MWalker at gensym.com
Tue Jul 15 14:59:47 EDT 2003
Thanks for providing more real data. I certainly did not mean by my terse
post that the only evidence was temperature related - but still, my point is
that these parametric trends are all that we can really speak to. We are
far from knowing what is actually taking place, let alone defining what the
factors are that are "responsible" for it. We also don't know if anybody is
truly lying - on either side.
You strive to point out that "it's not a simple matter of two sides with
equal interest and validity". I would agree that at the core, the truth is
far more complex than what is captured by two sides. But I would argue that
in this debate, there are indeed two sides who are both trying very hard to
make it a very simple issue. For example, you yourself have captured it
rather simply: "There are people trying to find out what is happening and
people trying to pretend that nothing important is happening. And the second
group is being paid explicitly to make the case for the status quo. Who do
you trust?". You see, I don't agree that on one side there are trustworthy
people, and on the other side there are liars (or pretenders, as you've
categorized). I do believe that on both sides there are people who think
they know a lot more than they actually do.
As I prefaced in my post, both sides are driven by their convictions - not
just the facts alone. I, for one, find it believable that human spewing
could ultimately have catastrophic effects on the global ecosystem. I tend
to be concerned about population growth and the potential negative side
effects it, unchecked, may have on the planet. I also love science and the
academic objective to learn more about our universe. I, along with many
others, would hate to see that my apathy or unwillingness to respond
resulted in detrimental effects on my planet (also the planet of my
children). But I have no problem reminding everyone that we're still 99.9%
clueless about virtually everything. And in my opinion, we're way to prone
to caricaturizing our opponents.
From: Patrick Foley [mailto:patfoley at csus.edu]
Sent: Tuesday, July 15, 2003 10:45 AM
To: MWalker at gensym.com
Cc: 'stan_gorodenski at asualumni.org'; leps-l
Subject: Re: Global Warming
We also know that since the industrial revolution , the Earth's atmosphere
has increased its CO2 content by about 30%. (1850-1998 28% increase).
Atmospheric greenhouse gases methane (118%) and NO2 (14%) also increased
during that time.
We also know that CO2 absorbs infrared energy bouncing from the Earth's
surface at a higher rate than N2 and O2, the major components of the
atmosphere. As do methane and NO2 and other human released gases.
We also know that between 1861 and 1997 the Earth's mean surface temperature
warmed by about 0.6 degrees C.
In fact, we know a great deal about atmospheric changes, about the physics
of them, and about changes in global temperatures on the land and in the
We do not know everything. There are second order effects that could change
everything towards greater warmth or greater cold. Once the ocean expands it
changes the Earth's albedo, currents etc. As the oean warms, greater cloud
cover and greater summer precipitation (especially in the Boreal areas) may
have very tricky effects.
Scientists are busy modeling these second and third order effects. And
arguing about them. But it is not a simple matter of two sides with equal
interest and equal validity. There are people trying to find out what is
happening and people trying to pretend that nothing important is happening.
And the second group is being paid explicitly to make the case for the
status quo. Who do you trust?
patfoley at csus.edu <mailto:patfoley at csus.edu>
Mark Walker wrote:
I do not think your statement holds much water, at least with respect to
university scientists. The small pot of money scientists use for research
is allocated by Congress and the executive branch, and the purpose to
which this money is to be used normally has strict guidelines. There is
generally no great monetary incentive for university scientists to lie
because of the small amount of money involved, and if they do lie (i.e.,
falsify results) it could negatively impact on their ability to get future
grants. This is in sharp contrast to executives in private industry.
Executives can realize a great profit (millions, maybe even billions, of
dollars in their bank accounts) by narrow mindedly opposing the research
results of scientists that humans are the cause of global warming. Who has
the greater incentive to lie with respect to global warming? It is obvious
executives in private industry do.
It is obvious to me that both sides are being led more by their convictions
than by fact. Both personify the villains as nameless, greedy, self serving
entities without providing specific information about any one liar or
exploiter. It would seem to me that the only thing we may "know" at this
time is that the average temperatures over some relatively short period of
time have been moving steadily in one direction (or not). It would seem to
me that any and all "explanations" for this phenomenon would be completely
hypothetical at this stage, and that therefore it would be ludicrous to
suggest that anyone is "lying" to anyone. Do people have economic interests
on either side? Of course. Are researchers trying to create false doomsday
scenarios so they can put money in their institutions and stimulate the
preservation of natural resources based on false pretense? Probably not.
Are wealthy industrial executives gathering around conference tables to spin
lies that will cover up and enable their corporations role in slowly boiling
the planet into oblivion? Probably not. In any case, I know of no specific
allegations. On either side, it probably better serves your position to
refrain from making such blind accusations.
But the dialogue that has been stimulated provides certain entertainment,
for sure. It's sort of like getting cable network news - without paying for
cable (oh, my cable modem light is blinking to remind me otherwise).
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