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Global Warming: Why are those who oppose one point of view called skeptics?

A little background for the conversation …

skep·tic/ˈskeptik/Noun

1. A person inclined to question or doubt all accepted opinions.

2. One who instinctively or habitually doubts, questions, or disagrees with assertions or generally accepted conclusions.

3. (Philosophy) a person who habitually doubts the authenticity of accepted beliefs

Ask yourself who is putting forth these “accepted beliefs.” A corrupt political system? A corrupt media? People with a beneficial interest in the outcome?

sci·en·tif·ic meth·od/Noun A method of procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.

People who provide predictions to two decimal points when dealing with phenomenon of great, mostly immeasurable, magnitudes, are telling you something about their honesty. Truth is that the temperature change that people talk about is within a two-degree (Celsius)  range. A signal that can be lost within the noise of nature’s “natural” variability.

hy·poth·e·sis

a proposition, or set of propositions, set forth as an explanation for the occurrence of some specified group of phenomena, either asserted merely as a provisional conjecture to guide investigation (working hypothesis) or accepted as highly probable in the light of established facts

Synonyms: theory, proposition, supposition, thesis

What is being presented as fact, is no more than a working hypothesis put forth by some whose motivations are highly suspect.

fact/fakt/Noun

A thing that is indisputably the case.

Past climatic activity and current conditions are well within the range of human doubt. Far from being indisputable. One need only consider the accuracy of today’s weather forecasts beyond 21-days to question whether using numbers from the past are indicative of current trends in a chaotic system. Because, by observation, chaotic systems are unpredictable with today’s mathematical tools.

Global climate change is indisputable; the reasons for it, man’s influence on it and whether we can mitigate it are highly in doubt.

What do we think we know?

It appears that the global mean temperature of the Earth appears to have increased when measured over a relatively short time span. Of course, this observation depends on the location, validity, accuracy and methodology of the observations. But it is generally accepted that this is the case.

It also appears that the global mean temperature is a product of what appears to be a chaotic natural phenomenon which has no absolute baselines and or absolute patterns. The best statement that describes the situation is that global climate is variable and is based on a number of factors, both known and unknown.

It appears that the Earth has been hotter, colder, with more atmospheric CO2 and with less atmospheric CO2 prior to man’s greatest influence starting with the age of industrialization. It also appears that our planet has experiences physical shocks and mass specie die-offs in the past prior to recorded history.

But the main questions that remain unanswered are simply:

  • Is the temperature rise simply a manifestation of nature as part of nature’s chaotic system?
  • Does this temperature rise pose a danger to the environment?
  • Is there a possibility that the temperature trend will reverse from warming to cooling as part of nature’s cyclical trend?
  • Is man contributing to the temperature rise in any meaningful or measurable manner?
  • Is there an alternate explanation for what we are seeing?
  • Can man mitigate or ameliorate the temperature rise?

The current explanation that this global temperature phenomenon is simply a manifestation of natural systems and than man has little or no impact on the overall system appears to be more correct than not.

Especially when one considers that the gross inputs for global climate are:

The sun’s solar output – both in the visible and invisible spectrum.

Cosmic rays which may directly affect the most important of the greenhouse gases: water vapor.

The Earth’s orbital position relative to the Sun.

The Earth’s rotational dynamics and precessionary movements.

The Earth’s plate tectonics and volcanic activity.

The heat retention/release patterns of deep ocean currents.

And the existence of greenhouse gasses, of which the most significant is water vapor.

All of these factors are beyond the ability of man to affect the gross nature of our environment. To the extent man may change the Earth’s reflectivity by land cultivation, the creation of urban temperature zones, deforestation and other man-influenced works appears to affect only local weather in small ways that are not even measurable against the noise of climate’s natural variability.

A working hypothesis …

Global warming or climate change is nothing more than a working hypothesis to attempt to explain the physical nature of our environment as it exists today, as it may have existed in the past and how it may manifest itself in the future.

To this end, we may rely on man’s historical records or proxies which may allow one to derive information from past events – knowing that both the historical records may be subject to varying degrees of error.

Which begs the question – in a chaotic system, can the past be used to predict the future? All of our current experience suggests the answer is a resounding NO! Randomness will keep us guessing forever.

Man’s evil influence …

In the present instance, we can also observe that global warming research is supported by those who are attempting to use the phenomenon to promote public policies which benefits financial opportunities for special interests and political opportunists to extend and perpetuate their political power.

To say that climate research is negated by the energy companies that fund research projects is to acknowledge that the special interests have motivations for using research for their own benefit. What should not be overlooked is that spending on climate research by the energy companies is dwarfed by spending by governmental or non-governmental institutions – also to promote their own interests.

Therefore it is most likely that those institutions and research scientists who carry out experiments or analyze data are more likely to direct their projects towards funding sources who pay their salaries. Picking and choosing projects which fit into the mainstream of accepted thought in order to obtain funding creates a bias that should not be overlooked.

We must also ask ourselves, who is generally asserting the information in question? Are they unbiased? Do they have any external motivation for their assertion? In general, what is the credibility based on? And can their credentials and former experience be discounted by an examination of the assertion?

We must also ask ourselves what physical proof exists to support their hypothesis? Is this physical proof visible to all or does it require some form of instrumentation to reveal the phenomenon? What are the limits of this instrumentation? What are the qualifications of those who interpret the findings?

Through the revelations generally known as ClimateGate, we have seen reputable, well-credentialed scientists appearing to manipulating data to produce predictable results, to subvert the journal peer-review publication process to deny access to contrarian viewpoints or excise incompatible data from publications. In some cases, destroying communications among the conspiring scientists.

Bottom line …

There was a time when many of the same scientists predicted that the Earth was cooling and that a mini-ice age may occur. Of course, this did not happen. Today’s models do not correlate with today’s climate patterns – so should not be used to drive public policy.

We have seen the scientists and others make dire predictions of a world-wide calamity based on nothing more than the “outlier” projections of highly-flawed computer models and highly-manipulated data inputs.

So what can we believe? 

I believe that global climate is a natural phenomenon beyond man’s ability to affect. Witness all of the solutions are suggestions with no proof attached. Hypotheses waiting to be studied and confirmed.

Because of the billions of dollars washing through the system, we do not have many honest brokers serving “We the People.” Witness the fact that congressional investigations into global climate change are dog-and-pony shows with the politicians speaking most of the time and who appear to curtail the testimony of credible scientists and others who dispute the government’s position.

In fact, why does the government even have a position on something they cannot control – while there are other pressing matters at hand?

Do your own research and help remedy the real problem: a corrupt government pandering to special interests in exchange for campaign funds, voter support and media attention.

And to answer the central question about why those who oppose one point of view are called skeptics … it is because it is a convenient pejorative short-hand label to discredit the opposition.

Science isn’t performed by consensus and does not serve the purpose of driving public policy. It is based on discovering the truth about our physical universe and ourselves. The universe will take care of itself – with all of its self-regulating feedback loops. I am not so sure than we can take care of ourselves with this degree of prevalent political corruption. Especially when those who purport to speak “truth to power” have been subverted by a particular political position.

It is up to us to solve our own problems. Start now and demonstrate your answer in 2012.

-- steve

P.S. Any skeptics who want to dispute what I am saying, you are welcome to submit a guest blog item or comment.


“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell


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