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Climate Change Science

February 3, 2010

This week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, have been coming under a lot of criticism.

Do you know, I found it very strange, sat watching the discussion from the link above.

If you are stupid enough, to disregard a massive body of research, showing that climate change is a very real threat, because within this massive body of research, with hundreds and thousands of scientists, working across the globe, many, on a voluntary basis,  human fallibility, means that there is not a 0%margin of error. Then I suggest you reject every single scientific field, there has ever been, including medicine, quantum physics, and biology.

Dr.Wakefield has been struck off this week, I shall never go to the doctors again. His error, must mean that ALL research is wrong.

Given the level of error, in the shitrags that play up every mistake they can find, within this vast body of research- who cannot seem to get a single newspaper out these days, without lying about something, can I say, I find it quite er…ironic? Laughable? Infuriating? Ridiculous?

Not sure what’s funnier-the attention they give to these occasional errors, and the blatancy of the poor reporting, or the fact that people believe them, and can’t spot a deliberate attempt to undermine the IPCC.

If this is what you think, if you really are that stupid, then I suggest you stop reading this blog, and concentrate really hard, on the multi tasking challenge of breathing, and moving at the same time. I think it may be a while, before you can read without your lips moving.

And I do not know why the fuck Newsnight bothered to take so much of their show, up with this, on the day that Clare Short accused the ex-PM of lying and ignoring democratic process, and taking us into an illegal war. But hey ho, I don’t decide what’s news.

I wish climate change science was bollocks. Then I wouldn’t have to recycle. I fucking hate recycling. And I hate energy saving lightbulbs.

PS. It is not selfish to place my own dislike of recycling, above the other consequences of climate change. Alright?

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18 comments

  1. “Do you know, I found it very strange, sat watching the discussion from the link above.”

    ok. I really enjoy your blog etc. etc. and agree with you mostly. BUT what is it with this new “sat watching”; “the kids were sat watching tv”; etc. it’s not just you. It’s a new British thang. The correct English would be ‘ found it very strange as i was sitting there…” “kids were sitting on the couch watching tv”. Etc.

    Actually, I’m not pedantic, but you are about the 3rd person who has used such blatantly bad English and then straight afterward dissed other people.

    in your defense you are pissed about morals/ethics. etc The other person in my example, used this famous “sat” and then went on a rampage about other peoples bad english.

    what the above drivel is about is: is this ‘sat’ now acceptable? Am I just old fashioned?


    • I was sat. On the sofa. Watching. I was sat, watching.

      Personally, I think being a pedant, is warranted occasionally. The english language is a language that is changing rapidly, and I do think that we should stand up and defend, what is a beautiful language.
      That said, I don’t think that I was sat, watching, is bad english. That is precisely, what I was doing.
      Not only that, but the nature of blogging, or at least, the way I do it, is that what you are usually getting, is a post written in about ten minutes- as an immediate response to something that bothers me. The post is understandable, it is coherent, and actually gives a very real sense of how I would sound, if I were sat with you, discussing this issue. It does what it sets out to do.

      If you go through my blog, you will find spelling mistakes, you will find typos, you will find grammatical errors, I overuse commas and exclamation points. I use local turns of phrase, I often write the way I speak. You will find paragraphs, where I started one way, and forgot where I was going. I like that you commented, and hope you continue to do so, but I am unrepentant. Sorry. (I did google repentant, in a moment of worry that my reply would be wrong!haha)

      As for me being the 3rd person to do this. Well, I am not responsible for those other two people-and my blog ‘sits’ as it is.


  2. Are you a Yorkshire lass ??

    Do you ever go to Harrogate because it isn’t a Tesco Town ??

    Tell us more, we are intrigued..


    • Harrogate is a long way from where I live, and don’t go. I am a yorkshire lass though!


  3. Dumbo – You are moaning about people’s language and then saying you are not pedantic then we see..

    “in your defense you are pissed..” – Physician, heal thyself !


  4. The word ‘shitrag’ is bad english. Yet an accurate description.


  5. Moving along from bad English and straight onto the energy-efficient lightbulbs, then recycling, then moving back to bad English…

    I overheard someone in the pub last night complaining that Europe had stolen our traditional British lightbulbs from us as part of their gradual plan to turn us into a third-world country.

    I’m a staunch supporter of the lightbulb restriction. The new bulbs will save a bundle of energy and do brighten up once they’ve been on for ten minutes.

    I, too, despise separating my refuse since I know that we used to sell (give) all the high-grade plastic to China, literally starving our own industry of any motivation to use recyled plastics. The low grade stuff is perfectly usable by companies who extrude it into planks for road signs and park benches (and paving slabs) but our local councils all take brown envelopes to landfill it (still, on 30 year handcuff contracts) or else they burn it, ‘recycling’ all that plastic into heat energy and carbon, which is surely the best example of the misuse of language within this post, If I do say so myself, and commas to spare, , !!


    • oh I forgot to mention- China don’t want even the high-grade plastic any more. They’re asking their citizens to stop investing in local tat-producing industries and asking their citizens to buy gold instead. But that’s another topic I suppose…


      • I do hate doing my recycling. I see why energy efficient lightbulbs necessary- but the ones I have are fairly dingy(although actually, they were delivered free, as part of a local project to increase support for them- which I think was nice).

        I hate washing my rubbish, am fairly sure that the local authority are not that efficient in the treatment of the stuff we put out for recycling- but I still think its a fair enough request that I take responsibility for doing what I can to manage my own rubbish. I am crap at it, get confused, and have nowhere near the knowledge of environmental issues that I should have. And certainly not the level of knowledge that would enable me to debate the best way of doing it.
        I know my limitations.

        But that said- the overwhelming evidence is that the fact that climate change is agreed. Climate change denial is just ridiculous. The fact that this discussion took place at length, was ridiculous.


  6. It is very difficult to prove scientific hypotheses. It is much less difficult to disprove them. (To demonstrate this, think about how you would go about “proving” the hypothesis that all human beings have ten fingers. You would encounter large numbers of ten-fingered individuals. Each one you find perhaps adds weight to your hypothesis but does not prove it. Someone who wished to disprove your hypothesis would only need to find a single nine-fingered individual to do this).

    So, it is an important part of any scientific enquiry that people seek to disprove hypotheses. The more fashionable a hypothesis, the more important it is that it is not treated as axiomatic. Think about the backbone Galileo had to show when he was trying to challenge the extremely fashionable hypothesis that the sun orbits the earth.

    What bothers me about the climate change thing is that scientists are bullied and criticised simply for challenging the prevailing orthodoxy. I am not really equipped to say whether global warming is manmade or not, a short-lived phenomenon or the start of a dangerous trend. But I do know that the approach in your blog post has been used to defend many a fashionable, but incorrect, hypothesis in the past. It may surprise you to find that the Catholic church sought to do exactly the same thing to Galileo…


    • Scientists are not criticised for challenging orthodoxy. That is precisely what scientists do. If they are not testing, or challenging hypothesis, then quite frankly, they are not scientists, and must be spending their days watching Trisha.

      Science, and climate change science in partiular, is a field which has only grown out of challenging orthodoxy. The very process of research, is about challenging hypothesis, providing evidence.

      And the overwhelming body of evidence is saying the same thing. Not through orthodoxy, but just because each time hypothesis tested, this is results.

      THere is an issue with people the way the media ‘prove’ and ‘disprove’ science.

      Research is difficult to read- it very rarely makes broad statements- it is usually the asking of very small, very specific questions, and the build – up of those answers over time, which creates a broader picture. Each answer is an answer which stands on the shoulder of giants. Each published piece of research challenges, or adds to existing knowledge. That, is what science is.

      Scientific research follows a very set format, it is required to show every aspect of how it has been conducted, it is required to show every bit of evidence, and the conclusions that are drawn are drawn carefully. It is only accepted, when it has been reviewed by peers, who have the ability to analyse it. THis is the same throughout the entire scientific community.

      Climate Change, like any other is a vast field, with hundreds and thousands of scientists.

      Science ONLY exists, if there is this constant challenging of assumptions, this means that there are often pieces of research which suggest that more questions need to be asked about this particular piece of research, often focused on a very small issue. Human fallibility mean that there is a margin for error. Like every other single scientific field. It is healthy for this to happen, and to be challenged.

      When this happens, the media leap onto these stories- they don’t offer analysis of the research, they make broad generalisations, which generally miss the point entirely. Every piece of research challenges an assumption that has gone before, and attempts to prove, or disprove. And we rarely see the testimony of the scientists reported, when they are objecting to their work being misrepresented. The scientist in that debate was right to challenge misrepresentation of his work= but it is certainly not logical to assume that the lack of a 0% margin for error, disproves the entire field, or actually, disproves anything outside assumption based on that research.

      And then they offer the logic that because one piece of research may have offered questions on one issue, or because another piece of research was shown to be flawed- that this somehow discredits the entire field- then am sorry- but that should absolutely be dismissed as what it is.

      And actually the willingness of the media to do this, in itself, creates a climate, in which scientists could be afraid to challenge orthodoxy- and it is to the credit of our scientific community, that our journals continue to publish, and that this work continues to go on, in the face of it. If you are about to publish a piece of research which asks a question about your field, and the Daily Fail or whoever, misrepresents whatyou have said, and tries to use your research as a tool of climate denial- then am not entirely sure how that encourages the continuation of reasoned, evidence based, debate.
      Which in itself hurts the freedom of scientists, to challenge orthodoxy.

      The overwhelming body of evidence has built up, to a very solid conclusion, and yes there are debates a plenty to be had, about many aspects of climate change, and the very nature of scientific progress means that it will ALWAYS be challenging assumptions.

      But there is no debate about whether climate change exists, whether it is happening, and whether the massive consumption of fossil fuels etc is contributing. This was not a conclusion come to from one single piece of research, this was the conclusion of the overwhelming body of evidence. THousands upon thousands of individual pieces of research building up, to show a picture that is proven. The rules taken from those conclusions, being borned out in predictions.

      And the tactics taken by people who wish to deny climate change=follow very standard patterns- http://scienceblogs.com/denialism/about.php

      The complexity of the research, and the fact that for most people scientific research in its original form is inpenetrable, means that we rely often, on media analysis of research. This allows people to convince themselves that somehow 100-1= 0.

      Scientists are not rounded on for challenging assumptions. Dr.Wakefield tried that one. Scientists who present flawed research are open to question, scientists who make statements which are not scientific, scientists who are clearly making political and not scientific statements, and which do not fit with the body of evidence, are discredited, and often research carried out by bodies with an interest in perpetuating the use of fossil fuels, and where the interest has clearly flawed the results- are challenged. That is scientific progress, debate, and process.

      The only people I see responding the way the church did to Gallileo, are those who don’t understand the science, and really should be using this as a trigger to go and seek to understand it. (I was amused to see in that link, that the metaphor of Galileo appears to be a common tactic of the rhetoric of denialism- I suppose its like that rule about Hitler comparisons).

      I also think that given the vast economic interests, involved in the use of fossil fuels etc- I would question the attempts to promote climate change denial, especially when even the most basic analysis, shows the logic to be completely flawed.

      Gallileo was one of the first to insist that we used evidence, that we relied solely on evidence, and what could rules could be observed and recorded. From Gallilleo we have the very existence of teh research process. The observation of minutae. The recording, the understanding, and then the development of broader pictures of scientic understanding. The idea that the scientific community, is rounding upon people who challenge assumptions, is so patently ridiculous, I don’t know where to begin, and the use of a Gallileo metaphor, to defend people who are the equivalent of those who tried to argue that the earth was the centre of the universe, in the face of evidence-is also pretty ridiculous.

      And honestly, your opening hypothesis showed such a complete misunderstanding of how evidence builds up, how logic is used. It reminded me, of a creationist I saw, asking Richard Dawkins(who I am actually not a big fan of) how he could prove that we came from monkeys when were weren’t there. The ‘hypothesis’ you ask to be proved is ridiculous. Noone would prove that, or try to,a nd the idea that you feel that taht questions makes any statement, or proves anything leads me to recommend-
      http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bad-Science-Ben-Goldacre/dp/000728487X

      Before you go and try to ‘prove’ or ‘disprove’ anything, I would advise equipping yourself with the skills to do so. Skepticism is a very important- questioning assumptions- but you are not a skeptic. To be a skeptic you need to challenge assumptions, with knowledge. And am sorry, your reply has shown a profound misunderstanding of what science actually is, how the scientific community works, and I really view a discussion of climate change with someone labouring under those misunderstandings, as a pointless excercise. You are not a skeptic. Sketicism is something else entirely.


      • Long response and not sure I understood most of it. Perhaps I should read the Bad Science book you recommend.

        I do not accept that there is no doubt about the phenomenon of climate change. Climates are formed over millions of years. I simply don’t believe that 20 or 30 years of increases in temperature is anything other than evidence for the proposition that the temperature has increased over the past 20 or 30 years.

        Nor do I accept that the hypothesis that the increase in temperature is man-made is proved. Yes the increase in temperature has taken place at a time of increasing carbon emissions. That relationship of correlation does not necessarily imply a relationship of causation.

        It bothers me that anyone who expresses doubt on hypotheses which are not proved is branded an idiot (which is what you explicitly do in your last paragraph). Why does this issue have to provoke such religious zeal? Why can’t some people say that they are seeking to disprove the prevailing view without having their intellect or their integrity impugned?


      • I am not branding you an idiot because you express doubt.
        EVery single piece of scientific evidence is about expressing doubt. That is what science IS.

        I am saying that your posts shows a profound misunderstanding of what science is, and the way that the evidence body has built up
        .
        Skepticism is the challenge of assumed ideas, with knowledge, and with evidence. NOt just the expression of doubt.

        If the response was long, then read it again- you were not branded an idiot because you challenged an assumption.

        It was pointed out that your post showed a profound misunderstanding of what scientific research is, and how it builds up. Which it does. Your point appears to be that scientists who challenge orthodoxy are rounded upon- and that statement alone shows how little you understand about what science is. I won’t labour the point, cos they were in my reply- the reply you are arguing against, but didn’t read.

        My zeal was not about climate change, it was about illogical rhetoric being presented as scientific argument. THat is enough for me to know that arguing specifics with you, is a bad idea, that will go round in circles. It is not logically possible to have a debate, with someone who is arguing with flawed premises, without wasting a great deal of time, before you skulk off muttering about Hitler and Gallileo.

        I advised that if you wish to prove, or disprove something, you should equip yourself with the skills to do so.

        The bad science book is good, as is the guys blog- there are many resources on the internet, not written by scientists wishing to challenge denialism in climate change, but by scientists wanting to challenge the way science is reported, and which give you real tools to analyse evidence and how reliable it is, how strong it is, and not just in the area of climate change denial. The zeal is because it is harmful if the public do not understand scientific research-and overwhelmingly they(we) don’t, and confuse emotional rhetoric with scientific argument and proven facts.

        Someone didn’t just come up with the idea of climate change. A body of thousands upon thousands of teeny bits of evidence built up, teeny research projects, and that theory is built on the evidence of thousands. And all that evidence is constantly tested, and retested-because that is what science is, and what science does.


  7. Someone didn’t just come up with the idea of climate change. A body of thousands upon thousands of teeny bits of evidence built up, teeny research projects, and that theory is built on the evidence of thousands.

    Yes. No doubt those research projects produce evidence in favour of the hypothesis that climate change is happening and is manmade. But they cannot prove the hypothesis just as the existence of billions of ten-fingered individuals cannot prove the hypothesis that all humans have ten fingers.

    All I am saying is that we should actively be looking for evidence against the proposition as well. Only looking for evidence that supports a fashionable hypothesis is called faith. That is not the same thing as science.


  8. Messed up the HTML formatting. You will doubtless regard that as proving the proposition that all climate change sceptics are stupid. I would regard it as, at best, evidence in favour of the proposition. Here is my post again, without weird formatting:

    You say …”Someone didn’t just come up with the idea of climate change. A body of thousands upon thousands of teeny bits of evidence built up, teeny research projects, and that theory is built on the evidence of thousands.”

    No doubt those research projects produce evidence in favour of the hypothesis that climate change is happening and is manmade. But they cannot prove the hypothesis just as the existence of billions of ten-fingered individuals cannot prove the hypothesis that all humans have ten fingers.

    All I am saying is that we should actively be looking for evidence against the proposition as well. Only looking for evidence that supports a fashionable hypothesis is called faith. That is not the same thing as science.


    • Look, I don’t think you are stupid. I think you don’t understand what science is. You don’t understand why the statement that scientists who challenge received orthodoxy are rounded upon, is not true. And I think you have misunderstood the difference between scientific argument and emotional rhetoric, and given that your opening post, including that bizare opening gambit about how easy it is to prove, or disprove a theory, showed a deep misunderstanding of how one would prove a hypothesis, that it was pointless arguing specifics of climate change with you. I advised you to look for resources which would enable yuo to better understand science, so you could make, and present an argument that was based on logic, rather than well rehearsed rhetoric.

      Every single piece of scientific research is either testing a hypothesis, or challenging a hypotheses. And the only thing that counts is the evidence. Climate change theory is built up of thousands and thousands of hypothesis, that have been tested, and in order to progress- will continue to be tested. THat is the point. What we know will continue to grow by the very process of challenging hypothesis. That is science. The overwhelming body of evidence on climate change, has built up to create a very comprehensive picture= and your cherry picking of a bit you kind of disagree with, and clearly, from your own post, don’t understand- means arguing with you is pointless. Am sorry if that offends.

      Arguing scientific theories with someone who has no basic understanding of what science is, is not a good way to spend Thursday.


  9. good god. I just asked a question. I did say I was writing drivel. I am, or rather was, interested in this new phenomena of British people using ‘sat’ incorrectly.

    FFS.


    • This is what happens when you allow the english language to be eroded. Lesson learned. I wont say sat again! Keep commenting pleeeaase!



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