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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Misinterpreting the Weather? Only by the alarmists

As one of the hereto mentioned "availability entrepreneurs", I think it is important that we look at the facts behind the arguments made in this NYT article.

I consider myself an "availability entrepreneur" based on the definition given in the article itself:
Today’s interpreters of the weather are what social scientists call availability entrepreneurs: the activists, journalists and publicity-savvy scientists who selectively monitor the globe looking for newsworthy evidence of a new form of sinfulness, burning fossil fuels.

Actually, I guess I am the anti-availability entrepreneur. I just thought I was a hobbyist. I have routed my understanding of the changes we are seeing in the climate to:
  • The articles I have read that show that any temperature variations are clearly within natural variation when the planet's entire history is considered.
  • Similar variations are being seen throughout the solar system where human influence is non existent.
  • The approach of the AGW crowd matches perfectly the liberal, socialist political agenda of redistributing wealth, maintaining a dependent sub-class of poor and disadvantaged societies.
  • The fact that the AGW crowd refuses to debate the issue intellectually and relies on computer projections while the the so-called skeptics are presenting actual data and are asking for legitimate debate.
I do not believe that global warming is or is not caused by human activities. I believe in God the Father, his Son Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints and the forgiveness of sins.

Global warming is not a belief system. The alarmists that are trying to drive public policy changes believe in man-made global warming and frequently point that out in both word and deed.

When judging risks, we often go wrong by using what’s called the availability heuristic: we gauge a danger according to how many examples of it are readily available in our minds. Thus we overestimate the odds of dying in a terrorist attack or a plane crash because we’ve seen such dramatic deaths so often on television; we underestimate the risks of dying from a stroke because we don’t have so many vivid images readily available.

Slow warming doesn’t make for memorable images on television or in people’s minds, so activists, journalists and scientists have looked to hurricanes, wild fires and starving polar bears instead. They have used these images to start an “availability cascade,” a term coined by Timur Kuran, a professor of economics and law at the University of Southern California, and Cass R. Sunstein, a law professor at the University of Chicago.

The availability cascade is a self-perpetuating process: the more attention a danger gets, the more worried people become, leading to more news coverage and more fear. Once the images of Sept. 11 made terrorism seem a major threat, the press and the police lavished attention on potential new attacks and supposed plots. After Three Mile Island and “The China Syndrome,” minor malfunctions at nuclear power plants suddenly became newsworthy.

“Many people concerned about climate change,” Dr. Sunstein says, “want to create an availability cascade by fixing an incident in people’s minds. Hurricane Katrina is just an early example; there will be others. I don’t doubt that climate change is real and that it presents a serious threat, but there’s a danger that any ‘consensus’ on particular events or specific findings is, in part, a cascade.”

Once a cascade is under way, it becomes tough to sort out risks because experts become reluctant to dispute the popular wisdom, and are ignored if they do. Now that the melting Arctic has become the symbol of global warming, there’s not much interest in hearing other explanations of why the ice is melting — or why the globe’s other pole isn’t melting, too.

So how does this belief in human caused global warming affect us directly? The cascade is already underway. Al Gore won his Nobel prize even though the instrument that justified his award was deemed to be misleading, politically motivated and full of scientific errors in a British court of law. The global warming conference in Mali was stuck in a stalemate until the US conference in Hawaii was threatened unless the US delegation capitulated to certain predetermined conclusions. The US Congress continues to debate caps in emissions of CO2 - the gas we exhale! - and indications are that President Bush could sign such a bill.

The cascade is moving. We have to be active to prevent this from becoming an out of control freight train. Real science, observational data and honest intellectual debate must be given an equal footing along with the computer projections. And if the models don't accurately predict the present then we cannot rely or even consider them to be realistic indicators of the future.

The religious fervor of the climate change alarmists is cause in itself for alarm. This is their god. This is their reason to be. They will use all means to protect the planet even if it results in the deaths or suffering of the people. Reduce the population. Conserve nature's resources. Heal Gaia's fever. The earth is suffering. All efforts must be to change the evils that human existence has caused, even if we didn't cause it. The message must be maintained. Evidence that does not conform to the message must be wrong.

Folks, we all have to be anti-availability entrepreneurs and prevent the perception of a problem from creating a bigger problem with bad policy and mis-guided laws.

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