Friday, February 12, 2010

Global warming, where are you? (yeah, real funny)



(Video from Crooks and Liars).
__________

The fallacy goes: Is it hot? No. Then, there is no global warming. How about global weirding instead?

I like Maddow's prove-your-point-make-fun humorous style.

But in the end, it doesn't make a difference. No matter the evidence*, people believe what they want to believe. We've seen it, time and time and... time again.

You know, if one person wins the lottery, that‘s awesome for that person. But it does not disprove the existence of the recession. When it rains in the desert, that does not disprove the existence of the desert. It‘s still a desert, right there, even in the place where it rained.

If you have smoked a cigarette in your life and you are not currently suffering from lung cancer or heart disease, your existence—while healthy and happy—does not disprove the fact that smoking causes lung cancer and heart disease.

The evidence we have of flight—birds, bees, airplanes, what-have-you, does not disprove the existence of gravity.

The existence of monkeys does not disprove evolution.

The existence of tadpoles does not disprove the existence of frogs.

Are you convinced? 
_________
*Serious now: The explanation is a bit more complicated.

As the climate warms, evaporation of moisture from the oceans increases, resulting in more water vapor in the air. There are two requirements for a record snowstorm:
1) A near-record amount of moisture in the air (or a very slow-moving storm).
2) Temperatures cold enough for snow.
It's not hard at all to get temperatures cold enough for snow in a world experiencing global warming. According to the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, the globe warmed 0.74°C (1.3°F) over the past 100 years. There will still be colder-than-average winters in a world that is experiencing warming, with plenty of opportunities for snow.
The more difficult ingredient for producing a record snowstorm is the requirement of near-record levels of moisture. Global warming theory predicts that global precipitation will increase, and that heavy precipitation events—the ones most likely to cause flash flooding—will also increase.

9 comments:

The Mike said...

Though more evidence seems to be pointing in the direction of global warming, and though I tend to lean toward the idea that we humans are having an effect on our planet's climate and we should do all that we can to minimise our impact, the "proof" Maddows offers (temperatures over the last decade the highest over the last few thousand years) is very much like the proof she rails against. Just as one cannot prove global warming does not exist because of a few snow storms, one cannot prove global warming exists because of one decade over a few thousand years. If one does a chi square test, one finds that the data points are too miniscule, thus statistically inconclusive, to make those determinations.

miamibourbaki said...

one cannot prove global warming exists because of one decade over a few thousand years.

Actually, there is pretty good data. Scroll down the US EPA page: temperature has changed since the industrial era. I go for the inference to the best explanation provided by scientists and experts. The results?
1- There is a high level of confidence that the global average temperature during the last few decades was warmer than any comparable period during the last 400 years.
2- Present evidence suggests that temperatures at many, but not all, individual locations were higher during the past 25 years than any period of comparable length since A.D. 900. However, uncertainties associated with this statement increase substantially backward in time.
3- Very little confidence can be assigned to estimates of hemisphere average or global average temperature prior to A.D. 900 due to limited data coverage and challenges in analyzing older data.

The Mike: Thanks for your comment.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, in the world we inhabit, no one who counts is going to do anything about this problem. I don't have kids, don't drive, don't own a house, almost never eat meat, and recycle but that doesn't change the fact that large corporations are blowing the tops off of mountains in Virginia. The only way things are going to change is if corporations figure our some new way to make more money fixing the problem than they do creating the problem.

What kills me about the GW denialists is the way they characterize people who believe as "hysterical". They've really mastered the art of name calling. They are so good at playing with language. ... See More

Sorry to be a pessimist.

Joni

The Mike said...

Actually, there is pretty good data.

I don't dispute there may be good data. In fact, though I suspend absolute belief of global warming in the absence of knowledge, I do think we need to adjust our beaviour.

My previous reply was a critique of Rachel Maddows's argument, which I don't think was convincing given the data she used to support her point, especially in light of the point she was making, that people cannot judge a complex system based on one or a few data points.

The existence or not of global warming almost isn't really the point here though. What people should take away from this issue is that once we recognise that we may have a negative effect on a system, especially as vital a system as the only planet that we are currently able to inhabit, it is our duty to protect that system from our negative impact, even if we cannot prove that we have an impact. In the absence of proof, it is our duty to do all that is possible to minimise if not eliminate any possible negative lasting effect. Our duty is to protect those who cannot protect themselves as if we would protect ourselves, which extends to future generations of people, plants, animals, and the planet itself.

The lack of irrefutable evidence does not excuse us from our duty any more than we would not or should not protect ourselves if we thought we might be in danger.

The Mike said...

Of course, one may also argue that the concept of duty, itself, is outmoded, that if we try to parse out what is our duty given such large complex systems, we may condemn ourselves to in activity. One may argue that we have no duty at all, that the source for duty is self pleasure, that there is no external component, no extrinsic impetus for duty as the universe is indifferent to our "plight", that we live and die in absence of meaning, thus meaning and therefore duty do not exist. All of which would redirect our focus to the present and foreseeable future and our concern for ourselves rather than for what may or may not exist in the future.

We have no duty to the future because the future does not exist. Because the future does not exist, we have no duty. It seems a circular reference, but it may actually be that the two concepts are integral, eminent.

Ahhh, polemics. Perhaps in the polemics of an issue, we find synthesis. If we stretch an argument to the absolute ends, the very edges of what is possible to argue, we may find the middle.

For if there is no duty, we could not secure our own happiness, even in our own time. And if we are overly concerned with duty, we would find ourselves unable to act.

Perhaps I have digressed too much from the original post, but finding what we do, how we do, and why is at the base of who we are. Understanding who we are allows us, at some level, to understand the world around us. If we do not know ourselves, after all, how can we effect positive change?

Polemics are every bit important as they can help lead us to consensus, synthesis, decisions, courses of action. They should not be counted out of hand as bluster or academic noodling, just recognised for what they are, tools for finding the truth.

miamibourbaki said...

The existence or not of global warming almost isn't really the point here though.

Of course it is! The Mike: There are several things going on simultaneously. I've seen a politicization of science. To mock it and make it look as mere opinion. It reminds me of darker times we've already lived in the Twentieth Century. Without being a science optimist, I don't think we've produced a better method for a clear head. If we can we should fight this anti-ecological, Manichean strategy of the right.

once we recognise that we may have a negative effect on a system, especially as vital a system as the only planet that we are currently able to inhabit, it is our duty to protect that system from our negative impact,

Who? The FOX zombie-like audience?
The Corporations? They may see it coming and not care, as long as they make a profit.

We have no duty to the future because the future does not exist. Because the future does not exist, we have no duty.

Disagree Mike. If we can help, it's always preferable to act rather than not. I'd like to rephrase your motto: There is always future-for-humanity. If there is humanity there is future. You mentioned duty, which I find a little heavy word, but true.

I understand your point on Maddow. But comparing both, she comes out on top, humorous, light, instead of (in Beck and Hannity's case) so invested in sarcastic theatricality which turns the satire into its opposite.

Polemics? I'm not that serious. I take this as an edifying conversation.

Keep visiting.

OBAMITA said...

I would leave a statement, but I realized that my computer uses energy, which contributes to global warming, so this is just enhancing this phenomena, and enlarging my carbon footprint.

Anonymous said...

QUE FRIO!

jehan alonzo said...

nice, bourbaki, light it up! swing that beam, brother, cut that night-and-fog!