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Posts Tagged ‘climate change’

Did the American Physical Society reverse its stance on global warming?

Posted by neuralgourmet on July 19, 2008

Does the APS now question global warming? Not really, but you wouldn't know it by what you read on the right

Does the APS now question global warming? Not really, but you wouldn't know it by what you read on the right

The right wing blogosphere has been all atwitter the past couple of days over a blog post by Michael Asher at DailyTech alleging that the American Physical Society (APS) had reversed its previous position that human activity was fueling global warming.

“The American Physical Society, an organization representing nearly 50,000 physicists, has reversed its stance on climate change and is now proclaiming that many of its members disbelieve in human-induced global warming. The APS is also sponsoring public debate on the validity of global warming science. The leadership of the society had previously called the evidence for global warming “incontrovertible.”

In a posting to the APS forum, editor Jeffrey Marque explains,”There is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution.”

The APS is opening its debate with the publication of a paper by Lord Monckton of Brenchley, which concludes that climate sensitivity — the rate of temperature change a given amount of greenhouse gas will cause — has been grossly overstated by IPCC modeling. A low sensitivity implies additional atmospheric CO2 will have little effect on global climate.”

The APS is the second largest organization of scientists in the world and one of the most prestigious. It publishes over a dozen scientific journals with Physical Review and Physical Review Letters among them, as well as organizing over twenty scientific meetings a year. So if the APS issues a statement that it doesn’t think anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is real, then the world has good cause to sit up and take notice. “Deathly news for the religion of Global Warming,” as one right wing pundit put it.

Except that’s not what happened.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in Science, Skepticism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Oil Prices, Climate Change, Objective Morality, and Evangelicals.

Posted by Andy D. on June 24, 2008

It certainly feels like fate when all of above have woven themselves together in my mind recently. That is how our pattern seeking minds work. I will talk more on personal relationships next week. I want to get these ideas into our zeitgeist while they are fresh.

Let’s start with crazy stuff. I shit you not. This appeared in the Journal Gazette:

Evangelicals question global warming
A coalition of conservative evangelical leaders wants to enlist 1 million Christians to sign a statement questioning whether human-caused global warming is a real threat and arguing that restrictive environmental policies harm poor people.
The “We Get It!” campaign is the latest development in an ongoing disagreement among evangelicals about climate change.The campaign’s materials argue that “recent, slight warming” is an unproven threat that could lead to restrictions in energy use and drive up the cost of energy and food for the world’s poor.

Can someone tell me what evangelicalism has to do with science? If some of those evangelical leaders are scientists or are economists, then they might have something helpful to contribute; clearly, they do not get it! If they have scientists then speak the science and not under the label evangelical and be open for criticism. Reality and evangelicals do not mix considering their hatred of biology, cosmology, geology and other sciences. Ironically, they will even enjoy the benefits of these sciences such as medical care and then credit God afterwards. These people may destroy the planet and it would be a big joke if it were not so common. The driving forces of this movement are the conservative think tanks. 90% of all books against the science of climate change have roots in conservative think tanks. (This reminds me of a bizarro world in which gay scientists isolate the Christian gene).

The topic of this weeks Enlightenment show is about ethics and morality. Ethics are derived from biological anthropology such as reciprocal altruism in animals. The Golden Rule and empathy are selected for and not against in evolution. Plus, we can overcome our urge to reproduce (selfish genes) and seek other pursuits such as learning and love. Stay tuned for more on that subject and watch the website for the show.

Apologists say non-theists have no objective moral code. Where do they pick and choose to follow the good bits of the Bible but ignore the nasty bits? (Is that still objective absolutism? There are Christians that are on both sides of abortion, capital punishment, homosexual marriage, embryonic stem cell research, etc).

Religion completely destroys any sense of objective morality. It gets the whole thing upside down. Look at the climate change mentality above. A naturalistic cosmic worldview sees the planet as an entire complicated ecosystem (Biosphere) and how vulnerable it is for us. (The planet will be fine without us). Religion says the entire universe was built for us. Can they be any more arrogant? Plus, all humans are wicked and sex is ugly. Yet, we are made like God. Come on, who designs a sewage system in the reproductive playground? Religions scapegoat their sins. Is that moral? Don’t get me started on the horrors of lying to kids about dinosaurs being on Noah’s Ark and calling that science and building a museum to ignorance tax-free.

This is exactly what Bill Cooke described about the lack of morality in religion in this very good debate with Wiliam Lane Craig. (Thanks to Debunking Christianity for the link and you will have to go to u-tube for the whole thing).

Back to global burning, I was listening to WOWO because I like to listen to them say silly things around lunchtime. Rush Limbaugh was going on and on about letting us drill on our coastline. I thought for once, we were going to let the market fix our problems like they preach so well. (I am a fan of Adam Smith) Yet, here is the right wing thinking short term by saying let’s just drill here in our coastlines. That is one way to handle it, but only short term. With oil being expensive we will have to change our ways, infrastructure and increase demand from alternative energy sources. That is good for the planet and good for energy independence. Isn’t that the market forces with that supply and demand stuff? This happened before in 1979 and 1983 with our power plants getting away from oil. However, OPEC now has demand from China and India so they do not have to respond to the US. I thought higher energy independence and climate changed were linked. Here is a very good article from The Economist saying that the two are now being separated politically. The right wing wants to reduce foreign dependence but doesn’t pay any attention to climate change. This explains Rush and the we get it campaign from above. Morality and good stewardship is thrown away by not paying attention to the total economic cost including the environment and only the nominal gain.

Let’s embrace this market change for both energy prices and environment. The right wing seems to count out American ingenuity and innovation. Even McCain said we should be thinking nuclear. I agree. (Richard Carrier just wrote a cool blog on McCain’s u-tube problem). Science and Technology are more important than ever and businesses are already thinking green and the trend will continue.

Here is an interesting take on oil prices and it really isn’t so bad. Green that isn’t economical such as biofuels is not the way to go until the scientists figure out a way to make it viable. It is driving up costs for no environmental or economical reasons currently. By the market keeping oil prices up compared to “normal”, we will see more R&D work done on alternatives, and decrease demand. Both are good for the environment and energy independence but apparently we have to fight for this.

Posted in Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Science | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Collapse, A Review

Posted by Skeptigator on March 5, 2008

Cross-posted at skeptigator.com.

I have finally completed Jared Diamond‘s Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. Once again Jared Diamond has created a compelling and epic work detailing the reasons civilizations, modern and ancient, have chosen to collapse. Chosen being the operative word. The author details compelling reasons why societies have made choices that have direct and long-term negative impacts to the health of their societies.

I could blog endlessly about the stories and lessons that could be mined from this book. To spare everyone that grief I’ll simply highlight some of the… uh… highlights.

  • Montana, what are the lessons that can be drawn from the mining industry that has been the source of environmental problems practically in our backyard? And why are the executives of Pegasus Gold bastards.
  • Easter Island, What really happened to the original inhabitants of Easter Islands. Hint: It doesn’t involve alien astronauts (I’m looking at you von Daniken).
  • Vikings in Greenland, why were the Vikings able to last for centuries in Greenland and then “suddenly” disappeared. And perhaps more importantly why have the Inuit been so much more successful, sort of.
  • The Genocide in Rwanda, what were the underlying causes of the Rwandan genocide, primarily perpetrated by the Hutu on the Tutsi. What would explain the Hutu on Hutu killings?
  • Hispaniola, Why do the Dominican’s owe much of their stability, environmental good fortune and higher economic status to a brutal dictator? Why do the poverty-stricken and environmentally devastated Haitians owe their misfortune to French democracy?
  • “Mining” Australia, what are the consequences of British values on Australian soil. And what’s up with all those damn rabbits.

In addition to the previous stories are others that include, China, Japan, Indonesia, the Mayans and the Anasazi. Surprisingly the common threads that the author seems to tease from the history books and the clarity of hindsight are issues that modern man faces today. Climate change, intervention from outside societies and, perhaps most importantly, environmental mismanagement.

He goes on to detail in the last 100 pages or so the Practical Lessons that can be learned and immediately applied to this modern world. Mr. Diamond does an awesome job of applying the practical lessons directly to the stories he’s woven throughout the book. I could list out some of the reasons he comes up with but they lose their impact if they are not delivered to the reader within their proper historical context.

It’s easy to view this book (especially after this review) in a pessimistic light. And quite frankly there are a number of reasons why you should have a pessimistic outlook when you see some of the same disastrous choices being made today (ah-Bush-choo!). But Jared Diamond remains optimistic. He sees shafts of light, not only from “bottom-up” NGOs such as the World Wildlife Fund and the Forest Stewardship Council but also from “top-down” initiatives being instituted by governments who recognize the value of their environmental (and renewable) assets, such as the Dutch polders and off the top of my head the quotas imposed on crab fishing in the Bering Sea (most famous as the location of the Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch series).

If you pick up this book you will read about Chevron’s Kutubu oil fields in Papua New Guinea and their absolutely amazing and minimal environmental impact. It’s even more starkly contrasted with the environmental devastation of the Indonesian government’s Salawati Island oil fields off the coast of New Guinea. What you will hopefully learn from this book is that Chevron (the big evil oil company with an impeccable environmental record) is very much aware that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It took Exxon years to recover their former standing with consumers after the Exxon Valdez oil spill. When you have a choice to purchase gas from Texaco or Exxon people still to this day will pick Texaco because Exxon “was that company that killed all those poor birds and poisoned those penguins”. In fact, Exxon was recently in the news again because of that accident from literally 2 decades ago, the PR (and 2.5 Billion dollars in punitive damages, yes billion) from that one oil spill is still being felt today.

The question is who do you boycott when a lumber company clear cuts hundreds of acres of lumber from old growth forests? Whose products do you avoid when a mine in Montana declares bankruptcy to avoid the exorbitant environmental remediation necessary to prevent the abandoned mine from poisoning an entire watershed? I don’t know either. Those are commodities that are in everyday products. You don’t boycott your cellphone because it has copper in it. Do you not buy a book shelf at Home Depot because it might be from one of these lumber companies. These are obviously rhetorical questions because we all know we don’t because we don’t have that direct connection between those companies and your choices as consumers.

I want to leave those who read my review with the biggest take-away lesson for myself. There are things you and I can do to begin to apply social and economic pressures to industries. When you purchase lumber look for wood marked with the Forest Stewardship Council’s seal, for example. Find products that have some assurance that they are being harvested, cut, fished, bred and grown in a sustainable way. This will protect our fisheries, forests and future.

Posted in Politics, Science | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »