back to article Most Americans doubt Big Bang, not too sure about evolution, climate change – survey

A recent poll brings bad news for those who trust in scientific consensus: over half of Americans doubt the Big Bang theory of the inception of the universe, and about four out of ten doubt evolution, that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, and that humans exacerbate global warming, despite overwhelming evidence for all four …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Climate change? Really?

    Von Storch, if you read the ariticle properly, confirms his continuing support for the basic theory and actuality of warming, the role of CO2 and Man's role.

    He points out that, as with all scientific models, adjustment, sometimes major is part of their development and improvement, if only because it is extremely rare to know, understand and be able to include all the factors in a system.

    Of course, it is still possible that every model and almost every scientist across a range of disciplines will be proved wrong or flawed. However, now, the consensus is overwhelmingly in favour of the theory global warning and the human element being correct.

  2. J to the S

    "over half of Americans doubt the Big Bang theory of the inception of the universe, and about one in four doubt evolution, that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, and that humans exacerbate global warming, despite overwhelming evidence for all four."

    If there was overwhelming evidence for global warming we wouldn't be having a debate now would we?

  3. dan1980

    @J to the S

    "If there was overwhelming evidence for global warming we wouldn't be having a debate now would we?

    That argument only really works if the 'evidence' is properly understood by the 'we' that is/are(?) debating it.

    I, personally, don't understand a great deal of it. I dare say that neither you, nor the vast majority of this site's readers and writers understand it either. It gets simplified for consumption because in many cases a full and accurate understanding may require years of diligent study - study that the general public neither have nor will put in. That simplification means that we can all digest the general gist, which is good, but also means that we can end up believing that we understand it when really we don't.

    This is natural (we all like to think we understand everything) but tends to lead people to believe things that reinforce their existing biases.

    There is still a big enough debate amongst the general public over the age of the earth - whether it is 'young' (~6000y) or 'old' (~4.5by). Does that mean the evidence isn't overwhelming? No, because it is.

    Likewise for the 'big bang'. Sure, it may not be true but it is currently the best fit for the evidence gathered. If you (not you, specifically) do not accept that then you are either choosing to agree with a minority position that is not the best fit for the evidence or you have some new evidence - in which case I am sure the scientists who have made it their life's work studying the origins of the universe would be very interested to see it.

    There is significant debate amongst lay people over the 0.99999... = 1 identity. There is no such debate amongst mathematicians.

    I am not having a go at you, just pointing out that the existence of debate in the general population, unlearned and unskilled in a particular field, is not necessarily proof or even indication of a similar level of debate and uncertainty amongst professionals in that field.

  4. ewozza

    The climate facts are not that complex

    The climate models are predicting warming which isn't happening. We've released a gigantic amount of CO2 into the atmosphere since the late 90s, and it has done diddly squat to global temperature.

    Until climate scientists produce some models which work, and stop calling critics rude names, their discipline deserves the same respect as ESP research or UFOology.

  5. Slawek

    Re: The climate facts are not that complex

    I disagree. If you spend some time reading ESP research you will conclude that people who do it try to do a real science with an open mind (even if subject is difficult to deal scientifically) - quite opposite to "climate-change scientists".

  6. Naughtyhorse

    If there was overwhelming evidence for global warming we wouldn't be having a debate now would we?

    you'd have thought so.

    We just can't shout louder than the voices in your head

  7. dan1980

    Re: The climate facts are not that complex

    @ewozza

    ". . . it has done diddly squat to global temperature."

    No, that is an unscientific conclusion from incomplete, cherry-picked data.

    What you are referring to is more accurately rephrased as: "a single climate indicator of truncated scope* has shown that the mean surface temperature has indeed risen over the last two decades but has done so less than the same indicator rose during previous periods."

    A dozen or more other indicators - such as Arctic sea ice extent, sea level rise, ocean heat content, near-surface air temperature, lower tropospheric temperature, stratospheric cooling (yes, cooling), glacier mass balance, etc... - are taken into account when attempting to form an accurate picture of climate change and the majority of these (indeed all of the above-mentioned) show changes in accordance with the models and predictions.

    * - Not taking into account the Arctic, or deeper sea measurements for instance.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: The climate facts are not that complex

    "The climate models are predicting warming which isn't happening. We've released a gigantic amount of CO2 into the atmosphere since the late 90s, and it has done diddly squat to global temperature."

    It is happening. You might want to read

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/planet-oz/2014/feb/12/global-warming-fake-pause-hiatus-climate-change

    and

    http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/~/media/shared/documents/policy/Climate%20Change%20Statement%20Addendum%202013%20Final.ashx

  9. J to the S

    First off I would like to say thank you for the polite and well thought out response. The issue isn't so much as to whether or not the 'evidence' is properly understood so much as the intent behind the individual(s) presenting the evidence. Let's use Al Gore as an example. He left the government in 2001 reporting a net worth of less than $2 million. Since then his personal net worth has grown to $300 million. This massive accumulation of wealth all started with his power point presentation on global warming and steam rolled from there. Now if you believe he is a virtuous human being and he truly believes in global warming then fine but what if he isn't? What's in it for him to make you believe that global warming is real? Money of course! It doesn't matter if he believes in it as long as you do.

    So why do people believe or disbelieve in global warming? I believe the primary reason comes down to party affiliation. If you are a democrat more than likely you believe it's real and if you are a republican you probably don't because if that's what your party believes in you are supposed to believe it too, otherwise you aren't a loyal party member.

    The only person I trust on this issue is myself and my own personal experience. In January it's cold and in July it's hot and this has been the case every single year i've been alive. Not once have I stepped outside and said to myself, "It sure does feel like the earth is getting warmer". If that day ever comes i'll change my tune but i'm not going to believe it just because someone tells me to.

  10. Slow Joe Crow

    With science and economics the right wing mantra is always "I know what I know, don't confuse me with facts!" Paul Krugman just had a good NY Times column on this http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/18/on-the-liberal-bias-of-facts/?module=BlogPost-Title&version=Blog%20Main&contentCollection=Opinion&action=Click&pgtype=Blogs&region=Body Interestingly right wing views of "what everybody knows" are very much like the affinity fraud.

  11. ewozza

    Left Wing success stories

    ...

    Still waiting.

  12. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Re: Slow Joe

    "With science and economics the right wing mantra is always "I know what I know, don't confuse me with facts!"...." With the Left it's "I've been told what I know by such exceptional scientists, economists and medical professionals as Kevin Spacey, Diane Keaton, Susan Silverman and Jenny McCarthy."

  13. Naughtyhorse

    Re: Left Wing success stories

    Michael Moore taking 911 rescuers abandoned by HMO's to CUBA for free heathcare

    little pissant island 90 miles offshore and you have been trying to take it down for 1/2 a century, and failed miserably.

    yet still the best of you get treated for free

    winning

    anything else i can put you straight about while im here?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Left Wing success stories

    188,00 Dead in Iraq

    480,00 US death per annum by smoking

    4,329 Coalition deaths in Afghanistan

    There you go, Left Wing success stories, oh sorry, these are some of your best Right Wing success stories aren't they? Contempt for you to follow shortly...

  15. h4rm0ny Silver badge

    Re: Left Wing success stories

    Many of us on the Right were heavily opposed to the invasion of Iraq and very vocal on the subject. Also against the bombing and regime change in Libya more recently. You'll find that the Tea Party members were / are very often against America getting involved in outside affairs, being quite isolationist in their mindset. And it was Tony Blair (may he die in shame) who dragged us into that debacle over here.

    Right Wing != In Favour of War.

  16. Uffish
    Devil

    Re: fact free diet

    @ Matt Bryant

    I haven't downvoted you but you do appear to be exclusively addressing an easily confused, right wing audience.

  17. HildyJ
    Angel

    It's Not Stupidity, It's Insanity

    Schizophrenia is a mental disorder where sufferers cannot tell what is real from what is imagined. This, in a nutshell, defines religious belief of as well. Specifically, true believers seem to suffer from the Grandiose form. To quote the DSM-IV: "Grandiose Type: delusions of inflated worth, power, knowledge, identity, or special relationship to a deity or famous person." They believe they have been chosen by god, can work miracles through prayer, and have been given the true knowledge through the bible. They are crazy.

  18. ecofeco Silver badge

    Re: It's Not Stupidity, It's Insanity

    It's Idiocracy.

  19. Michael Thibault Bronze badge

    Re: It's Not Stupidity, It's Insanity

    >They are crazy.

    If you put your faith in the DSM-x, sure.

  20. RobHib
    Unhappy

    Human nature being what it is, a Dark Age is never far away.

    Years ago, someone said to me that we're only a generation or two away from a Dark Age. I believed it then and I'm even more convinced now. Thus this table is just a reaffirmation.

    What I find so very disconcerting is that since about the early 1980s I've noticed this increasing scepticism in science and the rational myself. I've no doubt that the rise of post-modernism and the anti-science movements etc. is largely to blame. What is harder to explain is why scientists and educators lost the plot and let modern-day witchdoctors take over much of the public discourse.

    These figures ought to be a wakeup call.

    BTW, whilst the US leads the pack in ignorance and illogical beliefs, most of the English-speaking world isn't far behind it. (Although it's interesting to speculate why the uptake of these wacky ideas hasn't promulgated quite as fast elsewhere).

  21. ecofeco Silver badge

    Re: Human nature being what it is, a Dark Age is never far away.

    The title alone says it all and is a fact.

    Upvoted.

  22. RobHib

    @ecofeco -- Re: Human nature being what it is, a Dark Age is never far away.

    If you want an excellent example of how science's esteem has slipped in mainstream cultural thinking over recent decades then take a quick look at this 1955 doco for teenage school kids (≈11 mins) about why they should study science:

    Why Study Science?

    When I entered high school in the '60s, the values and sentiments expressed by the parents of these teenagers was pretty much the norm everywhere. The adults in this doco echo almost exactly what I experienced throughout my childhood and teenage years--even my grandmother who was not educated in science thought this way!

    It's difficult to comprehend that such strongly ingrained beliefs in science across most walks of life can descend into such scepticism in less than one lifetime. It's almost proof that a new Dark Age could descend if the scientifically-literate are not more vigilant.

  23. doctariAFC2

    Re: Human nature being what it is, a Dark Age is never far away.

    Which is exactly the purpose of this "survey"....

    Or, in other words, how are we doing indoctrinating people, and removing their free will, as well as their freedom for self-determination.

    As we can see from the posts/ comments, those successfully indoctrinated come up with all sorts of ways to demonize and attack, while conveniently avoiding any questioning of the survey itself. As some have pointed out, the questions appear to be leading at best, invalid at worst. Those answering as the survey crafters desired are somehow uplifted, while those answering contrary to the goals of the survey are demonized....

    This thing is a charade, like man made global warming, cooling, climate change - or whatever term du jour is used to fool the masses. The questions concerning religion is a disguised measurement to see how many people have been "enlightened" to lay all their trust (aka faith) in man and government, and how many place their faith in something out of man's reach, control, realm.

    Once we believe that man is almighty, we look to other people for our answers, our comfort, our direction, which means we are more easily dictated to by someone claiming to be smarter, wiser, more special than ourselves, forgetting the simple fact that every person puts their pants on one leg at a time.

    Having faith in a higher power, whatever that religion may define as such, puts your faith above the frailties and imperfections of man, limiting said control one man will have over another.

    This is all hogwash, and is aimed at gauging success and progress to indoctrination. Nothing more, nothing less.

  24. RobHib

    @ doctariAFC2 -- Re: Human nature being what it is, a Dark Age is never far away.

    1. I'm not going to debate the methodology or purpose of the survey except to say that if the same questions were asked 50 years ago to a similar group of people then the results would be significantly different. The difference would be that this earlier survey would be much more pro-science to the extent that those being surveyed would think that many of the questions were wacky and made little sense.

    Why do I say this? It's simple really, I recall what it was like back then and I assure you that attitudes towards science have changed significantly for the worse since then. Putting empirical values on how attitudes have changed matters little except to say the changes have been very significant (the 1955 Why Study Science? doco referred to earlier makes this glaringly obvious).

    2. As I imply further on in the reply "@dan1980 -- Re: The takeaway . . .", back then I and my schoolmates were educated with the tools necessary to ensure that indoctrination was minimal. In other words, I was given tools that taught me to question what I was told--i.e.: not to take the statements of others as gospel but to prove them for myself.

    2.1 Largely, this training worked: for instance re climate change, I've listened to both sides of the argument and I've come to the conclusion that the matter is a great deal more complicated than either side in the debate would have us believe. Without going into specifics, the propaganda from both sides has made matters worse--it's delayed implementing what really needs to be done (which, on the evidence I've seen, is somewhat different to anything proposed by the major protagonists). I'm not alone, many other minor players have come to similar conclusions.

    2.2 I've little doubt that the paucity of today's public discourse/debates--whether about science or politics or whatever--is because very few understand how to conduct such debates. Almost no one seems to understand formal logic--logical argument with subjects and predicates, nor how to conduct such debates, nor do they fully understand the scope and relevance of even their own entrenched positions.

    2.3 To illustrate that last sentence: in science, if you do not have a good grasp of the long-established scientific method then trying to determine factual scientific/physical laws from alchemy is fraught with problems. Today--where short cycles are everything--it's too much trouble to cut to the fundamental core of the problem and analyse problems in depth. It's much easier to analyse the superficial, or as I like to call it, use 'Twitter-level analysis'.

    2.4 Understanding and applying the scientific method is crucial for science as it ensures the integrity of scientific development, however it's not everything. The underlying philosophy of what one is attempting to research is also very important. This involves both logical and moral argument. For example, just understanding the chemistry for say 'improved' versions of VX nerve gas alone may be intellectually and scientifically challenging but without a proper moral framework in which to develop such work we end up with science of the kind as carried out by the detestable Nobel Prize winner Fritz Haber.

    2.5 Thus, we also need the rich cultural framework in which to both carry out science and educate the public in science. I contend that despite the vastly increasing complexity of the the world's political, environmental and scientific problems, that in fact the arguments involving their solutions are becoming increasingly shallow. The reasons for this are complex but primarily they're the consequence of the public's less rigorous understanding of science than it had decades ago. Simply, our approach to problem-solving is going in the wrong direction.

  25. DocJames

    Re: @ecofeco -- Human nature being what it is, a Dark Age is never far away.

    Rob - that video is incredible for exactly the reasons you say; thanks for the link.

  26. Uffish

    Re: Human nature being what it is, a Dark Age is never far away.

    The 'Dark Ages' weren't all that dark, it's just that, the Romans having gone home, there were fewer people around with a culture of writing. Aural culture doesn't store well. Given that the three R's are prety well ingrained now, and given that people don't suddenly get stupid, I think the current civilization would survive.

  27. doctariAFC2

    Re: @ doctariAFC2 -- Human nature being what it is, a Dark Age is never far away.

    I agree.... Our approach to problem solving, and even our approach to the logic process, has most definitely changed for the worse. Gives science a very bad name....

    Starting point is today many believe science answers WHY something happens, which is balderdash, it answers HOW something works.

  28. RobHib

    Re: @ecofeco -- Human nature being what it is, a Dark Age is never far away.

    Right, more should see it.

    People like me crap on about this subject all the time and most of the younger generations just say we're exaggerating. Fact is, there's the evidence!

    As I've done, tell others about it.

  29. RobHib

    @ DocJames -- Re: @ecofeco -- Human nature being what it is, a Dark Age is never far away.

    ...Forgot to make this observation. It's worth noting that comment by the father about travelling to the moon may be "quicker than we think" was pretty prophetic. 1955 was 14 years before the moon landing and more than half a decade before Kennedy announced that the US was going to the moon.

    I recall when Kennedy made the statement about going to the moon that most of us most of us treated it with considerable incredulity. For that reason alone, it's an impressive doco.

  30. dan1980

    The takeaway . . .

    The takeaway of this study is not that "(North) Americans are stupid". The takeway is that a significant portion do not believe things that are scientifically-accepted fact.

    Now, any time there is any talk of global warming, specifically the concept that humans have a net effect on the climate of the planet, this site turns into a bit of a zoo.

    Whatever any one here believes, the simple truth is that the vast majority of scientists with anything to do with the field agree that the climate is changing and that humans have a net effect. There are facts and truths buried in the readings and measurements and forecasts and hypotheses and arguments and not every piece of data points unambiguously one way or another.

    The same is true for many of the other 'facts' presented. Whether any of these are actually, in the end, true is not the issue. The issue is that all of them are scientifically accepted to be the best reading of the data available by those who have studied it closely and critically.

    There are gaps in all these positions and many arguments over the specifics. There are scientists who disagree outright. BUT, and again, none of that changes the fact that all these positions are held by the vast majority of scientists.

    The question then becomes - why do so many people who have not critically analysed the data with a trained and experienced eye decide that those who have are wrong?

    I am not saying that they aren't wrong, but on what basis does, say, a 'climate change denier' choose to accept and agree with a small handful of scientists but reject the work and study and conclusions of the vast majority?

    I would go as far as to say that anyone without specific scientific learning relevant to the field in question (be it evolution or climate change or whatever) who chooses to support the minority position against the overwhelming majority position, does so on ideological - rather than scientific - grounds.

    I tend to believe whatever the scientific consensus is on account of me having no specialised scientific learning. That might make me a 'sheep' in Matt's eyes but I really have no grounds to formulate my own theories, nor to select one or another based on my own analysis and understanding.

    This is the case with most of the general public and we just don't have the time or resources (or, to be honest, the inclination) to put in the years - decades in some instances - of study and experimentation and measurement and analysis necessary to be on par with the scientists whose theories we are debating.

    So, the takeaway is that those surveyed tend to favour politicians and preachers and personal bias above scientists.

  31. ewozza

    Re: The takeaway . . .

    I accept the theory of evolution because there is plenty of supporting evidence, such as Darwin's moth - non trivial predictions which have been confirmed by observation.

    I do not accept that the world is warming dangerously, because the evidence is that the models on which such assertions are based are deeply flawed.

    1. The models did not predict the pause in global warming since the late 90s.

    2. The instrumental record shows similar rates of warming to the late 1980s warming, upon which the global warming scare is based.

    3. Having a lot of scientists say something is so is not evidence. Every scientific advance has occurred because a scientist or group of scientists proved what everyone believed is wrong.

    Until climate scientists produce some models which work, there is no reason to take what they say seriously.

  32. dan1980

    Re: The takeaway . . .

    @ewozza

    The fact that the first argument you present is about the 'pause' in global warming is indicative of your mindset.

    For the record, the warming 'pause' that is held in such high regard by those who disagree with AGW was based on a single measurement: the average surface temperature of the globe. Of note, it didn't even include the Arctic. That's not opinion - that's the data that these claims were based on.

    It is good to be prudent and unwise to jump to conclusions, or rush into action. It also unwise - or at least unrealistic - however, to insist on perfect prediction and zero uncertainty before acting.

    It is strange that people seem to expect this of climate scientists when they don't practice it themselves. Do you sell your house now because financial experts predict that the market will fall in the coming months or do you hold off until you can be shown unequivocal proof that prices will drop? Do you leave home without an umbrella and jacket unless you can see it raining and feel the chill?

    Do you refuse preventative surgery before a condition can be proven beyond doubt?

    Do governments decide not to spend money on their militaries unless it can be proven that they are under attack?

    To address your last point, a lot of scientists saying one thing is evidence that a lot of scientists are in agreement. That's what this study is about - it presents the majority opinion of the scientific community to see how many people accept that.

    If you don't accept the majority scientific consensus then it means that you either:

    1. Understand the models, evidence, data and science better than they do.

    2. Have evidence and data not available to the scientific community.

    3. You have chosen to accept the minority position because it meshes with what you believe better than the majority position.

    The point is that all these positions, including those around climate change, are the positions held by the majority of scientists in those fields. If you disagree with those positions - which is fine! - then you are saying that the vast majority of scientists are wrong. This is also fine, but I would hope that you then had a comparable scientific understanding to those you are disagreeing with. Your example of the warming 'pause' shows that if you do have such an understanding then you are not displaying it.

  33. Naughtyhorse

    Re: The takeaway . . .

    read the comment!

    if it helps

    he's talking about YOU

  34. Thought About IT

    Re: The takeaway . . .

    "The question then becomes - why do so many people who have not critically analysed the data with a trained and experienced eye decide that those who have are wrong?"

    There's a good research paper on this here, by Stephan Lewandowsky et al from the University of Western Australia. It was originally published in Frontiers of Psychology, but they withdrew it when some of the anti-AGW propagandists cited in it threatened to sue. The University stands by the research and now hosts the paper online.

    In summary: "much of science denial takes place in an epistemically closed system that is immune to falsifying evidence and counterarguments".

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: The takeaway . . .

    "Until climate scientists produce some models which work, there is no reason to take what they say seriously."

    What there is, is a reason to think the likelihood of their being 'right' is enough not to say 'they're wrong'.

  36. codejunky Silver badge

    Re: The takeaway . . .

    @ Joe Drano

    "What there is, is a reason to think the likelihood of their being 'right' is enough not to say 'they're wrong'."

    So they are wrong, but you cling to a hope that they are right? Or you cling to a hope that they are somewhat right? Or you cling to the almost certainty that the thing isnt 100% wrong and will cheer victory at anything above 0% right?

    The joy of science is it is a calibration of our perception until what we expect is what we see. We are still calibrating as far as MMCC goes. As far as MMCC co2 theory goes it is for simpletons who want to chase Osama Bin Laden as the cause of all terrorism problems. It puts a name to the problem but removes the understanding of the problem. By choosing a single component of a problem and providing information about that the general public with little mental capability or little time to think about the problem to feel informed and competent.

    The interesting issue with MMCC and the co2 variant is the religions that built up out of the science. Real science is being done but yet we have the religion of 'we must believe' trying to equate stupidity with not believing. Can anybody think of any other religious establishments who do this? And they like to feel superior too!

    For anyone who doesnt have the time nor the pre-requisite education there is only one intelligent answer- we dont know yet. Until the science has been worked out there is very little useful information to glean from the science and even less from the religion.

    As an atheist I feel I am sitting back and watching 2 religions butt heads. And when they shut up we may actually hear the truth which is likely somewhere between the 2 unthinking mobs.

    As for the survey question I would ask for which MMCC theory and which variant if it is the co2 theory. I would ask why they dont seem intelligent enough to realise they asked 2 questions which are not equal in the same question-

    'The average temperature of the world is rising'

    AND

    'Mostly because of MM GG'

    The second question is a mistake because it assumes an answer I have yet to hear resolved. How much of current warming is natural? Since we are heading away from an ice age it makes sense that the answer to the first question is yes but the rate of change is often conflated and mistaken for the average temperature by both believers and non-believers.

  37. ewozza

    Re: The takeaway . . .

    My point is the models did not predict the pause in surface temperature. It is all very well coming up with excuses after the fact, but I prefer models I trust to get predictions right before they occur.

    Since the models did not get this most important metric, surface temperature, correct, it is not unreasonable to suggest that the models are defective.

    All the other fields of science listed have the important distinction that their theories make predictions which can be verified with observations.

    For example, Charles Darwin used his theory to predict the existence of a moth with a 12 inch tongue - a prediction which was laughed at in its day, but which was borne out by observation, when such a moth was finally discovered.

    Only in the field of Climate Science are we expected to accept computer projections as if they are themselves evidence, even when they don't match real world observations.

    I used to work in financial modelling. One thing we observed was it was always easier to retrofit models to past price changes, than to predict the future. Claiming models which can't predict the future can tell us anything useful about the future is nonsense.

    I don't claim to know more than the entire world's body of climate science. But since I am affected by whatever decisions are made on my behalf, I have the right to demand that they get their science right, before my tax money is spent on mitigation measures which their defective models predict are necessary.

  38. Adam Inistrator

    Re: The takeaway . . .

    "The point is that all these positions, including those around climate change, are the positions held by the majority of scientists in those fields."

    arguing that most people believe in something therefore it is correct is circular logic. the same goes for warmism and for evolution. for example ... 100 years ago if you were an atheist going against the trend that nearly everybody believed in god. THINKING atheists are skeptics. FOLLOWING atheists are just credulous believers of another type.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: The takeaway . . .

    Um....how is Darwin's moth in any way supporting evidence of evolution more so than it could be supporting evidence of creation and/or intelligent design? The fact that a species was suspected to exist and then found doesn't support any theory about how it came about.

  40. dan1980

    Re: The takeaway . . .

    @ewozza

    If you think that mean surface temperature is the 'most important metric' then you may have misunderstood things.

    The very first thing to understand is that there is no 'pause' in global warming - what was touted by you in a previous post as "diddly squat" - is in fact a continued warming trend. It has not stopped, it has not reversed. The data shows that the warming trend merely slowed for that period.

    Now, the next thing to understand is that the data set that was the basis of the slower-than-expected-warming-but-warming-nonetheless claim was ONE metric (surface temp data) from ONE source (the UK Met Office) - and that data is restricted to the coverage that that source has.

    That coverage is about 85% of the globe but, of note, there is near zero coverage of the Arctic. If you keep up with climate science (one must presume . . . ) then you would be well aware that measurements show that the Arctic is warming nearly twice as rapidly as the rest of the globe. This 'gap' alone, once filled-in, increases the warming anywhere from 1.7x to 2.6x the original estimates. (Yes, another thing missing here is that these are estimates.)

    This brings it FAR closer to the models and turns the slower-than-expected-warming-but-warming-nonetheless result into more of an almost-as-fast-as-expected-warming-but-slowed-by-enough-to-warrant-more-research.

    So, now we come to the third thing that needs to be understood, and that is that increasing quantities of heat energy is being absorbed by the oceans, specifically the deeper layers. This has been known for a while and, once worked out, goes even further towards making up the difference.

    Expanding on that, change in climate is, essentially, a mixture of positive and negative forcings, both natural and artificial/human-caused. What we have seen recently is strong negative forcings from most - if not all - of the natural cycles, from solar cycles to increased volcanic activity. This has been coupled with some increased artificial negative forcings, notably in the form of a significant increase in aerosols from India and China, contributing to radiative forcing, which reflects heat-energy back out into space.

    Even with these compounded negative forcings, the temperature has still increased and this 'paused' decade is still the warmest recorded.

    That put aside, and coming to your closing thought, you make an important point: that you, as a tax-payer and as someone who may be affected by 'mitigation measures', have a right to demand that the science is right.

    The question is: when will you accept that it is right, and by what criteria will you judge it? As you do not have the requisite scientific knowledge and experience to make this judgement yourself, who will you trust? Whose pronouncement that AGW is real will you accept?

    The very, very important point is that if AGW is true and that our behaviours are noticeably contributing to the net positive forcing, simply waiting and not changing that behaviour is making it worse. You may disagree with those who say that AGW is real but what if you are wrong? I'm not putting that forward as an argument, just a question, because the course of action whilst AGW is unproven to your standards appears to be the same as the course of action of AGW being false: change nothing.

    If your broker/financial advisor warns of a potential drop in a sector then, while it might not be a great idea to pull all your money out, it would be prudent to diversify a bit and put some hedges in place.

    So where is the cautious middle-ground? That's what's missing from the 'we need more evidence' position.

  41. RobHib
    Stop

    @dan1980 -- Re: The takeaway . . .

    The question then becomes - why do so many people who have not critically analysed the data with a trained and experienced eye decide that those who have are wrong?

    If the Scientific Method--of Dalton et al--is properly ingrained during one's education at a sufficiently early age (as it was with me) then one knows precisely what to do with data whether it's speculation or raw scientific statistics, etc.

    A proper understanding of the Scientific Method equips one to analyse and validate scientific claims/evidence whether they're from technocrats, scientists or charlatans. It's a no-brainer to want to know the Scientific Method: with such methodology to hand even if one doesn't like certain scientific conclusions, one understands that it makes no sense to argue against them unless one uses similar methods to refute them.

    When I went to high school science was compulsory, and the Scientific Method was ingrained from day one!

    Clearly, something has gone wrong in education in recent decades, as many, many people can no longer judge fact from crap. (I suggest you check out the link in my post above to compare current attitudes to science with what they were four or five decades ago..

  42. doctariAFC2

    Re: The takeaway . . .

    Translation......

    4 out of 5 dentists (scientists) recommend Trident sugarless Gum for their patients who chew gum.....

    Which of course means that Trident, since it is agreed to by the scientists is good for your teeth?

    Just because scientists line up in consensus does not mean the science is settled or even accurate. I am 100% certain any of us can draw a myriad of examples of "science" that was "solid" only to be completely contradicts when more was learned later.

    And therein lies the issue with the climate crowd. No one, I believe, will challenge the climate does change. The planet is dynamic, ever-changing. The continents haven't been in the same place and in the same shape since the rock began spinning. We have had ice ages, we have had tropical periods, this is the nature of nature.

    We are part of nature, and bound by the "whims of nature". It is both foolhardy and dangerous to believe anything else, yet the scientists and their followers state otherwise, with a gigantic pot of gold and a whole lot of control over the masses at the end of this rainbow. To actually believe we are changing the Earth's climate, through carbon emissions, a substance which all of life is comprised of, is really an attack upon life itself, or certain lives not toeing the indoctrination line. And the coup de tat comes in the form of the alarmism, which is now taking the target of action now or else doom in 20 years to action now or doom in 100 years. That's convenient. And it could work too, considering the grasp of history among people today is pure crap. However, if we have a grasp of climate "science" history, we know this tripe has been spouted since at least the early 1930's, and not a single statement of we must do things this way or else we're all dead has ever come to pass.

    That is a pretty darned accurate translation to the above nonsense. Nice try, doesn't fly.

    Full disclosure: I hold degrees in Marine SCIENCE and BIOLOGY, and work as a Database Administrator for an energy management, facilities controls integration company, while spending my volunteer time working with Fish and Wildlife biologists and managers to restore and perpetuate the wild treasures we have in the USA and in NYS. And I have many peer awards for my work, and have set many initiatives based on my observations - which have been proven accurate through science by the biologists and managers, much to their surprise.

  43. J to the S

    Re: The takeaway . . .

    @dan1980

    "The question is: when will you accept that it is right, and by what criteria will you judge it? As you do not have the requisite scientific knowledge and experience to make this judgement yourself, who will you trust? Whose pronouncement that AGW is real will you accept?"

    Let me fire the same question back at you. When will you accept that it is WRONG, and by what criteria will you judge it? As you do not have the requisite scientific knowledge and experience to make this judgement yourself, who will you trust? Whose pronouncement that AGW is FAKE will you accept?

    The biggest problem is that GW has been politicized and once anything is politicized good luck ever getting anything resolved. The only person that you can really trust is yourself and your own research into the matter. As I stated in a previous post January is cold and July is hot and this is how it's been my entire life. I've never once stepped outside and thought to myself, "boy it sure does feel like the earth is getting hotter". But in spite of my own personal experience am I to believe in GW just because someone told me to? I promise everyone here that if that day ever comes i'll jump on the band wagon but until then......

  44. Charles 9 Silver badge

    Re: The takeaway . . .

    There's another problem within the problem which is in turn wrapped around the conundrum. It's the belief that the situation at hand is PRESSING. Sort of like someone telling you the boat your on has sprung a leak. IOW, part of the debate is whether or not this is an emergency, as in if we don't do things immediately, there could be drastic consequences for which we can't escape (ex. having to swim the remaining 100 miles to shore because you took too much time arguing the context while the boat sank under you).

  45. IT Drone
    Joke

    Creationism proves evolution?

    Evolution dispenses with unused organs. Blind cave fish don't retain vision in an environment where it is not needed. (But interestingly a study published in Current Biology showed that crossing members of different poplations of Astyanax mexicanus could restore sight demonstrating it is a different genetic mutation in each.)

    So could it be that evolution has simply dispensed with unsed parts of creationists' mental faculties such as reason and logic? (However, cross-breeding someone from Texas with someone from Arizona is unlikely to restore those mental faculties just increase the belief in Brawndo's Electrolytes...)

  46. RobHib

    @IT Drone -- Re: Creationism proves evolution?

    Many a truth told in jest!

    Next time, just omit the icon.

    ;-)

  47. IT Drone

    Re: @IT Drone -- Creationism proves evolution?

    Apologies but that was for the benefit of the Creationists. Met some, seen how far evolution has gone with removing unused mental faculties. Most have guns...

  48. DocJames

    Re: Creationism proves evolution?

    Not interesting; entirely predictable. What would be interesting would be if crossing different populations was unable to restore sight, suggesting that our current understanding was flawed and leading - possibly - to greater insights.

    All right, I appreciate that you're presumably interested in this at a different level but for a broad scientific overview I think my point remains.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What I personally think is strange is how...

    ...the people conducting this study and most of the commentards here and a large percentage of the worlds population are not aware of their beliefs. Why should you "have confidence in evolution"? Sounds pretty religious to me. You will never see the picture by studying the pixels.

  50. ecofeco Silver badge

    Re: What I personally think is strange is how...

    This might help you.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhofN1xX6u0

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