Penn & Teller and Climate Change: How "Dumb" Is It to Say, "I Don't Know?"

On her Lab Notes blog Newsweek science columnist Sharon Begley recently took magician, skeptic, and long-time friend of reason, Penn Jillette to task for saying, "I don't know" in response to a question about what he thinks of global warming.

Both Begley and Jillette were participants at James Randi's gathering of skeptics, The Amazing Meeting 6, in Las Vegas last month. In her blog post "Penn & Teller, and Believing in Dumb Things," this is how Begley describes what happened:

Someone asked Penn whether he still believed that man-made climate change is bunk, as he has said more than once. Penn's basic answer was: I loathe everything about Al Gore, so since Gore has been crusading against climate change it must be garbage.

Now, Penn & Teller’s terrific “Bull****,” now beginning its sixth season on Showtime, has debunked psychics such as John Edward, feng shui, acupuncture and other forms of pseudoscience and the paranormal. But here was Penn, a great friend to the skeptic community, basically saying, don’t bother me with scientific evidence, I’m going to make up my mind about global warming based on my disdain for Al Gore. (Both Penn and Teller are well-known libertarians and supporters of the libertarian Cato Institute, which has been one of the leaders in spreading doubt about global warming.) Which just goes to show, not even the most hard-nosed empiricists and skeptics are immune from the power of emotion to make us believe stupid things.

In Rashomon fashion, Jillette offers a different take as he explains in an op/ed over at the Los Angeles Times today. According to Jillette:

During our loose Q&A period this year, someone asked us about global warming, or climate change, or however they're branding it now. Teller and I were both silent on stage for a bit too long, and then I said I didn't know.

I elaborated on "I don't know" quite a bit. I said that Al Gore was so annoying (that's scientifically provable, right?) that I really wanted to doubt anything he was hyping, but I just didn't know. I also emphasized that really smart friends, who knew a lot more than me, were convinced of global warming. I ended my long-winded rambling (I most often have a silent partner) very clearly with "I don't know." I did that because ... I don't know. Teller chimed in with something about Gore's selling of "indulgences" being BS, and then said he didn't know either. Penn & Teller don't know jack about global warming ... next question.

Jillette goes on to ask:

Is there no ignorance allowed on this one subject? ... There's a lot of evidence, but global warming encompasses a lot of complicated points: Is it happening? Did we cause it? Is it bad? Can we fix it? Is government-forced conservation the only way to fix it?

Is it happening? Did we cause it? Yes, the balance of the evidence is that it is happening. Is it bad? Relative to what? Can we fix it? Maybe. But at what's the best way to do so? Are immediate deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions necessary? Some analysts don't think so. Government-forced conservation? Perhaps there is another way. Skepticism is certainly merited when it comes to proposals that aim to solve global warming.

Finally, is it OK to disdain Al Gore? Sure it is. But even an annoying self-important scold can be right sometimes.

Whole Jillette op/ed here.

P.S. Trying to put this blogospheric tempest in context, I did a desultory search for video of the TAM 6 session but couldn't find it. Can any H&R readers offer some help here?

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  • ||

    I don't know -- how dumb is it?

  • SIV||

    Did somebody say video? I don't know about that skeptic video but Dave Weigel seemed to think the monkey running on a slogan of "Change" commercial was pretty good.

  • Elemenope||

    The crux of it all is...how late is too late to know? We are the perennial suckers at the epistemological gaming house.

    Global Warming in this way is much like cancer. If you have it, the sooner you know and seek treatment, the better your chances. If you have it and you're too late, it goes metastatic and you're fucked. But, the tests are expensive and could bankrupt you. In the meantime, you still have to live your life.

  • Elemenope||

    Personally, global warming or not, most of the same activities that purportedly contribute to global warming are also stupid and or destructive on a more more easily observable secondary level. No, breathing particulate matter into your lungs from diesel buses is not likely to be good for you, regardless of what it might do to the global mean temp fifty years from now. Yes, oil is a limited resource which will become more scarce as it is consumed, forcing up prices, destabilizing regions and promoting international conflicts. No, shearing off mountain tops and dumping them into valleys to get at coal veins is not good for rivers, surrounding towns, or the skyline.

    I personally think we need no bogeyman like global warming to make better choices about this sort of thing. And, hey!, if we happen to be right about that one too, bonus!

  • the innominate one||

    if Penn and Teller "don't know", perhaps they should have been more circumspect to begin with, instead of spouting off just because of their personal dislike of Al Gore

  • ||

    Jillette is certainly right about Al Gore being annoying.

    As far as his not knowing on the Global Warming front... last time I checked Penn is a magician(and a damn fine one) not a scientist. Is he merely supposed to take as an article of faith that global warming is real and dangerous and must be stopped?

    Shame on any skeptic who says so.

    It is not necessary for anyone to have a position on an issue which they have not given sufficient consideration unless one is seeking to establish a religion.

  • ||

    http://www.worldclimatereport.com/index.php/2008/06/20/finnish-finish-global-warming/

  • ||

    But even an annoying self-important scold can be right sometimes.

    As someone who has always been willing to go on record when I agree with joe, I heartily agree with this sentiment.

    I personally think we need no bogeyman like global warming to make better choices about this sort of thing.

    And no one would disagree that we should substitute other activities for those you (rightly) criticize, if these substitutions were cost-free.

    They aren't. The debate is, and has been for decades, how much we should spend for these environmental/health benefits.

  • Orange Line Special||

    I tend to suspect that Reason's skepticism is simply related to their support for corporations, or something similar.

    And, while I dislike Al Gore, I dislike Jillette too. Perhaps it might be helpful for someone to note that unless someone is an expert they can't weigh the various claims, and that there are creepy aspects to AlGore's crusade, as I hyperbolically explore in the video at the link.

  • ||

    The problem with Jillette's "I don't know" is not that it's unseemly for him not to know something. It's that it's a patently transparent dodge for not having to admit he was wrong.

    Because back when the evidence was less clear, he had an opinion and wasn't shy about sharing it.

    Contra promethean, Jillette certainly had a position, and now that it's increasingly clear his position was wrong, he doesn't want to change it. Instead he just wants to not have one anymore.

  • ||

    But even an annoying self-important scold can be right sometimes.

    I'm just glad the link didn't go to one of my comments.



    Hey, good thread. Nice link, sidereal.

    It's really too bad when people let their ideological, or even worse, personal, preferences interfere with their knowledge.

  • e||

    It's taken a decade for Jillete to admit they don't know whether Global Warming exists.

    On the other hand, if you're a libertarian living in a walled compound in Las Vegas, do you really give a damn about Global Warming? You've got enough hardware and ammunition to fend off the looters when the rest of the country is underwater.

  • anonymous||

    Teller and I were both silent on stage for a bit too long, and then I said I didn't know.

    Of course Teller was silent on the subject...

  • ||

    joe:

    "It's really too bad when people let their ideological, or even worse, personal, preferences interfere with their knowledge."

    That quotation sounds pretty self-referential to me.

    It reminds me of the time you were arguing that people were being evacuated from certain Pacific Islands because of rising sea levels... not because it actually happened (which it didn't), but because it made a good story that fit nicely with your own personal preferences and ideological position.

    Fact remains... despite 0.6 degrees Celsius of warming to date, humanity has experienced absolutely no costs which can be attributed to climate change.

  • Elemenope||

    Fact remains... despite 0.6 degrees Celsius of warming to date, humanity has experienced absolutely no costs which can be attributed to climate change.

    That's approximately as idiotic a comment as the one you accuse joe of making.

    How the hell do you know?

  • ||

    http://crackle.com/c/Penn_Says/Penn_Says_Newsweek_and_TAM_6_0/2328055

    Somebody posted the link in another thread somewhere - pretty funny.

  • TallDave||

    Is it happening? Did we cause it? Yes, the balance of the evidence is that it is happening.

    True, but when the GISS show a very different trend than the other measurements, there are serious well-documented issues with the GISS sites and additional evidence Hansen has been rigging the data itself with algorithms that reduce readings based on how old they are, it would be foolish not to be skeptical.

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.

    And there's an even bigger burden of proof to claim this is going to be a serious problem in the next 100 years, such that we need to spend trillions to solve it right away. We now have studies saying there will be a quarter-century of no net warming due to unforeseen ocean interactions. It's quite a reach to say we know what will happen in 50 or 100.

  • ||

    TallDave, I'm not a climate expert but I do have some expertise in computers (that is how I make my living.) It's really funny how Hansen uses Fortran on a Unix system. Is he trying to hide something? Using Fortran is like writing a paper, and publishing the paper, for public consumption in Latin. I've had some fun playing with the GISS website and it's graphs, for example, I used "anomolies" for my lifespan versus using the 1880 (when we started measuring temperatures) to the year before I was born. I found that since I was born the temperature anomoly was less than 1/4 of a degree. I encourage everyone to try this for him/herself, here is the url:

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/maps/

    I'm am sure each of you will leave this site with a different view of Hansen and his work. By the way, if you are good with Fortran, check out climateaudit.org, they may be looking for you and your punch cards.

  • Shane Brady||

    I was an attendee at TAM6 and saw both Begley and Penn speak, and Begley's recollection is wrong. Penn did not say he doesn't believe in global warming because of Gore. He said Gore the person made him not want to believe in it, but that was a lousy reason. During Begley's speech, she tried to recall what Penn had said, and got it wrong. She continued to be wrong when she wrote that article.

  • ||

    When someone says "global warming", I don't know what they mean. Climate change is happening, because change is what the climate does. The climate has been changing since day one. Is the overall climate getting warmer? I don't know. Are human beings accelerating it? I don't think so. Will adopting authoritarian socialism stop it? Hah!

  • Ben The Liberal||

    I hate to break this to you guys, but the Earth isn't 3,000 years old, there were no WMDs in Iraq, Evolution is real, and so is global warming (the term "climate change" is just a right-wing newspeak ploy to make global warming sound less scary).

  • dpsc||

    Hmm- the balance of evidence says about what Richard Lindzen said before Congress 10 or so years ago. It certainly suggests that human activity has increased atmospheric levels of CO2 above pre-industrial levels, and that it will continue to do so. It also sugggests that this will result in some amount of warming (though this has yet to be firmly established- current understanding of climate does not absolutely preclude a cooling effect from increased atmospheric CO2).

    Beyond that, the empirical evidence is extraordinarily inconclusive and contradictory. It is established fact that the earth has had much lower temperatures than we currently enjoy while enjoying atmospheric CO2 levels an order of magnitude higher than our era's. This has yet to be reconciled with the view that CO2 is a primary driver of climate, as far as I know, but that's not to say that it cannot be so reconciled.

    "I don't know." is far less dumb than "I know." in this case.

  • Jolly Bloger||

    Video isn't up yet, but when it is it will be here:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/AmazingMeetingVideos

  • tarran||

    Oh God,

    Yet another neo-liberal who has no clue what real liberalism is.

  • dpsc||

    Elemenope: You're right that all those activities have costs, sometimes very significant ones. That that is the case is not, by itself, an argument against engaging in them. They also have benefits, and you must balance the costs against the benefits. If we can find adequate substitutes for those activities that improve the balance of harm to benefit, we should employ those substitutes.

    As an example, it is certainly true that brushing your teeth wears down your tooth enamel, and that flossing damages your gums. It also takes up time that you could be using to write the great American novel, or more fully enjoy a good bowel movement. In a perfect world you would neither brush nor floss- maybe you would just get a shot as a child that prevented tooth and gum disease. Absent that shot, you ought to brush and floss.

  • ||

    Ron,

    Is it happening? Did we cause it? Yes, the balance of the evidence is that it is happening.

    Cop out alert! You did NOT answer your second question. You asserted that Global Warming is happening, but that does not mean ipso facto the second question should be answered with the same "Yes".

  • ||

    I don't know -- how dumb is it?

    Much smarter than saying "Oh, I KNOW for a fact we're cooking the planet!".

  • ||

    Skepticism is certainly merited when it comes to proposals that aim to solve global warming.

    Considering that one begs the question if one argues we need to fix the climate (assuming that AGW is a fact, which is disputable at best, a dumb hoax at worst), I would say skepticism is MORE than merited - is the logical recourse!

  • Ben The Liberal||

    Tarran, don't you realize that increasing liberty doesn't necessarily mean limiting government?

    Admission of this is the first step on the road to recovery. Really.

    Corporate power is often far more extensive and brutal than government power.

    Once you end up on the wrong side of a private sector scam maybe you will realize that.

  • dpsc||

    Ben: Tarran, don't you realize that increasing liberty doesn't necessarily mean limiting government?

    Liberty certainly does mean limiting the powers of government. I imagine you're just taking the piss here so I wont't expand on that.

  • ||

    "Admission of this is the first step on the road to recovery. Really."

    Ben, admitting that you're a smug, condescending prick is the first step on the road to recovery. Really. For you it's more like a giant leap than a step, but give it a shot.

    "Corporate power is often far more extensive and brutal than government power.
    Once you end up on the wrong side of a private sector scam maybe you will realize that."

    And once you end up on the wrong side of a botched drug raid, or an IRS enforcement snafu, or any number of other govt actions for which there is very often for all practical purposes little or no recourse to the law or to anything else (far less so than is almost always the case when dealing with "corporate power"), maybe you will realize how monumentally stupid your statement is. I doubt it, but who knows? Anything can happen.

  • Ben The Liberal||

    I'm not a supporter of the drug war, but you can pretend I am if that makes you feel better.

    I just love how "libertarians" always tell people that one can always have legal recourse if they are the victim of a corporate scam while simultaneously supporting so-called "tort reform" that does nothing but make corporations more immune to any kind of prosecution, and slandering lawyers.

  • Les||

    Ben, what on earth makes you think most folks here believe Iraq had WMD's or that any at all are young-earth creationists?

  • Ben the Liberal||

    Les Its just all a part of being outside the reality based community,

    People here may not be Iraq War supporters or fundamentalist evangelical Christards, but global warming denialists share several features in common with the former groups.

  • ||

    How "Dumb" Is It to Say, "I Don't Know?"

    Prior to the recent announcement of the California Air Resources Board plans to meet future legislated CO2 requirements, we were treated to a number of polls telling us how much the public believed that global warming is a big problem and that it is worth large amounts of wealth to fix it. My reaction upon hearing the poll results was, "How would you know?"

    I propose that future polls on global warming include a few factual questions to test whether the respondent is well read on the issue. Sample questions:

    1. How has the level of CO2 in the atmosphere changed since 1750?
    a. Increased 0% to 100%
    b. Increased 100% to 200%
    c. Increased 200% to 400%
    d. Increased more than 400%

    2. If the future world economy grows without being constrained by concerns for global warming, what GDP per capita does the IPCC predict for the world in 100 years compared to today?
    a. 1 to 2 times
    b. 2 to 4 times
    c. 4 to 8 times
    d. More than 8 times

    3. Do you think you got #1 and #2 correct?

    4. Do you think that your answers to #1, #2, and #3 should bear on how your opinion on the issue is weighed?

  • Paul||

    Because back when the evidence was less clear, he had an opinion and wasn't shy about sharing it.

    Funny how that works. "Back when the evidence was less clear", there seemed to be a lot of people who had exactly the opposite opinion. So let's sum up: You're a bad person if you're skeptical about something when the evidence of its existence isn't clear.

    I kind of see it as the opposite. Ask me how I thought about people who were cock-sure about global cooling?

  • Les||

    Its just all a part of being outside the reality based community... global warming denialists share several features in common with the former groups.

    Well, that's true. But global warming denialists are in the minority here. Most folks here are simply suspicious of the ever-changing long-term predictions and the government's ability to address the problem practically and honestly. Of course, I don't trust the automobile and oil industries to do so, either. But I do think the market is responding to people's desire for greener technology to a degree that keeps me from being completely pessimistic.

  • ||

    I personally don't find Al Gore annoying. Maybe after watching that talking charisma deficit John Kerry, Al Gore seemed positively avuncular by comparison.

    But even an annoying self-important scold can be right sometimes.

    Of course. Although, sometimes they do a disservice to their own cause (cough, Dondero).

  • dpsc||

    Joe said: But even an annoying self-important scold can be right sometimes.

    I'm just glad the link didn't go to one of my comments.


    I did look for an example. I couldn't find one, sorry. You are that unique stopped clock that is never right. If it's any consolation, that is some quantum shit.

    The case for global warming was very strong in the late 80s, based on ice core data. I was a believer at that point. It has become less strong since then, to say the least. The fact is that there is no one who can better Penn in this regard- we just don't know.

  • dpsc||

    I do dig Penn though- I think my cups and balls routine is better than his, mainly because I use _opaque_ cups. It's the kind of innovation that isn't appreciated 'till you try it.

  • ||

    Disclaimer: I'm not saying I agree with Dindero, just saying that if what he says does have merits, I wouldn't know because I can't stand to listen (see: Lou Dobbs, Ann Coulter).

  • ||

    Whatever happened to global warming =) Now that it is clear that the far to simplistic term "global warming" doesn't fit, it is billed Global Climate Change?
    As if that were something new *phew*.

    Of course there is change and probably we influence it, but is it bad? Do forecasts projections lie to high, to low? Nobody knows and history tells us that they are most likely too high.
    I mean look at the last years and the forecast and the discrepance is appalling.

    Sorry, but I very much support Teller's point of view on this subject. There is no way we know right now with any certainity.

    I can't comment on the models or even the climatic science, but I can comment on the devices used (since they are not so different from what we use at our engineering department) and sometimes this temperature measurement network is very bad when it comes to picking locations and making adjustments. And given that the US possess the hugest measuring network in the world, this doesn't bode well.
    Why not use Satelite measurements? Well, that's another question, perhaps the range isn'T quite good (only a couple of decades).

  • ed||

    "not even the most hard-nosed empiricists and skeptics are immune from the power of emotion to make us believe stupid things"

    Begley doesn't realize just how ironic that statement is.

  • ||

    I deny AGW because Ben the liberal believes in it.

  • ||

    And joe.

  • ||

    "Tarran, don't you realize that increasing liberty doesn't necessarily mean limiting government?"

    No Ben, I doubt he or a lot of people would say they do.

    Hang out here a while and you'll find that a crux of the difference between liberals and "classical liberals" is that the latter seem to feel that the only form of coercion or constraint on a person's choices/opportunities that should be taken into the moral calculus is when the government pulls a gun or billy club on you. Of course people's choices and opportunities can be just as effectively curtailed by other types of constraing, but they don't seem to figure.

    I will say that you should not make the mistake that a lot of liberals who have no contact with libertarians make, that they are some type of conservatives. The two can conflate, but they are usually pretty different I find. As noted above here you won't find many young earth folks here nor many people sympathetic to the War on Iraq. The way I see it is that classical liberalism is imperfect, but a hell of a lot better than no liberalism at all!

  • ||

    I think the "global warming is a hoax" stuff is pretty far out there. Thousands of scientists and virtually every scientific professional association from a wide variety of fields, nations and organizational affiliations just somehow got together and cooked this up for some bizarre reason. That kind of thinking leaves me pretty incredulous.

    My standard challenge to global warmer deniers remains in effect: since you, probably a non-expert, have been able, one hopes through collecting and analyzing the relevant data, to conclude that this ever increasing consensus is wrong, please then let us know what OTHER comparably emerging scientific consensuses in other areas and topics you have also concluded to be erroneous.

  • ||

    Climate modeling is a science that only exists to give more power to our overlords. That's why it gets funding, and that's why the results always point to restricting our freedoms.

  • Master Shake||

    Now here's what's different about this my friends: it uses actual pieces of the sun, combined with some radioactive vials from Chernobyl, and I know this is interesting also to the ladies out there, it uses them to heat burgers, steaks, chicken; no problem. And, best of all, it's not even supposed to be inside this country.

  • ||

    As a participant of TAM6 I saw both Begley and Penn&Teller speak, and I will reaffirm that Begley is cherry-picking her quotes of P&T. What Shane Brady said was totally correct. The day after they spoke I Teller was at the conference to help out another speaker and I overheard him defending his position on Global Warming to a small mob that had gathered around him. Not to put words in P&T's mouths but their main problem with the Global Warming Doomsayers seems to be related to their belief that Environmentalism has become a new religion for many on the left. They are highly dubious of the "Big Brother...Let Your Government Take Care of Everything" method of government that many advocate in America today. So even if they were to admit that Global Warming is occurring an is due to human activities they would still be against big government schemes to solve the problem.

    Benjamin

  • Global Warming Investigator||

    Many people who claim global warming is caused by human beings are actually 'misinformed'. There is a hidden agenda behind this whole theory. Its not to deny warming, but dude, let me tell you, are humans causing the warming in the Sun, Jupiter, Neptune & the climate change in every other planet in tour solar system? Its a fact, the climate in our entire solar system is undergoing an unprecedented change, its not happening just on Earth! Research it yourself & think about it. How misleading is the whole theory of Global warming caused by humans. Its a plot to bring in more tighter laws & take away some freedom from we humans by the powers that be.

    My message: Don't be like sheep: observe, investigate, learn, see the conspiracy... & spread the Truth

    [Visit my blog to learn why]

  • ||

    Astrophysicist J.Richard Gott stands at the Berlin Wall in 1969, says, "This wall will not be here in 1993." Wall comes down in 1989.

    How did he know that? Simple. He reasoned he wasn't special enough to be ANYWHERE special at any point in his life. As permanent as the wall seemed at the time, the Copernican Principle told him he just ain't that lucky.

    Why don't I believe in global warming? Extraordinary claims do require extraordinary evidence. The earth is 4.5 billion years old, and we as humans are lucky enough to be part of THE species that exists at the VERY time we gained the awesome power not only to destroy our planet, but to save it as well? What vanity! It almost makes environmentalism sound like...a religion.

    Sorry, in reference to global warming, I haven't seen the extraordinary evidence that proves we are that special. The sad truth (for some people's vanity), is that we are not that special, and it is very likely that this climate and this planet will go on existing long after our pittance of an effect on this planet ends.

  • Virgil||

    "My message: Don't be like sheep: observe, investigate, learn, see the conspiracy... & spread the Truth"

    I think we've finally achieved the perfect ideal of the troll post. Refer to people who disagree with you as sheep; reference a vague, eeevvviiiilllll conspiracy; capitalize your own wacky notion of "the Truth"; and turn it all into an ad for your shitty blog! Well done, Global Warming Investigator!

  • Neu Mejican||

    I think they should rename Bullshit to I don't know. It seems like a more apt title.

    fwiw (it ain't worth much), I think Penn is being a bit disingenuous on this one.

  • A sheep||

    But Virgil, where else will I get information on

    Unexplained/Paranormal phenomena, News, Earth Changes, 2012, Underground Crude Realities, Classified Information, Engineered Conspiracies, True Ancient History, Self Help, Abundance, Spirituality


    I really am most interested in the True Ancient History 2112, but 2012 will probably do.

  • Virgil||

    "He reasoned he wasn't special enough to be ANYWHERE special at any point in his life."

    Wow. That is just really, really, REALLY crappy logic. Given that "special" (important, consequential, "big") things happen, obviously _someone_ is going to be around to see them. If everyone applied that logic I guess we could just conclude that nothing of any consequence will ever happen.

    "The earth is 4.5 billion years old, and we as humans are lucky enough to be part of THE species that exists at the VERY time we gained the awesome power not only to destroy our planet..."

    If you can't see that humans have a greater capacity to alter our environment (in potentially catastrophic ways, at least in the short- and mid-term) than virtually any other species that's existed on Earth, you haven't been paying much attention. I'm not sure how it qualifies as vanity to acknowledge that reality.

    "...it is very likely that this climate and this planet will go on existing long after our pittance of an effect on this planet ends."

    Obviously the planet will go on existing, and pretty much by definition some sort of climate will as well. You surely have to be aware that no one is talking about actually "destroying our planet," as you're implying; they're talking about altering it such a way that makes it much harder for humans (and other organisms) to live, or at least to have what we would consider an acceptable standard of living for ourselves.

    "It almost makes environmentalism sound like...a religion."

    Wow, how creative, substantive, and fair-minded! Denigrating a view you disagree with by comparing it ominously to "religion." You and Global Warming Investigator should get together and trade sheeple-themed witticisms; that seems to be the intellectual level you're working at.

  • ||

    Scientists that enter the field of climate modeling presuppose that there must be something wrong with the earth, and they are going to find the problem and tell us how to solve it. Sorry if I don't believe them, but honest scientists get into fields that aren't so useless and total bullshit.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Max said

    Do forecasts projections lie to high, to low? Nobody knows and history tells us that they are most likely too high.
    I mean look at the last years and the forecast and the discrepance is appalling.


    From what I have read, the forecasts by the IPCC seem to under perform by lag behind the degree of warming. Where are you getting your information? I would be interested in seeing data that shows the predictions over estimating the warming trend.

  • Neu Mejican||

    "perform, lag"

    excise that "by"

  • Neu Mejican||

    James Ard,

    Scientists that enter the field of climate modeling enter with many suppositions. Some may go into the field to demonstrate the weaknesses of the current modeling assumptions.

    There is no quicker way to notice in the scientific world than a well-constructed, facts-based refutation of a widely held theory.

    honest scientists get into fields that aren't so useless and total bullshit

    You presuppose that there is no utility to understanding climate dynamics...that makes your opinion highly suspect, to say the least.

  • ||

    Virgil,

    I wasn't arguing that NOTHING of consequence ever happens, I argued that it is rare when something of consequence DOES happen. What percentage of the dinosaurs who ever lived do you think were actually alive at the point the meteor struck the planet that wiped out their existence. If you and I were dinosaurs conversing, at some point in their era, and you told me that a meteor were about to hit that was going to wipe us out, you are going to have to give me some damn strong evidence, because my inclination is going to be to not believe you, and 99 times out of 100, I will be right, without even looking at the evidence.

    Likewise, I am not arguing that it is IMPOSSIBLE for us to not only be the species that causes global warming, but for us to exist at the very point in time where we have the capacity to do it, I am arguing that is highly unlikely. Between two explanations for the current global warming: 1)Its man-made, and 2)Its part of the natural cycle of warming and cooling that we know exists on this planet, barring extraordinary evidence, I am going to go with explanation #2.

    I am also not saying our species has no capacity to alter our environment. Clearly, any species does, at least a little bit. I can even buy your argument that we may affect it more than any other species that has existed. But in "catastrophic ways" as you call it? Now, you are going to have to provide me that extraordinary evidence that extraordinary claims demand. The vanity comes in when you start talking about "catastrophic ways."

    You say, "...no one is talking about actually "destroying our planet," as you're implying; they're talking about altering it such a way that makes it much harder for humans (and other organisms) to live, or at least to have what we would consider an acceptable standard of living for ourselves."

    They aren't talking about "destroying our planet?" Here is a quote from James Hansen, NASA climate scientist, and a global warming luminary: "The danger is that delay will cause tipping points to be passed, such that large climate impacts become inevitable, including the loss of all Arctic sea ice, destabilization of the West Antarctic ice sheet with disastrous sea level rise later this century, and extermination of a large fraction of animal and plant species."

    Extermination of a large fraction of animal and plant species? That's a little more drastic than your claims about making it "harder for humans to live.." and affecting our "standard of living," wouldn't you say? Oh, but "harder for humans to live," and "affecting our standard of living" doesn't get the federal research grant money flowing, now, does it?

  • ||

    The only utility we are going to recieve from this discipline is massive command and control polcies that will likely do more harm than good. Energy and medicine are sciences that will pay off as opposed to climate modeling, which will ultimately cost us.

  • ||

    Virgil,

    Also, I almost forgot, at least our last Savior, Jesus Christ, died for his beliefs. Al Gore? Well, reports are, he was worth $1 million when George W. was sworn in the first time, and now is worth $100 million. A good gig, whipping this planet up into a frenzy, isn't it?

  • ||

    In fact, because of climate science, people are starving right now. The increase in food prices is strike one in government's war on warming, can we afford strike two?

  • Paul||

    I would be interested in seeing data that shows the predictions over estimating the warming trend.

    Neu

    I believe that warming in the Antarctic has repeatedly failed to come up to predicions.

    Even Mother Jones whined about the increase in Antarctic Sea Ice (exactly the opposite of what many said would happen) and warned that this would 'fuel the skeptics'.

    And this quote, from the Mother Jones article is strangely ironic: So there you have it: As usual, climate change is much more complex than skeptics would have us believe.

    Gee, really? Up yours, Mother Jones with highly polished brass knobs on. Proponents of Global Warming have been pillorying us about just how simple and straight-forward all of this is. It's the skeptics who have been cautioning about how complex the issue is.

    Funny how when one's predictions don't turn out in one's favor, the first thing one does is to remind us how complicated and difficult all of this is.

    Isn't that precisely what so many of us have been pointing out? Of course, this cautioning gets us lumped in with the Intelligent Designers.

    Oh, and get this comment on the MJ article:

    This is the kind of report that makes me think it is important to abandon the term 'global warming' and start using 'global climate change' instead. The newer term much more accurately describes the array of erratic events we can expect to occur.



    Quick! Cover our asses! It's more complex than we thought!

  • ||

    Not to mention that biofuel mandades have a very debateble effect on carbon output. Corruption disguised as positive policy initiatives is the norm for government action.

  • KenK||

    Global warming MIGHT be a problem for me, but global cooling would be the end of western civilization.

    ***

    Warning of Global COOLING - Climate Fears a 'Fraud' - Newsweek's Silliness - Arctic Ice Scare Slapped Down

    http://www.jerrypournelle.com/reports/jerryp/globalcooling.html

  • ||

    Paul
    I hope you don't think that link you provided is supposed to be some kind of strong evidence for your argument. The researchers own quotes certainly did not seem to think his findings had upset the consensus on GW.

    James Ard
    Why do you think that only climate modelers find empirical support for GW? I've read findings from people from dozens of disciplines, and there are strong statements supporting GW from a wide assortment of scientific professional organizations.

    I think you guys are grasping at some shaky straws. Better for libertarians to discuss more liberty friendly ways of addressing the concerns from GW than denying what seems to be accepted by thousands of experts in the relevant fields.

  • Daniel Reeves||

    In fact, because of climate science, people are starving right now. The increase in food prices is strike one in government's war on warming, can we afford strike two?


    Ignoring the "well, duhs!" I'm going to get for posting this on a libertarian site, but that's only because the government is inefficient. If the government truly wanted to be efficient (again, ignoring the laughs I'm going to get), we'd be doing things far differently: more industrialized and genetically-modified farming, nuclear power, drilling for oil in America, etc.

  • ||

    Who thinks scientists not involved in GW research have anything relevant to say? Dad knows nuclear physics and thinks GW is crap, this doesn't make his opinion mean anything.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Paul,

    Thanks for being specific.

    I don't think the Antarctic data demonstrates the global warming lagging the models, but it certainly highlights the complexity of the task.

    Which brings us to this.

    Proponents of Global Warming have been pillorying us about just how simple and straight-forward all of this is. It's the skeptics who have been cautioning about how complex the issue is.

    There are idiots on both sides of the issue, but know one with even a passing familiarity with the issue thinks that global climate is "straight-forward."

    Gimme a break.

    Quick! Cover our asses! It's more complex than we thought!

    Or...more accurate descriptions allow for more honest discussion. I think you are being less than objective.

  • KenK||

    UH,OH!!

    Flat-Screen TV Gas 'a Climate Time Bomb'

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,376304,00.html

  • ||

    "Scientists that enter the field of climate modeling presuppose that there must be something wrong with the earth, and they are going to find the problem and tell us how to solve it. Sorry if I don't believe them, but honest scientists get into fields that aren't so useless and total bullshit."


    "Who thinks scientists not involved in GW research have anything relevant to say? Dad knows nuclear physics and thinks GW is crap, this doesn't make his opinion mean anything."

    So James, scientists involved in GW research are full of it and scientists involved in other fields have nothing to say. So who in the world would be able to tell us something?

    You?

  • ||

    Frankly, the issue is so murky, I don't trust anyone who says he is sure about it, one way or another...

  • Mark||

    Skeptics, read up.

    AGW believers, refute.

  • ||

    MNG, climate scientists may have some useful theories. Unfortunately, the greenhouse effect isn't one of them. That's why, on the whole, were better off without them.

  • Paul||

    There are idiots on both sides of the issue, but know one with even a passing familiarity with the issue thinks that global climate is "straight-forward."

    Gimme a break.


    Of course there are. But I think you're beginning to get it. Can you really blame anyone for skepticism since the loudest (and often most respected) voices on Global Warming(tm) don't have a passing familiarity with global climate?

  • Paul||

    I hope you don't think that link you provided is supposed to be some kind of strong evidence for your argument. The researchers own quotes certainly did not seem to think his findings had upset the consensus on GW.

    MNG

    *sigh*

    Re-read again. And pay special attention to my post and the context. Maybe my thrust was too subtle. Neu got it. Let me drop the piano off the building for you.

    I was pointing out that not all predictions of global warming have held up to models-- it was a direct response to Neu's request for data showing where global warming data didn't match to prections. It was not my point to say "see, this is why gw isn't happenening". It was my attempt to point out that global climate is tricky, despite what Al Gore would have you believe. See my response to Neu just above.

  • dpsc||

    Master Shake: "Now here's what's different about this my friends: it uses actual pieces of the sun, combined with some radioactive vials from Chernobyl, and I know this is interesting also to the ladies out there, it uses them to heat burgers, steaks, chicken; no problem. And, best of all, it's not even supposed to be inside this country."

    Dammit Shake, I told you you were no longer allowed to borrow my balls.

  • dpsc||

    Virgil says: Anthony says: "He reasoned he wasn't special enough to be ANYWHERE special at any point in his life."

    Wow. That is just really, really, REALLY crappy logic.

    You're right about this. I know because I tried it with the Great Wall of China, and here it is 2008 and the Great Wall is still there. It's actually the same fallacy that makes gamblers think they must get lucky soon if they have had a run of bad luck.

    But Neu, I think you ought to look at the string of posts on Pielke Jr's blog this spring about model "predictions" (I use the quote because the modellers seem to unanimously say that they do not offer predictions).

    A few modelers crawled out of the woodwork to point out that the last ten years are consistent with the models. They are so because anything short of the rapid onset of an ice age would be.

    The upshot is that the models are not actually predictive. Short of the world turning into an inferno, or a ball of ice, the climate will be consistent with the models (and I use that order intentionally) over the amount of time it will take for both of us to go from young to aged.

    It is as if I said that the sun would rise between 2AM and 11 AM tomorrow, here, and then claimed that the actual time of sunrise was consistent with my model. I would be right, of course, but I would not expect people to have a great deal of faith in my predictions about sunrises.

  • Leading Climate Scientist||

    Okay, I'll admit it- all of us climate scientists, around the world, we've been taking the piss out of everyone.

    Look, a number of years ago, we all got together with some celebrity friends- Larry David was there, and Al Gore, and we were all really stoned- anyway, we decided that it would be hilarious to try to sell the public on a massive ecological disaster that most of them couldn't possibly understand. Then, and this part is yet to come, we could start selling these "Magical Climate Change hats" that we've been trying to market. They're cardboard and, unfortunately, we just can't give the things away. Well, not unless our plan works.

    Luckily, we're all in on the scam, which is why we're willing to stake our professional careers on a scam that seems to gain so little for us. But, again, Magical Climate Change Hats- Coming in 2009 to a store near you!

    Unfortunately, what we did not expect was that our plans would be completely undermined by an army of laymen on the Internet exposing our complicated fraud simply by spelling Mr. Gore's name as "algore". That was well-played indeed. My hat is off to them.

  • ||

    It's very easy to write something that sounds sufficiently sciency to convince laymen that it's quality science.

    It's much more difficult to pass off junk science on actual scientists.

    So, where are the climate scientists on this question again?

  • ||

    Russ R,

    Even the links supposedly refuting the notion that the innundated Pacific Islands were being flooded due to global warming contained examples of that exact thing happening, and attributed it to that.

    As did the IPCC report. But, hey, you found a Powerline post. Yawn.

  • ||

    That quotation sounds pretty self-referential to me.

    I'm sure it does, Russ R. See, my original comment.

    See also, your comment that Pacific Island innundation didn't happen, despite your having read the IPCC report link confirming that it did, and having written subsequent comments explaining that the confirmed sea level rise just isn't significant.

  • ||

    Scientists are so concerned about global warming that they'll fly anywhere in the world to discuss it. People are so concerned about global warming that the only thing getting them to drive fuel efficient cars is gas prices. Global warming believers are so concerned about global warming that they haven't changed a damn thing in their lives to do a thing about it, outside of maybe buying a more expensive light bulb. congrats guys, "everyone" is so concerned that the most they'll do about it is argue that others should do something about it. face it folks, no one is buying this crap, based on personal actions, not words. Liberals are so up in arms about global warming that they'll still plan a carbon creating vacation to Europe just so they can state they've been to Europe.

  • ||

    I'm sad to see Reason Magazine cave on the global warming issue. And just when the evidence is being shown to be so bogus that even the NYT has to admit it.
    http://newsbusters.org/blogs/noel-sheppard/2008/07/03/nyt-maybe-greenland-isnt-melting-after-all
    The war on drugs was disastrous enough to freedom, global warming will make that look like laissez faire.
    Is this a big enough issue to reconsider my decades long subscription status?
    Considering the forces arrayed against freedom lovers everywhere ...

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