Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

This one is for AOG

One man's quest to honor America's Saturn V rocket, the story of the biggest scale model rocket ever built.

Interesting to see what goes into making anything more elaborate than a toy rocket fly.

(H/T Brian Appleyard)

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Religion is as Religion does

When poked about religion's manifest evils, their adherents immediately point at Stalin, Hitler, Mao et al as proof that as bad as religion may be, [ atheism | secularism] is worse.

This is nonsense.

Religions, particularly of the monotheistic stripe, share a broad spectrum of common characteristics:These are sufficient to establish a belief system as religious; whether the system claims to derive from a supernatural power is irrelevant. It is like establishing the criteria for membership of the class "automobile", then excluding from that class anything that would otherwise belong, simply because it has a manual transmission.

A religion can be sacred, or non-sacred, but it is a religion nonetheless.

I have been spending a fair amount of time over the last couple months reading both sides of the climate change debate. On the pro-side, primarily Real Climate.

Regardless of the objective truth behind claims for Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW), there can be little doubt that AGW is now, and has been for some time, a religion in every sense of the word.

While there is plenty of ammunition to fire in support of any item on the list above, I will focus primarily on the suppression of dissent.

I have tried only twice to post on discussion threads at Real Climate. Both times, moderation so heavy handed that it would have made even Stalin's minions blush meant neither response never even saw so much as the light of day.

Most recently, A potentially useful book - Lies, Damn lies & Science decried the disconnect between the priesthood and the masses: 97% of specialists believe human activities are a significant contributor to the increase in mean global temperature, while only 58% of parishioners agreed.

The debate at RealClimate was about why the hoi polloi didn't see the light, and what should be done to further enlighten them. However, it seems that discussing why the flock is insufficiently bent at the knee need not include any reasons why the Church of Impending Doom's liturgy might be less than completely compelling.

Here is the gist of my post that never saw the light of day:
There are a good many reasons why people, including those who are scientifically literate, are not buying into Climate Change (aka AGW), as opposed to little-c climate change (aka, natural variability).

In no particular order:

  • While small-c climate change is completely uncontroversial, Big-C climate change reeks of post-hoc reasoning.

  • Even if ongoing climate change has an AGW component, it very likely will not be particularly large.

  • The catastrophism that rides along with AGW is completely overblown and basically dishonest. Why? Because it is a very rare thing indeed to read what must happen now in order to avoid catastrophic outcomes in the future.

  • Climate Change does, in fact, cherry pick, both in its choice of what to report and what to ignore, but also in forming explanations for observed changes. As an example of the former: Argo, which has shown the oceans are, if anything, cooling. For the latter, there was a widely reported study (sorry, I don't have the link) claiming to prove global warming by showing various bird species' ranges had moved further north. Certainly, that is one possible explanation. However, it isn't the only, or even the most probable. Here is another: there are more birds, and population pressure has forced the range expansion. Now, why might that be an explanation? FAA statistics show aircraft - bird strikes have been significantly increasing for years, at a rate far greater than flight hours.

  • CC advocates over-claim consequences. Glacial retreat is a perfect example. It begs credulity to attribute to anthropogenic causes something that has been going on for at least 150 years.

  • At least where I live (Anchorage), CC claims get more difficult to verify at finer detail. This 50 year study of Alaskan temperature and precipitation contradicts as many GCM claims as it supports. A 125 year study of Arctic temperature and pressure trends is similarly non-comittal. Finally, Eastern Pacific upper ocean temperatures are apparently completely uncorrelated with what GCMs. CC proponents published these studies, all of which lead to wondering whether CC might rely rather too heavily on post hoc reasoning.

  • CC has started to become resemble a religion. Some advocates actively seek to suppress heretics. Here at RealCliimate, I have attempted precisely one post devoid of rant or ad hominem (admittedly, self diagnosed). Gavin binned it.
Fortunately, AGW does make some material claims that will, or will not be, corroborated in the near-ish future. Sometime in the next five years, the Arctic will, or will not, continue melting. Argo will, or will not, show ocean temperatures increasing. Air temperatures will, or will not, continue their significantly diminished rate of increase.

There is nothing we can do now to change any human contribution to natural climate variation in that time. If I had to bet, I would place my money on the failure of the climate to obey GCMs.

Regardless of the responses to a badly phrased polling question.
All the pieces are in place: the IPCC, a cabal of Climate Scientists, invoking calamity in the future in pursuit of imposing a new order in the here and now.

And extirpating dissent that detracts from The Narrative. My post was not intended to disprove CC, only to provide reasons why scientifically literate people might, just might, not be wholeheartedly genuflecting at every mention of Dr. James Hansen's name.

Of course, I could be wrong. Perhaps my post was insulting, or I was being a troll.

Otherwise, RealClimate's inclination towards censorship puts it in a small group of blogs with similar reflexes, and which are all avowedly religious.