While I wish I had had the time late last week to do this, I simply haven’t. Last Friday I had all but given up on the Newsvine community (not that that would be bad for me). It’s often hyped for being civilized and having high-brow discussions but the fact that such a stupid article had gotten so many votes was kind of irking me. How could people be so gullibe? Well, Monday morning saw my rebuttal, which was pretty far down the page already, with more votes than the article itself. I still am amazed at how many people though that Boortz’ baseless rant was worth voting for (especially since I doubt many even read the whole thing due to linking issues). However, it was nice to know that some people demanded some facts, whether they agree with me or not.
Photos of polar bears on chunks of ice taken by science team members of the 2004 Beaufort Gyre Expedition Project, north of Alaska. Polar bears have become the a symbol of global warming as their hunting habitat, floating Arctic ice, is gradually disappearing due to the greatest warming at the highest latitudes. While global warming cannot be credited with confidence for any one event, such as these interesting loose chunks of ice which have been formed into odd shapes by the wind, scientists explain that ocean levels will rise and polar ice will continue to melt at ever-increasing rates as average global temperatures increase.
This is an expanded copy of a comment I made in response to (a seed of) Neil Boortz’ “Why Am I Skeptical About Man-Made Global Warming?” [Note: Good luck finding the article in the seeded link, you can find it here, tough]. That piece was so wrong as to be contemptible. Here are the facts with more links to back it; something Boortz was incapable of providing. That’s because he had to either make up stuff of just believe the lies of others to write that article.
Also, I’ve tried to point out which items are science and which items are policy (or political in nature), which are two different parts of the discussion. Simply because one disagrees with a proposed policy doesn’t mean one need to reject the science; a concept which is sorely missing on the skeptic side of this ‘debate.’
- The U.N. is anti-American? What about NASA, NOAA, NIST, EPA etc.? These are American science institutions who clearly have our nations best interest in mind. The fact that the IPCC, which was established by the U.N. (who if they said the sky was blue, Boortz would claim was red). Then again, I imagine that Boortz hates all the federal government agencies, too. However, that hardly makes them un-American nor does it make the IPCC, which is made up of many American scientists un-American. [policy]
- Communist rhetoric aside, there’s nothing stopping a free-market approach to solving global warming right now. Sure, we may have to enact some regulation, but that’s nothing new to U.S. policy, especially when it comes to energy policy, and it hardly makes us Communists. [policy]
- Solar forcing is widely researched in climate science. The sun plays a key In fact, solar forcing is mentioned as a partial component of warming on Page 2 of the IPCC Summary for Policy Makers (SPM, hereafter). [science]
- There is no global warming on Mars (nor any other of our solar system’s planets), at least not anything at all like what we have recorded on Earth. It’s a tired myth that comes up all the time, and has yet to be true. [science]
- I think this chart clearly shows that the 1930’s were not warmer across the globe. Boortz is simply wrong here. [science]
- Another tired old argument is the global cooling myth (more here). While some MSM publications did have some scary headlines, climate scientists were not the one’s causing the alarm thirty years ago, and certainly not with any large consensus like we have now. This is just more reason to listen to what the scientists have to say instead of untrained journalist mouth-pieces (ex. – Neil Boortz). [science]
- One degree doesn’t sound like much, but it’s an annual global mean. Just because we wouldn’t notice (or even mind) in the short term doesn’t mean it’s not a huge deal. Remember, this is global warming and not just raising the thermostat in your house. Further, the arctic is rising at a much higher rate, melting arctic ice which proves problematic in the lower latitudes, even if the temperature here doesn’t change as much. Otherwise, cute attempt at ignoring a problem. [science]
- It’s simply not true that the so-called “Hockey Stick” graph has been proven false. On the contrary, the National Academy of Sciences found that the so-called “Hockey Stick” graph was indeed accurate science, and the 4th Assessment from the IPCC appears to agree that the last 50 years were likely warmer than any in the previous thirteen centuries. Too bad for skeptics (and people who ignore the news). However, even if the graph was incorrect, which is highly doubtful, it wouldn’t matter as it’s far from the only evidence at hand. [science]
- The policy of the Kyoto protocol has nothing to do with the cause of global warming. However, too many people are prematurely calling Kyoto failed (as in past tense) when we’ve not even finished the second phase yet. [policy]
- However, the Kyoto protocols can also be seen as an initial attempt to curb greenhouse gases. One which clearly needs work and the support of the U.S. government. [policy]
- One of the more recent argument’s I’ve heard lately is with regards to climate scientists who lie or stretch facts in order to secure funds for future research. I think anyone who is familiar with the grant writing process would instantly recognize this is as ridiculous, but clearly this argument is for their benefit. First of all, research grants are not easy to come by, even for those who have secured them in the past. Secondly, are we then to distrust any research as a result of continued grant money? What about cancer research or quantum computing? Research in a multitude of fields is funded by federal (and some state) grant money and it is absurd to discount its validity based on that. Secondly, it is simply poor logic on one hand to demand more precise data and then on the other deny the people who seek to provide it. [policy]
- I don’t wish to “punish” anyone who disagrees with me, as Boortz and other militant skeptics might assert. I am trying to get them to see reason and understand the science. I just am astounded by some people’s willingness to ignore sound science. Then again, I’m also astounded when people ignore the advice of their physicians, which is an appropriate analogy here. Neither is smart. However, that being said, I do wish to call out someone who is perpetuating myths and that is exactly what Neil Boortz is doing. He is either lying or mislead, but he is most definitely not right. [policy]
- The Medieval Warm Period. Yet another popular myth. The short answer: it’s global warming, not just European warming. [science]
- One scientists said something that is taken out of context? This hardly proves anything other than someone’s willingness to spin the comments of another. However, neither the so-called “Medieval Warm Period” nor the “Little Ice Age” disprove global warming. (Actually, nothing disproves global warming since it’s clearly been observed.) Further, to accept those events as evidence, one must then accept our the science of paleoclimatology, as in “the Hockey stick.” [science]
- Portions of the Antarctic ice sheet are thickening, but yet loosing overall volume due to shrinking area. In short, global warming results in great air moisture which in turn results in more precipitation. Oh, what does it matter, Boortz didn’t care about the science to begin with… This is cherry picking data at best and simply lieing at worst. Either way, we have a number of measurements (the most accurate is probably NASA’s GRACE satellite measurements, which detect gravity changes) which point to a loss of Antarctic ice. [science]
- Well, once again, It’s global warming, not U.S. warming. The temperature difference isn’t the same everywhere (particularly wrt latitude). However, the U.S. is definitely getting warmer along with the rest of the globe. [science]
- Here’s one of the Boortz’ inconsistencies that a lot of people, myself included, picked up immediately. Interesting that in one sentence we can’t know what’s going on with the majority of the world’s glaciers because we haven’t visited them and in the next Boortz claims to know exactly what is happening with them. The fact is, most glaciers are losing volume (globally, glacial volume is decreasing) and we don’t have to set foot on them to know this. We have satellites that take remarkably accurate measurements, in addition to other means of measurement. [science]
- Again, a portion of the Antarctic ice increased. The author of this study has clearly stated that this cherry-picking of data represents nothing but a misleading use of science, which has happened before and at least one author has spoken out on. [science]
- Yes. Sea levels change naturally as the Earth’s climate changes. However, both are changing at a rapid and previously unrecorded rate. That’s really kind of the concern here. A large part of climatology is to pick out what is natural, cyclic phenomena and what is not. In short, were the current global warming observations a result of natural cycles, we’d be able to see them in the paleoclimate data, which we do not. [science]
- Like Antarctica, the total volume of ice is receding in Greenland. Further, it’s doing so at nearly twice the pace previously though to be occuring. We recently discovered what was thought to be a peninsula was actually an island that had been connected by ice. It isn’t anymore. [science]
- While the margin of error in some studies may support the notion that there have been multiple ice ages in the past 3,000 years (most global temperature reconstructions are for only 2,000 years or less), the Earth is clearly warmer today than it has been in 400 years, and likely for more than 2,000 years (ref. item number 14 above). [science]
- The Earth’s temperature has decreased? Boortz has truly gone off the deep end. Global temperatures have most definitely not decreased. I honestly don’t know of anyone who believes otherwise. If Boortz had provided any sort of reference, I might be able to address this one, but he didn’t. Of course, he expects his readers (and listeners) to take everything he says as fact without bothering to check it out. All I can do is suppose this might be what he is talking about, which is shown to be incorrect. [science]
- An NPR reported wouldn’t interview a scientist is evidence of what? Much like Kyoto, the willingness of a journalist to interview a scientist has nothing to do with the science. If this is a crucial piece of evidence, why ever listen to a scientist in the first place? [policy, but that's even being kind]
- More on grant money. Contrary to Boortz’ claim, if these scientists are in it for the grant money, they are most certainly not saying it’s settled. It can’t be both. The fact is, most scientists are wanting to pin down the effects so we can back out a solution of what to do about it. This goes hand in hand with making sure the initial assumptions are right. This is science, and it’s clearly something Boortz doesn’t get. However, we do know enough about climate and what is happening to begin to enact some policy to try and curb the negative consequences. This goes directly to the common confusion about science versus policy. [policy]
- More of that Ice Age stuff? Well, the point is, Time (and Newsweek) aren’t peer-reviewed science journals and if you look at what those said at the time, there was not prediction of global cooling and most climatologists clearly said that there was no reason for alarm of cooling (ref. item number 6 above). Of course, as we see now, the mainstream press has a really hard time understanding what scientists are saying. The fact is, the greenhouse effect has been understood since the 1800’s (yes, that’s right) and climate science is a mature field which quite possibly has the most stringent review of any science in the world. The Fourth Assessment Report by the IPCC represents what may very well be the single most peer-reviewed science document in history. To ignore it with the psuedo-logic and poor understanding of science is nothing short of sad. [science]
Boortz’ article clearly shows that he knows nothing of the subject he’s claiming to be a skeptic about. However, I have not doubt that like many other radio mouthpieces who know nothing about science, his listeners and readers take it without doubt. Further, he continues to provide mis-information to feed doubt, even on some of the most ridiculous subjects. Most recently (note: that link may be bad in a few days, given his poor site management system) he claims that a recent cold spell in Chicago is somehow evidence that global warming isn’t happening (common skeptic tactic is to confuse weather with climate) and further he provides a link to a petition which supposes to have a mass of scientists against global warming. Never mind that it’s six years old and has widely been criticized as misleading and a fraud.
I believe I’ve clearly demonstrated what a fraud Boortz is when it comes to global warming and really, science in general. He’s wrong on every account and simply doesn’t understand what he’s writing or talking about. I think it’s high time that we all started calling this stuff what it is instead of pretending it’s just the other hand of an equal debate. It’s not. It’s a bunch of mis-leading information meant to cast hard science in a poor light out of some fear of possible policy actions (Boortz is an adamant anti-federalist). There is no significant debate over whether man is causing climate change in scientific circles and the sooner the mas media understands this, the sooner we can all get to solving the problem.
Update 2007-09-19: Anyone who would like to read more should check out some of the following (I’ll add more as I find time):
- Real Climate – Archive of Climate Scientists’ blog
- Grist – How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic
- New Scientist (UK) – Special Web section on Climate Change
- NERC Climate Challenge – Skeptics ask, climatologists respond
- Scientific American – George Musser replies to skeptic arguments against global warming and all the related blog posts by the editors.
- Pew Center – Climate Change 101
- NASA on the difference between Climate and Weather
- Live Science – The History of Climate Change Science
- National Geographic – Global Warming Fast Facts
Most importantly, everyone should read the Summary for Policy Makers [.pdf] from the Fourth Assessment by the IPCC, published online last Friday. It’s really hard to overstate just how important this document is. This document contains the state of the art in climate science.
Please see this article at Newsvine for updated links for more information.