(Climate Change) Science Is Not Up for Vote!!

Posted: January 14, 2015 in bat-s**t-crazy, climate change, politics, science
Tags: , , , ,

In lieu of a post yesterday, you get a 149-word ranty post today based on WND’s snippet, “Senate to Vote on Whether Climate Change Happening.”

There are so many things wrong with this, but when I put on my science outreach hat, the biggest issue here is that it gives the impression that science is up for vote.

Is 2+2=5? It might be if the Senate votes it is!

That sort of thing seems ridiculous to most people, but this is the exact same thing that this headline implies: If the Senate votes climate change is happening, it is! If they don’t, it isn’t!

Yes, I fully realize that this is an opportunity for everyone to score perceived points for their base, for conservatives to show that they don’t believe it and liberals to show they do. But the idea that they are voting on a scientific idea is just … UGH!!!

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Comments
  1. Tea Partier says:

    Hahaha once again I agree with you here. I’m wondering, when will the senate vote on whether gravity is real or not? Any idea? Science should be left to scientists, laws should be left to congressmen. That’s my opinion.
    The real dividing argument here is not whether the climate is changing or not, but should be how rapidly is it changing. A study from NASA in 2010 suggested that the climate could warm between 2°C and 6°C in the next century (obviously would be catastrophic) but a study in 1975 by NASA predicted that world wide cooling could happen in the next century. Although science now is a lot different from science 40 years ago however the possibility still exists that they were wrong back then, why is it impossible that they could be wrong now?
    Honestly, I think the Earth’s natural climate will go whatever way God wants it to go with or without humans. Look at Venus for example; hottest planet in the solar system, massive green house gases in the atmosphere, all without man.
    This is all because of a debate over an oil pipeline might I remind you. Which in my opinion, is another dumb thing for congress to be voting on. The pipeline should be the decision of the company that will build it, and the States that it would go through, why does this even have to be granted by the government in the first place?

    • Stuart Robbins says:

      Picture climate models from 5 decades ago as a very large funnel, such that you’re holding the nozzle in the 1970s and the cup part is aimed slightly upwards. The nozzle you’re holding is temperature now, the funnel cup represents possible future outcomes given what we know at the time.

      Move forward a few years and just duplicate your funnel, but maybe shrink it a tiny bit, and move it very slightly upwards. Keep doing that and get to the present-day.

      It’s hard to forecast the future, but as far as these models have come, with every bit of new data and better understanding of feedback mechanisms and input parameters, they get a little better, and our funnel cup of possible outcomes shrinks a little bit.

      So, while it’s impossible to say that something is certain to 100% in science, the models have all converged, and the observational data have converged, on that being the most likely model of reality. That’s the science.

      I would caution you on generalizing that the consensus in the 1870s was that we were headed for global cooling. See this or this for more on that (short version: of 68 studies from 1965-1979, only 10% predicted cooling, while 62% predicted warming).

      As for all the political crap, it’s crap and it’s stupid and science should never be beholden to political whims and wiles. As for the Keystone pipeline, I have so little interest in it that I won’t even click on the headlines anymore, so I can’t comment on whether I personally think the federal government should or should be involved in it. I would guess they have some sort of role due to a treaty with Canada, or multi-state commerce, or the EPA or something like that, though.

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