I lost a Facebook friend today. That’s the first time that’s happened (that I’m aware of), but I’m sure it won’t be the last. And all because of what I said about global warming.
It all began when Edmonton businessman Don Martin, who is seeking the nomination for the Wild Rose Party in Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview, posted something on Facebook saying, as I remember it, that the Wild Rose Party stands for sound science.
I say “as I remember it,” because after a number of exchanges, Don pulled the plug on our friendship, and all I get now when I click on the “See comment thread” links of our one and only Facebook conversation is “This content is currently unavailable.”
Luckily, I still had the Facebook e-mail notifications of Don’s remarks, and drafts of most of what I had written to him. Most but not all. However, a third party to our conversation, one whom Don also unfriended, agreed to forward the Facebook notifications he received of my remarks to Don.
So here we begin. Remember now, Don’s opening salvo, for me anyway, was his remark that the Wild Rose Party stands for sound science.
Peter wrote: WRP stands for sound science? I don't think so. All you have to do is read what Danielle Smith [leader of the Wild Rose Party] has to say about global warming.
Don wrote: All she has ever said is that the abscense of scientific consensus is problematic in respects to global warming. As someone who has reviewed the evidence so far, I, and many other people believe that there is a serious lack of causal data and an over-reliance on correlational evidence with minimal controls or even modeling to account for confounding variables.
Peter wrote: "The scientific debate on climate change is far from settled. There is no scientific consensus on the extent to which man-made emissions of carbon dioxide are affecting the climate, on what the ultimate effects of warming will be, on how quickly warming will occur, and on what policy-makers should do to address it. With so much left unsettled, we need an honest and comprehensive discussion on what reasonable options we as a nation, will pursue."
Smith, Danielle. Edmonton Journal [Edmonton, Alta] 12 May 2010
Peter wrote [again): To which I would say to Ms Smith, read "America's Climate Choices," published by the National Academies of Science. Think of them as the Supreme Court of Science in the United Sates.
Don wrote: @ Peter - there are many examples of highly accalimed peer-reviewed journals and coalitions of scientists who claim that global warming is occuring and that CO2 emissions are correlated, however you have the issue of causal data not being fairly pinpointed at the expense of other potentially confounding/contributing variables. The fact that this is the case is the reason that there is still ongoing research and study in the field. If it were "settled" not that anything ever really is, people would not still be trying to tease out what these variables are. All anyone is really saying, in respects to CO2 is that it is possible that, in a model where total reductions of C02 were achieved that global temperature fluctuations could still occur and a global warming trend could still continue. Furthermore, we are not conclusively outside past trends in warming - only 500 years ago it was possible to sail directly through the Northwest Passage without icebreakers and there is some evidence that this was in fact done. The WRP is commited to ongoing debate and science and research in this area, however, policy-driven science, and research scare-tactics and alarmism to secure research funding and academic tenure is dubious. A lot more than increase in temp is correlated to CO2 will have to be observed. There is a correlation in chocolate production and increased temprature over the last 100 years. There is an increase in anything humans have done in the last 100 years and temperature. Correlational data is suprious at best and until we see fair and reliable statistical models, there is only speculation, irrespective of whatever journal or acadamy the data is collected from.
Peter wrote: Don, you need to seek out higher scientific authorities on this issue, and a good place to start would be the National Academies of Sciences. They were put together by the US Congress in 1863 with a mandate requiring the Academies to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. (Whether the US government acts on their advice is another matter.) In their latest report they say:
“The preponderance of the scientific evidence [with regards to global warming] points to human activities—especially the release of CO2 and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere as the most likely cause for most of the global warming that has occurred over the last 50 years or so.”
They support this finding with “numerous lines of evidence, including:”
• “The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased markedly over the past 150 years and is now higher than at any time in at least 800,000 years.
• “The long-term rise in CO2 concentrations can be attributed primarily to the growth in human CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning, with deforestation and other land use and land cover changes also contributing.
• “Concentrations of other GHGs, including methane, nitrous oxide, and certain halogenated gases, have also increased as a result of human activities.
• “Both basic physical principles and sophisticated models of the Earth’s climate system definitively show that when the GHG concentrations increase, warming will occur.
• “Careful analyses of observations and model results indicate that natural factors such as internal climate variability or changes in incoming energy from the sun cannot explain the long-term global warming trend.”
Don, I challenge you to find a scientific group as authoritative as the NAS that refutes the evidence.
Don wrote: Appealing only to the authoritative nature of a scientific group is scientifically flawed. Top journals such as the Lancet (biomedical) come under fire all the time for stupid things that they have published, or allowed to be published, often due to the political leanings of those involved in their peer review process. Scientists look at methodology involved. Unless you are prepared to actually debate the precise details of specific studies, how they were conducted, you will find yourself outside of what scientists call 'scientific debate' and unable to debate me. There is not one suggestion or group above that you have noted that I am not aware of, the fact is, on the methods, I do not find the claims convincing, and the science more elementary and exploratory than decisive. Science, by its nature, is skeptical of "authorities" on subject matter. He with the best math and method ultimately wins. The math and methods of most climate alarmists is, frankly, rather primitive.
Peter wrote: Here’s the opening paragraph to a statement entitled “Joint science academies’ statement: Global response to climate change.”
“Climate change is real
There will always be uncertainty in understanding a system as complex as the world’s climate. However there is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring. The evidence comes from direct measurements of rising surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures and from phenomena such as increases in average global sea levels, retreating glaciers, and changes to many physical and biological systems. It is likely that most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities (IPCC 2001). This warming has already led to changes in the Earth's climate.”
The signatories include:
Academia Brasiliera de Ciências, Brazil; Royal Society of Canada, Canada; Chinese Academy of Sciences, China; Academié des Sciences, France; Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina, Germany; Indian National Science Academy, India; Accademia dei Lincei, Italy; Science Council of Japan, Japan; Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia; Royal Society, United Kingdom; National Academies of Sciences, United States of America
Peter wrote (again): "Am I to understand by your reasoning that the methodology of these scientific organisations is rather "frankly, rather primitive.”
[COMMENT: This is where things went sour. My feeling is that Don failed to notice that I was quoting his remark and thought instead that I was calling him primitive. - Peter]
Don wrote: As I understand it, your retort is primitive. Cite a study, outline a method and have a debate. All you have done is appeal to the regurgitation of some authorities you've read (first or second or third or fourth hand) and are unable to discuss how a single one of your assertions was put forward. Then you call other people primitive. You haven't put anything on the table except a childish tantrum and name calling. Scientists themselves are not authorities - only their methods are. The whole purpose of the scientific method is data verification, replication, and refinement metholodolgy for further verification."
Don wrote: "Also of note, each of the above received public monies to continue to operate - are you to assume neutrality in results finding?"
And that's it. I wrote one last note to Don pointing out that it was me taking exception with him for suggesting that the NAS was a primitive alarmist organisation, but it seems he shut me down before my comment ever reached the Facebook servers.
So there you have it. My global warming discussion that cost me a Facebook friendship.