Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
December 13, 2004
SCIENCE/POLITICS: Getting Warmer

The Mad Hibernian's post on Friday on Michael Crichton's new book questioning "global warming" and similar environmental dogmas (which followed on this powerful speech by Crichton last year denouncing global warming theories) prompted some interesting comments and links. Now, I'm no expert on the subject myself, but I did think it was worth repeating here something I said in the comments to that post. I'm very skeptical of hearing "global warming" discussed as if it is a single concept, like "the earth is round." Basically, "global warming," as I understand its popular meaning, is really three different concepts:

1. The earth has, for some period of time, been getting warmer.

2. This past warming trend is not a random or cyclical phenomenon but is a trend that will continue into the future unless interrupted by human intervention.

3. The past trend and its continuation into the future are the results of specifically identifiable human activities, i.e., carbon emissions.

It is entirely possible to believe #1 without believing #2 and #3, or even to believe #1 and #2 without believing #3. Beware of anyone who tries to use evidence supporting just one of those propositions to convince you of all three.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:30 AM | Enemies of Science • | Politics 2004 • | Science | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

The IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) is an organization of independent scientists from all over the world. They are in virtual agreement that global warming is happening because of identifiable human emissions. At this point in the debate, it's hard to deny that all three of those propositions are true. However, from what I've heard, Crichton's new book greatly distorts the truth. I think the scientific community can begin to suggest ways to improve the environment only when Hollywood stops making it seem like it's all a movie.

Posted by: Ben at December 13, 2004 4:32 PM

My uncle has done tree ring research all over the Northern hemisphere and there is a warming trend (warmer = trees grow quicker = bigger rings). However, he says that the reason for the warming trend is not known. The earth has gone through warmer periods in the past (even within the last 1500 years) and much colder ones too. I've read serious scientific articles that state warming/cooling trends can rely on things such as the amount of dust settling on earth from space (and various areas of space have different amounts of interstellar dust) so our position as we go around the milkyway can affect earth's temperature. The history of the planet shows that there is a cyclical nature to hotter & colder periods, it's quite presumptuous for scientist to declare that current global warming is so heavily dependent on mankinds industrial emissions.

Posted by: Robert at December 13, 2004 5:38 PM

Beware of anyone who tries to use evidence supporting just one of those propositions to convince you of all three.

I agree that we should be skeptical. However, a healthy skepticism implies that one is capable of being convinced of the opposing position, and it seems that a great many skeptics elevate plausible deniability to the rank of likely truth.

Posted by: sansho1 at December 13, 2004 10:53 PM
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