Long Comment from Liberal Conspiracy on Climate Change and Matt Murno, crossposted for posterity.

Falco,

Lots of people suggest the climate is not changing. That is why pages like this are necessary. They are becoming less numerous, but people who deny the climate is changing are out there. There is some argument over what is causing climate change, but the overwhelming body of evidence points to many made warming.

Watchman,

1. The actual measuring of temperatures is not consistent, is over-focussed on urban areas and airports, and is seriously incomplete over large areas.

Numerous studies into the effect of urban heat island effect and microsite influences find they have negligible effect on long-term trends, particularly when averaged over large regions.

2. Most predictions are models. Science cannot make a firm conclusion based on models, and the older models (i.e. those that have had a chance to be verified) have generally been proven wrong.

While there are uncertainties with climate models, they successfully reproduce the past and have made predictions that have been subsequently confirmed by observations.

3. The mechanisms involved in man-made global warming are not yet fully understood.

Natural climate change in the past proves that climate is sensitive to an energy imbalance. If the planet accumulates heat, global temperatures will go up. Currently, CO2 is imposing an energy imbalance due to the enhanced greenhouse effect. Past climate change actually provides evidence for our climate’s sensitivity to CO2.

4. The paleoclimatological reconstructions have been dominated by reconstructions which are statistically poor, over-reliant on small numbers of proxies and which do not fit with the recorded modern trend, making the claim that current warming is exceptional rather doubtful.

The divergence problem is a physical phenomenon – tree growth has slowed or declined in the last few decades, mostly in high northern latitudes. The divergence problem is unprecedented, unique to the last few decades, indicating its cause may be anthropogenic. The cause is likely to be a combination of local and global factors such as warming-induced drought and global dimming. Tree-ring proxy reconstructions are reliable before 1960, tracking closely with the instrumental record and other independent proxies.

Those are just the arguments available from http://www.skepticalscience.com and they are all peer review journal referenced, so you can go to the primary sources from the links provided.

Matt Murno,

You say: [You are] making up your definition of sceptic and then trying to say that because I don’t fit in your box I can’t be a sceptic.

I say: “The Western tradition of systematic skepticism goes back at least as far as Pyrrho of Elis (ca. 360 BC – ca. 270 BC). He was troubled by the disputes that could be found within all philosophical schools of his day. According to a later account of his life, he became overwhelmed by his inability to determine rationally which school was correct. Upon admitting this to himself, he finally achieved the inner peace that he had been seeking.”

I say: “In ordinary usage, skepticism (US) or scepticism (UK) (Greek: ‘σκέπτομαι’ skeptomai, to look about, to consider; see also spelling differences) refers to:

  • (a) an attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity either in general or toward a particular object;
  • (b) the doctrine that true knowledge or certainty in a particular area is impossible; or
  • (c) the method of suspended judgment, systematic doubt, or criticism that is characteristic of skeptics (Merriam–Webster).

In philosophy, skepticism refers more specifically to any one of several propositions. These include propositions about:

  • (a) an inquiry,
  • (b) a method of obtaining knowledge through systematic doubt and continual testing,
  • (c) the arbitrariness, relativity, or subjectivity of moral values,
  • (d) the limitations of knowledge,
  • (e) a method of intellectual caution and suspended judgment.”

I say: That other climate change “sceptics” have attempted to hijack one of the oldest philosophical schools of thought to lend credence to an anti-science campaign.

I say that the climate science is at times unreliable but that we understand the climate better now than we ever have. Climate change “sceptics” have adopted anything but a sceptical attitude, they have become radically detached from any mainstream epistemological position and just declare “the models don’t work” (where there is evidence they do), moaning that “the evidence is corrupted” (where there is evidence it is not), whining “we need more research” (where that is exactly what we are doing.

My problem with the climate change “sceptic” position is that in large part it is not sceptical, it is the opposite. Closed minded people deriding evidence even when it is presented to them.

To conclude, I’d ask again Matt Munro, have you looked at http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php yet? Because you keep making the same mistaken arguments and I keep pointing you towards a site full of contrary evidence. If you were a sceptic, even by your own definition, you would have already looked at this site, and you would be able to tell me why you are unconvinced.

I propose the euthanasia of the epithet “climate change denier”, as someone who has been to Auschwitz any flippant reference to the holocaust has always stuck in my throat. Instead we should call these people climate change “sceptics”, with emphasis on the quotation marks. I’ll finishing by quoting about real climate change scepticism:

“The distinction between scepticism and non-belief is a crucial one. While scepticism is healthy, non-belief in the face of overwhelming evidence is the antipathy of scepticism. Recent climate scepticism has been characterised by a visceral mistrust of science, scientific institutions and scientific governance. Never mind that the case for climate change has been painstakingly pieced together over decades – climate change sceptics are busy writing it off on the basis of a few inconsistencies.

But embarrassingly for climate change sceptics, the people who have thought longest and hardest about what it means to be a truly sceptical thinker seem in a hurry to distance themselves from their fellow sceptics. Michael Marshall, from the Merseyside Skeptics group that organised the homeopathy overdose is clear about the legitimacy of climate change sceptics: “In our view, climate change sceptics are not sceptics. A sceptic looks at the available evidence and makes a decision, and for homeopathy the evidence is that it doesn’t work. But the sceptical position on climate change is that it is happening.”

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