Saturday, March 14, 2009

Skeptics....

They tell me that there is a US state which is called "The Show Me" state, and they even put that on their licence plates. I wonder...when did sceptisim go out of fashion?
Of course, as anybody that knows me has noticed, I have a remarkable level of sceptisism in my day to day life. I mean, we all know that the kid at MacDonalds really doesn't care if you "have a nice day", and that perhaps Ford really doesn't HAVE a better idea. And that guy on TV, the spokesman for the auto company who is saying "everybody talks about quality cars". As if "quality" has any meaning....a true sceptic fills in the missing words..."everybody talks about the HIGH quality of their cars (does anybody have a LOW quality car? I thought not.) And the luxury, best in its class. (there are classes?...you mean surfeit of luxury don't you? Or did you mean to say LACK of luxury? Neither "quality" or "luxury" have any existance without qualifiers.)
Make no doubt about it...if they had a greater quality than the other guy, or a a softer, cozier, better luxury than the other guy, they would have said it.

Now we have the great global warming debate. Is it a debate still? Well, anything which the world's government has spent (get this) 50 Billion dollars on had better be a topic for debate. The debate is not, of course whether global warming is happening. Of course it is happening. The money is all being spent on how to stop, alter, or live with it. Good work if you can get it. There is a "green" movement which is attracting a lot of money.

So shortly after our eyes glazed over from the Bob Dole movie and shortly before the economic meltdown, we came up with a way to develop carbon credits. This happened in something called the "Kyoto Accord", a conference which has pretty much been ignored, possibly unfairly. I usually say when people ask me about it that "Tell ya what, you bring out your scientists and I'll bring out MY scientists and see if we can agree on anything.

Turns out we all agree on global warming. What we don't agree about is what is causing it? And we REALLY don't agree how to reverse it.

Dr. David Evans wrote this article in the Australian. He is the scientist I am trotting out in favor of the idea that it is all a big shell game and a money grab by special interest groups.... Dr David Evans was a consultant to the Australian Greenhouse Office from 1999 to 2005. http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24036736-7583,00.html
So, I kind of like Dr. Evans...he would clearly be a great candidate for a "show me state." He states categorically and in writing, and I quote... " There is no evidence to support the idea that carbon emissions cause significant global warming. None. There is plenty of evidence that global warming has occurred, and theory suggests that carbon emissions should raise temperatures (though by how much is hotly disputed) but there are no observations by anyone that implicate carbon emissions as a significant cause of the recent global warming." unquote

I suppose I could, in the interest of balance, bring an article by David Suzuki, but then, Dr. Evans doesn't have a TV show like Dr. Suzuki so maybe it will all balance out.
I am finding that I am applying my "grumpy old man" outlook to more and more things these days.

Anyway, I believe we can all agree on a few things...like perhaps life without smoke in the air would be better, (though the alternative might mean freezing to death) so maybe we may have to agree to a trade off.

I was going to add a paragraph about this latest censorship by the city of Ottawa transit system in which they refused to allow a billboard stating "There is probably no God, so just get on with your life". but I have a hockey game to get to. So TTFN. Stay sceptical....grin!

(I may move this to my "rant blog". But this is not quite as wild a rant as usual...the censorship one will DEFINITELY need to go there though!)

10 comments:

Jennifer said...

I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts about the billboard censorship . . . (How was the game?)

STAG said...

It is a loaded phrase, deliberately designed to inflame passions. You MUST look at what it implies as well as at what it simply says. Those implications can be as hard hitting as a slap in the face, and you KNOW the people who designed and are paying for those ads know it.


There is a saying that your freedom to swing a punch stops the instant it hits my nose.

A hateful comment might be just as hard hitting as a punch. When does a hateful comment become an assault? Hmmmm... Here, we may have to agree to disagree...since we all draw the line in a different place between what is hateful and should not be said out loud in public and what is perfectly okay.

Then there is the central issue
of "private speech" and "public speech". If I own a newspaper, I can refuse to publish any damned thing I want to, and conversely, I can publish any damned thing I want to. A billboard on private land...same thing. A sign on the side of a private school bus....anything the owner feels is right can go there. The concept of free speech and hate literature are incompatible. Similarly, there is a concept of "public good" which demands that you don't publish cigarette ads in comic books. Most laws promulgated to this end are in my humble opinion, misguided. But again, we may just have drawn the line in a different spot.
The uneasy compromise between public and private usually means "put the triple x videos in a back room where the youngsters looking for a Barney video won't stumble upon it."

A public bus which carries advertising must answer to a different master....the master of "community standards". keep in mind, these standards change dramatically from place to place and from year to year.

of course, there is one other little problem...the "loaded phrase". You "hear" me say you are a jerk if you don't brush your breath with pepsodent. You know that it doesn't really clean like a white tornado, and you "Hear" me say "well, your religion
and your life is full of crap when what I actually say is "there is probably no god, so get on with your life", you hear a lot more than the basic phrase.
and getting mealy mouthed by hiding behind the strict wording is just being provoctive.

And maybe its past time.

Shayne said...

Take David Evans with a serious grain of salt. He has not published a single peer reviewed paper on the subject of global warming.

http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2008/12/david_evans_doesnt_know_what_t.php

STAG said...

Very true, on the other hand, he developed his opinions as a member of a group charged with examining the validity of data, and trying to figure out what to do next. His job was to find out what that "consensus" we keep hearing about...not to write a paper on global warming. He wrote reports to his bosses which they may or may not do anything with. So, failing to publish may be understandable, not to mention safer for a person who voices such maverick thoughts.
In the six years he held that post, he saw a lot more stuff than we will ever see and was in a position to evaluate ALL of it. So he has developed a "consunus of scientists" whose results occasionally refute the likes of Mr. Suzuki and Mr. Dole.

It is not that I am on the sidelines, cheering one side over another...I just feel that this is too important an issue to get wrong. Partisan bickering over who gets a slice of the 50 billion dollar pie may suddenly blind us to a reality which has nothing to do with CO2 content in the atmosphere....for instance, the lack of pirates has resulted in fewer coats with shiny buttons on them....those buttons used to reflect sunlight back into space. Maybe we need more pirates!

But then, how would you know if the available money to find out is tied up in paying lawers to wrangle over carbon credits?

(And as I have always said, the silver lining in all of this is the way that we will be able to get rid of some of the pollution which has plagued us for a century. This should have been sufficient reason to go to solar power right there!)

Middle Child said...

Just follow the money and power trail in anything...
So strange that this old planet looked out for itself for all these millions of years...all alone...with millions of active volcanos spewing enough CO2 to sink all life in the solar system..but it didn't... funny that.

Then comes along those who want to tweak and probe with shoddy science...bugger me I think just leave the planet alone...when you consider the power of katrina or a tidal wave, and earthquake..we are crazy if we thing that the earth can't just shrug us off whenever.

Sure cut the emissions but don't mess with the natural order of the planet...it knows what its doing better than the boffins and their masters.


whew!

Anonymous said...

If David Evans was so involved, why does he still comment publically demonstrating a fundamental misunderstranding of the science involved. I will address this more later as it gets rather more complicated.

Here is a start for slapping Evans about for poor understanding of the science involved
http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2008/07/the_australians_war_on_science_16.php

Further his role at the Australian Greenhouse Office was and his current employment is with a decidedly right wing think tank known for the denial of climate science.

Bottom line - if Evans actually had a real argument or real data to back up his claims he would be publishing it in peer reviewed scientific journals - not spreading it about as a media campaign.

Now as the "There is probably no god" furor. Would you have the same issue if the statement was 'There is probably no Thor' or "There is probably no Flying Spaghetti Monster' or "There is probably no Zeus'?

How about these ones that has been approved by OC transpo but not yet run?

http://www.busstopbiblestudies.com/

"Can God forgive even me"
"What would it take to convince you of God's love?"

Now, unlike the easily bent-out-of-shape, I find these more amusing than offensive. Replace the word god with the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus or Voldemort or the Smurfs.

Can god/easterbunny/santa forgive even me?
No - god does not exist and even on the extremely unlikely chance he/she/it does exist, I doubt very much that your organization actually knows its mind.

What would it take to convince you of God's love?

First you have to convince me of God's existence, let alone an emotional state that is difficult to define in humans let alone unknown and supposedly unknowable creator entities. I am sure the Nobel awaits for actual proof of god (as opposed to mealie mouthed wishful thinking.)

It all comes down to honesty. The Atheist add is honest. Probably no god; leaving the acknowledged caveat that you cannot wholly disprove anything - although the probability can be estimated as so close to zero as to resemble zero entirely. The religious ads start from a dishonest assumption that god exists, and a even more dishonest and presumptuous assumption that they know that god's mind.

Which one is more a slap to the face?

Shayne

STAG said...

Which one hurts more?

STAG said...

I personally believe that any public billboard (such as bus advertising) should follow public (that is, "state") rules of behaviour. As it is an axiom that because there is clear separation between church and state, then it follows that no public space or public monies should be used to promote or attempt to disprove any religious dogma of any sort.

The whole "community values" business is grafted onto it. I think nobody would want to see advertisments advertising behaviours we find deplorable, even were it to be "legal". I visited a web site full of old advertisements, many of which would be rather more troubleing than a religious or pseudo religious advert. One which stated "Women! Now that the war is over, the men need their jobs back. (over a picture of a sailor seeing his greasy wife in coveralls with an ugly look on his face.) to my mind these seem remarkably deplorable, though of course, perfectly legal in every way.
I am glad that the adverts that state that "Sen sen contains natural chlorophyl, which promotes health, and "Marlborough....the lighter flavor cigarettes with less irritation." are going the way of the dodo. Ads showing people drinking at barbeques and getting into their new '57 chev to get home are also passe.

Throw out public values at your peril. They don't have to be "YOUR" values after all.





But as for the original post, I stand behind my statement...
(quote)

It is not that I am on the sidelines, cheering one side over another...I just feel that this is too important an issue to get wrong. Partisan bickering over who gets a slice of the 50 billion dollar pie may suddenly blind us to a reality which has nothing to do with CO2 content in the atmosphere.

But then, how would you know if the available money to find out is tied up in paying lawers to wrangle over carbon credits?
(unquote)


Less smoke in the air is a laudable goal in its own right. Whether or not it leads to a reduction in global warming. In fact, the reduction in global warming is way down on the list of reasons why we need to burn less fossil fuel. But by saying "we are going to save the planet if we can only get this lithium-ion battery set up working is simply knee jerk fear mongering. If I was a company which makes lithium ion batteries, I would be right on that, and try to gloss over the uncomfortable fact that lithium ion batteries use more energy in their manufacture than they will ever store in their lifetimes. Especially when you factor in the disposal of them when they are have finished up their lifespans. I have been trying to get some solid numbers on how much energy it costs to make these compact flourescents...there does not seem to be any political will to let those numbers out of the bag, but again, they might use up more energy than they will save. They don't seem to have the lifespan they originally advertised. I know how much goes into refining P and N type material to make diodes. There had better be a LONG lifespan to justify manufacturing those LEDs!

One third of Ontario's power is supplied with coal. One third is hydro electricity....which we need because it is the most sensitive to changing loads. (the most reactive) The new atomic energy plant planned in Oakville may well reduce the carbon content in the air, but the pessimist in me begs leave to doubt it. I suspect it will simply cover the increased demand rather than replace any existing demand. Was that the right answer? Nuclear plants use up a lot of energy other than uranium....all that stainless steel and concrete needs to be manufactured at trememdous cost in energy, not to mention distribution networks and towers, all of which have to made from refined steel. And none of the Hydro One trucks seem to be hybrids. Hmmm....

And I leave this comment with this further comment
....quote....

....for instance, the lack of pirates has resulted in fewer coats with shiny buttons on them....those buttons used to reflect sunlight back into space. Maybe we need more pirates!

(has there been a proper peer reviewed study regarding this popular plank in the platform of the flying spagetti monster religion? I think they might be on to something.)

STAG said...

Middle child, we have to make less smoke in the air. The reefs are dissolving from the acid rain. You are so right...

STAG said...

Shayne, your first link was to a page which gave the results of a scientific conference on global warming, and it simply stated....yup, its happening, and yup, its the sun's fault, and nope, we don't know how to fix it.

The second link was a direct attack on Mr. Evans. Sounded pretty good too...for a guy who is a non-scientist like me. And the comments,well, for the first couple of comments anyway, Evans was losing. Then it got into a slanging match.
I gave up after 102 comments when I discovered that I had to agree with one commentator....(I'll quote")

Crikey! I'm not a scientist and have only the most casual acquaintance with statistics. Unlike most posters here, I'm just a working bloke who owns a small manufacturing business, employs people and is a net tax payer. I came to this board hoping it would help me to better understand the alarming issue of climate change & its causes, and what I should believe and do about it. My conclusion is that what I should do is not visit this board again. I can't really judge the quality of the science here, but the quality of discourse is infantile. Good luck convincing the rest of us to take you seriously.

Posted by: Paulo | July 26, 2008 2:58 AM


I don't know that I would get that uppity about it, however I do have to admit that the whole thing was very entertaining.

NOT A SINGLE COMMENTATOR HAD ANY IDEA ON HOW TO REDUCE THE CO2 IN THE AIR.

They do seem to like arguing statistics and making fun of each other.

I think they are fiddling while Rome burns.