Sunday, 7 February 2010

The Future is Another Country

So much mud is being thrown that the slightest speck sticking to a labcoat seems enough to persuade Joe Public that the bigger scientific picture is irrelevant and that it must, therefore, all boil down to moustache twirling evil-doers Mwa-haar-haaring under ill-gotten showers of public gold. We do love a soundbite. So I guess it must be OK if the glaciers start to disappear in 50 years, not 20, and the African harvests collapse in 40 years, not 20, and if a quarter of Holland is lost to the sea, not a half. That'll be fine. Nothing to worry about. Party on dudes.

Lest we forget - it was the IPCC and the UEA themselves that brought their own errors to the attention of their peers.


Anonymous said...

Reductio ad absurdum is such an old trick, it kinda show naivety in the person using it.

But there is still another point you don't get - until a couple of months ago any doubt of any sort about the IPCC was quickly dismissed as "denialism"- now it is clear to all that the whole IPCC process was not geared up for science, rather to provide policymakers with something of whatever scientific value and quality.

Don't you know then...qui fama ferit fama perit


Reductio ad absurdum is such an old trick, it kinda show naivety in the person using it.

It kinda shows that the medium being used is a cartoon.

It is by no means 'clear, as you say. What is apparent is that mistakes have been made in some of the collating of some of the evidence. But the great mass of evidence is still there- peer reviewed and properly checked. A few cherry picked gaffs do not undermine that, despite the feeding frenzy.

But feeding frenzy it is. You must be very happy

Adam Corner said...

Like this alot. Living for at least forever an entirely reasonable goal for a monday morning methinks

Anonymous said...

You must have missed the latest developments. Just last Friday Bob Ward has re-stated at the Royal Institution in London that the IPCC is there to provide advice to policymakers. In this respect, the presence of incorrect/exaggerated statements must be expected, since policymakers need advice also where science cannot (yet) provide advice. So the IPCC report has to be made of a great bulk of scientific literature review to which all missing-but-needed (non-scientific) bits get added.

Rather than being "a few cherry picked gaffs", the mistakes that are now being exposed are therefore exactly the best evidence to make the ultimate goal of the IPCC process remarkably clear.

As for discussing if those mistakes undermine the "great mass of evidence", there you go with another reductio ad absurdum, this time in text...

ps I trust there is no need for me to translate from Latin.


I don't see the reductio ad absurdum there, I'm afraid. It seems very clear from the fallout that, despite protestations to the contrary, the attack on the reputation of the IPCC is being widely used precisely as an excuse to attack the science itself. The IPCCs advice will include worst case scenarios suggested by the evidence at it's disposal, which is a perfectly reasonable response to its brief as an intergovernmental body. It constantly updates and modifies its advice in response to changing data and any mistakes it finds. Of course that doesn't make it perfect - but throwing the baby out with the bath-water seems like an unhelpful solution designed to produce inaction. Which, of course, it is.

ps- Latin? As a general rule (obviousness aside) - of course you should translate. Or are you trying to keep out the riff-raff?

Anonymous said...

Qui fama ferit fama perit = He who lives by reputation, dies by reputation

The IPCC reports have never been presented as "advice including worst case scenarios", rather as "the most authoritative source of information about global warming". It's only in the past couple of months that the world has discovered that there is no IPCC process for dealing with mistakes (you might not know this, but only the WG-1 report has ever had a list of corrigenda), Pachauri would rather talk of "voodoo science" than seriously analyze any error or mistakes, and a group of prominent climatologists thought noting of (a) avoiding FOI requests for data even before any request had been submitted and (b) shut off of publication perfectly legitimate scientific articles questioning their "consensus".

You talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I blame the large group of people that decided to label the rest of the Universe as "deniers" whenever questioning any aspect of the IPCC science.


The rest of the Universe?

Some absurdums need no reductio

Anonymous said...

I never said we should abolish figures of speech 8-)

To go back to the point, I for example have declared from the very beginning in my blog that (a) GHG will warm the Earth (b) not sure by how much (c) perhaps a warmer world will be better in some respect (d) rather than reducing emissions, adaptation seems to me far more cost-effective. And still...I have been constantly labeled a "denier" by the IPCCistas.

I do not know if you ever dreamed of questioning the "consensus" in any (and I mean any) respect. If you have, welcome to the "deniers" club...