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Reply #77: Calling others names makes your argument seem like it can't stand on its own [View All]

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Psephos Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-19-07 01:52 PM
Response to Reply #56
77. Calling others names makes your argument seem like it can't stand on its own
ThinkingWoman is not saying there's no warming going on. She's saying there's no definitive understanding of what's causing it. There's a range of scientific opinions. Naturally, we think those scientists whose views reflect our own to be future Nobel winners, and those whose views are contrary to be mendacious shills. :eyes: Thankfully, science values the clash of ideas much more than politics.

ThinkingWoman has earned her nickname, IMO.

History is full of examples of how incomplete understanding of complex systems caused us to make them worse through misguided efforts to make them better. (Cane toads, anyone?)

The scientifically prudent thing to do currently is to assume that human activity is having a big impact on climate change, and work right now to diminish the most obvious components of that. But we also have to be clear we don't know for sure if we're targeting the right thing. Perhaps human activity is the sole agent, perhaps it's one of several influences; further research, better models, and increased understanding of nuances in the interaction between ocean and atmosphere will eventually yield the answer. But not quite yet.

What if it's not greenhouse gases, but agriculture, that's responsible for the greatest effect? What if it's a misunderstood consequence of high-atmosphere aerosols, and not CO2? What part does cyclic variation in solar output play? Have we altered surface albedo in ways that cause Earth to hang on to more solar radiation, and if so, can we reverse it? What if we spend too much time focused on a lesser contributor because of a political dogma and ignore the thing that's actually more important?

These are just off the top of my head. A knowledgeable climatologist would have many more. The climatologist would also point out that climate is a classic example of a chaotic, or nonlinear, system (in pop terms, it's subject to the "butterfly effect"). The stock market, human emotional states, and the flow of traffic are also well-known examples. The salient feature of a chaotic system is that common-sense ideas of cause-and-effect do not apply. One cannot predict the outcome from the initial conditions. (People interested in a greater understanding of how the world actually works might consider reading James Gleick's book Chaos: Making A New Science.)

I completely agree we need to, as you put it, stop fucking up the planet. You'll never find anyone who disagrees we shouldn't be "fucking up the planet." Unfortunately, each person you ask will have a different answer for what exactly that entails.

We should promote, not inhibit, the exchange of scientific debate so that we can find the answers in the shortest possible time. The application of critical thinking skills will help identify the worthiest ideas. Squelching debate will not.

Peace.

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