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Is the science settled? June 12, 2008

Posted by davegoblog in Climate Change, Environment, Politics, Pollution, Science.
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The latest National Journal Insiders Poll asks Democrats and Republicans if “it’s been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the Earth is warming because of man-made pollution.”

  • 95% of Democrats answered yes, compared with 26% of Republicans.

If there’s one thing poll after poll indicates, it’s that the science is not settled on this issue.” – one Republican respondent.

Aaahhh…science by polling.

Insiders of both parties agreed, however, that the most urgent priority facing the next president and Congress will be the economy.

  • 59% of Republicans said the economy is at the top of the nation’s priority list, while 44% of Democrats said the same. But global warming was the second-most pressing matter, according to Democrats, while energy took the second spot for Republicans.

Adapted from The Hotline.

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Climate Security Act May 29, 2008

Posted by davegoblog in Climate Change, Environment, Future, Politics, Science, Technology.
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Members of Congress are scheduled to begin debate next week on Senate bill 2191 “America’s Climate Security Act of 2007,” which was introduced by Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and John Warner (R-VA).  The two purposes of this Act are:

(1) to establish the core of a Federal program that will reduce United States greenhouse gas emissions substantially enough between 2007 and 2050 to avert the catastrophic impacts of global climate change; and

(2) to accomplish that purpose while preserving robust growth in the United States economy and avoiding the imposition of hardship on United States citizens.

I’m sure we’ll hear the same old arguments from “global warming” deniers such as the economy will suffer, temperatures are actually cooling, and carbon dioxide is good for plants.

As a scientist, it’s frustrating to see when the waters are being muddied to produce doubt in the minds of people.  If the data for global warming and subsequent climate change were shown to be incorrect, then I would gladly acknowledge that our science is wrong.  But science seeks to explain how things happen in the universe, and science is self-correcting.  The evidence is overwhelming, and as the IPCC has previously said, “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal.”

Read Chris Mooney’s new article The Price of Planetary Gambling for a more in depth analysis of the upcoming debate.

ScienceDebate2008 December 14, 2007

Posted by davegoblog in Climate Change, Environment, Future, Politics, Pollution, Science, Technology.
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Right now we have a confluence of issues facing candidates: embryonic stem cell research, global warming, science and technology education, biotechnology and energy policy — it’s just becoming an avalanche,” says Lawrence Krauss, a physics professor at Case Western University, and author of the bestselling The Physics of Star Trek. “I think at some level, you have to get some insight into what the candidates know, or what they’re willing to learn.”

Since its launch earlier on Monday, there has been has been a fair amount of attention surrounding ScienceDebate2008 (at least in the science layer of the blogosphere and MSM) and it’s continuing to grow.

What is it? According to GrrlScientist at Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted), it “is focused on clarifying how each presidential candidate plans to deal with scientific and technological research, and how they plan to integrate their personal philosophies into a workable public policy, and how they plan to direct and support (or interfere with) scientific and technological progress in this country.”

Given the way science has been suppressed during the current administration, we need to move forward on both sides of the aisle and bring science and its objectivity back into the decision and policy making processes in our government.

In addition to the ScienceDebate2008 site, you can join their Facebook group or become their Myspace friend.

Rotation = Climate? August 31, 2007

Posted by davegoblog in Climate Change, Science.
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Earth 

I’ve seen this twice now on the editorial page of the local weekly Sun News:

People can’t control Earth’s movements

To the editor:

Earth is revolving at more than 1,000 miles per hour.  It is constantly finding its balance, resulting in upheavals and wobbling on its axis.

At present, the north axis is tilting more toward the sun and the south away from the sun.  Argentina had its early snowfall, the north pole is melting.

We have no control over Earth’s cyclical movements or climate.”

First, Earth rotates on its axis at more than 1,000 mph while it revolves around the sun at about 67,000 mph.  That’s a common enough mistake to make.  I have to stop and think about it myself sometimes.  Affect vs. effect.  Imply vs. infer.

Second, I agree that we (humans) have no control over Earth’s cyclical movements.  Factors that do affect the rotation of Earth include distance from the Sun, impacts from meteorites, earthquakes, and the tidal pull of the moon.  The length of a day is increasing by approximately 1.7 milliseconds per century due to the decrease in rotation.  There you go, Anthony.  A longer day!

However, the problem I have is with the last two words, “or climate.”  They’re just innocuously tacked onto the end of the editorial.  To me, the author is implying that since we cannot control Earth’s rotation, we therefore do not have the ability to influence Earth’s climate.  He assumes that climate is shaped 100% by the rotation and that there are no other causes.

According to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Summary for Policymakers states:

“Warming of the climate system is unequivocal.”

“Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely (confidence level >90%) due to the observed increase in anthropogenic (derived from human activities) greenhouse gas concentrations.”

Okay, you make the call.  I plan to write a response to the Sun News.