm year. Deliberately picking a high point to begin a data series will, of course, tend to flatten any trend line. However, even with the deliberate cherry picking, there has been measured warming. Also, given the inherent noisiness in temperature data, 15 years is a fairly sort sequence to make big statements without accounting for possible short term modulating effects. For instance, accounting for the recent modulating effects of El Ninos and La Ninas, the past 15 shows warming trend every bit as strong as the previous 20.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    May 18, 2013 4:37 p.m.

    Is it or is it not true that for the last 15 years there has been no global warming?

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    May 18, 2013 3:41 p.m.

    @Nate – “Do you have any arguments for AGW that aren't appeals to authority?”

    This is pretty silly statement…trying to imply a logical fallacy where none exists.

    The facts that support or do not support AGW revolve around evidence, not argument. Evidence is the domain of science… if you want arguments talk to a lawyer or philosopher.

    And science is precisely where we want to appeal to authority – to the experts who dedicate years of their lives to a subject. Are you a trained scientist? Me neither, and that’s the point. Frankly I would have been shocked if the climate models got everything 100% correct… it would have been virtually unprecedented in science.

    As I said, I have yet to see significant numbers of scientists seriously question all the evidence taken as a whole, as well as the underlying hypothesis of AGW.

    But sounds to me like you’re firmly in the “denier” camp (see Dr. Brin’s essay) so I cannot imagine what evidence would convince you.

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    May 18, 2013 12:43 a.m.

    @Tyler D "...preponderance of evidence."

    The preponderance of evidence shows that the climate models missed something. For the past 15 years, global average temperatures have not risen. The predicted warming has not occurred. How does this not call into question the hypothesis?

    "Consensus" is not the same thing as evidence. Do you have any arguments for AGW that aren't appeals to authority?

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 17, 2013 2:48 p.m.

    I think we should all just agree that we like the planet, and we want one to live on, and just get along. We should also decide (on our own) to do whatever is in our power to care for the planet (vs the government or some radical envitonmental group mandating what we must do to make them happy).

    Then we would be doing all we can. Don't have to worry about the guilt-trips from the environmental radicals. We would all feel good about ourselvs, the planet would be taken care of... and if the planet can't sustain it's climate... at least we know we did everything we could.

    I don't belive the assumption that one side (left or right) wants to invest in technology so we can use less fossil fuels, and the other just wants to burn more and more the faster the better and if it destroys the planet so what. We ALL care about the planet. We just all have our own approach and limits on what we can give up to protect the planet. But NOBODY (not even evil right-wingers) want the planet destroyed.

    OK?

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    May 17, 2013 11:44 a.m.

    No doubt, once Climate change fear fades, we will next here how we need to fix the Universe from a galactic freeze. I wonder what the tax hunters will call that!

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    May 17, 2013 9:25 a.m.

    For any who are interested, David Brin’s article “Climate Skeptics v. Climate Deniers” is quite good.

    And for those who keep retreading the same apparently “knock-out” arguments proving AGW is a hoax, or that we should be so skeptical that nothing should convince us short of a tautology, do you really think the thousands of scientists studying this have not already thought of (in in most cases thoroughly addressed or refuted) your “brilliant insight?”

    Also, some here are very confused by what counts as proof to a scientist. It is NOT a tautological statement or deductive proof (e.g., 1+1=2); the logic of the scientist is inductive and is all about the preponderance of evidence.

    While the climate models may not be perfect and learning will continue, I have yet to hear a significant number of credible scientists suggest that the evidence for AGW has declined in any way that would call into question the hypothesis.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    May 17, 2013 8:28 a.m.

    I choose willful ignorance. I choose to ignore 99% of climatologists who say global warming is real and it is caused by human caused greenhouse gasses. Instead I listen only to Glenn Beck and the Koch brothers. They are the real experts.

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    May 16, 2013 11:42 p.m.

    @Jose_X

    Feed random numbers into Mann's climate model, and it produces hockey-stick shaped graphs.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    May 16, 2013 8:08 p.m.

    Re: "I guess you forgot the studies related to the Sahara."

    No. I didn't forget them, but it's hard to relate studies showing the Sahara has been stable for about 5,500 years to this discussion.

    Your arguments about a "hockey stick" temperature rise are both sophomoric and dated. The only data supporting the "hockey stick" theory have been shown to be flawed, some even faked. Actual, unmassaged measurements show a nearly steady average temperature over the past 80 years, which is consistent with satellite data and examination of several proxy datasets, including tree-ring and glacial ice layer data from several locations throughout the world.

    All models predicting a "hockey stick" temperature increase have all been discredited by their large deviations from observed data.

    Even NASA and the IPCC are crafting statements admitting early [read "hockey stick"] estimates of climate sensitivity to radiative forcing due to atmospheric CO2 were likely overly enthusiastic.

    But, if you're point is, extrapolating future temperature from current data is nearly impossible -- yeah, I'm with you.

  • Jose_X MIAMI, FL
    May 16, 2013 6:38 p.m.

    bandersen, you know better that if the rules of play in the economy supported by our government are not changed for everyone, then those "riding bikes to work" will be at a disadvantage and have their businesses fail. When you watch the NBA finals this month, I think you know better than to expect one team to play by one set of rules and the other by a more lenient set. If a firm or citizen wants government support (eg, courts, military, road travel, etc), then it's not too much for the rest to expect them and everyone to play by the same set of rules.

    Rules that allow anything goes hurts everyone. Rules that accept moderation, allow future generations not to pay for our sins.

  • Jose_X MIAMI, FL
    May 16, 2013 6:30 p.m.

    @chilly, "In areas where we have more robust, continuous data such as Greenland, ice cores show that the rate of change in the 20th century is not in the least unusual."

    Can you cite a study that suggests the global temperatures near the current range of warmth have risen at the current rate? [It's important the change of temp be related to (a) global temps and (b) at warm temps since cold temps always range over wider range.] I'd be interested in reading it if you can find one.

    More interesting would be if you could find a study that compares to the anticipated rise in temp over the upcoming century (eg, 2C above today's temp).

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    May 16, 2013 6:01 p.m.

    I would find the pro climate change crowd more convincing if they were riding bikes to work instead of wanting the rest of us to do it first, by government fiat no less!

  • NorthboundZax Makanda, IL
    May 16, 2013 5:59 p.m.

    The notion that CO2 was higher millions of years ago, so it's no big deal is really shortsighted. Higher CO2 worlds in the past were very different worlds than what we have today: much higher sea levels, absence of icecaps, reduced bottom water ocean circulation, etc. There is reason for worry about each of these. But at a minimum, it should be worth recognizing that our current civilization, including agriculture and placement of cities close to water bodies, grew and evolved in the climate of the time. Rapid climate change will put civilization in a state it did not evolve to meet and will require serious and painful change to adapt to. An ounce of prevention may be worth more than a pound of cure when it comes to climate change.

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    May 16, 2013 5:38 p.m.

    @atl134 "Climate norms are typically calculated over 30 year periods."
    @Barry Bickmore "Other than that, I don't really understand your point."

    The title of this article is, ironically, "Climate argument is shortsighted." I'm encouraging you both to step back and take a longer view.

    You could look at, for example, the Julander and Perkins study which compared the 30-year span from 1930-1959 with the 30-year span from 1971-2000, and found no statistically significant differences in the amounts of snowpack. (Records in Utah go back only to the late 1920's.)

    That sort of thing.

    Of course, if you say, "The snowpack has decreased 0.2% in seven decades," it sounds much less alarming. So that's probably not what you want.

  • Jose_X MIAMI, FL
    May 16, 2013 5:26 p.m.

    @procuradorfiscal "the Medieval Climate Optimum .. wetter"

    ...What we are left with is a neutral average value and a high error values up until the 20th century, where thermometer-precise measurements of the past 150+ years show a significant rise in the last 50 years (a "hockey stick"). If you know how you can reasonably combine many of the proxy studies to arrive at a global WMP instead of simply many local warm/cold periods and a global hockey stick, please let us know.

  • Jose_X MIAMI, FL
    May 16, 2013 5:23 p.m.

    @procuradorfiscal "the Medieval Climate Optimum .. wetter"

    I guess you forgot the studies related to the Sahara.

    More importantly, I don't think the evidence supports a year range for a global WMP. Every year has places on Earth that break record highs throughout the year. Finding that location x, y, z, and any other (as per very imperfect proxy studies) had a "warm" period some time in the past possibly a few centuries back possibly more and then was preceded and followed by "colder" periods just at best hints at a local warm period. When you combine many of these proxy local "WMP", you tend to have lots of overlap of warm and cold periods. The average of this mix of partially overlapping warm/cold regions cancels out substantially and looks like red noise apparently (thanks McIntyre).

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 16, 2013 4:15 p.m.

    Maverick
    You and your ilk aren't the only ones who care about the planet. You need to get over that stereotype quick if you expect anybody to take you seriously.

    Caring for the planet isn't political rhetoric. It's a human thing. We are all human. We ALL want a plant to live on. We just have different levels of tolerance for what we consider "caring for the environment".

    For some people "caring for the environment" means not droping your candy wrapper, cigarette, etc.

    For some people "caring for the environment" means walking instead of riding.

    But some people may think you don't "care for the environment" if you drive a gas powered car, or live in a house, or wash with soap.

    It's just a difference of severity if you ask me. We ALL care about the planet. We just have different expectations of what to do to protect it.

    I think anything people are doing to conserve and protect is a good thing. Others may think if you're not living a caveman existance, you're not doing enough. It's a matter of opinion and what extremes you think are required..

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 16, 2013 3:36 p.m.

    @Nate
    Climate norms are typically calculated over 30 year periods. It's the standard in the field so 40 is perfectly acceptable for statistical significance tests.

    @procuradorfiscal
    "Since we're back into the temperature-range enjoyed pre-little ice age, the Medieval Climate Optimum, we should expect to see the return of those conditions -- wetter, warmer, weather and better agricultural conditions, worldwide. "

    Many areas worldwide would see declining agricultural conditions. Deserts would expand away from the equator and droughts and floods would both increase in frequency which can cause major damage to crops (roughly 50 billion in losses last year from the US drought).

    "Maybe a tiny, millimeter-level effect on sea level. "

    It'd be more than that, and some nations like Bangladesh don't really have a meter to give.

    "Richer ocean diversity."

    Ocean acidification has intensified in recent years (a very under the radar effect of all this) and if the trend continues would become a severe problem for ocean life in at least some regions.

  • chilly Salt Lake City, UT
    May 16, 2013 3:25 p.m.

    "Change isn't necessarily bad, but really rapid change is."

    As you know, the instrumental temperature record only goes back to the late 19th century. This makes it impossible to know, with any real precision, how quickly temperatures have changed in the past. In areas where we have more robust, continuous data such as Greenland, ice cores show that the rate of change in the 20th century is not in the least unusual. These ice cores show that several periods including the Medieval, Roman, Minoan and two spikes during the Holocene are comparable to the inter-glacial warming we are currently experiencing. And that's only going back a blip, in geologic time, of 10,000 years.

    The problem with "climate scientists" today is that they graduate "ready to save the planet". They're brainwashed with alarmist doctrine rather that being taught basic science. Their lack of education in applied statistics is deplorable. Saying a scientist "isn't a climate scientist" is a compliment in my book.

    Just curious, do you consider yourself a "climate scientist"?

  • Barry Bickmore Orem, UT
    May 16, 2013 2:43 p.m.

    Nate,

    Yes, Utah snowpack has decreased by 9% in just 4 decades. Other than that, I don't really understand your point. As far as paleoclimatologists can tell, CO2 is probably the biggest "control knob" on the climate, and we're changing the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere much, much faster than it has changed in the past, as far as we can tell. There is no "right" temperature for the Earth--we can adapt if the change isn't too fast--but several mass extinction events have occurred during times of more rapid, sustained climate change. So why don't you take a lesson from the Earth's history, instead of just using it to attempt glib comments?

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    May 16, 2013 2:36 p.m.

    Re: "The scientists who make sense of the "raw data" use statistical methods to . . . [bring] the surface temperature record in line with the satellite record . . . ."

    I might buy that, except for the fact that the satellite record also shows a nearly flat trend.

    Those concerned about the political nature of "scientific" AGW pronouncements have no doubt ". . . the scientists whose day job it is to deal with this data have been quite careful, and know what they are doing . . . ."

    Problem is, it's now clear that "what they are [carefully] doing" is not science, it's political advocacy.

    The data just don't support their hypotheses, at least not to any confidence level we're accustomed to. Too many climate "scientists" have proven willing to cook their data to support otherwise unsupportable "consensus," then hide their disingenuity by withholding raw data, or carefully caching their conclusions behind obfuscating semantic smokescreens.

    There was certainly an overwhelming consensus among phrenology, psychoanalysis, and Darwinian social "scientists" of the last century. But we were wise to demand solid proof before accepting their more scary demands.

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    May 16, 2013 2:07 p.m.

    @Barry Bickmore "You have to look at the trend over several decades...."

    Apparently "several" = 4.

    Rob Gillies' study goes back 40 years. The age of the earth is estimated to be 4.54 billion years. If JerseyGirl is cherrypicking when she studies 0.000000000220264 of the earth's lifetime, Mr. Gillies is not much better off for studying 0.000000008810573 of it.

    Hey, he could at least have included the 1930's.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 16, 2013 12:52 p.m.

    What humans aren't curbing their greenhouse emissions? This one is! Are you?

    We can't do away with greenhouse emissions completely... so whatever reductions we make is a good thing IMO. And I think almost everybody's doing at least a LITTLE to curb their emissions.

    Everybody's doing at least a little bit to change. The only question now is... how radical do you have to get in reducing your greenhouse emissions to make some people happy.... now THAT's a tough one to respond to in a satifactory manner for everybody.

    Even if you buy a newer more efficient car... you are doing SOMTHING to curb your greenhouse emissions. But some people won't be satisified unless you get an electric car. And yet others won't be satisfied unless you get rid of your car and start riding a horse or a bike to work. Different people have different expectations. You can't make some people who have become radicalised on this topic happy... it's litterally impssible. No matter what you are doing it's not enough.

    IMO every move to curb emissions should be praised.

  • Barry Bickmore Orem, UT
    May 16, 2013 12:24 p.m.

    procuradorfiscal,

    The "raw data" has all kinds of artifacts in it. For instance, if I collect data at my temperature station in the afternoon, then switch to the morning, I automatically get a cooling trend. The scientists who make sense of the "raw data" use statistical methods to correct for these kinds of things, which brings the surface temperature record in line with the satellite record, the fact that Arctic sea ice is in a death spiral, the fact that most of the world's glaciers are shrinking, and so on. Believe it or not, the scientists whose day job it is to deal with this data have been quite careful, and know what they are doing better than some random cranks on the Internet.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    May 16, 2013 12:19 p.m.

    Re: ". . . the climate is changing. And it will start having effects that even Republicans will not be able to ignore. By then, of course, it will be too late to do much about it."

    Honest "climate scientists," even if they're AGW true-believers, will tell you that if AGW is a fact, it's already too late to reverse it. Best we can hope for is to enjoy or ameliorate its effects.

    We're no more able to command retreat of temperatures than was King Canute to command retreat of the sea, so we ought to concentrate on maximizing beneficial effects, minimizing harmful.

    That doesn't mean ruinous economic/environmental controls, or deranged funding of unproven "green" technologies.

    Since we're back into the temperature-range enjoyed pre-little ice age, the Medieval Climate Optimum, we should expect to see the return of those conditions -- wetter, warmer, weather and better agricultural conditions, worldwide. Maybe a tiny, millimeter-level effect on sea level. Richer ocean diversity.

    Maybe there's a downside, somewhere. We'll count on liberals to point it out.

  • Barry Bickmore Orem, UT
    May 16, 2013 12:01 p.m.

    Chilly,

    Neither Schmitt nor Happer has ever been a climate scientist. It shows. For instance, while they try to impress the uninformed by noting that CO2 levels and temperatures have been higher millions of years ago, the actual climate scientists are worried about the rate of change. Change isn't necessarily bad, but really rapid change is.

  • Barry Bickmore Orem, UT
    May 16, 2013 11:55 a.m.

    JerseyGirl,

    You can't just pick one year with a high snowpack and say, "See, snowpack isn't going down!" That's called "cherrypicking." You have to look at the trend over several decades, which is what Utah State Climatologist, Rob Gillies, did in a recently published, peer-reviewed scientific paper. Look it up.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    May 16, 2013 10:09 a.m.

    What's wrong with caring for the environment? What's wrong with researching green technology? What's wrong with penalizing polluters?

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    May 16, 2013 9:53 a.m.

    Thanks, Barry, for trying to infuse some common sense into the climate debate (and into today's opinion pages). A good friend of mine, who works for the Bureau of Reclamation, informs me that regardless of what the political rhetoric claims, they have had to drastically alter their strategies for the Colorado River because of long-term reduction in snowpack. Like it or not, the climate is changing. And it will start having effects that even Republicans will not be able to ignore. By then, of course, it will be too late to do much about it.

  • Thinkin\' Man Rexburg, ID
    May 16, 2013 9:44 a.m.

    Barry, you're rationalizing. The climate models have failed outright. The climate is more complex than we can model, as you pointed out. You exaggerate the "risks" of a warmer climate, which many conclude would be net positive for the human race. And there is no "consensus" on the question of human contribution's influence on climate. Take a deep breath, step back, and give objectivity a chance.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    May 16, 2013 9:22 a.m.

    Re: ". . . humans are taking an enormous risk by failing to curb our greenhouse gas emissions."

    Maybe. But we know it's an even larger risk to completely reorder our society and economy, based on unsupported liberal "what-ifs." Particularly since that reordering, is the same tired march to socialism that has been advanced as a "solution" to EVERY modern "problem," but has worked so poorly EVERY time it's been tried. Both as regards the economy AND the environment.

    Anthropomorphic global warming, if it exists, is such a weak and nuanced phenomenon, it can only be teased from raw data that actually show a slight cooling trend over the last 80 years. Since only manipulation and massaging of the data show evidence of the phenomenon, and since those massaging and manipulating the data have shown themselves to be less-than-trustworthy, we are wise to demand more evidence than a "consensus" of true-believing partisans, self-interested crony capitalists, and lost-in-the-sixties, radicals, before undertaking huge investments in emerging, but not-ready-for-primetime technologies.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    May 16, 2013 9:18 a.m.

    I too am waiting for Bob Bennett et al on the Republican side to do "what makes sense." So far, they've proposed nothing, whether it makes sense or not.

  • chilly Salt Lake City, UT
    May 16, 2013 8:33 a.m.

    A recent Wall Street Journal article by Harrison Schmitt and William Happer demonstrates that the boogieman of CO2, pushed for years by alarmists like Barry Bickmore, is pure nonsense. It concludes with this paragraph:

    "We know that carbon dioxide has been a much larger fraction of the earth's atmosphere than it is today, and the geological record shows that life flourished on land and in the oceans during those times. The incredible list of supposed horrors that increasing carbon dioxide will bring the world is pure belief disguised as science."

    Bickmore's statement: "...multiple lines of evidence — not just climate models — all show that the most likely climate sensitivity to greenhouse gases is in a dangerous range, given our current emissions trajectory." is pure hooey. If anything, scientists are agreeing that "sensitivity" is significantly less that projected.

  • JerseyGirl Sandy, UT
    May 16, 2013 5:36 a.m.

    "Utah has already experienced significant decreases in snowpack, leading to increased drought and wildfires."

    This is alarmist hooey. Snowpack in 2011 was 170% of normal. 2012 snowpack was much lower, yes, but it was enough to fill the reservoirs. We're not currently experiencing drought or increased wildfires, and there's no evidence linking global temperatures, which have remained remarkably stable for two decades, to Utah's water supply.

    In addition, dismissing GOP concerns about proposed "solutions" to climate change as naught but crankiness ignores the overwhelming scientific consensus that proposals like Cap and Trade will cost trillions of dollars and do nothing to alter global temperatures. Expensive proposals that have devastating economic impacts but no discernible environmental benefits ought to be shunned by all reasonable people, regardless of ideology.

    This article is irresponsible.