Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Consensus on Manmade Climate Change

Embroiled in a debate with "Iron Mike" an American global warming denialist. I asked him what would change his mind. He asks for evidence of consensus. So here it is:

IPCC is a conservative body of globally chosen atmospheric scientists. They have consensus.

The Royal Society is a conservative body of British scientists. They have consensus.

This is from Wikipedia article on "scientific opinion on climate change":

# 1 Statements by concurring organizations

* 1.1 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007
* 1.2 Joint science academies’ statement 2007
* 1.3 Joint science academies’ statement 2005
* 1.4 Joint science academies’ statement 2001
* 1.5 U.S. National Research Council, 2001
* 1.6 American Meteorological Society
* 1.7 American Geophysical Union
* 1.8 American Institute of Physics
* 1.9 American Astronomical Society
* 1.10 Federal Climate Change Science Program, 2006
* 1.11 American Association for the Advancement of Science
* 1.12 Stratigraphy Commission of the Geological Society of London
* 1.13 Geological Society of America
* 1.14 American Chemical Society
* 1.15 Engineers Australia (The Institution of Engineers Australia)

# 2 Noncommittal statements

* 2.1 American Association of State Climatologists
* 2.2 American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

Wikipedia goes on:

A question which frequently arises in conveying the scientific opinion to a broader audience is to what extent that opinion rises to the level of a consensus. Several scientific organizations have explicitly used the term "consensus" in their statements:

* American Association for the Advancement of Science: "The conclusions in this statement reflect the scientific consensus represented by, for example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the Joint National Academies' statement."[24]
* US National Academy of Science: "In the judgment of most climate scientists, Earth’s warming in recent decades has been caused primarily by human activities that have increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. ... On climate change, [the National Academies’ reports] have assessed consensus findings on the science..."[25]
* Joint Science Academies' statement, 2005: "We recognise the international scientific consensus of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)."[26]
* Joint Science Academies' statement, 2001: "The work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) represents the consensus of the international scientific community on climate change science. We recognise IPCC as the world’s most reliable source of information on climate change and its causes, and we endorse its method of achieving this consensus."[27]
* American Meteorological Society: "The nature of science is such that there is rarely total agreement among scientists. Individual scientific statements and papers—the validity of some of which has yet to be assessed adequately—can be exploited in the policy debate and can leave the impression that the scientific community is sharply divided on issues where there is, in reality, a strong scientific consensus. ...IPCC assessment reports are prepared at approximately five-year intervals by a large international group of experts who represent the broad range of expertise and perspectives relevant to the issues. The reports strive to reflect a consensus evaluation of the results of the full body of peer-reviewed research. ... They provide an analysis of what is known and not known, the degree of consensus, and some indication of the degree of confidence that can be placed on the various statements and conclusions.

So, Mike: These are _American_ sources mark you. America is the country that up to now was trying to hold the world back from doing anything about climate change. However, now even your [expletive deleted] government has had to accept the reality of AGW. Only Iron Mike is still unconvinced. This is why I am so reluctant to spend time on this non-issue. If the above consensus will not have any influence on you, nothing will.

In that consensus is the only scientific criterion you put up, and in that consensus exists (apart from a rump of denialists), your case is over.

The economic worries that you present (see Mike's posting here: ) are a red herring "a fallacy in which an irrelevant topic is presented in order to divert attention from the original issue. The basic idea is to "win" an argument by leading attention away from the argument and to another topic. This sort of "reasoning" has the following form: 1. Topic A is under discussion. 2. Topic B is introduced under the guise of being relevant to topic A (when topic B is actually not relevant to topic A). 3. Topic A is abandoned. This sort of "reasoning" is fallacious because merely changing the topic of discussion hardly counts as an argument against a claim.

You (and the other denialists) are arguing: "if AGW is happening, this would mean a change in our oil based way of life. We do not want to change our way of life. Therefore AGW is not happening".

Mike demands details of a course of action to save us from experiencing the worst of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) before he will accept that AGW is happening. This is somewhat illogical, because only if we accept that global warming is happening will we be motivated to get off the carbon economy, but I will do my best to oblige, because it is not just AGW that motivates us to come off carbon, but also the matter of Peak Oil, and the particulate pollution and acidification effects of carbon combustion. Oh, and obesity. Of course, these effects pale into insignificance in relation to the effects of AGW. I have put down a marker here on what needs to be done. It does not meet Mike's criteria, since they are unreasonably stringent, considering that governments, with all their resources, could not meet his criteria. We are at the stage of constructing a scaffold, not applying the finishing touches to the finials. The key to the economic case for dealing with AGW is that mitigation will take 1% of the world's GDP, but business-as-usual will absorb at least 5% of the world's GDP. This means, Mike, that we will be financially better off if we do change our way of living, Mike, because 5 is a bigger number than 1. Countries who come off the carbon economy will be better off than dumb slow countries like the US and UK because the first countries will be better at making the solar energy capture technology that everyone needs. They will be out ahead in the competitive energy market. Competition is the whole market thing, Mike. By holding out against AGW mitigation, America is disadvantaging its own economic progress in its own terms. This makes no sense. But then Bushonomics makes no sense. It is the economics of the vacuum. "Look at my works, ye mighty, and despair

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