Global Warming: The Missing Science

I have a terrible habit of going into battle underprepared. For example, somebody will be prattling on about Global Warming and I can’t resist stepping in to rip their precious environmental fundamentalism to bits. Junk science doesn’t help real people with real problems. Thing is, my thing is land use and economic development. I’m not a scientist and I don’t play one on TV.

Australian Dr. Ian Plimer, a professor of geology, has stepped boldly onto the Climate Change battleground on the side of fact-based science with a new book titled Heaven & Earth—Global Warming: The Missing Science. Monday the Sidney Morning Herald carried an op/ed review ahead of the Australian release.

Much of what we have read about climate change, [Plimer] argues, is rubbish, especially the computer modelling on which much current scientific opinion is based, which he describes as “primitive”. Errors and distortions in computer modelling will be exposed in time. (As if on cue, the United Nations’ peak scientific body on climate change was obliged to make an embarrassing admission last week that some of its computers models were wrong.)

Plimer does not dispute the dramatic flux of climate change… but he fundamentally disputes most of the assumptions and projections being made about the current causes, mostly led by atmospheric scientists, who have a different perspective on time. “It is little wonder that catastrophist views of the future of the planet fall on fertile pastures. The history of time shows us that depopulation, social disruption, extinctions, disease and catastrophic droughts take place in cold times … and life blossoms and economies boom in warm times. Planet Earth is dynamic. It always changes and evolves. It is currently in an ice age.”

If we look at the last 6 million years, the Earth was warmer than it is now for 3 million years. The ice caps of the Arctic, Antarctica and Greenland are geologically unusual. Polar ice has only been present for less than 20 per cent of geological time. What follows is an intense compression of the book’s 500 pages and all their provocative arguments and conclusions:

Is dangerous warming occurring? No.

Is the temperature range observed in the 20th century outside the range of normal variability? No.

Plimer’s “thing” is the perspective of time. He deals in geologic time. The reaaaaaaly long view. Temperature goes up. Temperature goes down. Our ability to measure that change isn’t necessarily as advanced as we would like to believe.

“To reduce modern climate change to one variable, CO2, or a small proportion of one variable – human-induced CO2 – is not science. To try to predict the future based on just one variable (CO2) in extraordinarily complex natural systems is folly. Yet when astronomers have the temerity to show that climate is driven by solar activities rather than CO2 emissions, they are dismissed as dinosaurs undertaking the methods of old-fashioned science.”

Over time, the history of CO2 content in the atmosphere has been far higher than at present for most of time. Atmospheric CO2 follows temperature rise. It does not create a temperature rise. CO2 is not a pollutant. Global warming and a high CO2 content bring prosperity and longer life.

The hypothesis that human activity can create global warming is extraordinary because it is contrary to validated knowledge from solar physics, astronomy, history, archaeology and geology. “But evidence no longer matters. And any contrary work published in peer-reviewed journals is just ignored. We are told that the science on human-induced global warming is settled. Yet the claim by some scientists that the threat of human-induced global warming is 90 per cent certain (or even 99 per cent) is a figure of speech. It has no mathematical or evidential basis.”

Observations in nature differ markedly from the results generated by nearly two dozen computer-generated climate models. These climate models exaggerate the effects of human CO2 emissions into the atmosphere because few of the natural variables are considered. Natural systems are far more complex than computer models.

Garbage in, garbage out. Amazon.com lists a late May 2009 release date.

It is important to conserve natural resources and prevent harm to the environment. However, we have to use sound facts if we want to make rational choices. I know there are a number of other respected scientists who are standing up to debunk the Chicken Little crowd and their junk science. I hope they continue to give us lay climate change skeptics fact-based ammo to continue the good fight.

(Cross-posted from JCShepard.com. I’ll be cross-posting some more entries while we work out the transition. Patience. I must learn patience.)

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Living too close to town

Edward Abbey died 20 years ago today.  The American Spectator has a nice essay that sums up my love-hate admiration for the Conservative Anarchist of the Desert Southwest:

Cactus Ed was a prickly sort; a conservative anarchist, if you will, who on one hand could support eco-terrorism (a favorite motto was: “Keep America Beautiful — Burn a Billboard!”), and on the other supported the National Rifle Association (NRA), and restrictions on immigration.

Much commentary on old Ed Abbey focuses on his essays, in particular the visionary  Desert Solitaire .  I’d heard the name before a friend of mine gave me a paperback when I was living in Bozeman, MT.  Still, Desert Solitaire hit me hard at that particular time and place.  I’ve been a Conservative all my life, yet I also have a deep, abiding love of the land, in particular that large landscapes of the American West.  Snow-capped mountains of Colorado.  Trout streams gracing the Big Sky of Montana.  Haunted kivas of New Mexico.

In Edward Abbey, I saw both the evil of environmental relativism and the promise of reconciliation—with those of us who value individual freedom and respect above mindless groupthink and junk science.

I don’t know the collective feeling at Patagonia regarding junk science, but their blog highlighted a special event this week for Abbey fans.  The host of The Risky Biscuit Hayseed Hoot radio show does an annual special memorial show, an “incomparable blend of tasty instrumentals, blues, folk, outlaw country, and a generous helping of Mr. Abbey…”

Starting Saturday morning, it will be available for a full week via podcast at the Hoot website. You can also listen live Saturday morning, 8 – 10 a.m. Pacific, by going to www.kthxfm.com and clicking on the “Listen Live” button (on the right).

Kill your television and crank up the podcast.  If you don’t make it before the week is up, go find Tom Russell‘s song “The Ballad of Edward Abbey” on the album Indians Cowboys Horses Dogs; it’s a good take on a complicated legend.

A River Runs… Through a Book

Gapers Block Book Club blog out of Chicago highlights Norman Maclean today—specifically his book, A River Runs Through It.  You might remember a little Robert Redford film was based on it. 

If I didn’t dislike Redford’s politics so much, this would be my favorite movie of all time.  I have tried to disassociate the movie from the men, and the screeplay from the story. 

When I lived in Bozeman, Montana, I met some of the folks who worked behind the scenes and visited shooting locations.  I tried to imagine the Rev. Maclean preaching behind the same pulpit at First Presbyterian Church in Bozeman many years ago.

Never took.

We only have one chance to make a first impression.  My first impression of A River Runs Through It originated in the movie, not the story.  I visualize an actor, not a writer and professor.  I see the Gallatin River, not the Big Blackfoot.  I see Hollywood under the Big Sky.

I have the opposite experience with Maclean’s also excellent book Young Men and Fire.  A friend who had visited Seeley Lake told me about the event and recommended the read.  I have yet to visit Mann Gulch myself. Yet I can visualize the location in my mind like I lived there.

Someday somebody will put this story on film.  There’s a script in circulation.  They will probably shoot in Canada or Southern California because they have no respect for the role of Place in our lives. The images will blur, but not for me. And not for you if you go read the book now.

Friends don’t let friends see movies before they’ve read the book.

In My Goggle Library:
A River Runs Through It 
Young Men and Fire