Thursday, October 15, 2009

Climate Change Contrarian, Part 2

The late Michael Crichton's 2005 speech "The Case For Skepticism on Global Warming" to the National Press Club in Washington D.C. (see my 10/14 blog entry) is closely aligned to everything I believe on the topic of global warming and the way the activists approach solving it. Specifically, Crichton says:

~ the summary of this speech is as follows:   Michael's detailed explanation of why he criticizes global warming scenarios. Using published UN data, he reviews why claims for catastrophic warming arouse doubt; why reducing CO2 is vastly more difficult than we are being told; and why we are morally unjustified to spend vast sums on this speculative issue when around the world people are dying of starvation and disease.

~ he admired the late New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and he is so correct. You should read the entire entry on Moynihan here. Moynihan was so prescient. Among his firsts was promoting both the concepts and dangers of acid rain and the greenhouse effect while in Nixon's cabinet. He also identified the dumbing down of the American public school student (remember "Why Johnny Can't Read?") and also that the Welfare system encouraged single-parent households. That Crichton calls him a hero and approaches his intellectual logic towards public policy as Moynihan would should tell you that Crichton is someone to be listened to intently.

~ he was deeply committed to the environment, considering it our shared life support, but he recognized as I have that our scientists are basing their findings on speculation. In other words, they have left the Scientific Method behind once they continue on to speculation of their findings and then regard them as conclusions. I myself became aware more and more at least a decade ago that statistical analysis and the rigor of statistical testing was being abandoned in polls. This made me very nervous, because science is nothing without these principles and processes. Crichton said that adding the additional subjectiveness of politics has corrupted much of these findings. Were he alive today, I've no doubt he'd be doing 2 things: speaking out boldly about it, and writing a new bestseller about it. He'd do both to alert us and hopefully educate us.

~ I love it that he brought up how everyone in the 1970's just KNEW another Ice Age was upon in the next 10-20 years. Seriously, scientists everywhere were alarming us all, we had to DO something. Well, it's been almost 40 years now and where is the Ice Age? Crichton's point: in 2030, people are gonna be asking, well, where's the Heat?

~ In his speech, he lays out several examples of where so-called scientific results have been skewered by speculation by the scientists or, worse, by journalists writing about the science. It boils down to applying logic, stepping back and looking at the big picture by people who know about the subject. This is coincidentally the main arguments of the many scientists you and I never seem to hear from who think we are overdoing the warming threat.

~ he alludes to several ideas that people seem to be forgetting, like can we now do what's necessary to impact life 100 years from now? His example of Teddy Roosevelt in 1900 not being able to speculate in detail a solution to today's problems is right-on. This means therefore that WE do not have the right tools right now to impact stuff we don't even know will exist 100 years from now, much less 400 years from now (the global warming damage is a 400-year trend).

I've posted here before about, that even if the science was conclusive beyond doubt that the warming was here, was doing damage and would be even worse than Al Gore wants you to believe, who has proved that we can actually reverse it or even materially affect it? We are just urged to DO things, and those things are remarkably close to a political agenda. Hmmm.... This is what Crichton meant by complexity theory in nature, and the problem with applying a linear-based solution to climate when it follows a nonlinear complex function.

~ Crichton also made a wonderful point about, if we don't let the drug companies government-test the drugs they invent in order to pass FDA approval, then why are we letting the very scientists who came up with the current global warming scenarios and speculative solutions test them for scientific rigor? Are you willing to start letting Bayer tests its own drugs? I didn't think so. Why are we just blindly believing all this?

~ I love his section on there being no balance in nature and the role of mankind in it. I watched a very good piece on The History Channel about Niagra Falls' geography and changing forms, and how it is speculated to change so drastically, all because of nature only. Nothing we did. We often lose our smarts believing that nature doesn't change, but nothing could be further from the truth. What if this is the natural way it's wanting to change by raising the temps almost a degree overall? And are we gonna try to change the sun's effect on us while we are at it? Because listen, the sun plays a huge role in all this and last time I checked, it was powerful enough to do its own thing and that thing changes. Yes, even the sun.

Most of what Crichton reminded his listeners in this speech was not very comforting. Remember how Jurassic Park wasn't very comforting either? Science -- pure D science -- doesn't comfort, or alarm, it only records and most of the time does not predict, especially when non-linear complexities must be dealt with. The original 1995 IPCC report conclusively said that no conclusions long term could be drawn. Then it was corrected by one scientist to make it more of a solutions-based report, even when those solutions had not been proven. And that brings us to today. Crichton died only a year ago, so he hasn't missed much so far. This is another reason I trust him. Still another, I think like he did. I'm famous for "Wait, not so fast" or "Let me ask a dumb question" that sometimes turns out to be the disproving point. Something inside my brain sees inaccuracies in logic every day.

Crichton referenced Mark Twain, who said " Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect." This is great advice when dealing with any issue, but especially good advice for scientists. I wish more of them thought like Crichton did.