Sunday, July 26, 2009

Wishing Doesn't Make Warming So

Recently, Assistant Village Idiot commented that man-made global warming "is socially settled, but not scientifically." In the July 24th London Times Times, Antonia Senior develops that theme, with analogies to the ideological battles of the turn of the last century:
The split between Right and Left is no longer ideological, but tribal. Are you a nice social liberal who believes in markets, or a nasty social liberal who believes in markets? Anthony Blunt’s memoirs, published this week, reveal a different age, one in which fascism and communism were locked in a seemingly definitive battle for souls.

Blunt talks of "the religious quality" of the enthusiasm for the Left among the students of Cambridge. There is only one ideology in today’s developed world that exercises a similar grip. If Blunt were young today, he would not be red; he would be green.

His band of angry young men would find Gore where once they found Marx. Blunt evokes a febrile atmosphere in which each student felt his own decision had the power to shape the future. Where once they raged about the fleecing of the proletariat and quaked at the march of fascism, Blunt and his circle, transposed to today’s college bar, would rage about the fleecing of the planet and quake at its imminent destruction. If you squint, red and green look disarmingly similar. . .

My desire to live a free, mundane life is a fundamental cog in our messy, glorious, capitalist democracy. It is built on millions of such small entrenched postitions. Red-filtered, my desires are despicable and bourgeois and must be beaten out of me with indoctrination or force. Green-filtered, my small desires are despicable acts of ecological vandalism. My house is a carbon factory. My desire to travel, to own stuff, to eat meat, to procreate, to heat my house, to shower for a really, really long time; all are evil.

The word evil is used advisedly. Both the green and red positions are infused with overpowering religiosity. Dissenters from the consensus are shunned apostates. . .

We are at the early stage of the green movement. A time akin to pre-Bolshevik socialism, when all believed in the destruction of the capitalist system, but were still relatively moderate about the means of getting there. We are at the stage of naive dreamers and fantasists. Russia was home to the late 19th-century Narodnik movement, in which rich sons of the aristocracy headed into the countryside to tell the peasants it was their moral imperative to become a revolutionary class. They retreated, baffled, to their riches when the patronised peasants didn’t want to revolt. Zac Goldsmith and Prince Charles look like modern Narodniks, talking glib green from the safety of their gilded lives.

Indulge me in some historical determinism. We, the peasants, are failing to rise up and embrace the need to change. We will not choose to give up modern life, with all its polluting seductions. Our intransigent refusal to choose green will be met by a new militancy from those who believe we must be saved from ourselves. Ultra-green states cannot arise without some form of forced switch to autocracy; the dictatorship of the environmentalists.
Agreed. Further evidence appeared last week, in the wake of George Will's provocative global warming column that quoted Mark Steyn saying: "If you’re 29, there has been no global warming for your entire adult life." Progressives promptly went nuts: Ezra Klein ("a misrepresentation of the clear trends"); Kevin Drum ("Charlatanism"); smartmonkey at Daily Kos ("Will is a shameless liar"); Brad Johnson at ThinkProgress ("fact-challenged screeds"); Ryan Avent ("This is moronic"); and Media Matters ("climate experts reject the notion").

I get it that a former Vice President, an ex-railway engineer and many scientists "reject the notion." But the data (along with many other scientists) support Will and Steyn:

source: U.S. Department of Commerce, NOAA Satellite and Information Service, annual mean temperature in CONUS 1998-2008

As Jim Manzi says at The Corner:
It’s hard to dispute this. What Ezra, Kevin, and Ryan are arguing is the idiotic, moronic, or whatever notion that the past ten years of data disproves the theory of AGW. Their basic argument is "sure, but look at the long-term trend." I agree with them about the conclusion that the last ten years of raw data don’t falsify the theory (and have argued this at many times in many places), but I’m not sure any of them have thought through this question fully.

If I observe that it is cooler in New York today than yesterday, no reasonable person would take that as proof that AGW theory is wrong. On the other hand, if we had rapid growth of human population and rapid fossil-fuel-dependent economic development for the next 1,000 years with no increase in surface temperatures, no reasonable person would claim that AGW in anything like its current form had not been disproven. The question is at what point between 1 day and 1,000 years do I have enough evidence that I can reasonably reject the theory? It seems to me that you need a rational standard to answer this question before you simply call ten years "moronic" a priori. . .

But the instincts of those who are grasping for some way to hold the tools used to make temperature predictions accountable to reality in some way are sound, even if their method is somewhat misguided. They aren’t idiots or morons, they’re just not specialists, and the government they pay for, which in turn funds the model construction project, hasn’t bothered to do its job and provide the best feasible measurements of the value of these models.
I would add that AGW could be correct without necessarily justifying carbon cuts, the benefits of which no green has shown outweighing the costs.

Conclusion: An ancient proverb holds "Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad." Today, whom the liberals would destroy, they first label liar and moron. Group think and collective demonization is easier than fact-checking. (Some newspapers were so committed to warming they deleted the paragraph with Steyn's quote from Will's article!) Besides, fact-checking might disprove warming:
Even if WMO agrees, I will still not pass on the data. We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it.
Peer pressure, yes. Just don't call it science.


OBloodyHell said...

Besides, fact-checking might disprove warming:

Even if WMO agrees, I will still not pass on the data. We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it.

The mind just boggles at the attitude.

Wunlefty Reetardo said...

> Wishing Doesn't Make Warming So


It does it does it does it does it DOESSSS!!!!