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Climate change controversy: It takes a long time to turn a great ship around, but eventually …

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File:RMS Queen Elizabeth tugs.jpg
RMS Queen Elizabeth in Cherbourg (Normandy, France) in 1966.

In “Climate skeptics don’t ‘deny science’” (Townhall , September 27, 2011), commentator Jeff Jacoby chronicles that the ship may indeed be turning.

There is grudging admission that the respectable scientists who haven’t bought into climate change hysteria do have some evidence on their side. Here at UD News we survey the scene with popcorn: How does dogma die?

Bill Clinton declared last week that Americans “look like a joke” because leading Republican presidential contenders decline to embrace the agenda of the global-warming alarmists.

Look like a joke to whom? Most Americans are probably relieved if they are not asked to make sacrifices with no guarantee that any other large nation will.

In truth, global-warming alarmism is not science at all — not in the way that electromagnetic radiation or the laws of planetary motion or molecular biology is science. Catastrophic climate change is an interpretation of certain scientific data, an interpretation based on theories about the causes and effects of growing concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It is not “denying science” to have doubts about the correctness of that interpretation any more than it is “denying economics” to have doubts about the efficacy of Kenyesian pump-priming.

True, but terms like “denying science” or “anti-science” are cultural, not science terms. They translate, “this person doubts the cultural consensus on a fashionable topic that upholds elite beliefs.”

The principal elite belief, throughout human history, is “There are too many rabble and they’re ruining everything.” Elites are always generous about what constitutes evidence in favour of that view. But they can’t always ram it down everyone’s throat indefinitely:

By now, only ideologues and political propagandists insist that all reputable scientists agree on the human responsibility for climate change. Even within the American Physical Society, the editor of “Physics and Society” (an APS publication) has acknowledged that “there is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree … that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are … primarily responsible for the global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution.”

Such skepticism is not “anti-science.” Everything in science is subject to challenge; innumerable facts about the natural world have been discovered only by poking holes in once-prevailing theories. And if that is true generally, how much more so is it true when it comes to something as vast and complex as climate change? Researchers still have no way “to reliably discriminate between manmade warming and natural warming processes,” climate scientist Roy Spencer has written. “We cannot put the Earth in a laboratory and carry out experiments on it. There is only one global warming experiment, and we are all participating in it right now.”

Frantic elite efforts to put an end to discussion do provide  a benefit: They are helping lesser mortals learn the difference between science and culture. And none too soon.

To america (Canada) the world looks like a joke. (Bill clinton too) Bill saying this doesn't persuade thinking critics. in fact its the unthinking public that is told not to think but trust the 'experts". As Winston Churchill once said BRING in more experts. This YEC guy always knew there was no global warming as YEC models of earth history mean the climate changed dramatically in just a few thousand years. in fact i would insist 4000 years ago Canada was tropical with monkeys now living in South America. The 'Ice age" ended 3500 years ago and climate has shifted so much Canada still has a tree line visable hundreds of miles above the area of trees today. Global warmingolics seem to want to believe this stuff as I suspect they are upper middle class people trying to make a cleaner world and fighting emissions is desirable. This has all been establishment passion demanding the public to trust the experts they bring forth. They simply need evidence worthy of such great claims. Polar ice is not evidence. Good ridence to it i say. Robert Byers
Absolutely. The warming is a natural thing while all the ado about it is a political one. Eugene S
dmullenix Of COURSE the Economist disagrees, it is an establishment British publication, and I challenge you to find any establishment British publications that don't promote alarmist warmism. Britain isn't a free country any more, and if the BBC is run by government weanies, so is the support for the Economist. But back to your sea-ice example. You really should get out more often. NASA has several satellites that do nothing but observe sea ice. And the coverage over the past 15 years shows a very nice sine wave. The valley of the sine wave is 2007, and we are climbing up toward another peak. You can try to claim "only 4%" if you like, but one look at the plot and you'll stop believing that humans have anything to do with sea ice. Which is also why MOST arctic researchers do NOT think the atmosphere has anything to do with it. Water has 90,000 times more heat than air per unit volume. Let's see, when was the last time that Lake Baikal froze over? Or Lake Superior? The air temperatures in the wintertime are 40 below, and the lake stays ice free. Why? Because 6 months of constant freezing air from an atmosphere 30 miles high cannot compete with water less than one mile deep when it comes to heat content. So why is arctic ice melting or changing its coverage? Ocean currents. Do ocean currents have anything to do with global warming? Yes, but it takes about 1000 years, so if the Arctic is warming it isn't Anthropogenic Global Warming doing it. In fact, it is cyclic changes in the ocean currents related to, you guessed it, natural climate fluctuations. Robert Sheldon
The Economist seems to disagree: http://www.economist.com/node/21530079 "Beating a retreat Arctic sea ice is melting far faster than climate models predict. Why?" "ON SEPTEMBER 9th, at the height of its summertime shrinkage, ice covered 4.33m square km, or 1.67m square miles, of the Arctic Ocean, according to America’s National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC). That is not a record low—not quite. But the actual record, 4.17m square km in 2007, was the product of an unusual combination of sunny days, cloudless skies and warm currents flowing up from mid-latitudes. This year has seen no such opposite of a perfect storm, yet the summer sea-ice minimum is a mere 4% bigger than that record. Add in the fact that the thickness of the ice, which is much harder to measure, is estimated to have fallen by half since 1979, when satellite records began, and there is probably less ice floating on the Arctic Ocean now than at any time since a particularly warm period 8,000 years ago, soon after the last ice age." "That Arctic sea ice is disappearing has been known for decades. The underlying cause is believed by all but a handful of climatologists to be global warming brought about by greenhouse-gas emissions. Yet the rate the ice is vanishing confounds these climatologists’ models. These predict that if the level of carbon dioxide, methane and so on in the atmosphere continues to rise, then the Arctic Ocean will be free of floating summer ice by the end of the century. At current rates of shrinkage, by contrast, this looks likely to happen some time between 2020 and 2050." dmullenix
This is an excellent article. You might enjoy mine as well at http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/gores-climate-change-reality-show-will-be-pure-fantasy/?singlepage=true TomHarrisICSC

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