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Letters to the Editor

Factual error

February 2, 2010

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To the editor:

The evidence for global warming is so evident and persuasive that it need not be supported by misinformation, such as Steven Craven’s claim that “The Roman Empire grew so vast it couldn’t feed its people,” which he attributes to “unchecked population growth, overfarming and deforestation” (Public Forum, Jan. 26).

Nothing of the sort is maintained by historians of late antiquity, who consider Rome’s decline as due instead to plague and depopulation, not to mention many other factors as well, such as economic fragmentation, an influx of barbarian soldiers and settlers, and divisive religious controversies.

A good cause is not well served by erroneous factoids.

Comments

anon1958 4 years, 11 months ago

"A good cause is not well served by erroneous factoids."

Nice theory, but . . . .

When did the facts ever have anything to do with what most or almost all Americans believe about evolution, global warming or health care reform?

SettingTheRecordStraight 4 years, 11 months ago

anon,

Let me guess. As soon as we accept "the facts" about a government takeover of health care, we'll quickly realize the value of handing over 1/6 of our economy to the federal government.

notajayhawk 4 years, 11 months ago

"A good cause is not well served by erroneous factoids."

Like this one, you mean?

"The evidence for global warming is so evident and persuasive ..."

"Evidence" should be objective, measurable, and verifiable. Not "persuasive". 'Consensus' isn't "evidence", Mr. Kay. As a matter of fact, 'consensus' wouldn't be necessary if there was any real evidence.

SnakeFist 4 years, 11 months ago

notajayhawk said: “Evidence” should be objective, measurable, and verifiable. Not “persuasive”.

Science is opinion. Data has to be interpreted; any assertion about how a particular data set is most properly interpreted is an expression of opinion. For example, gender, race, and class biases influence how data is both collected and interpreted, and so we cannot say that science produces "facts", i.e., absolute truths. I believe in global warming (yes, I said "believe"; scientists need to take a class in theory of knowledge), but scientists have undermined their own credibility with shenanigans like attempting to suppress contrary data.

notajayhawk 4 years, 11 months ago

SnakeFist (Anonymous) says…

"Science is opinion."

In your opinion, is two apples plus two apples four apples, or five?

In your opinion, does a substance with a specific gravity greater than that of water float or sink?

In your opinion, how many stomachs does a cow have?

Or how about this: In your opinion, can a bumblebee fly?

kneejerkreaction 4 years, 11 months ago

FACT: In Lawrence, KS right now, the sun is shining.

But when you discuss global warming you find evidence for & against. So, it all boils down to faithfully believing one way or the other, just like a religion.

But one thing is for sure, you don't implement back breaking laws like Cap & Trade on a belief.

Chris Golledge 4 years, 11 months ago

Did_I_say_that (Anonymous) says…

...

"However, the primary evidence for global warming has been exposed as a hoax, leaving only persuasion and misinformation. "

Which primary evidence is that? There are multiple, independent lines of reasoning that all reach the same conclusion. And I've yet to hear of any research publication in the area that has been exposed as a hoax. I've heard several called hoaxes, but seen none shown to be once the evidence was examined.

Chris Golledge 4 years, 11 months ago

Sorry, no, the news has been full of media hyped misrepresentations. Did you have something in particular that you could identify?

SnakeFist 4 years, 11 months ago

notajayhawk said "...is two apples plus two apples four apples, or five."

Mathematics isn't science, its a tool scientists use. Science doesn't end with data collection (e.g., counting), it also involves data interpretation. Science would require you to put that data into context, e.g., a testable hypothesis, and opine as to whether the data does or does not support the hypothesis.

Did_I_say_that said, "A scientific theory is only accepted as truth when there is no longer a valid alternative to explain a result." A scientific theory is never accepted as "truth", because, as finite beings, we can never say that there is no other alternative explanation (i.e., we cannot access absolute truth). The best we can do is say that the current theory is coherent with the data we've collected so far.

If you read a scientific journal, for example, you'll see one article that presents data, interprets the data, and makes some assertion based thereon. The next article will take the same data, interpret it a different way, and make a completely different assertion. Each of those assertions is nothing more (or less) than an opinion. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for science, but it isn't "fact", "truth", or otherwise infallible.

Chris Golledge 4 years, 11 months ago

SnakeFist, All true, up to a point. It is mainly at the fringes that things are so open to interpretation. There continues to be debate about the nature of gravity, but no one seriously debates that gravity conforms to the inverse square law or that 9.81 m/s^2 is close enough for most purposes here on earth. In the same way, no scientists are seriously debating that CO2 is a greenhouse gas or that more of any greenhouse gas will cause a rise in temperature. The debate continues on how much and how soon temperatures will rise, but somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 C for a doubling of CO2 has been holding for some time now.

pace 4 years, 11 months ago

When is it good policy to hand over public health issues to corporations. Let them die it is cheaper and make them pay then let them die is just good business. Playing with the letter's point about mis-stating facts, to say facts don't matter is so right wing.

notajayhawk 4 years, 11 months ago

cg22165 (Anonymous) says…

"Sorry, no, the news has been full of media hyped misrepresentations."

You mean like, for instance, anthropogenic global warming?


SnakeFist (Anonymous) says…

"Mathematics isn't science, its a tool scientists use. Science doesn't end with data collection (e.g., counting), it also involves data interpretation."

Mathematics isn't a science, but 'climate science', based on opinion and interpretation, IS science? Are you serious?

Even were that true, that was one of my four examples. I'm really interested in whether a bumblebee can fly, in your opinion.

" Science would require you to put that data into context, e.g., a testable hypothesis, and opine as to whether the data does or does not support the hypothesis. "

You have absolutely no idea what you're talking about, do you?

In the scientific method, you start with the hypothesis, you don't just go out and collect some data and then work it into a hypothesis.

And you don't interpret or opine as to whether the data supports the hypothesis - you use statistical analysis. It's not "opinion" as to whether the math works out or not - it either disproves the hypothesis, or supports it (it can not be "proven" as the null hypothesis can never be proven).

You have a very interesting belief of what science is - gee, wonder where that comes from?

Chris Golledge 4 years, 11 months ago

notajayhawk (Anonymous) says… ... "You mean like, for instance, anthropogenic global warming?"

Still waiting for something specific from a research publication that you thing is a hoax. Have you read any research articles?

SnakeFist 4 years, 11 months ago

The best you can do is build the strongest possible justification for your belief, but you can never know with absolute certainty that it is true.

notajayhawk said: "And you don't interpret or opine as to whether the data supports the hypothesis - you use statistical analysis. It's not “opinion”..."

As the saying goes, there are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics. I've taken plenty of statistics courses, and no one ever said that statistics produces truth; in fact, you can use inferential statistics to say just about anything you want to (i.e., to support your opinion).

You think there are 4 apples in the field? I say you're dreaming, hallucinating (remember the film A Beautiful Mind?), or just can't count correctly, or perhaps you have mistaken a red-colored pear for an apple, or perhaps you've overlooked an apple and there are in fact 5, not 4, apples in the field. There are so many ways that you could be wrong, so imagine how many more ways a scientist working on a complex problem could be wrong. Science strengthens justification, it does not provide truth.

SnakeFist 4 years, 11 months ago

cg22165 said, "...no scientists are seriously debating that CO2 is a greenhouse gas or that more of any greenhouse gas will cause a rise in temperature."

I agree that there is very strong justification for the belief that average global temperature is rising, and somewhat less but still strong justification for the belief that man's activities have caused or at least exacerbated the problem, but that doesn't mean that any of it is absolutely true. A correlation between CO2 levels and temperature is not the same as causation, and no one can argue causation in a system with that many uncontrollable variables. Theories change as new data is collected; remember it wasn't that long ago that "global climate change" was wrongly called "global warming".

notajayhawk 4 years, 11 months ago

SnakeFist (Anonymous) says…

"You think there are 4 apples in the field? I say you're dreaming, hallucinating (remember the film A Beautiful Mind?), or just can't count correctly, or perhaps you have mistaken a red-colored pear for an apple, or perhaps you've overlooked an apple and there are in fact 5, not 4, apples in the field. There are so many ways that you could be wrong, so imagine how many more ways a scientist working on a complex problem could be wrong. Science strengthens justification, it does not provide truth."

So I go out in the field, pick up the apples, and count them.

1

2

3

4

YOU can say I was dreaming, but it turns out there were four apples.

Do you have any idea how ridiculous you sound, saying your imagined ways that four might not be four is more accurate, more scientific, than counting four apples?

Since you don't want to attempt the bumblebee question, let me explain why I asked. Theoretically, bumblebees can't fly. Conventional theories of aerodynamics can't explain how bees stay in the air. A collection of scientists who have never seen a bee can examine all the evidence they have available, draw their inferences, computer model it six ways to Sunday, and reach a consensus that bees can't fly. According to what you're saying, that would be a valid conclusion.

Despite the fact they do. See a problem yet?


cg22165 (Anonymous) says…

"Still waiting for something specific from a research publication that you thing is a hoax. Have you read any research articles?"

Quite a few. And I don't know how they teach principles of research here in Kansas, but when I was getting my graduate degree they taught us that research is never to be taken at face value. That's why they don't just print the abstract and conclusions - the data itself, along with the methodology, has to be included so a critical reader can evaluate for him/herself whether those conclusions are valid, or so they might even recreate the experiment to see if the results are repeatable.

How many research articles have you read - actually read - that meet those criteria in supporting the evidence for AGW? See, cg, the burden of proof would seem to be on those that want to spend trillions of dollars and make changes in the way we live.

SnakeFist 4 years, 11 months ago

notajayhawk, I have no idea which position you are arguing. On the one hand you assert that you can reliably count apples, but on the other hand you assert that scientists cannot reliably record increases in temperature and greenhouse gas data.

You aren't honestly asserting that there have been no research articles showing an increase in temperature and an increase in greenhouse gases, are you? Or that the increases haven't been independently measured?

notajayhawk 4 years, 11 months ago

SnakeFist (Anonymous) says…

Now I have no idea which position you are arguing.

You point out (correctly) that scientists can reliably record increases in temperature and greenhouse gas data. You also point out that "A correlation between CO2 levels and temperature is not the same as causation, and no one can argue causation in a system with that many uncontrollable variables."

I never said scientists can't reliably record "increases in temperature". That would be, as I said earlier, "objective, measurable, and verifiable" (as opposed to “persuasive”).

I never said scientists can't reliably record "increases in ... greenhouse gas data". That would be, as I said earlier, "objective, measurable, and verifiable" (as opposed to “persuasive”).

Unfortunately, there is no "objective, measurable, and verifiable" cause-and-effect relationship, as you point out yourself.

Nobody has argued that temperature shifts don't occur. We know they do, and we know they have been occurring for millenia.

Ditto greenhouse gases.

There simply is no scientific evidence that the climate shifts are anthropogenic in nature.

It is nothing more than hubris to believe that Mankind can change the climate of this planet.

gccs14r 4 years, 11 months ago

"Theoretically, bumblebees can't fly. Conventional theories of aerodynamics can't explain how bees stay in the air. A collection of scientists who have never seen a bee can examine all the evidence they have available, draw their inferences, computer model it six ways to Sunday, and reach a consensus that bees can't fly."

You're behind the times. Bumblebee aerodynamics have been studied and the flight mechanism is now well known. Here's a summary of some research from 2001:

http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/3410

notajayhawk 4 years, 11 months ago

gccs14r (Anonymous) says…

"You're behind the times. Bumblebee aerodynamics have been studied and the flight mechanism is now well known. Here's a summary of some research from 2001:"

That explains only the body vectors. I believe it is still impossible to accurately model the fluid mechanics of the wings.

Obviously, bumblebees fly. Science is still at a loss to fully explain how. Which isn't to say they won't, eventually, be able to explain it and model it. Just as, someday, they might be able to explain how climate shifts much bigger than what we're experiencing today happened way back when the only way fossil fuels got burned is if they got struck by lightning while they were out grazing.

Chris Golledge 4 years, 11 months ago

Did_I_say_that, OK, you have claimed that all of global warming is a hoax, or at least the primary evidence (unspecified) is a hoax. Yet, you have not refuted even one research article, much less shown that it is an intentional misrepresentation of the information available.

What you have indicated (uncorroborated) is that Al Gore is capable of saying millions when he means thousands. Ah, OK, Al Gore, who is not a scientist, misspeaks, and you conclude that all of the decades of real research done by thousands of PhDs all around the world is all part of some elaborate hoax. Can you fill in the middle part?

"Hide the decline" - from your link Are you referring to the same decline that was discussed in the actual article? Because, pointing it out to the reader doesn't seem like a good way to actually hide anything.

Urban heat island effect. It is known and accounted for; but there are those who like to pretend that it is not. How many of the approximately 18,000 thermometers used to collect the data around the world, land and sea, and satellites do you think are placed poorly and how many do you estimate it would take to have a significant effect on observation of the global trend?

Pick a link: http://www.realclimate.org/wiki/index.php?title=Myth:_Warming_is_due_to_the_Urban_Heat_Island_effect

I like this one: http://www.skepticalscience.com/Does-Urban-Heat-Island-effect-add-to-the-global-warming-trend.html

Next.

notajayhawk says: "Just as, someday, they might be able to explain how climate shifts much bigger than what we're experiencing today happened way back..."

They already can. There exist these things called milankovitch cycles, continental drift (and subduction of carbon bearing rock), super eruptions, impact events, etc. that knock the planet out of a climate state from time to time. When you are looking at events that happened hundreds of millions of years ago, it is seldom easy to get a clear indication of which it was. None of the aforementioned things has changed much in recent decades.

SnakeFist 4 years, 11 months ago

notajayhawk,

So thousands of scientists and hundreds of organizations around the world, including governmental organizations, are all involved in this hoax? To what end? A vast left-wing conspiracy? And only you and Rush Limbaugh know the truth? Do you have any idea how ridiculous YOU sound?

BrianR 4 years, 11 months ago

Conservatism is the destroyer of most empires.

gccs14r 4 years, 11 months ago

"Obviously, bumblebees fly. Science is still at a loss to fully explain how. Which isn't to say they won't, eventually, be able to explain it and model it."

Again, you're behind the times. Here's something from 2002:

http://www.rvc.ac.uk/SML/People/documents/UshInsect2.pdf

And from 2004:

http://jeb.biologists.org/cgi/content/abstract/208/3/447

fnord 4 years, 11 months ago

Anyone who writes a letter to the editor is constrained by the 250 word limit. So when I wrote my last letter about human impact on climate & environment I tried to cram too much stuff into a too small space.

I didn't mean to suggest that the ONLY reason the ancient Roman & Mayan empires/kingdoms/civilizations fell into ruin was over-population, or any other single reason. Natural disasters, civil war, plague & a host of other things came together to cause their demise.

However, that still leaves us with the main topic: Human impact on environment & climate. The bit I wrote about China & desertification? Look it up. It's not some kind of tree-hugging conspiracy. I believe the Chinese government shoots tree-huggers. Sorry. Not funny.

Simply put, our species has had & continues to have a SIGNIFICANT & EXCEEDINGLY DETRIMENTAL effect on the world around us. The Dust Bowl is a GREAT example. You had a period of extended drought [natural cycle], combined with decades of poor land management & terrible farming techniques [Human impact.] Extensive deep plowing killed off the natural prairie grasses. Without the native grasses deep root systems, which helped hold in moisture, the soil dried up & blew away.

Huge dust storms blacked out the sky & changed weather patterns for years. WE DO effect & affect the world & environment & climate around us...every day.

Steve Craven. Oh...& I have no reason to hide behind an ' anonymous' when I write something...& am more than happy to admit a mistake when I make one.

kansaskev61 4 years, 11 months ago

Here's to Al Gore all those global warming believers as I shovel out of this 4-6 inch snowfall again during one of the coldest winters on record........

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