Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Who Needs Facts?

Tom Sears, a "professor of accounting" in upstate New York who has unaccountably been given a column in the Oneonta Daily Star, knows something you don't:

[W]hat you are doing now has in no way a significant impact on global warming. Man is not to blame for global warming.
How does Sears know this? Well, first off, because S. Fred Singer told him so:
A great book to read is "Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1,500 Years" by S. Fred Singer. In it, he points out that the science in Gore's movie is shoddy at best, and then proceeds to back up his claims.
As Joseph Romm notes, one of the many problems with Singer's "every 1,500 years" theory is that as far as we know, there wasn't a comparable global warming trend 1,500 years ago.

Regardless, this is Sears' cue to launch into that classic denialist mantra, everyone's stupid but me:
The global warming advocates and their sophisticated models can't explain the Medieval Warm Period from 900-1300 and then the Little Ice Age from 1500-1800, to say nothing of the countless number of cooling and warming cycles before these two examples.
Right. Because anthropogenic global warming is predicated on, and can only occur in, a world that has never warmed or cooled naturally. If you accept anthropogenic warming, you must reject natural warming, and vice versa.

Just for the record, here's the NOAA's take on the Medieval Warm Period:
In the early days of paleoclimatology, the sparsely distributed paleoenvironmental records were interpreted to indicate that there was a "Medieval Warm Period" where temperatures were warmer than today....The idea of a global or hemispheric "Medieval Warm Period" that was warmer than today however, has turned out to be incorrect.
But again, even if the NOAA were mistaken on this point, it wouldn't follow that the current (and far more rapid) warming trend must be natural.

Next, Sears puts the final nails in AGW's coffin by noting that it's depressing, and that it's a common topic of conversation among people he doesn't like:
Everything has been blamed on global warming -- wildfires, Darfur(!) and dying polar bears. Barbara Boxer said global warming was to blame for a poor 14-year-old boy who died from "an infection caused after swimming in Lake Havasu" (warmer water, you see). Who needs facts?
Sears' argument here is fascinating, in that he accepts that the climate is getting warmer, but is outraged by the idea that a warming climate could lead to more wildfires, or fewer polar bears, or regional instability, or warmer water that hosts a wider range of pathogens. Once you've conceded that the world is warming, it seems as though you'd have to accept these outcomes as at least possible. But apparently, Sears has been immunized against climatological reality by the sole concession he was willing to make to it.

Which makes his parting advice all the more poignant:
So listen, people. Use common sense.
(Illustration from "Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments," Justin Kruger and David Dunning, Cornell University, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol 77, no 6, p 1121-1134 (1999). Via Denialism Blog.)


Thers said...

Oy, Oneonta. Contrary to other evidence, upstate NY is not necessarily a hotbed of progressive thinking. Or, even, uh, thinking.

Noel said...

So the graph implies that the dumber people are, the smarter they think they are. I had no idea the effect was so pronounced. "Everyone's stupid but me" explains a lot more stupidity than global warming denial!

Mark said...

So, if you have to take a test, instead of studying the best thing to do would be just think you aren't going to do well/ didn't do well on it. :) m

coeruleus said...

instead of studying the best thing to do would be just think you aren't going to do well

I'd rather have that cow that Al Gore forced me to keep in my living room take the exam.