• save boissiere house
  • Top Posts

  • The World is Talking, Are You Listening?
  • a

  • Festival of the Trees
  • Scoutle

    Connect with me at Scoutle.com

Climate Debate Daily

Climate Debate Daily is a website which claims to offer “a new way to understand disputes about global warming”:

Climate Debate Daily is intended to deepen our understanding of disputes over climate change and the human contribution to it. The site links to scientific articles, news stories, economic studies, polemics, historical articles, PR releases, editorials, feature commentaries, and blog entries. The main column on the left includes arguments and evidence generally in support of the IPCC position on the reality of signficant [sic] anthropogenic global warming. The right-hand column includes material skeptical of the IPCC position and the notion that anthropogenic global warming represents a genuine threat to humanity.

On the surface of it, it sounds promising. Present all the evidence to people and let them make up their own minds. Isn’t that what informed democracy is all about? Sadly, no. Science isn’t a democracy. Good science is separated from bad based on the weight of evidence. In order to evaluate the evidence, you need to understand the field as a whole. Context is everything – and if you don’t understand the context, it’s almost impossible to gauge the significance of any one paper.

The site is run by two philosophers – Douglas Campbell a doctoral student in philosophy at the University of Arizona (who is impressed by the breadth and depth of the scientific evidence supporting the theory of anthropogenic global warming) and Denis Dutton, an associate professo at the University of Canterbury (who is skeptical about the degree to which human activity has contributed to the general warming trend). Therein lies the first problem – philosophers have a bad habit of weighing arguments instead of weighing evidence. I’ve seen that approach among philosophers and historians of science in the evolution-creation debate – some of them seem almost naive in their willingness to suspend judgment.

Looking a little deeper at the site, more red flags pop up. It pits a graduate student against an associate professor. Hardly a battle of equals. It is funded by Peter Farrell, who is skeptical of the threat of anthropogenic global warming. That shifts the balance of power even more.

Farrell is quoted as saying “Let the best argument win”. Sadly, that is the problem that’s at the heart of the issue. Science isn’t a battle of rhetoric – it’s a battle of evidence. And whatever its public policy implications, climate change is a scientific issue.

A quick search on Google turns up quite a few links to this site. Most simply document its existence, or broadly fall for its spin. A few sites call it for what it is – a website playing the Fox News game of deception “we report, you decide”. And then there’s a wealth of libertarian/Objectivist sites which, unsurprisingly, are almost giddy over the site. Perhaps that the most telling bit – the people who are praising the site are all “skeptics”. No one pro-science seems to have anything positive to say about the site. Only the “skeptics”. Curious, isn’t it?

David Appell of Quark Soup says

I’m not very impressed by the new Climate Debate Daily site that purports to offer both consensus and dissenting views on global warming. The former consists of reports on peer-reviewed papers in the scientific literature, and the latter seems to consist of items like an experiment by some kid and his dad (who admits he has the attention span of an 8-year old).

(The dad, that is. Not the kid.)

Brian Thomas of Carbon-Based describes the site as “giv[ing] a megaphone to denial

A more accurate tag would be “the same old ways of garbling disputes about global warming.”…The site’s layout creates the appearance of evenhandedness…Thus the casual viewer of Climate Debate Daily will have little chance to learn that the scientific debate has long moved on. At this point, making a fetish of balance just favors the rear guard.

Others have a more positive take on the site. Peter Cresswell of Not PC says

Now he’s collaborating in a new project that seems just as likely to be on every thinking web user’s list of essential reading: Climate Debate Daily, a regular summation of the latest news and writing from both the sceptical and warmist sides of the global warming debate.

(Of course, it doesn’t help his credibility much to have links to the denialist tripe The Great Global Warming Swindle on his sidebar, and on to the Exploit the Earth or Die campaign (sponsored by the Ayn Randist Objective Standard), which touts itself as the battle for civilization and against “environmentalism”.

Will Wilkinson of The Fly Bottle also sees the site in a positive light. Of course, his comment is telling

Campbell looks to be a bit more convinced of AGW and thinks action is warranted. But he wants to hash it out. Good man.

Interesting. The pro-science person is praised for being “willing to hash it out”. The same isn’t expected of the denialists. Of course, Wilkinson is also a Policy Analyst at the Cato Institute. Of well. Can’t let the facts get in the way of ideology, can we?

Matthew Dallman at Polysemy seems to be seeking redemption in the site

If it accomplishes but one thing — showing that when people (like myself) who are skeptical of man’s involvement in the planet’s climate are derided as “deniers”, this is a cheap, even fascistic tool of rhetoric that insults basic civility and intelligence — I will be satisfied. Even people I deeply respect sometimes are prone to using the term “denier”. It is amazing. It is an effective tool of rhetoric because it has unmistakable echoes of “Holocaust denier” and thus labels people with a larger brush than their skeptical arguments even attempted to canvas.

Well, duh. Climate change denialists use the same set of tactics at Holocaust denialists. If you don’t want to be associated with those types, stop using their techniques.

Another “skeptic”, Cheryl Cline of der Blaustrumpf has an interesting take on the whole issue

I am very pleased to see a website devoted to give-and-take on the issue. My own position is that of a skeptic, but I’m also in the “So what?” camp. As in: so what if global warming were caused by human activity? Because if there is global warming, and if it is caused by human activity, and if the only solution is to de-industrialize the Western nations and prevent the undeveloped nations from industrializing, the cure is worse than the disease.

(“Interesting” being a euphemism for shockingly devoid of compassion for humanity…though I suppose that’s a common characteristic of “libertarians”.)

The Texas Scribbler says something quite amusing

It’s the very thing the poltroonish MSM should be giving us, but, having pretty much come down on the threat side, can’t be trusted to do it consistently.

Actually, it’s exactly the thing that the mainstream media has been giving us – presenting “both sides” as if they were equally valid, without bothering to do their job of trying to figure out whether there’s any difference in the validity of one side or the other.

Advertisements

13 Responses

  1. Out of curiosity, what evidence would convince you of the absence of AGW? Over what span of time long would you require the projections of the IPCC to be falsified (wrong for 5 years? For 10? For 20?) in order to consider them useless? That is, what evidence would make you change your mind? Maybe you have answered this question elsewhere, in which case, I’d appreciate a pointer to it.

  2. The mainstream conclusions are based on multiple independent lines of evidence. The underlying science is pretty solid. Disproving it would require a lot of evidence that points in another direction.

    Predictions are a different matter. The projections in the IPCC report cover a number of different scenarios. Since it was produced, some of the assumptions in those models have been questioned – there is evidence that suggests that they are too conservative. I hope that isn’t the case, I hope that the “skeptics” are right and that the problem will sort itself out. But I’ve tried magic thinking often enough – but even crossing all of my fingers hasn’t worked – I still haven’t won the lottery.

  3. […] https://ianramjohn.wordpress.com/2008/03/20/climate-debate-daily/The main column on the left includes arguments and evidence generally in support of the IPCC position on the reality of signficant [sic] anthropogenic global warming. The right-hand column includes material skeptical of the IPCC … […]

  4. “Good science is separated from bad based on the weight of evidence. ”

    Who “weighs” the evidence, and according to what standard. I confess an inclination to the disdained discipline of philosophy, which I studied in graduate school, over twenty years ago.

    For what it’s worth, there is a field of “philosophy of science” (which it would probably help for you to check out. But, the immediate point is that in science or any field, arguments are presented in a at least an ostensibly logical framework. Philosophers make a diversion of such analysis and they do not judge an argument by its rhetorical ot aesthetic appeal. They judge the logic.

    In doing so, the judge the justification of non-derivative
    premiises and the inductive or deductive process by which other assertions are derived from them. With that understood, what you are saying is fairly nonsensical. Science that is presented other than logically is nonsense, and philosophy that judges arguments for a beauty other than logical is not philosophy.

    “Science” deduces nothing and concludes nothing. “Science” may present its own jargon, but it does not present its own logic or syntax. Science makes empirical observations. Science is a pile of empirical observations that without the application of logic say nothing.

    One of the central assertions of anthropogenic global warming (APG) is inconsistent with scientific reasoning. Science looks at empirically observed causes and effects. APG proponents observe a correlation between CO2 levels and temperature levels in the historical records, and there IS one. However, it is far from cleat that A CAUSES B. In fact, it is as or more likely that A follows B. And even THAT correlative relationship does not demonstrate causality: both phenomena could be a result of a third phenomena or they could be incidental. In fact, warming cycles appear more directly related and responsive to solar activity than to CO2 levels, anthropogenically generated or otherwise, which swings are more substantial.

  5. >(“Interesting” being a euphemism for shockingly devoid of compassion for humanity — though I suppose that’s a common characteristic of “libertarians”.)

    I can’t speak for libertarians, but I do know about laissez-faire capitalism, and one can’t truthfully play the compassion card if one’s policies fall in opposition to the premise that we should be left free to voluntarily interact with each other. There’s nothing whatsoever compassionate about a society where I am forced against my will to do society’s bidding with my mind and my money. Only free people can be compassionate, otherwise they are mere pawns or slaves in society’s plan.

    (“Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal” by Ayn Rand.)

    In my opinion the Climate Debate Daily site is problematic for one obvious reason: it needs to present pros and cons point by point, not simply a laundry list of pro vs. con. The only way for a logical person to make sense of such a debate is if the points are arranged so that apples can be compared to apples. For example, evidence pointing to a gradual warming trend from 1900-2000 on one side, evidence against on the other. Anyone can take isolated bits of information out of context and make a case for something. The real test is who can answer all issues point by point and win.

    And use of the term “denialist” for anyone who has not joined the headlong rush to action on AGW is equivocal. It suggests that self-blindness is the cause when there may be many others. This is not exactly as simple as asking “is the sky blue?” Making an intelligent decision requires integrating an enormous amount of information, and I mean more than simply accepting the IPCC’s opinion.

    But more important is the political side, because almost to a man, the politics of those who accept AGW are stridently anti-capitalist, and the political solutions they propose are totally unacceptable to anyone who holds individual rights to be important. The reason is not practical; we routinely protect property rights on minor matters already; the reason is moral. Most advocates of AGW do not sufficiently value freedom and our moral right to exist free from coercion. If there is denial on the part of capitalists, it is denial that authoritarian government policies are acceptable.

    • Would we be called a denialist if we deny recent scientic findings pointing to the evidence that the role of the sun’s activities in cloud formation and influence on global temperature? Should it not be possible to object or disagree with a certain view without being emotively described as a denier? In a debate that should mainly be based upon scientific findings I think it is unreasonable for the two sides to become polemicist and emotional. The issues are too significant for it to turn into a kind of political bun fight.

  6. Larry:

    Philosophers make a diversion of such analysis and they do not judge an argument by its rhetorical ot aesthetic appeal. They judge the logic.

    My point exactly. They judge on logic. Logic is only as good as the underlying premises. When one side (the “skeptics”) are misrepresenting the data, “logic” is worthless. And, as you illustrate so well, many philosophers forget that facts matter.

    “Science” deduces nothing and concludes nothing. “Science” may present its own jargon, but it does not present its own logic or syntax. Science makes empirical observations. Science is a pile of empirical observations that without the application of logic say nothing.

    And great hilarity ensued. That’s for the laugh.

    One of the central assertions of anthropogenic global warming (APG) is inconsistent with scientific reasoning. Science looks at empirically observed causes and effects. APG proponents observe a correlation between CO2 levels and temperature levels in the historical records, and there IS one. However, it is far from cleat[sic that A CAUSES B.

    And fifteen years ago, that’s about where we were. Of course, the science has moved on a lot. Maybe you should educate yourself on the topic

    In fact, it is as or more likely that A follows B. And even THAT correlative relationship does not demonstrate causality: both phenomena could be a result of a third phenomena or they could be incidental. In fact, warming cycles appear more directly related and responsive to solar activity than to CO2 levels, anthropogenically generated or otherwise, which swings are more substantial.

    And here, you make the transition from skeptic to denialist. Instead of the usual “you can’t prove it!” you’ve moved into fantasy land, where up is down. Yes, of course – on one hand, you have the explanation which is supported by the data and reproducible through modelling exercises. On the other hand, you have the explanation which is not supported by the evidence and proclaim that it is “more directly related”.

    But then, your great logic outweighs pesky little facts, huh.

  7. Jeff:

    [O]ne can’t truthfully play the compassion card if one’s policies fall in opposition to the premise that we should be left free to voluntarily interact with each other. There’s nothing whatsoever compassionate about a society where I am forced against my will to do society’s bidding with my mind and my money

    Quite frankly, I find that attitude unacceptable beyond the age of five. Little children don’t care who gets hurt once they have their toys. Adults learn that there’s more to life than satisfying personal greed. Property only exists because people follow “society’s bidding”…there’s no such thing as intrinsic property. “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” only exists because people do society’s bidding with their “mind and money”. Money, of course, is even more of a social fiction than property. That nonsense collapses under its own weight of illogic.

    And use of the term “denialist” for anyone who has not joined the headlong rush to action on AGW is equivocal. It suggests that self-blindness is the cause when there may be many others. This is not exactly as simple as asking “is the sky blue?” Making an intelligent decision requires integrating an enormous amount of information, and I mean more than simply accepting the IPCC’s opinion.

    “Denialist” is appropriate. There was a time when skepticism was appropriate, even healthy. And there’s still lots of room to quibble around the margins of the problem. But that isn’t what the denialists are doing. They are misrepresenting the data that’s out there – like “Larry”, above, who claims that the least likely explanations are more probable. And, of course, no one is asking anyone to “simply accepting the IPCC’s opinion”. The “IPCC’s opinion” is, of course, a denialist term, since it tries to turn a wealth of peer reviewed science in an “opinion”.

    But more important is the political side, because almost to a man, the politics of those who accept AGW are stridently anti-capitalist, and the political solutions they propose are totally unacceptable to anyone who holds individual rights to be important.

    Wow – what amazing rubbish. Seeing communists under every bed still, are we? I’d say the right to life outweighs the right of big corporations to government give-aways. I mean, reliable, affordable public transportation tramples on individual rights so much more than trillion-dollar wars.

    The reason is not practical; we routinely protect property rights on minor matters already; the reason is moral. Most advocates of AGW do not sufficiently value freedom and our moral right to exist free from coercion. If there is denial on the part of capitalists, it is denial that authoritarian government policies are acceptable.

    Of course, it’s nonsense to conflate an economic system based on greed with “morality” and “freedom”. capitalism is an economic system – it isn’t moral, and there’s nothing about it that makes a person free from coercion. Jamaica is far more capitalistic than the US – and it’s the gangsters with guns who coerce you.

    Freedom isn’t about self delusion. Neither is capitalism. Quite frankly, I would associate wishing the evidence away with totalitarian societies, not free societies. What you are preaching is more akin to the old Soviet system, where the “old order” must be protected at any cost. Make things more efficient? Invests in systems that save money (and energy)? Capitalists see the value in “going green”, in doing things to try to cope with global warming (and declining fuel supplies). Ideologues, on the other hand, prefer to pay subsidies to inefficient, outdate models.

    You know, I always thought that claiming black is white and up is down was the prerogrative of the authoritarians. But here you are claiming that slavery is freedom. What’s next – is vernalisation going to save agriculture?

    You people are even more amusing than creationists.

  8. […] Posted on March 21, 2008 by Ian Who’d have thought that climate change denialists were even more amusing than creationists?  My post on Climate Debate Daily really brought out some strange ones.  While I wasn’t […]

  9. Smart work on global warming issue……….. I really appreciate your efforts…. amazing………………… and I will try to read you blog frequently………

  10. The Oceans are cooling? Antarctica is cooling? The upper atmosphere is cooling?

    There must be an answer for all this cooling, Global Warming! Of course! Only a retard would fail to recognize that cooling is warming and that global warming manifests itself locally.

  11. Gorak – While the willfully ignorant climate denialists who make those arguments deserve our scorn, I don’t appreciate your use of the term ‘retard’ as a slur.

  12. A comment from Brian Thomas of Carbon-Based:

    First of all, thanks for the thoughtful mention of my comments — much appreciated.

    Your summary and your thread is extremely useful, too — you’ve pulled together a lot of material. Many thanks.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: