Friday, February 01, 2008

On Another Subject...

Everyone who knows me knows I am just about as pro-science as a person can be. I'm one of the relative few who get furious when some idiot starts suppressing or twisting research.

I've been pretty angry for the past seven years.

Although most of my hate is reserved for anyone who says "evolution is just a theory", I have a special, extremely warm place in my heart for people who deny global warming. These people aren't simply deluded, they're often denying global warming for a political or monetary reason. Even when they "tentatively accept some level of change to the earth's global environment", they like to claim it's not proven than it has anything to do with l'il old us.

NASA hasn't been the most... up-front about this kind of thing, largely because they're a massive, top-heavy bureaucracy whose leaders are often appointed by the president's administration. So it pleased me to see this.


Anonymous said...

Have you seen the trailer for the new Ben Stein movie, Expelled? I don't tend to get my knickers in a twist over these sorts of things, but I had to rant out loud for about fifteen minutes after seeing it yesterday.

Craig Perko said...

I ranted out loud (ROL?) about that for fifteen minutes a few days ago. And to think I had a kind of vague like for the guy until that moment.

David said...

Hmm, I guess you hate me? I mean, evolution is a cool idea, but it really is pretty circumstantial, just sayin. As for global warming, I'm not convinced either way, but what I do know is that whether or not we're causing it we still need to act like we are and plan accordingly.

Craig Perko said...

What the fuck is wrong with you? Evidence for evolution is about as circumstantial as evidence that the sun will rise tomorrow.

Olick said...

Y'know, Calling evolution a theory isn't that bad, because in science a theory means that it is backed up by a considerable amount of evidence, second only to a scientific law.

Olick said...

Err: Addendum. The problem with the word Theory comes from the version used outside of science, where the word is used to mean either hypothesis, or guess.

Craig Perko said...

I know that. But nobody who knows a damn thing would ever say "JUST a theory". Gravity's JUST a theory.

If you see a scientist saying gravity's just a theory, he'd better be mocking the idiots or explaining what you explained.

Patrick said...

What of the hypothesis that global warming is a result of sun cycles? Certainly you could have man-made carbon aerosols magnifying that kind of cyclical increase in temperature, but the root cause would be, in that case, the sun, with man as a catalyst.

I think South Park nailed it on the head:

"Richard Dawkins changed the course of human history by teaching us that it isn't enough to believe in God, you've got a to be a dick to everyone who doesn't think like you."

Craig Perko said...

The "sun cycle" theory is a desperate attempt to shunt blame. It's not the major factor, and some research claims it isn't a significant factor at all.

It's been pushed by people with money on the line, so there's a lot of noise out there, but that doesn't make it true. All of the "OMG! IT BE THE SUN!" posts are years and years old, and the posts discrediting them are more recent responses that people see fit to ignore.

And I, as you noticed, am a dick. That doesn't make the people who are wrong any less wrong.

Patrick said...

On the other hand, there's plenty of noise for global warming in order to justify a global tax to fund a global governance. I think Peak Oil will take the wind of out of global warming with the market as the primary player, no tax needed. Of course, Peak Oil also has a flip-side to it as well.

Craig Perko said...

That wouldn't make a dent in global warming. And there is no danger of global governance.

The problem is that people seem to think that PEOPLE will do all the extreme things. By and large, people are lazy, disorganized critters that don't do anything more than protect their own interest. Unfortunately, physics is not so reserved.

David said...

Except that gravity IS just a theory... as in, not the physical effects, but the manner that we express it as working. And like all theories, it's being worked on at the moment, trying to get it refined and unified. Is it accurate? As far as we know, is it complete? Almost certainly not. Same with evolution.

Craig Perko said...

It's very deceptive to say "circumstantial evidence" when you mean "explains all known phenomena, holds true in all laboratory tests thus far, and is regularly used to develop new technologies, but is theoretically not entirely complete".

One might think you wanted to downplay the first three bits in favor of the last bit.

Patrick said...

"That wouldn't make a dent in global warming. And there is no danger of global governance."

If you could offer me some evidenciary links to those claims, particularly the latter, I would greatly appreciate it.

Craig Perko said...

Link me to a danger of global governance.

The only thing that all the nations of the world can agree on is that none of the nations in the world can agree on anything.

There might be a pan-national movement of some variety, but it is unlikely to have any legal force. Most countries will enact whatever measures they feel will get their current leaders re-elected.

As to global warming, the most OPTIMISTIC projections say that we would essentially have to completely zero out our carbon emissions. More realistic projections point out that even if we went zero-emissions today, it'll continue on it's merry way.

Examples include

Patrick said...

Re: Global Warming - so we're fucked? Assuming of course there's no lateral, technological solution (like a way to systematically remove aerosols from the atmosphere).

Re: Global Governance. The EU already exists, and is consolditing power. The African Union already exists, but is more along the lines you're talking about, a feeble gesture, but it can be propped up. A North American Union may never come into being explicitedly, but it already exists in function. The only nationalist leaders in power right now are Putin, Chavez and Ahmedenijad, everyone else is more or less on board with "normalization" and integration.

Nations might not agree on anything, but come on dude, the nature of power stopped being about nations sometime between 1913 and 1945.

We can agree we don't have enough information to state conclusively that there is or isn't a danger, but the lack of transparency that puts us in that position should itself be questioned.

Peter Bessman said...

Regrettably, I'm almost diametrically opposed in my attitudes, if not my dispositions. I'm unrelentingly pro-science as well, but that has led me to be opposed to the notion of anthropogenic global warming. I'm not sure how this view benefits me... well, at all, really. There's a lot of people who hated me at school for it. My dad, who I've moved back in with post graduation, is, uh, less than thrilled by it. It's been a show stopper when it's come up around women. And being in the IT/VidGame business (working to emphasize the game side of things), in Maryland, of all places, leaves me relatively certain that I haven't earned a single red cent for my, erm, grassroots shilling for big oil.

Likewise, I consider the theory of evolution to be just that: a theory. I'm not sure whence all the hoopla surrounding it, logically speaking. Though I myself am an atheist, I can imagine many theistic explanations for the world that fit the existing data. There's simply a lot of unknowns out there, and exactly what has brought us to where we are to today is one of them.

For a summary of my views on the climate, you can watch this series of videos:

As for evolution, which I think boils down to an argument over theism, read this bit:

All that said, I am aware that I am a minority of the population in general, and a screaming minority among the creative class in particular. But consider, then, that your ability to vocally hate me is a luxury of your majority status. You stand a much better chance of blackballing me out of my desired profession than vice versa. I don't know how wonderful that is.

Craig Perko said...

Patrick: There are a lot of really neat technologies that could be useful to either abate or survive climate changes. It's pretty clear we're not going to die back to the stone age.

The EU isn't a global governance! It isn't even a European governance, unless you're using the term very loosely. It's an ECONOMIC community.

In theory, they could put a bunch of taxes or sanctions on the less-than-green technologies and products, but these would be primarily import-export tariffs, not internal taxes. Each nation would - ON ITS OWN - decide what internal measures need to be taken.

In theory, the UN could swing it's bulk into play and threaten to levy sanctions against countries that aren't green enough, but the chances of that happening before it's way, way too late are about the same as winning all the lotteries simultaneously.

I don't understand your last paragraph, but I'm pretty sure I disagree: there's definitely a global climate change, and it is definitely going to change the way we live.


I've heard all that before, and frankly, I don't like it. You're cherry-picking your science.

Evolution is not simply an explanation of phenomena. If that were our criteria, then "invisibubble man done it" would be perfectly permissible.

Evolution is a predictor of tremendous accuracy. Knowing the algorithm which governs long-term reproduction, we've been able to make tremendous strides in medicine, general biology, ecology - evolution's algorithm is so versatile that it has even been applied successfully to aeronautics, chemical engineering, and daytime TV.

You can't predict a thing with "god made the fishies". It can't be tested, it can't lead to any new technologies. Therefore, it's not a valid theory. It's not even a useful hypothesis. Period.

Your many-part video MADE MY TEETH HURT. Seriously. It was so condescending it made my teeth hurt. It takes a lot to be more condescending than me!

To put it bluntly, you have a shallow understanding of the climate and science in general.

"Scientists" (since they are obviously a single amalgam that agrees on everything) didn't pop over and say, "arrr, people done this horrid thing!"

In fact, there have been hundreds of theories as to exactly what is causing what. Everything from the effects of volcanos to ocean acidification to solar variation has been forwarded. You could even read the painfully overly-neutral wikipedia article and see that.

Solar variation looks like it might have some impact, so of losing theories, it is probably the best. But it isn't the theory that holds up best and predicts best.

And the idea that this is simply a standard change, like ice age to ice age, that doesn't hold much juice, either. First, it's an awfully convenient time for the temperature to suddenly, radically change: in the two centuries we've been totally altering the environments and ecologies of the earth? Why not the hundred thousand years before? Why not a hundred thousand years later?

Second, that prediction calls for another ice age, not the opposite. Also, it doesn't explain the changes to the atmosphere and ocean.

I don't have anything against the theory itself, but you decided to back it because it sounds plausible, rather than because it fits the data. That's bad science.

Fortunately for everyone, although I am a loud, obnoxious ass, I'm not the sort of person that tries to blackball people out of their chosen profession.

Actually, I'm really irritated you even suggested it, which is probably why this was so strongly worded.

Craig Perko said...

Shit, all my links went away. That was full of links!

Peter Bessman said...

Craig, sorry about implicating you as a fascist. I'm not quite sure what I was going for when I typed that up, TBH, so I wish I could follow up with a "here's what I meant" bit, but... I got nothin'. Mea culpa.

David said...

Heh, wow. I appreciate your passion, unfortunately you didn't take me at my stated goal: to act as if we're at fault whether we are or not. I agree with you on all points as far as what we should/could do, just not why. : )

Patrick said...

I was referring to global governance, not global warming. Lack of transparency in policy-making makes it difficult to know how likely a world government is. The EU was originally an economic community, but now can override national soveriegnty when it comes to a greater range of decisions. The same thing is happening in North America.