Flashcards in // lecture 32 Deck (22):
2007 poll from Yale University on detection of global
- 71% of Americans believe global warming is happening.
- But only 48% believe there is consensus among the scientific community about whether Earth is warming.
- And 40% believe there is a lot of disagreement among
scientists about whether global warming is occurring. There is essentially no disagreement among scientists about whether global warming is occurring (even among hard-core skeptics like Lindzen, Christie, etc).
When asked “Do you think human activity is a
significant factor in changing global mean temperature?”
The best informed are most likely to say yes.
Why is the public misinformed?
- Lots of disinformation out there.
- “The Great Global Warming Swindle”: Channel 4 in
UK documentary from 2007.
The Great Global Warming Swindle
- Got lots of complaints and was investigated by Ofcom, the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries.
- The TV channel was found in “Breach”, but nothing happened. Most things were passed off as acceptable under free speech kinds of arguments. Basically they said viewers should have known that the producers and performers had a particular point of view. Therefore no harm was done to individuals.
- It ruled that the program said untrue things about individuals (David King and IPCC), and this was outside the rules because those individuals were not given the opportunity to respond.
- Basically, media producers can put almost anything they want on the air. The only real court is the court of public opinion and whether you watch it or not.
What were the findings for which Ofcom asked Channel 4 response?
- the experience of contributors was exaggerated and/or inaccurate so that viewers were misled;
- contributors had conflicts of interest which were not
- there was no series of programmes to which this one
was linked so as to provide balance;
- the programme maker, Martin Durkin, had an
inappropriate personal interest in the documentary which was not properly disclosed.
“The Great Global Warming Swindle” claims that global temperature dropped between 1940-75, just when CO2 was increasing fastest
the temperature data shown in this movie are not consistent with any published data. Completely made up! Not to mention CO2 is increasing a lot faster now.
The rules of science:
In any study, you are required to:
- Describe your methods exactly. Good enough so that anyone else can repeat your work.
- Mention all assumptions you made & why.
- Provide data to others, unless corporate data.
This assures no BSing… A properly described scientific study can be repeated by someone else to see if they find the same result. In general, novel results are not accepted until someone has independently confirmed the results. Further, most data/models are publicly available so it’s not that hard to check methods/procedures yourself. Exceptions are a few proprietary datasets that are used to make money as well.
don’t claim your study says more than it actually does
informal rule. Often it takes many many studies with some independent methods and data to make an important conclusion with confidence.
Any scientific paper is “peer
- Other scientists read it to make
sure it follows good scientific practices, that the arguments make sense, etc.
- Authors get a chance to respond to
reviewers, add information, modify their conclusions, etc.
- If the reviewers aren’t convinced,
the editor can reject the paper.
- peer review is pretty tough, especially if the paper is important.
Global Warming Science Conspiracy
Idea is that for their own purposes scientists have invented and sustain global warming theory to get money or attention. Not plausible because:
- Individual Fame and Glory: An individual scientist could become famous and feted by proving that human-induced climate change is unlikely. Many have tried and failed to do this, and some continue, encouraged by funding of industry and interest groups to do so.
- Group competition: Scientists in different fields compete for funds, and have similar skill sets. So if the global warming science was dubious, someone from space physics, nuclear physics, health science, you name it, would be motivated to debunk the science. Example: Solar Scientists.
- Action on global warming would shift emphasis away from fossil fuel
industries (especially coal), or cost fossil fuel industries more to operate (carbon sequestration).
- Automobile and petroleum industries also forced to adapt.
- New industries would be favored, e.g. wind and solar energy. Wind and solar possibly distributed on small scale. Coal and oil have limited sources and supply lines can be controlled.
- Rights of Individual versus the Common Good
- Conservative versus Liberal
- Capital versus labor
- Rich versus not Rich, etc. etc
The Gini index is a ratio of the areas in the following plot. Gini = A/(A+B) Equality G=0, Inequality=1.0
USA, China and Russia about the same in low 40’s. European nations generally lower, in 20s or low 30s, like Canada.
For important societal issues (energy, stem cells, wetlands, etc), there are often assessments of the state of the science
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the organization that does this for climate change.
IPCC summarizes the current climate research every 5-7 years
- Kind of like peer review of the whole state of the science.
- Tends to be quite conservative in terms of scientific claims.
- IPCC has been under scrutiny for some mistakes in the report: Himalayas will melt by 2035 instead of 2350, etc.
Type A (think tank)
Builds knowledge, formulates policy scenarios and evaluates their implications based on scientific knowledge – Try to be balanced and logical (in eye of beholder, though. All probably say they are fair and balanced, and that opposition is not).
Type A examples
- National Academy of Sciences
- Some Foundations fund information gathering and dissemination (Pew Foundation Center for Climate and Energy Solutions)
Type B (think tank)
Exist to help entities achieve a desired social, financial or political outcome, based on a perceived threat or opportunity.
Type B Think Tanks may use
disinformation and/or scare tactics to achieve their ends:
- Both liberal and conservative examples of this!
- Financing is often provided by the entities they serve
- Examples in climate arena: Global Climate Coalition (funded by oil, auto & coal companies), Competitive Enterprise Institute (supported by oil & coal), and Cato Institute, George C. Marshall Institute, etc.
Global Climate Coalition (GCC)
Started in 1989 by US Association of Manufacturers.
- Paid for by GM, Ford, BP, Shell & Exxon.
- Financed commercials against Kyoto protocol.
- Departure of BP (1997), Shell and Ford (1999) Deactivated in 2001 after President G. W. Bush rejected Kyoto.
- Exxon shifts its support to CEI.