« Busy, busy, busy | Main | What would Jesus do? »

Hey, weren't we supposed to be dead by now?

Contrary to popular belief, Robert Conquest did not actually suggest I Told You So, You Fucking Fools as one possible title for an updated edition of his book The Great Terror. But, hey, that means it's still available if Michael Fumento ever wants to follow up on his universally denounced 1990 book The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS.

(Global warming? Of course it's real! It's not like we've ever seen leftists, science popularizers, and gullible journalists band together to blow some global threat way out of proportion and vilify skeptics as borderline murderers, have we?)


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Comments (29)

While I totally sympathize with your suspicion of leftists and gullible journalists, and am willing to accept your inclusion of science popularizers for sake of argument, the International Panel on Climate Change is none of those things. The global climate is changing, the balance of evidence suggests that human sources are driving it, and that really is the best, soberest science available.

The official 2007 consensus for policymakers is:
"Observational evidence from all continents and most oceans shows that many natural systems are being affected by regional climate changes, particularly temperature increases." The IPCC report summarizes nearly 30,000 distinct observed data series, and more than 90% of them are consistent with warming at the location observed. "A global assessment of data since 1970 has shown it is likely[6] that anthropogenic warming has had a discernible influence on many physical and biological systems." Footnote [6] defines "likely" as 66-90% confidence.

Please do not read me as leaping from that directly to "oh my god we're going to die." We're not. Probably. Most of us aren't, anyway, at least not for that reason (though I wouldn't want to be living in Bangladesh). That doesn't mean it's going to be fun. There is a possibility (of unknown likelihood) that it will be very not fun.

You're a smart guy. I know you like to be contrarian, but you usually take care to have reason on your side. It's disappointing to hear you make a throwaway swipe at global warming based only dislike of idiot leftists. Maybe I'm misreading you.

The argument I made is against accepting a supposed "consensus" of Concerned Scientists™ and their camp-followers, filtered through multiple layers of political bargaining and pious exaggeration, as a good reason in itself for believing anything. It should not be taken as an argument against anyone's independently-formed, appropriately supported opinion on the subject of global warming.

I mean, I guess in "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" the wolf really did show up in the end, right?

okhropir rumiani:

"Kevin de Cock, the head of the WHO's department of HIV/Aids said there will be no generalised epidemic of Aids..."

de Cock's in charge, so chill.


The International Panel on Climate Change has about as much credibility as the Hollywood Foreign Press.

Look beyond the pompous committee name and check out how tangentially (at best) the vast majority of the signatories are to climate science.

Just because the skeptics haven't signed an International Declaration of Super-Important Eggheads Who Question Kyoto-Flavoured Baloney doesn't make their contributions any less valid.

This business of "signatories" seems to be an obsession of bamboozlers trying to make this all sound like a political rather than a scientific process. Scientists talk about "authors", not "signatories", and the IPCC Fourth Assessment lists more than 500. I used to work at the National Centre for Atmospheric Research, and I assure you they are not "tangentially related" to climate science. Neither is the Max-Planck-Institut fur Biogeochemie, nor the Canadian Center for Climate Modelling, nor the Dept. of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences at MIT.

Please, go take a look and tell me which ones you disbelieve and why. I'll wait.

In short, wherever you got this silly talking point from, they're selling you FUD.

That's all true, but the scientific authors who contribute to the work underpinning the IPCC reports have very little to do with the discussions that lead to the creation of the "consensus for policymakers", which IS a political process. In fact, it might be better described as a "consensus by policymakers". If you want people to defer to the prestige of Max-Planck-Institut, you should probably quote a document that actually came out of it.

What, Islander claims the IPCC has as much credibility as the Hollywood Foreign Press, I respond that the Fourth Assessment of Working Group I has more than five hundred authors from pretty much every notable climate institution in the world, and *I'm* the one who bears the burden of proof? There's something screwy here.

Still, you want it, you got it. It took me about 30 seconds to find this on Google Scholar.

Enhanced resolution modelling study on anthropogenic climate change: changes in extremes of the hydrological cycle
Reinhard Voss 1, Wilhelm May 2, Erich Roeckner 1 *
1Max-Planck Institut für Meteorologie, Bundesstr. 55, D-20146 Hamburg, Germany
2Danish Meteorological Institute, Lyngbyvej 100, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark

International Journal of Climatology
Volume 22 Issue 7, Pages 755 - 777.

I was only making a point about the "consensus for policymakers" you quoted, there's no need to spam the thread with free-floating footnotes.

Okay, no, it is true that the "consensus for policymakers" is not a scientific document. It is the scientific community's best possible effort to distill the actual science down to terms that don't presume you've had a graduate education in the subject. And it is actually very cautious in specifying what there is genuine consensus about. That's the point.

Yes, we've all seen political "executive summaries" that do not match the content of the underlying report. This is not one of those cases. Read the report if you don't believe me. Or find a climate scientist and ask him or her. I'd suggest realclimate.org, but find your own if you want to.

My own understanding is that the showcase documents for IPCC IV were, in fact, prepared with more care than was sometimes evident in prior editions. As I recall, the process went down to the 11th hour, which might normally herald slipshod work but in this case could have been a sign of legitimate give-and-take. The quantitative definitions of "likely" and "very likely", for instance, are the sort of thing that obviously arises when someone asks "Just what the hell are we saying here exactly?"


Mr. Roald, did you know that homeopathy is a proven valid medical treatment? Just read the pamphlet the homeopath gives you, it's all there. Why would you read anything else?

Mr ebt,

Haha, that's funny.

K Kramer:

I think there is a camp of people who believe that evidence of anthropological global warming is solid, but who believe that the effect is slow enough that humans will adapt to it without much trouble and humans will become less and less carbon-emission-prone as time goes on. They call these people "skeptics" which is a bad name since it doesn't say what exactly they are skeptical.

Anybody who disagrees with any link in the narrative chain is likely to get tagged as a "denier" (a term chosen for utterly repulsive, inexcusable reasons). You can legitimately believe that the warming's not happening, that it's happening but is not primarily anthropogenic, that it's primarily anthropogenic but will be beneficial or not very harmful, that it's harmful but adaptation makes more sense than mitigation, or that adaptation is a worse strategy than mitigation but technological solutions are possible and almost certainly the best and cheapest of all. You can also believe that we are totally helpless no matter what, and/or that the rectification of our capitalist habits by means of climate-change democide is a good thing.

Yeah, "denier" gets thrown around much too casually. Still, do you really believe that outfits like the Heartland Institute are arguing in good faith?

K Kramer:

The Heartland Institute is arguing in self-interest which means their activities should be taken with a grain of salt. However, this misses the point entirely. A small group of cognitive elite are trying to convince all governments on Earth to reduce dramatically the amount of cheap, industrial energy available to ordinary people. I think this group of people grossly underestimates the way that energy improves ordinary people's lives and they do a poor job of explaining the impact of a possible 1 C increase in a 100 years that will justify that sacrifice. If the Heartland Institute doesn't take up the cause then someone else will.

(Also, I meant "anthropogenic" when I said "anthropological". I should of taken Latin in school.)

It is 1-6 C, actually. Among the effects forecast if the change goes above +4C, just to pick one, is the extinction of more than 40% of species around the globe.

On the other hand, there are a lot of things we can do that are either not that expensive, or that have huge cost-benefit returns. Many of them are good ideas even if global warming is *not* actually happening.

It is 1-6 C, actually

...among the total range of socioeconomic emissions scenarios contemplated by the IPCC, though the best estimate even for a world of fast growth and unmitigated fossil-fuel usage is just 4.0°C., and for what I would consider more realistic futures (or for that matter the $134/bbl present), it's much smaller. Also the IPCC didn't have access to new, radically smaller figures on the size of the Chinese economy, and there's a theoretical debate over their failure to use purchasing-power parity in the growth models. So, yeah, SCIENCE.

Rod Blaine:

The problem is not that a minority gets outvoted - that a group or society has to make a decision on something (to do X, do Y, or do nothing), so that the judgment of the largest number is taken as a provisional proxy for the judgment of the whole. Happens all the time. The only alternative - in the realm of making collective decisions - to majority rule, which (yes) can be unfair, is minority rule, which is even more unfair.

HOWEVER, a problem does arise when the majority attempts to silence the minority. Apart from anything else, this may mean the "majority" may slip below 50% but no one realises because no one wants to mark themselves out as a dissenter (especially when dissenting is ascribed to pyschological problems, eg "denialism").

George Skinner:

I think the larger problem with the global warming debate has been that there have been no practical solutions proposed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A Kyoto-style approach to restricting emissions simply is not going to work because our most useful sources of energy are fossil fuels. There are no practical alternatives to fossil fuels at this point, and people simply won't accept a decrease in living standards for a long term problem. I suspect that a lot of the resistance to climate change theory would dissipate if policy turned to advancing development of new energy sources or dealing with the impact of climate change, rather than trying to force energy asceticism on the world. History suggests such steps would also be more likely to result in a positive outcome. Take Malthus's predictions on population growth, for example: he advocated limits on population growth to avoid mass starvation. In the end, mass starvation was averted by technological advances that increased agricultural productivity.


Among the effects forecast if the change goes above +4C, just to pick one, is the extinction of more than 40% of species around the globe.

Wow. That's a bullshit claim. Have they verified that experimentally? Put 100 species in a enclosed environment, raised the temperature 2°F, and watched almost half the species in the terrarium die?

Which 40%? Even if the large land animals see only a 10% loss rate, that suggests that a domesticated species ought to go extinct. The yak? llama? banteng? None are exactly likely to become extinct from a mere rise in temperature.

Come to think of it, has there ever been a single docmented case of an animal or plant going extinct from nothing but a rise in temperature?

Chuck McKinnon:


You lost me at "Enhanced resolution modelling study...".

I spent fifteen months working for a company that produces and sells an N-dimensional vector solver for quantitative financial analytics. Modeling complex systems is inexact at best, and downright bullshit at worst. That the Goldman GEO fund could lose 30% of its value in a couple of weeks last summer is just one recent example of how badly we model complex systems and assign risks to different factors. There are ALWAYS factors the models don't account for. Unexpected things ALWAYS happen -- things that completely change the expected outcome.

If the climate modelers were really capable of creating an accurate model of global climate (i.e. one that had genuine predictive power), they could walk into Goldman or JP Morgan and cut themselves a (let's say) two billion dollar cheque to apply their talents to modeling market and credit risk. There are hundreds of trillions of dollars at stake, so money would literally be no object.

Considering that the solutions proposed by many climate change doomsayers are dramatic and expensive, it's wiser to proceed with great skepticism when the "science" involves such badly flawed modeling.


On the other hand, there are a lot of things we can do that are either not that expensive, or that have huge cost-benefit returns...

Not likely - things with huge cost-benefit returns are usually done even without government coercion. So far, we haven't seen many of 'em.


Not Latin. Greek.

K Kramer:

My apologies to the entire Mediterranean then.

Tagore Smith:

Colin: You bear a name that is old and storied in my family. I am descended from Colin the famous sheep farmer of Cononish, an he hight Colin. He was a practical man and I am sure he would weep pure milk of ewe if he saw your comments.

The truth is that predictions about warming were made in the late 80s, based on models. We have not seen the warming predicted then. In fact, we have not seen any rise in temperature over the last 75 years. We have instead seen fluctuations.

You fail to mention that many of the authors of the IPCC report are skeptics. Your comment seems to claim Richard Lindzen (a lead author of the IPCC report) as a supporter of your theory. This is ridiculous, as Lindzen has always been a skeptic. The truth is that many of the authors of the IPCC report disagree with the summary for policymakers. Many do not think that AGW is a threat. There is no consensus in this regard, and your attempt to include many scientists who do not believe in catastrophic AGW in your consensus is remarkably disingenuous.

The truth is that all of the empirical evidence says tht nothing unusual is going on. This is a simple fact. The only "evidence" for AGW is in the models. It should be noted that these models fail to model the real world in many respects.

I don't think it is safe to say that catastrophic AGW is not a possibility, but as far as I can tell, based on the primary literature, there is no empirical evidence for catastrophic AGW, and a lot of evidwence against the proposition.

Tagore Smith:

Oh, and by the way, I'd like to claim the title "I told You so You Fucking Fool". I'd actually like to use it for a book arguing against legalizing, or continuing to legalize, heterosexual marriage.


Climate change? Well, the climate is always changing. However, if the past 2+ years are any indication (I live on the BC west coast) it is most definitely not warming. June is over 1/2 through and we've barely had a day over 20 C; heck, we've had lots of days where it's been 5 or more degrees below normal - pretty much unheard of for a temperate maritime climate.

Problem is, with GHG levels constantly rising, temperature should be rising too. In fact, worldwide temperatures have been falling for the past 7 years. So maybe there are other factors out there that trump the impact of GHGs.

Finally, what Canadian in their right minds would NOT support a warming climate?


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 8, 2008 5:38 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Busy, busy, busy.

The next post in this blog is What would Jesus do?.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Powered by
Movable Type 3.35