Sunday, 2 August 2009

Commenting on Climate Change

Just had a pootle around the various climate change articles in the press that allow comments. Because my router is set not to acknowledge ICMP Pings, various online media anti spam measures automatically bin any comment I might make, so I am reduced to the role of spectator. However it does seem to me that there are a lot more angry folk out there on the sceptical side of the Climate Change fence, while the Climate Change believers appear to be in a vociferous minority, trolling forum after forum and chanting the same old dogma, citing the 2007 IPCC report as holy writ.

The angry sceptical side of the argument point to the lack of empirical evidence that CO2 is a major climate driver and ask; "Why are we paying all these carbon taxes when it's not true?" The believers respond with a variety of tactics, especially ad hominem but little credible evidence. The sceptics point to the 2007 IPCC report and claim the original version was 'edited' by political vested interests. Some of the more extreme of these claim it is a 'conspiracy'. The believers claim that the 'majority' of climate scientists support their side of the argument and that anyone who doesn't believe that we're all a-gonna die because of CO2 should be locked up as a 'climate criminal'. Shades of Lysenko there I think, and look how wrong he turned out to be. If the CO2 driven climate change side of the argument had any obvious and substantive proof apart from reliance on unrepresentative 'models', then there would be no need for anybody anywhere to be locked up, because the truth of the matter would be self evident. As for a 'majority' of scientists, what about the 31,000 who stuck their collective necks out and signed the Manhattan declaration?

Science isn't about belief; it's about proof. For a hypothesis to become a theory it has to be backed by proof, and truckloads of verifiable evidence, otherwise it's just one of those whacko 'conspiracy' ideas. So far, all we have from the believers are incomplete computer models, a little warm weather, and shedloads of failed predictions. Mix with a media hungry to sell their product, and energy (Including Oil and gas suppliers) companies only too willing to jump on the green bandwagon with all their lobbying pull, and bingo! All ye who do not believe are 'bad' and must be punished. All attempts to have a grown up discussion on the matter get hijacked by the zealots (Who aren't too keen on reasoned debate) who are egged on by professional lobbyists and the whole mad circus rolls on.

As one who has walked too many streets and seen how utterly self deluding many people can be, it is only natural that I should side with the sceptics. Yet on hot days like today, especially given the past week locally, it would be easy to believe that man is driving the climate. On our little part of Vancouver Island it's been over the thirty Celsius marker all week; but to borrow a contemptuous little phrase from the believers camp 'weather is not climate'. So it is. The climate does change, that has never been in any doubt. The mechanism of said change is in dispute.

While it is true that massive deforestation can alter a local climate and man made pollution can create local heavy smog, if the cause of said pollution ceases and trees are replanted, it is remarkable how quickly the environment can return to its pre polluted / deforested appearance. For evidence I would offer old Industrial revolution sites hidden under woodland or built upon. Whole civilisations have been 'lost', but they become lost because vegetation / landslides / volcanic eruptions cover them. In England, complete communities and villages were lost for non climate related reasons. What do we know about UK neolithic / bronze age ancestors apart from some of their larger artefacts like Stonehenge? Whole Roman towns reduced to parch lines in the grass. Medieval monasteries, economic powerhouses of their time, reduced to crumbling stone and strange lumps in country meadows. Once thriving 18th and 19th century fishing villages and mining communities are often only indicated by the grave markers of a few stone walls where substantial homes once stood. The whole English countryside, so beloved by the 'Green' preservationist faction, is an artificial construct. The only constant has been change. Most has been human caused, but Weather changes have accelerated change, and those changes were more often exacerbated by cooling, not warming. A classic example being the twenty bad years of harvest which helped the final decline and fall of Roman civilisation.

One can gently point out all the above and still be hung with the soubriquet 'denier'. Frankly, this does not dispose me to look kindly upon those who scream the loudest like spoilt brats in a playground. Perhaps if the pro anthropogenic camp ever calm down and want to talk sensibly and logically about their findings I might be disposed to lend them an uncritical ear, but if what I see on all the online forums on this subject is any guide, I won't be holding my breath.

Notwithstanding all the above, Mrs S is sitting at my elbow and is insisting that I get my kit off and get in the sun. "I'm fed up of seeing all that white skin Bill." She tells me. "Half an hour each side every day." She orders. "Come on soldier, I want to hear those buns of yours sizzle!"

Sigh. Duty calls.

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