Okay, let’s jump into some data here.

Now from the outset, I want to say there are some really good sources for information on this subject, which I encourage anyone interested in the topic to avail themselves of, and that I will fold into the path here as we go. Just be careful not to get caught up in the mudslinging and ad hominem attacks.

But what I want to speak about first is probably the most obvious flaw in the proposal about human-caused climate change, at least the way it is being presented to the public.

Stop me if I’m wrong here, but if you take the average person on the street and ask them what the global warming argument is, they’ll say: ‘humans release co2 from burning fossil fuels and the extra co2 traps heat and that makes the earth warmer’.

And that’s probably being generous to the average person, but in any case, this is being pitched as a straightforward cause and effect: humans do (A) and then (B) occurs. This is the way it’s presented not only as historical fact, but as contemporary fact.

Except, historically speaking, it’s not true. At all. In fact, it’s exactly the reverse. Based on the historical data, the temperature goes up first, and then, sometimes hundreds of years later, the co2 follows.

There is actually no particular debate about on this, on either side of the fence. Even the graphs that Al Gore trots out in his movie show this, if you look hard enough. Although he neglects to mention this, to be charitable, or outright hides it, to be not so charitable.

It is, to the best of anyone’s knowledge, a plain historical fact that this simplistic cause and effect relationship does not exist. The climate system is simply too complex to parse things in simple linear cause and effect terms.

Now there are, to be fair, many possible explanations for why this might be, that still allow for humans affecting global warming with co2 emissions but all of them open up a realm of technical complexity that the average person has little hope of grasping. So it is not talked about, in the wider public debate. The amount of systems theory, chemistry and physics you need to grasp this situation the way it’s really being discussed is an insurmountable barrier for the media.

To me, personally, this starts to look like a bit of scrambling, on the part of anthropocentric global warming advocates, and no matter how hard anyone tries, that’s exactly what every attempt to ‘set the record straight’ degenerates into. They’ll happily let you keep believing the simple version of this science, even though it’s completely backwards, and when you question it, the whole thing spirals down into realms of technical ambiguity that no one is able to untangle satisfactorily. One argument depends on another depends on another. It’s turtles all the way down.

So it really is a kind of open secret, along with probably dozens of similar facts. Because you can’t make it go away, and as soon as you open that door, your simple public opinion slogan is exposed as some expedient obfuscation. An inconvenient truth, indeed.

Anyone with an ounce of interest can find this out, but from that point on it’s fingers in the dike time for the campaign of climate hysteria, and it starts to turn into something like a factual debate, not a reign of terror, and certainly not ‘solved science’. So the mouthpieces who would like to mobilize public opinion on this basis say nothing, because you can’t get public hysteria on the basis of a nuanced scientific assessment. I’d like to think I’m fairly smart, and I’ve put more than a little time into trying to sort this out. If I cannot resolve this to my satisfaction, then there’s essentially no chance that the public debate will ever be resolved on the basis of the science that exists right now.

So the solution, apparently, is not to resolve it on the science at all. Or perhaps as little as possible. But rather on scare tactics, ad hominem attacks, mob psychology and propaganda.

This is exactly the sort of cynical political demagoguery that I’d like to see shit canned. Al Gore’s movie is the best example, but not the only one. He has an hour and half to explain the facts and make his case. A real case, hopefully. You can probably assume that people who pay money to sit for a lecture want to know. But no, that’s not what he does. If he’s confident in his conclusions, then he should be confident that if he shows you the whole picture, you’ll probably come down on his side of the debate. But he doesn’t do that. It’s not education, it’s theater.

So let us put to rest the notion that he or anyone else who’s selling you this hellworld scenario, is simply a benevolent, objective, concerned citizen. He knows the argument has holes and he’s hiding them exactly the way any expert politician should do. It’s a bill of goods, and you’re being asked to accept it at face value. In fact, they’re counting on most of you to do exactly that, and walk out of the theater, or get up from the television, and be scared out of your wits.

But you’re being manipulated. Nothing is settled. Nothing is solved. Nothing is clear and unambiguous. Anyone who says differently is fucking lying to you. And chances are, the person who tells you this stuff knows that they are lying to you. They just hope you won’t call them on it. If they can stampede you into some sweeping social and economic policy agenda, that’s sufficient for their purposes. Whether you actually understand it or not is surplus to requirements. And if there’s a good chance that you might jump ship, (which there is) then it’s really in their interest to keep you in the dark.


13 thoughts on “Some Convenient Bullshit: Holes in the Dike

  1. You may be right. Al Gore might be full of shit when it comes to human caused global warming, but I swear to you: Man bear Pig is real! I’m serrial!

    Seriously, though I think you hit the nail on the head about the demagoguery. This is big propaganda campaign. I was fliipping aroud t.v. a few months ago and caught some of Al Gore speaking before congress, on C-span, and he had everyones attention. They were like church mice. He really has nailed this one, he totally frames the debate, and basically disagreeing is almost like uttering a racial slur or saying you are a creationist or somthing.

  2. yeah, great.

    world#12, here we come. get ready to be tarred and feathered as an enviromental thought-criminal.

    all this horeshit about carbon takes makes me want to spew. go ahead and fucking tax people for productive economic activity. assholes. try a 1% tax on currency speculation and the derivatives market, instead. we could fund a single payer public health care system for the united states and an apollo program for energy. But, no. Al gore and his buddy prince charles whose fucking houseplants talk to him wouldn’t hear of it.

    carbon taxes. fucktards.

  3. Readers who are moved by zac’s rant, should check out the links he is good enough to provide, especially: http://illconsidered.blogspot.com/2006/02/co2-lags-not-leads.html.
    This time it is Zac who is not presenting clearly.

    The agreed upon matter that Zac refers to is that in other – historical – warming periods, CO2 has not been the first source of warming. That is hardly an argument that CO2 doesnt function as a greenhouse gas, contributing to the warmth of warm cycles, or that CO2 couldnt initiate warming if, as in the current situation, enough CO2 got into the atmosphere ahead of the factors (such as albedo effect, etc) that it normally follows.
    Just because systems are a little more complicated than a simple linear relationship doesn’t mean that scientists don’t know what they are talking about. I dont know any one interested in the climate who is trying to hide the fact that climate is systemic. This fact is not feared as a dirty secret which will cause scientific understanding to unravel.

    Im not too worried about the quality of “the public debate,” because that “debate” isnt good for much these days. I agree that its all propaganda. And we’re not going to change that because any debate that is actually public (like this one) has no effect on what the powerful are going to do. So it is true that anthropogenic climate change is being sold to the public. It is being sold because selling (and keeping the populace basically ignorant) is all that the propaganda machine knows how to do. If it did any thing else, power relations would have to change. But just because anthropogenic climate change is being sold doesnt mean that it is not also solid science.

    If I had to guess why Zac is getting this one so wrong, I would say it is because in his heart he believes in progress and he doesnt want to admit that so much of what he considers progress will turn out to be a massive fuck up.

  4. thank you for your attempts to read my mind, but I never said that co2 didn’t function as a green house gas. nor did I imply that it wasn’t, or that it couldn’t contribute to warming.

    what I was saying, and all I was saying, was exactly what you just confirmed: that climate is not linear cause and effect, as is strongly implied to the general public. further, I don’t notice anyone tripping over themselves to talk about how warming periods have historicaly been caused by something other than co2 either, which you also just confirmed. you yourself have also proved my point: that a real understanding of this issue is much more complex than we are led to believe, and that it is being grossly oversimplified for public consumption, to an irresponsible degree. that’s all.

    as I said, the graphs that are used to supposedly prove this linearity do no such thing, and it is rather conspicuous that the people who use these graphs go out of their way to not mention it.

    I would have to be pretty foolish to make a statement that my links contradicted. maybe if you could be more clear about what it is you think I said, rather than trying to presume my motives and trot out your belief that progress is a ‘huge fuck up’, we could clear it up.

    also, your implication as to my attitudes towards progress seem to ignore my long standing interest in peak oil and critique of many aspects of cultural evolution.

  5. well, I never saw CO/CO2/CO3 as *not* a greenhouse gas. That said, it’s worth noting that cattle are the number one contributor to methane in the atmosphere, and that water vapor, something we have little control over unless the HAARP installation actually is a weather control device, is probably the most “greenhouse” of them all. That said, we dump a shitload of carbon.

    But even recongizing that, from the beginning, this has shouted “scam.” The Gore Scouts want to monitor every single carbon emission on the planet, then set up a Crap-and-Trade carbon boondoogle. We already have economic incentives not to pollute: They’re called “fines”. Replacing fines with the crap-and-trade model simple unloads the environmental damage on the public and keeps the money flowing between private hands, whereas arguably with a fine the dumper reimburses the public for sullying the commons.

    My suspicion at this point is that Gore’s intentions are pure. Currently with crap-and-trade “green” services like wind power can start selling their credits before they are even built, which is a way to make industry subsidize green tech. But in order to get all the industrialist support for crap-and-trade, provisions have been made such that heavily polluting entities (e.g., coal power plants) get a high “cap” and then miraculaously come in under it with credits to spare. Meanwhile, you, me, and every small business owner, no matter what sacrifice we make, are left out of the scheme. If you live off food you forage for, do you get carbon credits? no. If you dump coal smoke, can you get carbon credits? yes.

    Consider also that in the 1970s a similar scheme was denounced because americans would “never” pay someone not to pollute. Well, 2007 is here and now Team Gore has lined up around the block to do just that.

    Now, on an international level, who are the biggest polluters? The US, China, India: the globalization success stories. Those economies are veritable dynamos in comparision to Africa and Latin America, places that comply with carbon treaties from a lack of development–these are the globalization failures–and they essentialy still serve to provide commodities for industry in the dumping countries.

    Institute a moratorium on foreign pollution that makes development difficult, start paying established powers to pollute, and con individuals into neutralizing their carbon footprint? Welcome to Planet Zardoz.

  6. Interesting. You [Zac] made a brief foray into this some months back off the back of the Great Global Warming Swindle program they showed here in the UK, and there was some unusually vertebrate opposition within the comments pointing out just how much form Martin Durkin has in terms of being full of televisual bullshit. I’m looking forward to seeing what the response is this time.

    Some excellent points, particularly in the first post, about the isolated knowledge of different scientific disciplines and the essentially unknowable nature of modelling a system as complex as the global climate.

    Unfortunately, as I think I may have said before, the main arguments against anthropocentric global warming are pretty similar to those against the smoking-cancer link. Scientific consensus may be flawed but the history of the science of AGW has been 40 years of battling against a powerful cultural inability/unwillingness to hear the facts, and finally succeeding through sheer weight of evidence. If the Powers What Be are finally doing something (far too little, far too late now) now, this can’t be taken as proof that AGW is suddenly untrue, or part of the control structure, any more than the grudging acceptance of the smoking-cancer link means that the science of oncology was a put-up job all along either: rather, it is merely the political simulacrum of relating to reality in order to not push public cognitive dissonance beyond manageable levels.

    As for specifics:

    True, I don’t see anyone tripping over themselves to distinguish the current anthropocentric warming from previous ‘natural’ oscillations, but then there are a lot of different levels of information being provided in the mainstream media, from the ABC version for the scientifically illiterate to the reasonably nuanced 10-page supplement. I don’t see anyone specifically trying to conceal that fact, either, not even Al Gore, who, I could have sworn (I watched AIT a few months ago) made specifically your point in relation to the hockey-stick graph to rebut those critics who point to the climate-carbon lag in earlier historical periods. But maybe I dreamt it.

    I think the harsh truth is that Al Gore is not an evil puppetmaster of scientific ideology but simply represents the best-intentioned perspective of the ‘civilised intellectual’ who responds to any such situation with plans for more of the same bureaucratic, centralised, controlling, hyper-rationalistic programs that got us into the mess in the first place.

    And obviously, real or not, AGW is going to be (ab)used by the PWB as an excuse for more control and suppression whatever we do. But that doesn’t really have anything to do with the science.

    It’s weird that I argue on this side of the fence whenever this issue comes up. I am usually totally a gourmand of the devil’s avocado. But I think this may be one of the rare occasions when swimming against the stream of consensus is just not particularly helpful.

  7. hey ruaiamiaini, that’s an awesome link. I was looking for something punchy that deals with the ice ages and interglacials.

    and cheeba, I do think about what you said: i wonder if arguing this point is even helpfull. I agree that the good that might come out of this needs to happen anyway, and the bad is probably in the cards no matter what, so I wonder if I’m just stirring up shit for the sake of it…

    but ultimately, I have to come down on the side of truth. economic genocide isn’t alright just because it’s probably coming down no matter what. no more than it’s okay to kill somone just because everyone dies sooner or later.

    that, and if we ignore the truth in pursuit of some transitory notion of the good, we take a dangerous turn away from clarity and rationality. in the long term, abandoning ourselves to hysteria and ignorance will cost us far more than rising sea levels ever will. one need look no further than ‘the war on terror’.

  8. Zac,

    I agree, hoping for a economic crash and a big die off in order to save the trees is fucked up. I mean, i think its early enough in the game to have human civilization living in harmony with the earth. That should be the goal anyway.

    But if everything goes wrong and everything becomes a desert…People and animals can live in the desert. Life goes on.

  9. of course i am. when did i say that only co2 affected climate? it’s the catastrophists who would like to overplay the importance of a minor greenhouse gas.

    I’m not sure why this is so hard to understand. you say it’s complex, i say it’s complex. we agree it’s complex. it’s the public perception of it as cut-and-dried simplicity that i have a problem with.

  10. Gore in his political movie misleads us with cause and effect of Temperature and CO2. Gore is and has always been a politician. Since when could politicians accurately convey scientific information.

    the Vostock data is available from http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/paleo/icecore/antarctica/vostok/vostok.html
    get the actual data and take a good hard look at it. CO2 does not AID global warming. Raising temperature clearly CAUSES increased CO2 concentrations. The actual data does not lie.

    Check the JApanese market gardening experiments. 18 and 24 years with multiple greenhouses with various elevated CO2 concentrations to test CO2 on vegatable growth as a fertilizer but never do they find elevated temperatures.

  11. The Vostok Ice Core data shows that temperature leads to more CO2. According to the Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) Theory, CO2 is the predominate cause of global warming.

    So, AGW Theory in conjuction with the Vostok ice core facts gives us the following scenario:-

    higher temperatures lead to more CO2 which in turn leads to higher temperatures which in turn leads to more CO2 which in turn leads to higher temperature and so on… In other words, runaway greenhouse effect.

    But that never happened. So something is wrong. Either the Vostok data is wrong or the AGW theory (as stated above) is wrong.

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