Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Global Hot Air

Here's my little rant about Global Warming:

How in the heck can we know?

There...I said it.

It's not that I don't believe that Global Warming exists or is happening. It's that we very rarely get any actual scientific evidence that makes sense. Mostly we get hype. We get scare tactics. We get Michael-Moore-like propaganda disguising itself as a factual documentary (Sorry, but I don't trust documentaries anymore...even those that are made by the guy who invented the internet.).

Global Warming may indeed be occurring. I'm not here to debate that. I'm here to question the public's stupid reasons for buying into it without any regard for provable facts.

Here's a case in point: My co-workers and I were debating Global Warming at our recent staff meeting. Half of us were true believers, half were skeptics. And one of the true believers made a silly argument the basis of his belief that Global Warming exists, saying, "I just wanna know why we don't have snow storms in Middle Tennessee anymore like we did when I was a kid...that's all I'm saying. Something is up with that."

And I nearly lost it. Not because he believes in Global Warming, mind you, but because this little gem of personal scientific proof was the basis of his argument. I think he should believe whatever he believes. And, just to stress this part�I am not arguing for or against Global Warming, but rather I am arguing against using silly logic and rumor as our basis.

And sure...what we've seen...the things in life we've experienced...that's an excellent basis for everyday logic and breaking down of an issue. If it�s colder outside today than it was yesterday�I can feel that difference, and use my experiences to measure today against the day before.

But isn't comparing weather we have today to weather we had 20 years ago more than a little shortsighted when contemplating the weather patterns of a planet that is billions of years old? �It snowed when I was a kid and now it doesn�t so it must have snowed like a mo-fo a billion years ago. The Earth is getting warmer.� It�s a fallacy. It�s not sound reasoning.

It's like taking 0.00000001% of the Earth's lifespan and assuming that we can glean a trend for the rest of the 99.9999999%.

It's like saying, "Well, I haven't farted in the last three hours of my life, so I think it's safe to say that I don't fart anymore. My body is changing. I have evolved beyond the need to expel gas."

Or like saying, "The Colts lost last Sunday's game, so they're never going to win again...they must be done winning...forever."

In more scientific terms: It's like flipping a coin once and getting heads, and therefore assuming that the next 100,000 flips will also result in heads.

Just ridiculous logic. Another of my Global Warming apologist coworkers said, "It's certainly warmer these last few summers than ever before." Again...where are the statistics for this? And even if it's true, which I doubt, then you're still making assumptions about a world older than you could conceive on just a few recent years' data.

Then there are stories like this one on MSN.

It says that scientists say the Alps are experiencing their warmest temperatures in 1300 years.

Never mind that there aren't any facts in the story, such as actual temperatures and temperature differences that could be listed as proof of this trend--and really, if a scientist actually has temperature records showing a warming trend...why wouldn't he release them? (It makes you wonder if the difference in temperature between now and 1300 years ago is so small that it's practically negligible...like...the Alps are .000001% warmer now.)

What I want to know...what is of greater importance to me right now...is this: How in the heck do we know what the temperature was in the Alps back in 700AD?! Did they have mercury thermometers then? (I'm seriously asking...because I don't know). Even if they did....was there some centralized weather-data-storage company in place back in the 700s?

Or did we find some primitive journal written by a Roman saying what all the temperatures were every day for several years?

Or are we using some sort of geological or geographical data to scientifically guess at what the temperatures were back then...such as the movement of tectonic plates or something?

My point is that it doesn't seem logical that we could know the temperatures of the Alps 1300 years ago.

It doesn't seem logical to report such an astounding finding without having any actual data to share.

It doesn't seem logical to take a snapshot of even several hundred years worth of data and then draw conclusions about weather patterns for a billions-of-years-old planetary body.

There is actually going to be a Congressional hearing into the media's potential over hyping of the Global Warming issue. Yeah...that'll clear things up...get the politicians involved.

I think it's every bit as fair to doubt Al Gore and his movie's facts and motives as it was to doubt the Swift Boat accusers and the 9/11 conspiracy theorists. Nothing is free of politics anymore. Wasn't this past Summer supposed to be so rife with hurricanes that the Southern US was going to wash away? Well, last check showed a very quiet hurricane season, far from Gore and his buddies' predictions.

A simple web search will yield as many web pages quoting reputable scientists that think Global Warming is a myth as there are scientists supporting the claim that GW exists. There has been no international, unifying symposium...no global, community conclusions drawn. There are only two vocal factions, very far apart in opinion, clamoring for us in the doe-eyed public to believe them.

Until such scientific proof and consensus can be found or achieved....let's try and calm down a bit. Is the Earth getting warmer? Maybe. Why the hell is "maybe" such a horrible answer? Let's try and at the very least not use our own infinitesimally small and terribly recent experiences as any sort of argument for or against Global Warming. Because the Earth has been around far longer than any of us or any of our weather analyzing technology. How can we possibly be so cocky as to think that we understand how weather patterns work or how long the weather cycles on this planet might be when all of us and the collective data we have collected add up to a speck next to the unimaginable amount of time that the Earth has existed without us?


At 12/05/2006 02:02:00 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Here's my take: I agree with the idea that people should use logic and actual evidence to support claims. And the conflicting evidence for global warming is troublesome.

However, if there are a great number of people who believe the Earth is getting damaged, then steps should be taken to insure that it doesn't. Maybe not the drastic things we hear, but I think for sure the world would be a better place without cars that run on gasoline, for many reasons.

It's kind of like making sure you bring an umbrella even though it's a really sunny day--possibly ridiculous, but you won't be caught without one if the floodgates open.

I don't know what else to say other than I think at the very least, we should be cautious. I don't have any more evidence than the next guy, but it's the old "better safe than sorry" model.

At 12/05/2006 02:12:00 PM, Blogger Kennelworthy said...

Agreed. Let's definitely do away with the need for gasoline. Let's recycle. Let's stop with the aerosol cans and stuff like that.

I am actually sort of an environmentally conscious guy. I'm not saying: "Let's stop all this production of Bio-Deisel vehicles and hybrid cars until we know for sure the Earth is warming." I'm just saying "Let's stop using stupid reasons to prop up someone's claims of Global Warming."

There's a difference between taking an umbrella with you on a sunny day just so you're prepared for any change in weather and running through the streets shoving your umbrella in pedestrians' faces screaming "I'm carrying this umbrella because it will keep the sky from falling down on us all!!"

Do everything we can that's good for the earth without our reasons being stupid and illogical.

My quest is against idiocy, not against environmentalism or Global Warming.

I'm sure you know that, but I felt the need to clarify.

At 12/05/2006 06:30:00 PM, Anonymous John B said...

Could you guys spray a little more aerosol??? It's a scorching 25 degrees with snow flurries and icy roads here in Vermont. Sweatin' my balls off.
Actually, it's strange we don't have more snow by now. But, the woolly bear catipillar did have a larger orange band this year than it did back in 1880, so global warming must be for real!

At 12/06/2006 09:55:00 AM, Blogger Mike said...

The global warming hype has moved past science and into politics and groupthink (two things very closely related). And the global warming crowd doesn't seem to understand that their tactics turn people like me off, more and more so the further they get away from science and reason. And don't leave the media out of this - they find the craziest claims and run with them.

I wish there were more balance to look at thoughts from the other side, or at least put this seeming warming phase into more perspective. Just looking at the past centuries (and yes, we do have temps going back several years, although I'm not sure how), there was the Little Ice Age from the 16th to 19th centruy, which came after a general warming period just before. Look it up on Wikipedia.

So, temp changes are normal and natural, and stated happening well before the Industrial Revolution. It's possible that we are doing things to warm the environment (and we should, of course, stop polluting when we can), but we can't ignore changes in solar activity and other such natural events. But you'll never hear that in the debate, which is sad.

By the way, one of the probable reasons there was such a lack of hurricanes this season is that ocean temps were lower, some reports saying by two or three degrees Celsius. Which must mean there's an ice age coming.

At 12/06/2006 10:33:00 AM, Blogger Kennelworthy said...

I'm really curious to know how we get temperatures from several centuries ago. Not that I doubt it's possible. I just wonder if it's actual records that were kept somehow or if it's more like the Television Neilsen ratings...where it's a statistical extrapolation or something.

Even if we do have real, recorded temps going back a thousand years or so...it just seems short-sighted to think that a thousand years of data can tell us everything we need to know about this planet's weather.

And good point on the Solar stuff.

At 12/19/2006 01:25:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...



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