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Censorship Science

BBC Wants Evidence of Climate Science Bias 678

Posted by Hemos
from the give-me-an-example dept.
Amtiskaw writes "Discussion of climate change is rife with claims and counter-claims of partisanship and bias. Some of the most serious of which being that the scientific community is smothering more skeptical research in the field. Now the BBC is asking for evidence of this self-censorship. From the article: 'Journals are meant to publish the best research irrespective of whether it accepts that the sky is blue, or finds it could really be green ... So the accusations that all is not well at the heart of climate science, and that censorship is rife in organisations which award research grants, the editorial boards of journals and the committees of the IPCC, should be examined seriously. Readers are asked to submit evidence of bias, which the the BBC will then investigate.'" Actually, the phrase "rife with claims and counter-claims" is making more of the counter-claims then they are; the vast body of the evidence indicates climate change is real; Lomborg is the only serious counter-claimaint that I am aware of.
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BBC Wants Evidence of Climate Science Bias

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  • Journalism? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@@@gmail...com> on Monday December 04, 2006 @01:14PM (#17100800) Homepage Journal
    Actually, the phrase "rife with claims and counter-claims" is making more of the counter-claims then they are; the vast body of the evidence indicates climate change is real; Lomborg is the only serious counter-claimaint that I am aware of.

    *THUNK*

    * AKAImBatman's forehead has hit the desk

    Hemos, the entire point of an investigation like this is to uncover if such counter-claims actually exist. If they are being stifled, then you probably wouldn't know about them. Why? Because they're being stifiled.

    If such an investigation finds no hidden counter-claims, then we will know for a fact that the claims of stifling are overblown. In that case you may freely state that Lomborg is leading the charge against the current scientific position, and that no other counter-claims exist. But by making presupositions in the story, you are biasing your readership to the outcome. Which could have negative effects on getting the truth out should the BBC find evidence that climatologists are self-censoring their own.

    I realize you were trying to be helpful by sharing the information you do know, but journalistic integrity requires that you not make judgements until such an investigation is done. In other words, there are times that it's best to just report the news.
    • Re:Journalism? (Score:5, Informative)

      by AndyTheSayer (965008) on Monday December 04, 2006 @01:20PM (#17100914)
      I work in a related field, and don't think that any counter-claims are being stifled. Although it is entirely possible they are escaping my notice, I've not heard of cover-ups or censorship happening. I think the truth simply is that there is a general consensus that the IPCC reports are a good summation of our global knowledge--attempting to give equal space for climate change skepticism is unrepresentative of the scientific community, and in my opinion it creates an illusion of controversy when there really isn't controversy.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AKAImBatman (238306) *

        attempting to give equal space for climate change skepticism is unrepresentative of the scientific community, and in my opinion it creates an illusion of controversy when there really isn't controversy.

        That's the entire point of an investigation like this. If no serious dissenting opinions exist, then the noise about counter-claims will be exposed as overblown hearsay. Or the investigation could go all X-Files on us and find that "the truth is really out there". We'll see when the reporters get back with th

        • Re:Journalism? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Monday December 04, 2006 @01:40PM (#17101270)

          That's the entire point of an investigation like this. If no serious dissenting opinions exist, then the noise about counter-claims will be exposed as overblown hearsay.

          Ah, but academia is more subtle than that. First, there's the word "serious" you use. How does one determine if it's serious? Tenure-track professors? Well, what if it's rather difficult to get a tenure-track job as a climatologist if you don't advocate the consensus view? One would need a rather good publication record as a grad student/postdoc to do that. What happens, then, if it's difficult to get a contrarian article into a peer-reviewed journal? That's often the case, as it happens. For someone with results that cut against the grain, it can take years to break through the peer review wall, assuming you're able to keep going that long.

          This isn't unique to climatology - I've seen other situations in which a highly charged issue that has many believers on one side can squeeze out any last dissent. At best, the standard for publishing a contrarian view is much higher - at worst, reviewers can reject these articles out of hand. This makes it extremely difficult for a budding researcher to get established in a tenure-track position, and then to get tenure.

          This is bad enough in purely academic fields - but in something like this that's as much politics as anything, forget it. Right or wrong, there's a serious problem when no one is even taking a serious Devil's Advocate position on things, and I've not seen that.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by kmac06 (608921)
            Excellent point. In fact, Einstein's claims of relativity and quantized 'packets' of light (photons) were considered controversial for well over a decade after he published the papers concerning them in 1905. It is certainly not inconceivable that the 'right' position is not accepted as such in the professional scientific community.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by larkost (79011)
              I think that the credit for the discovery quantized nature of light should go to Max Plank [wikipedia.org], not Albert Einstein.
              • OTOH, Einstein's Nobel Prize was for his work on quanta, ironically enough (specically, the photoelectric effect). In fact, the Nobel Prize committee is rumored to have been initially against giving him the prize on the basis that it might provide support to that crazy relativity theory of his.
              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by IWannaBeAnAC (653701)

                Not really. Planck pointed out that the blackbody radiation law can be derived, on the assumption that the permissible energies of radiation are not continuous, but discrete. (if you have some basic math, the idea is to replace the integral, which diverges in the high frequency limit, with a discrete summation over integral multiples of the basic frequency unit (Planck's constant), and it no longer diverges). Although it was enough to get him a well-deserved Nobel prize, Planck didn't give any explanati

                • Planck of course, like Einstein, fully accepted quantum mechanics as the theory and especially convincing experimental progress evolved.

                  Planck was involved in modern physics of the time throughout his life.

                  (Also Einstein didn't reject quantum mechanics in itself---he rejected the Copenhagen Interpretation
                  as inconsistent mumbo-jumbo. Modern physics actually says the same {"decoherence" is currently the preferred option}, even though Copenhagen makes the right predictions in most experimentally relevant cas
                  • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                    by IWannaBeAnAC (653701)

                    Planck of course, like Einstein, fully accepted quantum mechanics as the theory and especially convincing experimental progress evolved.

                    Of course. Not believing that a theory is ultimately correct is a quite different thing to denying overwhelming experimental evidence.

                    Except for that wee little thing called the Bohr correspondence principle?

                    But that has very little meaning. It just says what is observationally obvious: that at macroscopic scales the laws of physics become indistinguishable from clas

                • by Tim Browse (9263) on Monday December 04, 2006 @07:47PM (#17106792)

                  if you have some basic math, the idea is to replace the integral, which diverges in the high frequency limit, with a discrete summation over integral multiples of the basic frequency unit (Planck's constant), and it no longer diverges

                  For some local definitions of 'basic'.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Decaff (42676)
              Excellent point. In fact, Einstein's claims of relativity and quantized 'packets' of light (photons) were considered controversial for well over a decade after he published the papers concerning them in 1905. It is certainly not inconceivable that the 'right' position is not accepted as such in the professional scientific community.

              This is irrelevant. Einstein's claims were published and were published enthusiastically. There was no attempt to censor them.

              Also, I am afraid that we have to face the fact th
          • Institutional Bias (Score:3, Insightful)

            by GodInHell (258915) *
            Insitutional Bias is a fine thing to claim in say, Literary studies, or philosophy (a continental philosopher you say.. there's the door I say), but science generally (and this includes climatology) is a field where on earns street credit by conducting experiments which challange (and defeat) your own hypothosies.

            Remember, Stephen Hawking's bet over whether one could trace the path of matter through a black hole? Steve said you couldn't track matter's course through the singularity, a competing physicist
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by SeePage87 (923251)

              I don't think we should classify the IPCC's (or others) results as evidence from conducted experiments, nor conclusions developed from sound mathematical and scientific theory. Indeed, the overwhelming bulk of conclusions have been drawn from regressions and computer models. As a fellow /.er I tend to put a great deal of faith in these methods, but the level of uncertainty surrounding the parameters used in these models and regressions is staggering. For example, until recently the use of aerosols was be

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by TapeCutter (624760)
                To be fair to both the hockey stick and Mann you could at least provide a link to Mann and co's rebuttals [realclimate.org]. Also the IPCC is not solely based on computer models, it's available on the net and is chock full of observastions and predictions. So far the most serious complaint about the IPCC is that it predictions for methane levels do not reflect what has been observed. I urge you to read it rather than assume it's contents are guesswork.

                "For example, until recently the use of aerosols was believed to contri
          • Re:Journalism? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Decaff (42676) on Monday December 04, 2006 @07:00PM (#17106030)
            What happens, then, if it's difficult to get a contrarian article into a peer-reviewed journal? That's often the case, as it happens. For someone with results that cut against the grain, it can take years to break through the peer review wall, assuming you're able to keep going that long

            That is not why people don't get into peer reviewed journals. Good peer reviewed journals publish 'against the grain' papers all the time. What prevents publications getting into good journals is if their analyses are questionable or their results aren't repeatable. In most areas of science, journals are hungry for interesting papers. Research that simply repeats existing findings gets boring and of no interest.

            This isn't unique to climatology - I've seen other situations in which a highly charged issue that has many believers on one side can squeeze out any last dissent.

            Again, that is not why people get squeezed out. It is not a matter of 'believers', it is about the quality of research.

            At best, the standard for publishing a contrarian view is much higher

            And that is as things should be. As Carl Sagan said, extraordinary views require extraordinary evidence. Contrary views should require out-of-the-ordinary evidence.

            at worst, reviewers can reject these articles out of hand. This makes it extremely difficult for a budding researcher to get established in a tenure-track position, and then to get tenure.

            In quality journals, editors don't accept such out-of-hand rejections. There are much-used appeal processes, and the opinion of a reviewer who simply rejected an article 'out-of-hand' would not last long. Reviewers have to justify their rejections in the same way as the authors of papers have to justify their findings.

            I know this because I have worked to get controversial papers through review processes, and I have also acted as a peer reviewer.

            Right or wrong, there's a serious problem when no one is even taking a serious Devil's Advocate position on things, and I've not seen that.

            This is just not true. The entire peer review process is a Devil's Advocate process. The phrase 'peer review' explains it - papers aren't being reviewed by friends of the author, but almost always the reviewing panel includes those who are competitors of the author, often competing in the same country for the same funding!

            The peer review process works because it is so much a Devil's Advocate process, and publications have to pass through that.
        • by Black Parrot (19622) on Monday December 04, 2006 @01:47PM (#17101368)
          > That's the entire point of an investigation like this. If no serious dissenting opinions exist, then the noise about counter-claims will be exposed as overblown hearsay. Or the investigation could go all X-Files on us and find that "the truth is really out there". We'll see when the reporters get back with their findings. :)

          Nah, the scientists will kidnap the reporters and brainwash them to report that they didn't find a conspiracy.
        • Re:Journalism? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by gad_zuki! (70830) on Monday December 04, 2006 @03:00PM (#17102502)
          >f no serious dissenting opinions exist, then the noise about counter-claims will be exposed as overblown hearsay.

          Or it would simply legitimize the "best of the worst" the way the Republicans have legitmized Creationism with their similiar attempts at "equal time." Creationism to millions of people never got exposed as 'overblown hearsay' because of faux-skeptical attempts like the one we're seeing.

          Why is it everytime there's a consensus about something we don't like to accept, there are the usual gang of usual suspects out there catering to our fears? Afraid of a 6 billon year old world? Creationists. Afraid of space miliarization/the future? Moon landing deniers. Afraid of the free market? Communists. Afraid of disease? Homeopathy. Afraid of secular education? Home Schoolers.

          Painting these chracters as a dismissed victims by the big consensus is bordering on silliness. Sometimes an authority has to say "You know, this is bullshit."
          • by Pfhorrest (545131) on Monday December 04, 2006 @03:51PM (#17103258) Homepage Journal
            Afraid of a 6 billon year old world? Creationists. Afraid of space miliarization/the future? Moon landing deniers. Afraid of the free market? Communists. Afraid of disease? Homeopathy. Afraid of secular education? Home Schoolers.

            This is just a pet peeve of mine, but fear of secular education isn't the only reason anybody home schools. That is, not all home schoolers are religious nuts trying to indoctrinate their children and keep them from some kind of "bad thoughts" out there. I was home taught for entirely different reasons (social troubles in big, lowest-common-denominator, shut-up-sit-still-and-memorize-this public schools, and the inability to pay for smaller, more progressive private schools that could cater to gifted students) and I'm about the most anti-dogmatic person I know. And I'm now almost through with university, with very good grades, so I can't complain about the quality of the education either.

            That's all, just wanted to harp on that. Home school != religious indoctrination.
      • Re:Journalism? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by plover (150551) * on Monday December 04, 2006 @01:28PM (#17101032) Homepage Journal
        The point is not whether counterclaims are being stifled or not. The point is that in reporting the facts, you don't "pick a side". Especially when you're trying to ferret out other quiet cases of science that may be supporting the "other side."

        Saying that there's only one serious opposition researcher is almost implying "so everybody else thinks he's wrong." That's hardly the way to give isolated researchers the courage to stand up and say "and I agree with him."

        • Re: Journalism? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Black Parrot (19622) on Monday December 04, 2006 @01:54PM (#17101460)
          > The point is not whether counterclaims are being stifled or not. The point is that in reporting the facts, you don't "pick a side".

          The bigger point is that you shouldn't mistake Slashdot for journalism.
        • Re:Journalism? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Martin Blank (154261) on Monday December 04, 2006 @01:56PM (#17101488) Journal
          Dr. William Gray, hurricane researcher out of Colorado State University, has suggested that his funding may have been cut due to his unwillingness to accept the common view of anthropogenic global warming, which he calls "grossly exaggerated." He suggests in the same interview that many of his colleagues who have been around for a long time have similar feelings and experiences.

          http://www.discover.com/issues/sep-05/departments/ discover-dialogue/ [discover.com]

          Just another contrarian viewpoint because he's too stuck to see it? Or someone whose experience provides the nuances required to see that global warming is a house of cards?
          • by amightywind (691887) on Monday December 04, 2006 @03:07PM (#17102606) Journal

            Thanks for the great link.

            I can't be sure, but I think that's a lot of the reason. I have been around 50 years, so my views on this are well known. I had NOAA money for 30 some years, and then when the Clinton administration came in and Gore started directing some of the environmental stuff, I was cut off. I couldn't get any NOAA money. They turned down 13 straight proposals from me.

            Multiply this experience with that of his like-minded colleagues and you clear evidence that the politicization of global warming is a self-sustaining and corrupt.

          • Re:Journalism? (Score:4, Informative)

            by theodicey (662941) on Monday December 04, 2006 @06:05PM (#17105190)
            William Gray is an emeritus professor, over 70, and more evidence that scientific ideas don't go away until their proponents do. He's seized on a particularly paranoid explanation for his scientific irrelevance.

            He "concedes that he hasn't published [his theory of how thermohaline circulation has caused recent warming of the planet] in any peer-reviewed journal. He's working on it, he says."

            The impression I get from RealClimate and the Washington Post is that Gray is not capable of doing numerical modeling, or even, necessarily, understanding the models which dominate the field.

            About the only scientifically respectable semi-skeptic, Richard Lindzen, says of Gray: "His knowledge of theory is frustratingly poor, but he knows more about hurricanes than anyone in the world. I regard him in his own peculiar way as a national resource."

            That's a very complimentary way of saying he should be put out to pasture.

            See the following articles:

            http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/artic le/2006/05/23/AR2006052301305_pf.html [washingtonpost.com]

            http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006 /04/gray-on-agw/ [realclimate.org]

        • Re:Journalism? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Kohath (38547) on Monday December 04, 2006 @02:12PM (#17101758)
          The point is that in reporting the facts, you don't "pick a side".

          "Reporting" hasn't been about "facts" in a long time. No one cares about "facts" any more. You're out of step with the times.

          • Re:Journalism? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by IWannaBeAnAC (653701) on Monday December 04, 2006 @02:59PM (#17102478)
            It might be true that much of journalism has lost its way, to some extent, in ignoring facts in preference to some imagined 'balance' (which usually amounts to equal time: someone explains the real facts, then equal time is given to someone else who is lying through their teeth). But accepting this situation with a defeatest attitude is not going to help. If this continues, in the long term objective reality simply won't exist anymore - it is obvious that some important decisions are being made by our leaders on the basis of flawed logic. Do you really want that? Can you imagine what the future will look like?
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by king-manic (409855)
            The point is that in reporting the facts, you don't "pick a side".

            "Reporting" hasn't been about "facts" in a long time. No one cares about "facts" any more. You're out of step with the times.

            s/any more/ever/g

            Journalism has always been about 2nd/3rd hand information heavily mixed with the reporters bias and dumb down to the point where the arts degree or no degree journalists can comprehend. It has always been this way and nay 1st hand or accurate news is just an accident. Just ask anyone who has been invove
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Angostura (703910)
              Writing as an ex-journalist you're falling into the trap set by your own bias. While there have always been cases of "don't let the facts get in the way of a good story", there were, in my opinion far more examples of journalists slogging their guts out to find facts first hand. There were also numerous examples of editors challenging the premise of stories, and stories getting spiked simply because of insufficient sources or cast-iron evidence.

              There are always lazy people in any walk of life, and it is tru
      • Re:Journalism? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Keebler71 (520908) on Monday December 04, 2006 @02:58PM (#17102470) Journal
        Although it is entirely possible they are escaping my notice, I've not heard of cover-ups or censorship happening.

        Your perception of "bias" is the same that the BBC is looking for proof of... that of some giant "left-wing/environmentalist consipiracy" against global warming. They will of course uncover no such proof as there obviously isn't any large scale overt censorship going on. However, let me offer my own (biased) right-wing view of what may be happening.

        I believe that there is indeed a form of censorship going on - but that it is much more subtle - almost at the unconscious level. On the contrary I believe the bias is almost one of (for lack of a better word) inaction/agnostic. Let me give a hypothetical example [I am not claiming that any of the following is true...simply trying to demonstrate my belief in the type of bias that may be occurring]:

        Let's say Al Gore goes out and make the claim that the if sea ice is melting then global warming may be occurring. He then states that melting sea ice would endgandger polar bears and then gives an example of a study that indeed shows polar bear populations decreasing. Now aside from the fact that even if all true - we still have the ever-persistent correlation vs. causality issue, we are left with a very wide interdisciplinary problem. It is highly unlikely that experts in climatology are also experts in polar bear populations.

        And this is where my (completely unsubstantiated) suspicion of bias comes in. I can visualize polar bear experts all over the world watching this research unfold and thinking to themselves "odd, the population of polar bears that I am studying is not dwindling." However - and this is my key point - I also can envision them simply shrugging this off because I highly doubt that there are any neo-conservative global warming denier polar bear researchers in the field. They aren't actively supressing this hypothetical contrary data - they simply don't think their piece of the puzzle is relevant, since they probably agree with the global warming concensus.

        Without getting too off-topic and in keeping within my right-wing paranoia paradigm, I see this bias functioning via exactly the same mechanism that I believe the media is biased. Neither the media, nor the global warming researchers are unethical or part of any conspiracy... they are simply sympathetic to "their" side of the argument and evidence to the contrary (however small) simply doesn't set off alarm bells like it would to someone with an axe to grind.

        That said, I feel compelled to point out something very disturbing I found while researching this reply. While I only skimmed it, this [biologicaldiversity.org] petition for adding polar bears to the endangered species list contains a few egregious examples of very biased presentation of scientific results. The introduction states

        "Absent substantial reductions in reductions of greenhouse gasses, by century's end average temperatures in the Arctic will likey rise upwards of 7 deg C (13.6 F)."(p. 3)
        I am by no means a climatologist, but I have been following the debate and I am pretty sure that this value (14 deg F) is at the extreme side of the end of century prediction. They use the word "likely" which to me as a scientist/engineer would interpret to be at least a 1-sigma case.

        Later, on page 20, 1st paragraph they note that of 20 polar bear populations, 7 were given as "declining or unknown". What the heck is this? How many are "declining" (answer == 2 but have to actually look at the table bleow) and how many are unknown (5)? By grouping the unknowns with the delcining the author is (deliberately?) attempting to make the situation look worse for the polar bears. In the next paragraph they do the same thing again, this time grouping "poor certainty" with "unknown certainty".

        Yes, I am not a climatologist nor an expert in polar bear populations. But I am a scientist and engineer and I can still read research and know when someone is using shody methodology - even when I know nothing of the subject.

        • We may be talking about different things with polar bears. It's not just that populations are declining or underweight, it's -how- they're dying. Drowning, esp., is uncharacteristic in a species that can easily swim tens of miles in arctic water. Something profound is going on.

          An analogy that came to mind is lung cancer. In the 19th Century lung cancer was so rare that a doctor may only see it a few times in his career, and always the topic of discussion in the local community when it occurred.

          A century
    • Re:Journalism? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by IWannaBeAnAC (653701) on Monday December 04, 2006 @01:28PM (#17101040)

      LOL, you are new at this internet thing, right? Exactly how far do you think you have to go to find claims that global [frontpagemag.com] warming [americasfuture.net] is [enterstageright.com] a [capmag.com] hoax [chronwatch.com]?

      Pointing out that the overwhelming majority of such articles in the popular press have zero scientific credibility is merely a public service, and it has NOTHING to do with what the BBC is looking for. The BCC are looking for real, scientific arguments against global warming that have been suppressed by the scientific establishment. You won't find it on some internet tabloid, if it exists at all. It is more likely to be on the homepage of some fringe university researcher in danger of getting fired.

      • Re:Journalism? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by PFI_Optix (936301) on Monday December 04, 2006 @01:54PM (#17101458) Journal
        If the BBC is looking for evidence that the world isn't getting warmer, they won't find it. It is. No one is arguing that.

        If the BBC is looking for legitimate scientific arguments that there are more explanations to the warming than "omg it's all our fault", then I think they'll dig up some good researh, even if they don't find the smoking gun they're looking for.

    • The key problem (Score:5, Insightful)

      by g2devi (898503) on Monday December 04, 2006 @01:38PM (#17101238)
      I think the key problem with climate change reporting is that it's portrayed as a "you're with us or with them" point of view and if you don't believe the popular dogma, you're one of "them". The problem is, there isn't only one question. Besides the "is it real?" and "are we responsible?" questions, there's also:

      * If it is real, is it permanent and not just an earth/solar cycle?

      * If it is real (whether or not it is caused by us), is it due to greenhouse gases? (i.e. not deforestation, urban heat islands, the hole in the ozone, or other causes or even a combination of these causes)

      * If it is real (whether or not it is caused by us), what is the real impact if nothing is done? (Even if the cause is greenhouse gases, it may make more sense to grow the necessary number of forests to absorb the gas as our gas output increases or find some other way to solidify/trap greenhouse gases.)

      * If it is real (whether or not it is caused by us), can anything be done to reverse it? (If not, then while it's common sense to try to reduce the impact, it makes a lot of sense to either invest in technologies to either live with it or leave earth).

      Unfortunately, the issue has become so politicized that these other more important questions are being drowned out or viewed as "avoiding the real issue" by the dogmatists.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Brandybuck (704397)
        Yes, that's the core of the problem right there. This whole thing is a publicity stunt by the BBC, because scientists are definitely *NOT* all agreeing with the general media assertion that global warming is new, and the result of man-made CO2, and that there's a political solution. When it comes to evidence, the range of opinions is even greater. Does every scientist believe that Antarctica is melting? Does every scientist believe that the ozone "hole" is non-cyclic and man-made? Does every scientist belie
      • Re:The key problem (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tgd (2822) on Monday December 04, 2006 @02:09PM (#17101698)
        I am not a climatologist, but one of my mother is, so I've got a bit more than a passing understanding of the field...

        * If it is real, is it permanent and not just an earth/solar cycle?

        Thats the wrong question. Is it permanent is "no", unquestionably. Its known it is not a solar cycle, because there are pretty good records of solar output. Ice core samples show pretty definitively that if its a natural earth cycle it is a VERY long cycle. And from the standpoint of us dealing with the problem, it really doesn't matter. Reducing carbon in the atmosphere WILL cool things, even if it wasn't what originally started heating things up. It also will help prevent really disastrous scenarios like thawing of methane ice fields.

          If it is real (whether or not it is caused by us), is it due to greenhouse gases? (i.e. not deforestation, urban heat islands, the hole in the ozone, or other causes or even a combination of these causes)

        There is no debate about this. Its known that greenhouses gases are what is causing the heating. Even among people who are publishing against the establishment purely to get notice in the field, that is not a debated point. UHIs for example can cause localized climatic changes, but aren't changing ocean temperatures. It takes a lot more energy than we're producing to make a change in a sink the size of the ocean.

        If it is real (whether or not it is caused by us), what is the real impact if nothing is done? (Even if the cause is greenhouse gases, it may make more sense to grow the necessary number of forests to absorb the gas as our gas output increases or find some other way to solidify/trap greenhouse gases.)

        Get rid of the first clause there. Its real, there really is no debate. The second question is a good one, however. In my opinion, the point has come that climate models need to be run in fields other than climatology. How will it really impact water sources, farming, disease spread, species distribution, etc. This sort of research is starting to really pick up.


        * If it is real (whether or not it is caused by us), can anything be done to reverse it? (If not, then while it's common sense to try to reduce the impact, it makes a lot of sense to either invest in technologies to either live with it or leave earth).


        And thats the key question. It is real, and it doesn't matter if we caused it when it comes to answering THIS question. We know CO levels are too high and growing higher. Its pretty damn likely that we're doing it, but it sort of doesn't matter since we don't have a way to really stop people from emitting them at this point in time.

        I think you're being a bit too dramatic for the sake of being modded up, though. Dropping the word dogma tends to work well on here. That said, the important points ARE being debated and researched. The politicization and debate is a media thing, it is NOT happening in the field. Even what the BBC is doing stinks more of a readership move than anything truly scientific. These questions were all basically answered years ago and the field really is focused more on the "what do we do now" questions than "what is going on" questions.

        I don't think a lot of people really think about how bad and biased the media really is. If you're not a climatologist, think about a field you are an expert in. Say, technology, since its Slashdot. Do the "experts" on TV know what they're talking about? No. Its the same in every other field, climatology included. The people on TV are there because they're pushing an agenda, trying to push themselves up, trying to get laid, whatever. Its never about really presenting an expert's real position.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by greginnj (891863)
          I am not a climatologist, but one of my mother is ...
          I call shenanigans. Exactly how many mothers do you have, anyway?


        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by E++99 (880734)

          We know CO levels are too high and growing higher. Its pretty damn likely that we're doing it

          Is this science? 'Cause my CO2 meter doesn't have a "too high" marker on it. Personally I think any realistic Ice Age scenario is far more disasterous for the human race than any warming scenario. So the real question is whether CO2 levels should be higher or lower, and science will not address it. The politicians say it should be lower, and the scientists do studies to show all the posible harmful effects of CO

      • Re:The key problem (Score:5, Insightful)

        by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday December 04, 2006 @02:15PM (#17101822) Homepage

        I agree very much with you, and fear that, unfortunately, this is the way most political issues are being presented by the media, by politicians, and by private individuals. Either you're a Republican or you're a Democrat. Either you're in favor of every kind of affirmative action, or you're a minority-hating bigot. Either you want the US to cede sovereignty to the UN, or you think the US shouldn't work with other countries. Either you wanted the US to invade Iraq or you think Saddam was a good leader. Either your a tree-hugger or you drive and H3.

        It's a divisive and disingenuous method of argumentation, and shame on us for falling for it. Even worse, it pushes people towards extreme positions, one way or the other, when moderate positions would often bring about better results.

        Back to global warming-- it seems there are lots of questions here, but it seems to me that global warming distracts from the larger issue: pollution is real, and the scarcity of energy resources is real. When there were a couple of large civilizations on earth, these were problems, but as the whole world industrializes, the scale of these problems seems unmanageable. Therefore, we must become more efficient and try to minimize our waste, regardless of global warming.

      • Re:The key problem (Score:4, Informative)

        by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Monday December 04, 2006 @02:17PM (#17101860) Homepage Journal
        But these questions are being asked. And more importantly they are not being asked by 'global warming is a hoax' crowd because they don't believe that global warming even exists, despite the overwhelming scientific data that shows that it does.
        • If it is real, is it permanent and not just an earth/solar cycle?
        According to NOAA and NASA data, the Earth's average surface temperature has increased by about 1.2 to 1.4F since 1900. The warmest global average temperatures on record have all occurred within the past 15 years, with the warmest two years being 1998 and 2005. Most of the warming in recent decades is likely the result of human activities.
        Source [epa.gov]
        • If it is real (whether or not it is caused by us), is it due to greenhouse gases? (i.e. not deforestation, urban heat islands, the hole in the ozone, or other causes or even a combination of these causes)
        If greenhouse gases continue to increase, climate models predict that the average temperature at the Earth's surface could increase from 2.5 to 10.4F above 1990 levels by the end of this century. Scientists are certain that human activities are changing the composition of the atmosphere, and that increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases will change the planet's climate.
        Source [epa.gov]
        • If it is real (whether or not it is caused by us), what is the real impact if nothing is done? (Even if the cause is greenhouse gases, it may make more sense to grow the necessary number of forests to absorb the gas as our gas output increases or find some other way to solidify/trap greenhouse gases.)
        • If it is real (whether or not it is caused by us), can anything be done to reverse it? (If not, then while it's common sense to try to reduce the impact, it makes a lot of sense to either invest in technologies to either live with it or leave earth).
        See these pages:
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kohath (38547)
        You don't understand.

        The response to this is:

        "We need socialism right now or it'll be too late. [insert exclamation points] We can't afford to wait for a conclusion based on facts. There will be droughts and floods and poison monkeys. Most of Florida will be underwater. In fact, everywhere will be underwater except a few miles around Denver. There will be hurricanes bigger than the Sun every day, and they'll be twice as big at night.

        Etc. Etc. Etc. Be really scared so you do what we tell you without t
      • Re:The key problem (Score:4, Informative)

        by Orp (6583) on Monday December 04, 2006 @02:49PM (#17102308) Homepage
        If it is real, is it permanent and not just an earth/solar cycle?

        It is real. Nothing is permanent. It is not due to solar forcing.

        If it is real (whether or not it is caused by us), is it due to greenhouse gases? (i.e. not deforestation, urban heat islands, the hole in the ozone, or other causes or even a combination of these causes)

        The primary forcing is greenhouse gas emissions, notably CO2 but also methane. Water vapor provides the strongest greenhouse forcing - and a warmer atmosphere will have more water vapor, which will lead to a warmer earth due to its greenhouse forcing, rinse, lather, repeat. This is known as a positive feedback. If it was the only game in town (it is not) we would probably end up like Venus.

        Deforesteation and other messing with the carbon cycle may play a role which may go in either direction. One must look at the albedo effect as well.

        Do not - ever - talk about ozone depletion and global warming in the same sentence. They are entirely unrelated. Thank you.

        If it is real (whether or not it is caused by us), what is the real impact if nothing is done? (Even if the cause is greenhouse gases, it may make more sense to grow the necessary number of forests to absorb the gas as our gas output increases or find some other way to solidify/trap greenhouse gases.)

        "Business as usual" will lead to a much different world in 100-200 years.

        You can't just "grow more forests" to take up the extra CO2. Does not work that way. Even if it did: trees decompose. Guess what a product of decomposition is?

        Some people are beginning to seriously consider carbon sequestering. This is a horrible situation we have set up for ourselves. I wonder where the energy is going to come from to power this sequestering technology? Fossil fuels?

        And just wait until a reservoir of CO2 that didn't manage to form other compounds when you sequestered it manages to burp itself into the lower troposphere and suffocate life in low-lying areas.

        I repeat: business as usual will lead to extremely different conditions across the planet in a couple hundred years.

        Earth's climate system is nonlinear. This means a focring of A does not necessarily lead to a response of some fraction of A. If you push the climate system far enough it may (and indeed has in the past) flip into another very different regime. Once you reach this so-called tipping point you cannot get back to the original state.

        If it is real (whether or not it is caused by us), can anything be done to reverse it? (If not, then while it's common sense to try to reduce the impact, it makes a lot of sense to either invest in technologies to either live with it or leave earth).

        Transition out of fossil fuel dependence. Pure and simple. Even then we may reach the tipping point. But it is thought we can turn things around if we begin to act now.

        Seriously folks - educate yourselves. Learn some physics, raditive transfer, etc. Get an introductory meteorology textbook at the very least. This is about science, pure and simple, and in order to be taken seriously in this discussion you need to understand the science beneath it. Armchair climatologists are a dime a dozen and are mostly making fools of themselves simply because they don't understand the basic fundamentals. Unfortunately most people are not educated enough to realize this and think there is some sort of big debate on the causes of recent climate change. There isn't. It's all about how much, and when.
    • Re:Journalism? (Score:5, Informative)

      by ronanbear (924575) on Monday December 04, 2006 @02:04PM (#17101598)
      Lomborg doesn't dispute the current scientific position. He supports it. All he's arguing about is the effectiveness of mitigation strategies. He uses IPCC figures.

      In his case the reaction to his work was unfavourable and he was censured initially by FUD and personal attacks. IPCC are responsible but he was vilified for pointing out WWF errors and inaccuracy.

      How can you make correct policy decisions if the information you are getting has been deliberately distorted? It's the same problem whether it's environmentalists or Big Energy.

      If they're both allowed to fire lies at each other then the debate is stifled and confusing as people can't trust either side. By separating what he calls the Litany which is pseudoscience apart from credible peer reviewed science he's done a service to the global warming debate.

      Lomborg set out an economic case based on the costs of mitigation that showed that flaws in the way Kyoto work will make it very ineffective and excessively expensive.

      Kyoto has damaged the environment by diverting resources and mindshare away from efforts which would have been more effective at reducing global warming.

      Even the Stern report contains such admissions. Certain mitigation strategies (carbon sequestration in biomass) will not be discussed for years because they are not covered within the scope of Kyoto and the barriers against implementing them were primarily political and not technical.

      By that I mean that more effort to save rainforests wasn't made despite interest in the method because participants in the treaty couldn't agree on how to count the reduction and who should get credit for it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by radtea (464814)
        Lomborg set out an economic case based on the costs of mitigation that showed that flaws in the way Kyoto work will make it very ineffective and excessively expensive.

        I wish I could laugh when I see statements like this: "X has proven that Y will cause Z" when Y and Z are an incredibly complex solution and a poorly understood problem, respectively. The world is just a hell of a lot less controallable and predictable than we would like, but a willingness to experiment with imperfect solutions is one of the
  • by stankulp (69949) on Monday December 04, 2006 @01:14PM (#17100812) Homepage
    The Physical Evidence of Earth's Unstoppable 1,500-Year Climate Cycle

    http://www.ncpa.org/pub/st/st279/ [ncpa.org]
    • by Sv-Manowar (772313) on Monday December 04, 2006 @01:29PM (#17101070) Homepage Journal
      I don't think that many people are saying the climate doesn't change over time and that us as humans are affecting it greatly, but one of the main claims is that by creating more greenhouse gases and contributing to 'global warming', we are slowing down the process of glaciation. (after the Devensian/Wisconsinan period, the holocene epoch (interglacial period) has lasted longer than usual, and this is what a lot of people are pointing to, despite glacial periods being known for their fluctations in length. Another good theory on it can be found here [reason.com], where it is claimed that he observed warming actually reflects the Urban Heat Island effect, as most readings are done in heavily populated areas which are expanding with growing population (which of course will be hotter due to roads/buildings/people etc trapping heat).

      I definitely think it is a good time for people to start investigating the possible bias on this issue, as those who are lobbying government for changes in policy on industry are going to start having serious economic effects (on both companies and the country as a whole) without the majority of the public being aware that global warming is a theory, and not fact, but hey - if global warming is the accepted theory, i'm happy to reduce the methane levels in the atmosphere by eating more steak, heh.
    • Now we need to see if we can figure out what's causing global warming on Mars. Maybe it's got the same cycle, which in turn might be based on, oh, I don't know,... What do the Earth and Mars have in common that might affect temperatures... the SUN?
  • Readers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by The Zon (969911) <thezon@gmail.com> on Monday December 04, 2006 @01:15PM (#17100826)
    Why ask readers to submit evidence of bias? Why would they be more likely to find such evidence than scientists making counter-claims? This will probably result in nothing more than readers submitting every article on climate change that they disagree with.
  • by UbuntuDupe (970646) * on Monday December 04, 2006 @01:17PM (#17100852) Journal
    As I argued here [slashdot.org], you don't know if there's bias until you see scientists making valid predictions and still being shut out. What counts as a valid prediction in climate sciences? No one is going to say that "next year, global temp. readings will increase by 1 degree". No one will even predict the *sign* of the change next year. What they will predict is trends over e.g., the next five years. But then, you have to gather a statistically significant number of these to rule out luck. So, you'd need to get those right several times to validate your model. Accounting for varing CO2 emissions, of course, complicates it. I doubt there's enough evidence time-history (following a previous prediction) to falsify anyone's theory. That's the problem.

    Btw, the summary implies Lomborg denies that climate change is real. That's not true. In The Skeptical Environmentalist, his claim is that the media misrepresent the various probabilities of the different scenarios, and that the costs of significant changes (like Kyoto, and by extension, anything more stringent than Kyoto) are not justified by the benefits they would yield. That's not the same as denying the existence of climate change.
  • by Per Abrahamsen (1397) on Monday December 04, 2006 @01:20PM (#17100930) Homepage
    He never really did, just that the evidence was inconclusive. Now he believe global warming to be real (the evidence has become stronger), Lomborg just claim that adapting to a changing climate makes more economic sense than trying to control the climate.

    Comparing the cost of trying to adapt to a changing climate with the cost of trying to prevent climate change is certainly a worthwhile, especially as global warming based on past actions is already inevitable.

  • by WED Fan (911325) <akahige@@@trashmail...net> on Monday December 04, 2006 @01:24PM (#17100972) Homepage Journal

    Of course, evidence will be provided. Bias will be shown. And then the Office of Officious Stifling of Problematic Counter-Claims will whip into action, after tea, and promptly stifle the case. Unless, of course, no evidence of bias is presented.

    Should no evidence be provided, the Bureau of Studious Demogoguery will fly into the thick of it, again, after tea, and immediately claim that lack of evidence is proof that the OOSPCC pre-stifled the evidence. At which point, the Ministry of Moderated Judgementalism will, uncharacteristically before tea, issue a statement that they will review, ponder, and further investigate the possiblity of a need to issue a further statement at some future date, as yet unspecified, as to whether or not to take the BSD's statement at face value, or have tea.

  • by drainbramage (588291) on Monday December 04, 2006 @01:24PM (#17100980)
    Many who suggest that western nations are not the primary cause of climate change are described as if they deny there is any climate change. Thay is unfair and inaccurate, and often what happens when Bjørn Lomborg is mentioned. You may want to look at the call by (un)Scientific American magazine for articles that "debunked" Bjørn Lomborg conclusions in his book "The Skeptical Environmentalist". If they were interested in science the call would have been for articles about the research involved, for or against.
    • Turf war (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Per Abrahamsen (1397)
      Part of that was a turf war going on, with an economist moving in on the area covered by scientists. It is no surprise that Scientific American and The Economist took opposing sides in that discussion, each defending their own trade.
  • Come on, man (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GoodbyeBlueSky1 (176887) <joeXbanks@NosPAm.hotmail.com> on Monday December 04, 2006 @01:26PM (#17101008)

    Actually, the phrase "rife with claims and counter-claims" is making more of the counter-claims then they are; the vast body of the evidence indicates climate change is real; Lomborg is the only serious counter-claimaint that I am aware of.
    That's a bunch of bull and you know it. The whole friggin point of this study is to dispel crap like this. There seem to be several scientists with reasonably good credentials [wikipedia.org] that question the hows and whys of climate change. The fact that you're implying they're a bunch of fruitcakes, even though you (nor I) are not scientists and have done no research of your own on the subject, is ludicrous.

    Look, I happen to lean more towards believing in human/industry induced global warming than not, but I really want to see more of this type of open-minded thinking which presumably (hopefully) will permeate the BBC studies. It's the only way we're ever going to get a handle on this issue. Despite what Al Gore would have you think it is not a black-and-white issue.
  • by creimer (824291) on Monday December 04, 2006 @01:27PM (#17101010) Homepage
    So the BBC wants evidence of changing climates between Microsoft and Google [slashdot.org]? Oh, boy. I used to remember predicting the weather was a simple affair: stick your head out the door and determine if it will rain or not. Now you have to worry about whether it's raining Microsofts and Googles.
  • by ScentCone (795499) on Monday December 04, 2006 @01:27PM (#17101014)
    Not!

    the vast body of the evidence indicates climate change is real

    That's scarcely the issue. The stuff that generates the most friction are the discussions over who exactly, if anyone, is responsible for what part of things that may or may not have any bearing on anything that will amount to actual problems, and what policy/economic changes are or aren't worth the cost, heartache, investment, and so on. Or, is the human component of this lost in the noise, or enough so that crippling economies isn't the right way to look at changing it, etc. Of course climate changes. It always has and will. This whole topic will be a lot easier to discuss if folks don't use the phrase "climate change" to mean the same thing as "damaging global warming that some people in certain countries with certain habits are causing more than others and could change if they only switched to hydrogen which we'll all pretend doesn't require other energy sources to put to work blah blah."

    People project whatever they want to see associated with "climate change," to the point where it's a useless phrase. What part of climate change? Which part that would or wouldn't be happening in much the same way anyway, or which does or doesn't have some benefit for one group that outweighs something happening elsewhere? It doesn't matter what the answers to those things are, just that they are way more complex than "accepting" or not that the climate changes.
  • list of skeptics (Score:4, Insightful)

    by buddyglass (925859) on Monday December 04, 2006 @01:27PM (#17101024)
  • by cerulean_blue99 (881404) on Monday December 04, 2006 @01:27PM (#17101028)
    The journal Science published a review of 928 peer reviewed publications and whether reports from organizations like IPCC "might downplay legitimate dissenting opinions". The review found that 75% explicitly or implicitly accepted the consensus view, that 25% took no position one way or the other and that none disagreed with the consensus view.

    "Admittedly, authors evaluating impacts, developing methods, or studying paleoclimatic change might believe that current climate change is natural. However, none of these papers argued that point."

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/306/570 2/1686/ [sciencemag.org]

    • by Erioll (229536) on Monday December 04, 2006 @02:28PM (#17102018)
      That's the largest fallacy continually presented in any climate-change (or otherwise controversial topics involving science) that "consensus" is necessary. Hint: it is NOT necessary. If 99.9% of reports say one thing, but only ONE says the opposite, but the SINGLE report is verifiable, and has no flaws, it INVALIDATES the rest of the body of knowledge. Usually it also has to address WHY the previous work was incorrect, what errors they made, etc, but the whole premise of the Scientific Method is of reproducibility, and verifiable results. The doctors who figured out that most stomach ulcers were the result of bacteria that could be easily treated with antibiotics was a discovery that flew in the face of 100s of years of data and "proof" that stress caused ulcers... but the bacterial cause hypothesis was proven right. It took a bit of time, but they were right.

      I'll say it again: Science has nothing to do with consensus. All that is required to resolve different viewpoints is to find who's ignoring evidence, has bad evidence-gathering, or who's not following correct processes for analysis. Where there's conflict you have to address it head-on and find out who's right. You can't both be right, so conflict only means that somebody (or both) are not trying to find out WHY somebody has reached a conclusion, not just saying "well I have more people that agree with me, therefore I'm right." That's opinion, not science. If anybody EVER uses that argument, it proves that they are no longer using science. The ONLY place where there can be two viewpoints held scientifically that remain in conflict is where there remains significant uncertainty over the evidence itself, in which case the 3rd point of view "I don't know what's actually happening" is actually the most scientifically correct.
  • Wrong about Lomborg (Score:4, Informative)

    by jeremyp (130771) on Monday December 04, 2006 @01:29PM (#17101050) Homepage Journal
    Lomborg does not claim that anthropogenic global warming does not exist. He claims that we should be using a different strategy to overcome it, or rather not overcome but live with it.

    At least, that's what he said in the Skeptical Environmentalist. He may have changed his mind since then.
  • by HighOrbit (631451) * on Monday December 04, 2006 @01:29PM (#17101062)
    This is mostly a copy and paste from another of my earlier posts [slashdot.org] with a few edits

    The overwhelming majority of scientists (who would describe themselves as working scientists versus simple degree holders in the field) are academics working in academic university environments, or even in the case of goverment or corporate research labs, are in the academic revolving door. It is no secret that major universities are basically immersed in left-wing culture both at the official level (such as having ethnic or women's studies departments, speech codes, etc) and at the unofficial level (such as student protest groups). So, these guys are working and living in what amounts to a left-wing echo chamber and anti-industrial environmentalism is a core tenet of modern leftist orthodoxy. People working in that enviornment can not help but have a certain amount of cultural bias. As in most social environments, there is great pressure to conform. I do not doubt that in some cases, non-conforming academics have been ostracized as cretins or kooks, denied tenure, and passed up for promotion. So it is not surprising that a "majority of scientists" would land of the left-wing side of any particular debate, given the implications of being on the "wrong" side.

    Also, without accusing anybody of consciously cooking the data, its easy to see what you want to see in data when you have pre-conceived notions. I would say that even the questions researchers ask or don't ask (i.e. what they choose to subject to a study or ignore) is influenced by their preconceived cultural notions.

    When somebody says "science is on our side", I basically evaluate it the same as if they said "the statistics are on our side" (especially if its based on statistical or computer models instead of "hard science" that is reproducable in the lab). When somebody says, "the majority of scientists" are on our side, they are just using a logical fallacy - appeal to authority.

    As much as we would all like to believe that scientists are selflessly searching for the "truth", they have motivations similar to everybody else (greed, fame, power, money, personel vendettas, etc). They also are capable of political bias. These motivations and bias can color the "truth".Throw in grant money and the prestige of getting published in well-respected journals and the results can be toxic to "truth".

    I personally believe that the warming trend itself is undeniable. The extent of it that can be blamed on man versus natural climatic cycles is debatable. There probably is an anti-industrial environmental bias built into most climatic studies conducted at any university or government institutions. All claims should be filtered and evaluated with that in mind.

    BTW, this is one of the funniest links around that pokes fun at politicized Science [consumerfreedom.com] They are from some radio ads that a lobbyist group ran in the Washington, DC market. Obviously biased themselves, but very funny.
  • The World is Flat (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HappySqurriel (1010623) on Monday December 04, 2006 @01:30PM (#17101080)
    There are two main problems I see with climate change science, one is that there is a belief that scientific consensus is the same as scientific proof (if this were true the world would have been flat in the 1400's) and the other problem is that the conclusions are not supported by the evidence.

    The fact is that even the evidence that shows we are undergoing a warming trend fails to demonstrate that this is a long term warming trend, that the warming trend is man-made, or that green-house gasses have had an impact on the temperature change. The argument is usually along the lines "We have demonstrated that the Earth's temperature has risen 1 degree in the past 100 years, and at the same time man-made green house gasses have increased 10 times so the impact from man made greenhouse gasses is ." In many cases you could replace "Increase in Man made greenhouse gasses" with "Reduction in Pirates" and conclude that the world is warming because we lack pirates.

    What really bothers me is that whenever anyone attacks a study that makes questionable claims people automatically question their motives; all good science can withstand attacks from anyone regardless of their motives. The fact that these studies are treated like they're glass really makes me doubt how valid they are.
  • Lomborg (Score:5, Informative)

    by spencerogden (49254) <spencer@spencerogden.com> on Monday December 04, 2006 @01:30PM (#17101088) Homepage
    Born Lomborg, the author of the Skeptical Environmentalist, that Hemos mentioned certainly does NOT deny that global warming is real. The best I can sum up his points are:

    * The level of anthropogenic heating is unclear.
    * Climate predictions routinely exaggerate changes or use worst case scenarios
    * Cost calculations of warming frequently omit: benefits of warming (fewer people dying of cold weather, better crop yields), technological improvements, and behavior adaptation
    * Given that the mechanisms driving warming (and there for the effectiveness of proposed solutions) is unclear, and the cost usually exagerated, it would be unwise to devote huge sums to this problem. Instead look for problems where the benefit is clear and a solution is available (such as providing clean water to the worlds poor) to spend this money on.

    Anyone who is interested in this and other environmental issues must read his book. He set out years ago to debunk the claims of Julian Simon, and found himself changing his mind the more statistics he researched.

    He does claim that everything is hunky dorry, or that there are no problems. What he advocates is a rational examination of problems and their costs so that we can evaluate the best course of action.
  • by w3woody (44457) on Monday December 04, 2006 @01:36PM (#17101196) Homepage
    Risking the obligatory down-moderation for being "off-topic", even a quick trip to Wikipedia would show that there are a few more folks out there who have stated their opposition to the current 'consensus' on Global Warming, including those who doubt there is a global rise in temperatures, those who believe that there may be a rise in temperature but the cause is not properly explained, and those who have a problem with the current governmental frameworks (such as the Kyoto accord) that have been proposed or enacted to combat Global Warming.

    The biggest problem I personally have with the whole Global Warming thing is that the whole thing has been simplified to "Man's carelessness and wanton capitalist greed is destroying the Earth, and we must rebuild or remake all of society now before the fuzzy bunny rabbits and cute black and white penguins all die." Nothing good ever comes from reducing something this complicated to a political bumper sticker [stampandshout.com]--and while this is just one bumper sticker, the whole popular approach to Global Warming has been reduced to a political bumper sticker mentality.
  • Denial Machine (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Target Drone (546651) on Monday December 04, 2006 @01:44PM (#17101342)
    The CBC had a good program on this called The Denial Machine [www.cbc.ca]. You can watch it online.

    What I found shocking is that some of the same scientists who had funding ties to big tobacco and were saying that there was no evidence that smoking caused cancer are now the same scientists with funding ties to big oil and are claiming there is no proof of global warming.

  • by orzetto (545509) on Monday December 04, 2006 @02:06PM (#17101644)

    "Censorship" means literally "evaluation"; Roman Censors [wikipedia.org] used to watch over the Republic's morals and had a few other duties (including the census). Of course we usually we refer to the case when speech, art or other forms of expression are evaluated and denied publication. This is bad as everybody has a right to speak, and evaluating cases in which this should not apply leads rapidly to those in charge abusing their power and silencing those who contest them.

    However, in science there are serious evaluation guidelines. If claims are cooked up or not backed by data, they are just that. Can't take the heat, don't play the game.

    As a side note, Lomborg is a cook [lomborg-errors.dk].

  • by Phat_Tony (661117) on Monday December 04, 2006 @02:07PM (#17101658)
    First of all, I"m a fan of Lomborg's work: I think a lot of resources are misspent in poor attempts to improve the environment, when those resources could be much better spent in if they carefully targeted the most critical environmental problems. But Lomborg's not a climate scientist. He doesn't do research on global warming. The BBC is asking about suppressing global warming research, which is an issue irrelevant to Lomborg. Calling Lomborg a "counter-claimant" in this context makes it look like he does research showing that there isn't global warming, which might be being suppressed. That isn't the case at all. He doesn't do climate research. He evaluates the state of the environment and makes economic arguments about where and how we should direct resources to acheive the biggest envionmental improvements for our efforts.

    Even as an economist, he's not a "global warming counter-claimant," as he believes in global warming. As he says right up front in this Telegraph opinion piece [telegraph.co.uk], "Global warming is real and caused by CO2."

    Lomborg's arguments don't attempt to be, and are not, relevant to the scientific debate about global warming. (The debate being exactly how much there is and what all is contributing to it in what ways, not whether there is any, which is pretty well settled.) He just argues about the costs and benefits of various scenarios for attempting to counter global warming. For example, his argument in the linked article is:

    1. Climate scientists think that even worldwide adherence to Kyoto would make a tiny difference in the speed of global warming.
    2. Kyoto adherence would be fabulously expensive.
    3. For less than the costs of adhering to Kyoto, we could provide clean water, sanitation, and basic health care to every poor person in the world.

    If those three statements are provably true, I think they would make a lot of people rethink what actions should be taken regarding global warming.
  • by mschuyler (197441) on Monday December 04, 2006 @02:21PM (#17101916) Homepage Journal
    "Actually, the phrase "rife with claims and counter-claims" is making more of the counter-claims then they are; the vast body of the evidence indicates climate change is real; Lomborg is the only serious counter-claimaint that I am aware of."

    Thus providing a perfect example of what the BBC is talking about. Even if you never take your eyeballs off slashdot itself, there is ample evidence to the contrary, including the very detailed analysis by Moncton: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/ne ws/2006/11/05/nosplit/nwarm05.xml [telegraph.co.uk]. Don't just glance at the head; download the PDF and see what he's saying. Are there dissenters to this point of view? Sure there are. Did the United Nations cook the books on the evidence here? Yes, they did, and THAT ought to be a serious warning bell to anyone. Don't ignore this. WHY did the UN CHANGE the data to make global warming look worse than it is? This is a smoking gun. Even if you push it under the rug it's going to make an ugly lump.

    The issue here is not so much whether global warming is true. After all, we're coming off an ice age. At some level of course it's true. The issue is, Why does there seem to be a concerted push to make this a 'done deal' by people whose political interests would suggest they very nuch want it to be for their own agenda. The backlash to Moncton is interesting. It's similar to the Christian church demonizing Pan into Satan simply to gain control of he largely ignorant populace. A lot of the counter claims amount to argumentum ad hominem, an argument against the person, not the evidence. For all you folks who bristle every time someone calls Stallman a big fat smelly boy, well, this is the same thing.

    If there are no alarm bells going off in your head over at least some of the issues raised by the dissenters, then you are already converted. If you believe the world was created on October 29, 4004 BC at 10:00 in the morning, there is nothing anyone can do to convince you otherwise. For the rest, you owe it to yourselves to take a dispassionate and serious look at what the dissenters are saying without letting your SUV-loathing get in the way. Let us all see what the issues are here without jumping on either extremist side.
  • by PHAEDRU5 (213667) <instascreed@gmai l . com> on Monday December 04, 2006 @02:21PM (#17101934) Homepage
    So, Hemos, how's that degree in climatology coming along?

    For myself, I'm a bystander who's not really noticed much climate change during the 20+ years I've lived in the Southeast of the US (Atlanta, to be specific). Since all I have are my observations, and they seem to indicate a steady state, I refuse to be stampeded by appeals to authority or common practice, or by bandwagons.

    The treatment Bjorn Lomborg received reminds me of Galileo before the inquisition. Taking that a little further, please enjoy your religion, but please keep it out of my face.
  • by DaoudaW (533025) on Monday December 04, 2006 @04:03PM (#17103434)
    the vast body of the evidence indicates climate change is real; Lomborg is the only serious counter-claimaint that I am aware of.

    Others have pointed out that Lomborg isn't disputing global warming but have failed to point out why. He can't! He's not a scientist, well, at least not physical science.

    As his bio [lomborg.com] points out, he is a political scientist. His area of expertise is public policy and since 1998 his major focus has been on public policy surrounding global warming. If it wasn't in the original post, I'd probably have modded (yes, I'm sitting on mod points but decided to respond directly) comments regarding Lomborg as off-topic; the BBC is looking for evidence of scientific bias not of political dissension.
  • A little context (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Belisarivs (526071) on Monday December 04, 2006 @04:04PM (#17103446)
    It's probably too late into the discussion for anyone to notice this, but I thought that I'd provide a little context for the Global Warming debate that is generally overlooked.

    Up front, I have right leaning tendencies. I'm not going to advocate the position here, but I will share with you some of the thinking that's taking place on the right that causes this to be such a contentious issue, because I think that might lead to a more constructive discussion with the left (which I think the majority of Slashdot is more inclined towards).

    Recently, there has been a term that's been gaining popularity - Watermelon Environmentalism. That is, green on the outside, red on the inside. It's a common belief that the environmentalist cause has become deeply integrated with the socialist cause. When the right looks at what the environmentalist movement advocates, it looks an awful lot like centralized control of the economy. That freaks out the right a little bit. For an analogy that might be comparable on the left - consider the use of the term "terrorism" to expand the reach of government. The right is having roughly the same reaction to the claims of global warming.

    Now, toss in the fact that those warning of doom are frequently coming from areas sympathetic to socialist ideas, and you begin to understand the reticence by the right to buy the science. And let's face it, scientists are human beings too, and certainly not above having ideology (intentionally or not) influence their work. If you press someone on the right, I'm positive they're far more hostile to the corrective action being suggested than the actual concept of global warming.
    • Re:A little context (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mbkennel (97636) on Monday December 04, 2006 @04:39PM (#17103986)
      There's a reason for this.

      Pollution has "economic externalities" --- meaning that general people end up paying for the cost for something that benefits a few, and this cost is not included in the financial explicit cost.

      To be blunt, having to do something about global warming gets in the way of a few people making lots of money at the expense of many others and future generations of them.

      This is known as "selfishness".

      How can this obvious self-serving ideology be ignored when pointing out the "watermelon environmentalist" ideology?

      Economic externalities cannot be resolved without some collective decision to do so, because otherwise there is a tremendous "free-rider" problem.

      The right may dislike this, but it is the truth.

      When the right looks at what the environmentalist movement advocates, it looks an awful lot like centralized control of the economy.

      When it comes to alleviating environmental externalities, some is inevitable and impossible otherwise. The environmentalists were right about other forms of pollution---human health in cities is significantly improved as a consequence of their actions, which were bitterly opposed by the right at the time, using identical arguments.

      Why not cut off the catalytic converters and put lead back into the gasoline?

      How is it different from centralized control of law and order? The task then is to monitor the collective decisions to ensure they are the best available mechanisms to solve the relevant problems.

  • by Tangential (266113) on Monday December 04, 2006 @07:26PM (#17106460) Homepage
    http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110009337 [opinionjournal.com]

    Here are two Democratic Senators urging Exxon to not support any contrary research in the area of global warming.

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