Archive for December, 2009

George’s Global View…

December 7th, 2009 No comments

I have just found this clip on YouTube by George Carlin about his view on climate change and the human condition… Be warned it does contain some strong language!

While comic in nature, I do believe it sums up the message I was trying to get across in my last post: The Anthropogenic Problem

The anthropogenic problem…

December 4th, 2009 1 comment
Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil...

Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil...

I am very worried! Everyday I am bombarded by Climate Change arguments, both for and against. Experts from every part of the scientific community are producing data sets, charts, graphs and illustrations. One ‘fact’ is rebutted by another ‘fact’ and then another, and another, ad infinitum. What should be a scientific problem has leaked into the public domain. A domain where logic and reason have no place. The Climate Change debate has become a battle ground, a survival of the fittest, where the groups that shout loudest win…

Whether we are partially or completely responsible for the recent rise in global temperature is not the issue. The real issue is our humanocentric bias, our opinions and our beliefs. It is human nature to think we are somehow central and important to our world and its events… Is it not ‘our’ world after all? Are we not the dominant species? Are we not its master?

The biggest problem we have is our inability to agree on even the simplest of things. We have study and research groups all around the world, producing raw sets of data. The problem doesn’t lie with the collection, but the analysis and presentation. When we analyse this data we apply rules and methods that are by default biased. This is where the beauty of peer-review comes in, where any erroneous methods are spotted and highlighted. The problem we have with the Climate Change debate, is our inability to agree on what is erroneous.

Another major problem is ego. People are putting their ego’s ahead of the scientific method. As a result, the debate is quickly becoming a slanging match. This is not the scientific way! If you are unable (or unwilling) to reason and debate without your ego being bruised or getting in the way then please excuse yourself. Science has no place for your personal feelings. You may not like it, but you can not argue with its logic and reasoning.

As mentioned earlier, the scientific debate has spilled over into the public arena. This is a very bad thing! The people rule by mob mentality, reason and debate are utterly useless. As a result, one of the first fatalities is the ability to distinguish between correlation and causality. If we were to look at a graph showing temperature and co2 levels over time, the correlation is unmistakable. However, just because there is a correlation doesn’t mean there is causality. To understand the causality, you have to understand the processes driving the temperature and co2 levels. Plotting data on a graph does not prove it. This is where both groups (the ‘warmists’ and the ‘denialists’ *) are failing. They produce nice looking graphs showing how {x} is directly effecting {y}. The public sees this graph and BANG, its proof of causality!

The next problem is the politicization of science, the manipulation of data and results for a political cause and end. A perfect example of this is the dismissal of a scientific advisor by the British government after he said that drug {a} was less dangerous than drug {b}, something which went against the party line (see link). A recent climate change revelation was the hacked email archive from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (see link). I am not going to comment on the contents of the emails, as I do not know the original context in which they were written, and I would just be falling foul of the very problem I’m trying to highlight. Whichever way you wish to interpret the meaning or reasoning behind the posts, it is not difficult to see the humanocentric and ego related problems at work yet again.

One complaint put forward by the sceptic groups, is the closed nature of the data sets and analysis processes. I can see their point – “The results of a climate model study have been published, proving that we are directly responsible for climate change. However the raw data has not been made public, neither has the source code for the climate model used to test the data”.

If this were true then it would be the equivalent of an eminent organisation proving the existence of God, refusing to provide the data or method that proves it, and simply saying ‘trust us’ were the experts. By restricting access to the raw data, you add fuel to the sceptics fire. What could you be hiding from them? Again, not very scientific! If your theory is correct, and the results match your prediction, and it passes peer-review, then what have you got to hide? If on the other hand, your results do not match the data, do not fudge or hide this fact from us, instead publish it. You can advance science by proving you were wrong. Do not let your ego get in the way of scientific progress.

If this is to be a public-political-scientific debate we must all share the same data, be allowed to run whatever tests we see fit, and we must all publish our findings (right or wrong). Only then, when all the data is on the table for everyone to see, can we truly begin to understand the implications.

* I personally detest the use of ‘warmist’ and ‘denialist’, I feel it detracts from the whole debate and lowers the tone. Can you not hold a differing opinion without being labelled as some kind of heretic?