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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Climate Change: It's the Science That Matters

Category: Environment
Posted: 11/13/07 22:27, Edited: 11/13/07 22:30

by Dave Mindeman

There is a certain buzz on the blogs about this item:

Weather Channel Founder: Global Warming ?Greatest Scam in History?

John Coleman is the "founder" of the Weather Channel as the introduction indicates. Well, it was his idea anyway. He left the venture after a year and sold out to deeper pockets. He has been a "meteorologist" (translation = TV Weatherman) since the 1950's. A popular one at that. He currently does the weather for a San Diego station.

Mr. Coleman is certainly entitled to his opinion.... and it is just that, his opinion. If you read this blog entry, he never mentions any scientific data or notes any study that makes any of his points. He has read a great deal of the relevant material and his personal conclusion is: "I know I am correct." And he is entitled to say what he thinks.

That's OK for him. He is certainly a very interested party. It involves his field... but let's please note that Mr. Coleman is not a climatologist. He has a bachelor's degree in meteorology and knows a thing or two about communicating a cold front to the public via a blue screen; but he is not a researcher and not a climatic historian. He is giving an educated opinion. Fine... perfectly fine.

The problem is that the blogosphere has manufactured extra credentials for Mr. Coleman, simply because he started the Weather Channel. Even the Weather Channel executives would be the first to tell you that they have no special expertise in climate science. A pronoucement of opinion from the Weather Channel guy is no more relevant, no better or worse, than say Paul Douglas or Belinda Jensen. Not that I wouldn't listen to their opinion on the matter.... it just isn't a definitive opinion.

And neither is Al Gore's. We all seem to make a lot of false assumptions in these arguments. Global Warming has been made a political issue.... red state vs blue state; liberal vs. conservative. Yet, it was never meant to be that.

Al Gore doesn't consider himself the perfect voice on global warming but he has made himself familiar with the scientific facts. The public ignores science from scientists.... but they listen when celebrities say the same thing. Al Gore thrust himself into this debate to get the message out..... and even though there has been political repercussions, at least people are discussing the issue.

We seem to forget that Al Gore didn't win the Nobel Peace Prize by himself. He shared it with the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The IPCC is composed of climate scientists from all over the world and they have agreed that humans have affected accelerated climate change. The IPCC provides the science.... Al Gore provides the means to distribute that message.

So... when you see conservative voices attacking Al Gore; or when you see liberal voices criticizing Mr. Weather Channel.... please remember it is not the messenger that is the issue.

It's the science.
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Senator Inhofe Is At It Again!

Category: Environment
Posted: 08/30/07 13:34

by Dave Mindeman

I was surfing the internet this morning and came across this header on the Drudge Report:

Survey: Fewer than half of scientists endorse man-made global warming...

I captured the link so that you can see for yourself that this "conclusion" comes from the office of Senator James Inhofe, of Oklahoma. As you may or may not know, Senator Inhofe has made it his life's work to make sure this country doesn't survive into the next century; and that Al Gore is classified as some hysterical kook.

I think it is relevant to note that this "survey" did not ask any scientists about their reasoning. The survey did not talk to anyone. No, this analysis looked at research papers dealing with the subject matter between 2004 and 2007.

There is a couple of points to keep in mind:

1. Scientists don't talk about their own personal beliefs in scientific research papers. They deal with hard facts. They leave their own speculation out of it. Believe it or not, most scientists are not interested in political agendas. It is people like Senator Inhofe who make it so hard to avoid.

2. During that time period, research studies have been paid for by many energy companies in attempts to refute the growing consensus on global warming. One only has to look to drug company research to understand that who pays for the study makes a difference in the outcome.

3. They list 528 papers that were examined. What was the critieria for inclusion? Surely there were more than 528 papers involved with this subject. How did the researcher determine if a paper met the criteria? A survey's accuracy are dependent on its intial criteria.

But just looking at the data they provide can lead to an opposite conclusion. According to their own data. They classify 48% of the papers as neutral -- a pretty high number of scientists are classified as having "no opinion" on global warming? Of course they have an opinion, they are just not asked in relation to this survey. Secondly, although they say only 7% of the papers gave an implicit endorsement of man's involvement in global warming, 38% of the others gave, what they termed, an "implied" endorsement. But here is the kicker...only 6% rejected the idea of man's involvement in global warming.... 6%!

The conclusion of this researcher is that by including the 48% who were neutral, you have a "majority" of papers who do not support the current global warming consensus.

The author of this "treatise" (Michael Asher) then asks us to simply ignore the United Nations IPCC consensus on the subject. A survey that actually ASKED scientists to give their opinion on the topic.

I think Senator Inhofe is asking us to stretch the boundaries of belief on this one. Refuting scientific consensus with a clearly unscientific "survey" is just plain ludicrous.

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