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Republicans to Repeal Laws of Physics

Posted on 13 March 2011 by dana1981

Republicans have decided that they can repeal the laws of physics with the laws of the USA.

First a bit of background.  In 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the U.S. EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, if they meet the definition of "air pollutants".  In order to qualify as "air pollutants", the emissions must "reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare".  In 2009, the EPA issued an endangerment finding which referenced numerous scientific assessments including the IPCC report, and concluded that "greenhouse gases in the atmosphere may reasonably be anticipated both to endanger public health and to endanger public welfare".  This conclusion is strongly supported by the body of scientific evidence.

As a consequence of this endangerment finding, the EPA established a timeline to begin regulating greenhouse gas emissions, starting with the largest sources such as power plants and oil refineries in 2011.  There are now two ways to prevent the EPA's greenhouse gas regulations:

  1. Congress can pass legislation which establishes a different system to control greenhouse gas emissions, thus superceeding the EPA.
  2. The EPA endangerment finding can be overturned if it's determined that greenhouse gas emissions no longer endanger public health or welfare.

From an economic standpoint, it would be preferable if Congress implemented this first option, because systems which allow the free market to control greenhouse gas emissions, such as a carbon tax or cap and trade system, have less economic impact than government regulations.  In fact, studies have shown that carbon pricing mechanisms have little economic impact, and their benefits outweigh their costs several times over.  For this reason, cap and trade was originally a Republican proposal as an alternative to EPA regulation of sulfur dioxide in response to acid rain (also under the Clean Air Act).  That's right, as hard as it is to believe now, cap and trade was first proposed by Republicans.

U.S. Congress has attempted to pass climate legislation which includes a carbon pricing mechanism (cap and trade system) several times thus far, but such proposals have rarely gotten more than a couple of Republican votes, and have always failed.  Most recently in 2009, the House of Representatives managed to pass a climate bill.  Unfortunately we were reminded that the USA is a republic, not a democracy, as Republicans exploited archaic Senate rules and their 41% minority to filibuster (obstruct) similar legislation which was supported by the majority, and it never even made it to a vote in the Senate.

In short, Republicans aren't willing to implement a carbon pricing mechanism, but they also don't want the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.  So they're now pursuing the second option discussed above.  To accomplish this, Republicans in the House of Representatives have introduced H.R. 910, inaccurately named the "Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011".   H.R. 910 has two main components:

  1. It overturns the EPA's greenhouse gas endangerment finding.
  2. It prohibits the EPA from regulating or otherwise taking action regarding greenhouse gas emissions to address climate change.

In other words, we have politicians attempting to overturn a scientific finding whose purpose is to protect public health and welfare, for purely political reasons.  This is a rather disturbing turn of events from a scientific standpoint.  We cannot disregard a scientific finding, particularly one which has major consequences for public health and welfare, just because we don't want to believe it, or because doing so would be politically advantageous.

The House Republicans (and to be fair, there are a few Democrats from fossil fuel dependent regions which also support this bill) put very little effort into justifying this legislation.  They called two climate scientist "skeptics" to testify before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power, and in a sign of the meaninglessness of the hearing, they also called on Donald Roberts to rant about DDT regulations.  The "skeptics'" testimony was little more than a litany of long-debunked climate myths, but the Congressmen in the hearing didn't seem very interested in hearing what the scientists had to say anyway.  At the end of the hearing, Democrat Congressman Markey wittily summed up the proceedings:

"Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to a bill that overturns the scientific finding that pollution is harming our people and our planet.

However, I won’t physically rise, because I’m worried that Republicans will overturn the law of gravity, sending us floating about the room..."

Markey's full comments are well worth reading.  Soon thereafter, the subcommittee passed the bill by voice vote, and the measure will next be sent to the full House Energy and Commerce Committee.  Fortunately, as Congressman Markey noted, even if the bill is passed by the House of Representatives, it has little chance of passing in the Democrat-controlled Senate, and if it were to pass there, President Obama would almost certainly veto this legislation.

Nevertheless, the mere existence of the bill is an ominous sign of the Republican war on climate science, in which they believe they can overturn scientific evidence based on nothing more than the ignorant opinions of a few politicians.  Similarly, Republicans in the Montana state legislature recently introduced a bill which stated, among other scientific falsehoods,

"global warming is a natural occurrence and human activity has not accelerated it."

It seems as though Republicans think that politics can dictate science.  Unfortunately, passing legislation saying that humans are not causing global warming, or that greenhouse gas emissions do not pose a threat to public health and welfare, does not change the physical reality that these statements are simply wrong.

The climate operates based on the laws of physics, not the laws of Montana or the United States of America.  Republicans may have declared war on science, but it's a war they cannot win.  By pretending that we can dictate how the climate will behave with a few simple words on a piece of paper, all we can accomplish is to bury our heads in the sand and doom ourselves to the catastrophic fate that awaits us in a business-as-usual scenario.  These politicians need to be reminded that they are supposed to be looking out for the American public's welfare and best interests, not prohibiting the EPA from doing just that.

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Comments 151 to 182 out of 182:

  1. Back to the subject at hand, Democrats have tried to add a few science-related amendments to the legislation in question. One simply to state that climate change is happening:
    "Congress accepts the scientific finding of the Environmental Protection Agency that 'warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level."
    Every single Republican (31) on the Energy and Commerce Committee voted against these amendments. They won't even acknowledge that the climate is changing.
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  2. Dana... That's because their purse strings are tied to rejecting the science of climate change.
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  3. Rob - they could admit the climate is changing and argue that the change is natural. They'd still be wrong, but at least they wouldn't deny obvious physical reality, and it wouldn't impact their funding from the Koch brothers or Big Oil.
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  4. Dana @151, Goodness me, the Republicans cannot even bring themselves to agree that the warming is real, even without nary a mention of the word human or anthropogenic-- that is how deep their denial and delusion goes. The GOP are completely divorced from reality and the sooner the Demoncrats can communicate that to the people the better. This is very clearly about money and ideology for the GOP. Dark times.
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  5. Yes, you could argue that Waxman was doing the Republicans a favor by proposing this amendment. They could add it to the legislation to argue that they don't reject science, but still have justification to revoke the EPA authority on GHG regulations. Seems to me like this was a gift. Yet they couldn't even bring themselves to admit that the planet is warming. That absolutely cements the fact that they are anti-science. Heck, they're even anti-reality if they can't admit the planet is warming.
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  6. Dana... Admitting the planet is warming would mean abandoning some of their doubt driven tactics. These guys are in lockstep. They don't want to give even an inch, even if they're obviously wrong. Ultimately this is all going to work to their detriment as climate change becomes more and more obvious. But my take is, this all about delay. Every year legislation on carbon gets delayed is billions more in profits for the FF industry. That buys a lot of votes in Congress.
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  7. "Gilles @142, Nice try to reframe the argument, but I can only assume that those practices to which you refer (cherry-picking etc.) are those which have been engaged in by "skeptics" and contrarians, including those who have testified to Congress on behalf of the Republicans. So yes, I hope that you will join us in condemning the misinformation and distortion presented by the likes of Lindzen, Christy, Michaels, Pielke Snr and Monckton (their misinformation has been well documented here at SkS and elsewhere) to the US Congress and people of the USA. And that is before we have dealt with the so-called "post-normal science" crowd, whose scientific misconduct has been well documented and is the subject of at least one investigation." My position is that as long as scientists debate, there is a debate. Lindzen , Pielke, Curry are NOT politicians or astrologists. Even McIntyre is a real statistician who knows his stuff. They may be wrong, but I'm not qualified to say that. I'm just observing that things are not settled. " "SRES scenario have no predictive power, they are not based on known and validated laws, they have no associated probability - it is just some set of possible histories, which may all be quite unlikely." Wow, if you wish to have any credibility, at least try and back up your beliefs with some substance, citations, and science. This kind of vacuous arm waving serves no purpose. And yet you somehow feel free to accuse others of not quantifying the probability?.... " well , I suppose that IPCC is a valuable source ? http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/sres/emission/index.php?idp=25 "Scenarios are images of the future, or alternative futures. They are neither predictions nor forecasts. Rather, each scenario is one alternative image of how the future might unfold. A set of scenarios assists in the understanding of possible future developments of complex systems. Some systems, those that are well understood and for which complete information is available, can be modeled with some certainty, as is frequently the case in the physical sciences, and their future states predicted. However, many physical and social systems are poorly understood, and information on the relevant variables is so incomplete that they can be appreciated only through intuition and are best communicated by images and stories. Prediction is not possible in such cases " blah, blah , blah .... " How do you reconcile this statement made by you: "Most SRES scenarios were already wrong when they were published, because the fuel consumption in the 90's was already greater than their prediction"" With your claim that "560 may be reachable in the far future - I don't think that it will be a catastrophe either." " just because there is no obvious link between a current growth rate and an ultimate integral value. " Well, it is difficult to keep track of your position on this amongst all the arm waving. OK, so we agree that the EPA should be permitted to regulate GHG emissions which will reduce FF consumption and pollution." I think it's difficult only if you don't really listen to what I'm saying, but judge me with your prejudices. Again : Improving the EFFICIENCY doesn't insure that we will reduce the total emission rate, and even limiting the RATE of GHG emission doesn't insure at all that we'll limit the INTEGRATED AMOUNT of GHG. Do you agree at least with this assertion ?
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  8. So what you're saying Gilles is that, because we can't 100% guarantee that improving efficiency will reduce total emissions (even though nations like Germany & States like California have proven that it does) that we shouldn't even try? Wow, talk about a defeatist attitude-the fossil fuel industry loves people like you. You're the kind of person that Stalin once described as a "useful idiot". I'll give you this iron-clad guarantee: improving efficiency & reducing the amount of energy we derive from fossil fuels will-at the very least-slow down the rate at which GHG emissions rise over the next century compared to the BAU approach that you seem to keep recommending. Of course, if we take a more realistic approach to population growth & restore some of our lost carbon sinks, we might actually get GHG emissions to levels lower than the current century. "I think it's difficult only if you don't really listen to what I'm saying, but judge me with your prejudices." No its not prejudice, Gilles-you claim not to be pro-fossil fuels, yet every comment you've made has been to effectively spruik the ongoing, inefficient use of fossil fuels for many decades to come.
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  9. Gilles wrote : "My position is that as long as scientists debate, there is a debate. Lindzen , Pielke, Curry are NOT politicians or astrologists. Even McIntyre is a real statistician who knows his stuff. They may be wrong, but I'm not qualified to say that. I'm just observing that things are not settled." There's a whole WIKIPEDIA page here about the Creationism/Evolution 'controversy', and scientists like Spencer would claim that the debate is worth having and, therefore, isn't settled. Do you agree ? As for McIntyre, could you tell what you mean by him being a "real statistician" ? What do you base that on, considering that you don't feel qualified to judge ? Is it just fact that he (and a few others) are arguing from a minority position, therefore they must have a valid point somehow ? How have you determined that ?
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  10. Following on from 159 JMurphy/Gilles.... The "there is debate so the science isn't settled" argument is a real tell that someone really knows little about how science actually works. To illustrate. There was a fascinating paper in Nature the other week on olification. Really it's not clear - it turns out - which proteins process which molecules do smell, or how - shape or vibrational state. Vibration theory of olfaction .v. Shape theory of olfaction Yet no one goes round saying "smell isn't real" or "I'm not prepared to smell anything till the science is settled". The American legislature doesn't vote against perfume sales etc. etc. There is legislation that keeps down bad smells in various places. I've no doubt there are people who lobby for and against such things. The facts are that we can smell things. It's an objective, measurable (to some degree) fact. That we don't know how it works beyond any doubt is neither here nor there... The settledness of the science is immaterial. OK, compared to the climate; it's of less economic importance, impacts on peoples lives less... but that's not the point if you're arguing that "... so long as scientists debate... things are not settled". No. That is the attitude of someone who has never been closer to science than "The Cookie Monster Drop an Apple and Explains Newton" episode of Sesame Street. Real science is knee deep in uncertainties, debates and alternatives... which embed within a settled science.

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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] Another good example is the internal combustion engine. The fact that few people have any real idea how they work doesn't stop them from driving a car.

  11. I thought this Dilbert would be appropriate, and perhaps provide some levity.
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  12. Gilles, I have not read all of your rant above @157, I almost stopped when I read this fallacy posted by you: "Even McIntyre is a real statistician who knows his stuff." McIntyre is not a real statistician, and has been shown to not know his stuff. He is a conduit for misinformation and a lap dog for the Republicans, "skeptics", contrarians and those who deny AGW. He also has a personal vendetta against Dr. Mann. Finally, a source (referring to you quoting the IPCC), something substantive. The SRES scenarios are the best that we have, and thus far the projections have been on the conservative side, that is not encouraging, and not consistent with your opinion voiced here. Who to place more weight on, a contrarian on the web or the imperfect SRES? Easy, SRES and the work that has since been done since which Daniel Bailey linked us to above. "I think it's difficult only if you don't really listen to what I'm saying, but judge me with your prejudices." Nonsense, you have for all here exposed your bias, prejudices, so please do not project those onto me. In fact, it is you who is judging the IPCC and climate scientists with your prejudices and are failing to listen to the informed people both here and at RC. I am judging you on your inability to make a consistent, coherent and fact/science-based argument, and your inability to get your facts straight. No efficiency alone is not going to reduce GHG levels or net emissions, it is part of the wedge approach proposed by Pacala and Socolow. More science for the Republicans to ignore. Giles, I am not going to continue debating with you, and providing you a platform to perpetuate your misinformation.
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  13. Gilles, Regarding, "Lindzen , Pielke, Curry ... They may be wrong, but I'm not qualified to say that" So, it is an appeal to authority argument. Let's examine your authorities: Lindzen - Agrees that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and that more of it will change the thermodynamic properties of the earth, but believes through a bit of complicated math that the earth's climate will regulate itself and thereby prevent changes dangerous to us. This is despite a geologic record which does not give one the sense that the climate is inherently stable. He reminds me of the guy who "proved" that heavier-than-air flight was not possible; it is not clear what he thought of birds. Well, actually, there was more than one who believed this, but Lord Kelvin was one of them. My point is that Lindzen may be highly competent, but the evidence is against him. Peilke - I have no comment. Christy - He seems to be saying that either the observed warming is not really observed, and/or that we don't know anything because we don't know everything. Curry - I sometimes have trouble reconciling the different statements she makes, but that could just be me. In any event, she also has stated that the warming is real and that it is potentially dangerous. Her range of possibilities include some scenarios under BAU that are pretty much game-over situations. So, I don't believe that she is a good authority for supporting BAU. You are using an appeal to authority, and the vast majority of the authorities are against you. The only efficient way to stabilize the CO2 content of the atmosphere is to quit putting more into it. As I understand it, the current bill does not counter the findings of the EPA that higher levels of CO2 are dangerous, it just removes their ability to regulate CO2. The vast majority of authorities agree that things will get catastrophically bad if BAU continues until we run out of fossil fuels. Like Yul Brynner, at some point, we will quit using fossil fuels. The sooner we do that, the less chance we have of developing a fatal condition. The current bill would delay when we quit.
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  14. Marcus : i'm speaking of the integral over time (ultimate recoverable ). I don't see how Germany or California could have proved anything concerning the integral production of the whole world throughout the century. I explain further if it's still unclear : a country owns an oil field containing 100 Gbl. With no conservation, it would be exhausted in 30 years. Now thanks to great effort in the world, consumption has been divided by two, so after 30 years , it still remains one half of the initial content. Will it stop the extraction just because "if nothing had been done, it would have been exhausted now?" Of course not -first because we wouldn't have any idea of what would have happened "if ..." , and second because it would be completely silly to stop the extraction when a lot of people still need it. We don't stop NOW the extraction of oil just because the oil growth curve has been strongly reduced after the first oil shocks ! (it has.). Concerning the alleged attitude of 'recommending" to spoil FF, I defy you to find a single post from me where I would have said that. " There's a whole WIKIPEDIA page here about the Creationism/Evolution 'controversy', and scientists like Spencer would claim that the debate is worth having and, therefore, isn't settled. Do you agree ? " Spencer is not a biologist. Newton believed in alchemy, I don't. Evrything is not comparable. As a general scientist, I find that many criticisms concerning an undue faith in numerical simulations and uncertain reconstructions are founded,and Mcintyre has already made relevant criticisms that have been acknowledged by the community, and published reviewed papers (which is not the case of astrologists for astrophysicists or creationnists, to my knowledge). But my main criticism is not about the uncertainty of models, which is acknowledged even by climate scientists : it's about the unreasonable amount of FF that are needed in most scenarios
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  15. 160 Moderator Yes, well. No engineer understands all the processed of combustion in a piston; and certainly not without the help of models and simulations. This uncertainty is surely enough to stop someone, inclined to that kind of thinking, to stop driving a car.
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  16. Chris G "You are using an appeal to authority, and the vast majority of the authorities are against you." I'm sorry, but you're projecting your own attitude on me. I am not appealing any authority. I am not saying these people are always right. I observe that there is a debate, and I can give you many comments even by climate scientists showing that these people have been often right. " The only efficient way to stabilize the CO2 content of the atmosphere is to quit putting more into it. " Well said ! and the only efficient way to avoid car crashes is to stop using cars, too. so why don't you stop using ANY fossil fuel just tomorrow ? " The vast majority of authorities agree that things will get catastrophically bad if BAU continues until we run out of fossil fuels. Like Yul Brynner, at some point, we will quit using fossil fuels. The sooner we do that, the less chance we have of developing a fatal condition. The current bill would delay when we quit." The vast majority of authorities don't have any idea how to stop FF without an immediate economic crash, and nobody even think of that . So please tell me : what is the reasonable minimum amount of FF you would allow per capita, and for how long ?
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  17. " I am judging you on your inability to make a consistent, coherent and fact/science-based argument, and your inability to get your facts straight. " I'm deeply sorry you think so. So may be we could compare our "facts". For instance, let us compare our scenarios. Could you please indicate me , what would be for you * the worst scenario * the "most realistic" scenario * the "best scenario" for the XXIth century, with the following estimates : - CO2 concentration in 2100 - annual CO2 production in 2100 -annual energy consumption in 2100 - annual GDP in 2100 - average temperature increase in 2100 (with respect to preindustrial value)
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  18. Gilles wrote : "...Mcintyre has already made relevant criticisms that have been acknowledged by the community, and published reviewed papers (which is not the case of astrologists for astrophysicists or creationnists, to my knowledge)." It's easy to criticise but quite another thing to be taken seriously, as McIntyre knows. He may well have pointed out some problems with proxy data in MBH98 but, not being in any way an expert in anything to do with Climatology, he has not (indeed, cannot - in the same manner as you mention with regard to astrologists vis a vis astrophysics) been influential. Oddly, though, so-called skeptics seem to hold him in high regard and he has even been called here a "real statistician" - whatever that was meant to prove. If you want to see more 'debate' with regard to Evolution, how about this peer-reviewed journal - admittedly as scientifically trustworthy as Energy & Environment. Now, which hero to the so-called skeptics has published in E&E...?
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  19. Gilles @167, Nice try, but you seem to have missed my closing statement @162, which read: "Giles, I am not going to continue debating with you, and [thereby] providing you a platform to perpetuate your misinformation." I'm not biting.
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  20. Well, one more try... Gilles, when you say that you are unable to make the determination yourself, but these people say X, that is a style of argument called an appeal to authority, whether you recognise it or not. "so why don't you stop using ANY fossil fuel just tomorrow ? " And, that style of argument is called a strawman. No one is claiming that we should cease all fossil fuel use immediately; so, whatever point you are trying to make is moot. "The vast majority of authorities don't have any idea how to stop FF without an immediate economic crash, and nobody even think of that ." a) That's not true; Jim Hansen has proposed a phased-in carbon tax that would provide the mechanism to wean us off of fossil fuels without causing a crash. b) It's irrelevant; it's not really the climate scientists primary responsibility to say how we should reduce FF use. Their primary responsibility is to determine if there is a serious problem, and the consensus is 'yes', there is. Before you start an argument about the consensus, you should come to grips with the idea that the consensus came to exist as a result of the research, not the other way around. I'm neither a scientist, nor a policy maker; so, it isn't my job to answer your last question. It is the job of the policy makers deal with what the scientists are telling them about the nature of the problem, and that is what this group is trying hard not to do. They just want to ignore it. Not find it wrong, just ignore it.
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  21. JMurphy : I am not working with analogies. Each issue is to be examined separately. Do you have a precise assertion concerning creationism that you would try to convince me about ? do you have a precise assertion concerning global warming that you would try to convince me about ? I will examine each one seriously and I will tell you what I'm thinking of them. I never said that the existence of a peer-reviewed journal was a proof of veracity - me. "Well, one more try... Gilles, when you say that you are unable to make the determination yourself, but these people say X, that is a style of argument called an appeal to authority, whether you recognise it or not." No it's not, because I not claiming that something is true because somebody said it. I said some issues are open. That's different. " a) That's not true; Jim Hansen has proposed a phased-in carbon tax that would provide the mechanism to wean us off of fossil fuels without causing a crash." May be Hansen is a magician. I suggest him to teach chinese people how to develop without coal. b) "It's irrelevant; it's not really the climate scientists primary responsibility to say how we should reduce FF use. Their primary responsibility is to determine if there is a serious problem, and the consensus is 'yes', there is." I think there is a serious problem with car crashes , which kill a million people a year. It's scientifically proved - actually very easy to prove. Nobody contests it ! no contrarians, no denialist, for sure it's true. So i deduce that we should immediately ban all cars and stop making them. Do you agree ? what does Jim Hansen think of it ?
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    Moderator Response: [DB] This has strayed far enough off-topic.
  22. Gilles, the 'debate' is between Creationism and Evolution, so that should convince you that not everything is settled - as it seems to have done with regard to AGW. Details are unimportant : the debate is all, apparently. As for global warming, please read these threads : The Big Picture Newcomers Start Here They should give you many assertions concerning global warming.
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    Moderator Response: [DB] I appreciate your talents and determination, but hopefully by now you realize what you're dealing with.
  23. JMurphy : I am a scientist, so I presume I have some ability to distinguish between a scientific discussion (e.g. discussing reconstruction methods, numerical models, role of spatio-temporal chaos, retroaction loops) and silly arguments. I admit that non-scientists are less able to do that, and must rely more on authority arguments ( = we MUST trust scientists !). Let me just observe that I don't know any website maintained by scientists and devoted to criticize the arguments of creationism or astrologists. They just laugh or try to generally educate people, but there is no DISCUSSION of them - for a simple reason, there is no "scientific" assertion of creationists, as long as i can see. Obviously this site is discussing scientifically arguments. that's enough for me to call it a scientific debate - you're indeed the best proof that the debate does exist.
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    Moderator Response: [Muoncounter] You are ill-informed - see the National Center for Science Education, run by scientists specifically for the purpose of criticizing the arguments of creationists in their cloak of intelligent design. They produce an excellent list of discussion points; however existence of such a discussion hardly legitimizes one side of the debate. If you write 2+2=5 and you are corrected, your 'side' of that brief debate is not given status via correction.
  24. Gilles @173:
    Let me just observe that I don't know any website maintained by scientists and devoted to criticize the arguments of creationism or astrologists.
    TalkOrigins
    Talk.origins is a Usenet newsgroup devoted to the discussion and debate of biological and physical origins. Most discussions in the newsgroup center on the creation/evolution controversy, but other topics of discussion include the origin of life, geology, biology, catastrophism, cosmology and theology. The TalkOrigins Archive is a collection of articles and essays, most of which have appeared in talk.origins at one time or another. The primary reason for this archive's existence is to provide mainstream scientific responses to the many frequently asked questions (FAQs) that appear in the talk.origins newsgroup and the frequently rebutted assertions of those advocating intelligent design or other creationist pseudosciences.
    The Panda's Thumb
    About “The Panda’s Thumb” is many things… First, it is an example of jury-rigged evolutionary adaptation made famous by the late Stephen Jay Gould in an essay of the same name. Second, it is the legendary virtual bar serving the community of the legendary virtual University of Ediacara somewhere in the Ediacaran hills of southern Australia, growing out of the lore of the Usenet talk.origins newsgroup. And now it is a weblog giving another voice for the defenders of the integrity of science, the patrons of “The Panda’s Thumb”.
    Just two (and two of the best) of many sites where scientists discuss, analyse and otherwise pull to shreds the arguments of creationists, geocentrists and flat earthers such as, for example, Dr Roy Spencer, that rather well known (to us) Intelligent Design Creationist. The ranks of the creationists include a very large number of qualified scientists. So, by the standard you are defending, there is after all a scientific debate about creationism, and evolution; and indeed, even a scientific debate about geocentrism. Alternatively, some scientists allow dogma to rule their minds, and generate pseudoscience in defense of the dogma they cannot let go of. Let me tell you, as a veteran of the creation/evolution debate, AGW deniers show all the intellectual rigour I have come to know and love from creationists. Right down to that old favourite argument of creationsists: X is a scientist; X is a creationist; Therefore There is a scientific debate about creationism.
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  25. In addition to Tom Curtis's good examples, I would like to add Richard Dawkins and his Foundation for Reason and Science - he has wasted much of his time battling against Creationist beliefs. Also see his book The Blind Watchmaker. Also see : Science Museums Adapt in Struggle against Creationist Revisionism All part of what Creationists would call an ongoing debate, in just the same way as the so-called skeptics would say with regard to AGW. As Tom also noted, the tactics are pretty much the same and involve some scientists who both believe in Creationism (i.e. they are anti-science) and doubt AGW (ditto). Anyway, this is all pretty much off-topic by now but I think it has been shown that a debate involving non-experts is not the same as scientific arguments which are the normal state of play within good science.
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  26. OK for the argument of websites - this is a minor point. And I'm not saying that all arguments of climato-skeptics are true. But i think there is a fundamental difference; there is absolutely no room for any creationism or astrology in the known science. Defending these ideas is, in fact, attacking the whole construction of modern science, which has proved to be incredibly efficient - after all if our laws were wrong, it would be a miracle that TV, satellites, or computers work perfectly. On the other hand , there is nothing contradicting the laws of physics if there were natural cycles explaining the medieval optimum, if the retroaction of water wouldn't be so strong after all, if the ultimate amount of FF would be below 1000 Gtoe, or if mankind would adapt satisfactorily to a change of a few degrees. This wouldn't be at all contradictory with the fact that TV, satellites, or computers do work - actually this wouldn't be contradictory with anything. So I keep thinking that the comparison with creationism is disingenuous.
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    Moderator Response: [Muoncounter] Odd you would find it disingenuous, as you brought it up. Yet another example of the power of fact-based argument over your 'I think' and 'its clear to me'. Please try harder to substantiate your ideas; refuting mere opinion is tedious.
  27. Gilles @176, the difference between science and pseudo-science is not a difference in subject matter, but in how the "scientist" responds to falsification of their claims. In essence, a scientist will always attempt to maximize the empirical content of their theory; while a pseudo-scientist will minimize it. Pseudo-scientists will do this by: 1) Holding dogmatically to already falsified positions; 2) Attempting to place the burden of proof entirely on the opposing theory; 3) Using conventionalizing strategies that attempt to make their theory true by definition; 4) Using vague theories, and not spelling out the empirical predictions of their theories; and 5) Misrepresenting facts, including quoting sources out of context, and incorrectly describing the content of sources (ie, quote mining). They will also use tribalism to ensure that they do not have defectors, including abusing, vilifying and in general dehumanizing their opponents; and reserving criticism for their opponents, even when they clearly disagree with their friends. These are not exhaustive lists, but the crucial point is that all of these behaviours are common place in denier circles. Some more so than others. Plimmer, for example, and Monckton, appear to use the list of pseudo-science traits as a play book. IN fact, my overwehlming impression of Plimmer's Heaven and Earth was that he had taken his earlier "Telling Lies for God" as a tactics manual. Now granted there is a scale here, and not all deniers are as bad as each other; but not a single leading denier does not exhibit a large number of these traits. And amongst leading deniers, not a single one makes a practice of acknowledging the instances where they have been rebutted, and attempting to correct their theories accordingly. There are some minor players on the denier side who are much better in this regard, including IMO Ferdinand Engelbeen and Leonard Weinstein. But despite these rare examples, much that passes for criticism in denier circles is plainly pseudo-science; and the little that rises above that level does not support their case. Therefore the comparison with creationists is apt. Frankly, it is about time the serious deniers started recognizing this fact. So long as denier "science" is dominated by the Moncktons and the Plimmers, and the Watts; or even by the McIntyres of their movement, mainstream scientists are entirely correct to dismiss them as pseudo-scientists. The one thing a genuine scientist never lacks is fruitful lines of inquiry. Given that, and limited time, simple practicality dictates that they ignore the pseudo-scientists. There are to many probably fruitful lines of inquiry to waste time on the almost certainly fruitless. If you think there is more to that from the denier side; something mainstream scientists really need to pay attention to; then have enough faith in the idea to stop hiding it behind the great wall of nonsense which is so typical of denier websites and books. Clean out the charlatans from the denier house, and then it will be worthwhile for mainstream scientists to listen to the surviving denier ideas, ... if any.
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  28. Gilles -
    "there is absolutely no room for any creationism or astrology in the known science. Defending these ideas is, in fact, attacking the whole construction of modern science"
    That's not true. If for example there were an all-powerful deity which created the Earth 6,000 years ago and put all the pieces in place to make us think the planet is 4.5 billion years old, that wouldn't contradict modern science. What we know, for example, is that species evolve through natural selection. We've observed this. We also know that the planet is warming, we know how the greenhouse effect works, etc. There are observations and then there are theories and predictions based on those observations.
    "there is nothing contradicting the laws of physics if there were natural cycles explaining the medieval optimum"
    Of course not. Natural forcings do explain the MWP! That's a rather silly example. The bottom line is that the scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports both the evolutionary and AGW theories. But they are still both theories, and there are people who will always attack those theories. But Creationists really are not fundamentally different from global warming "skeptics". You may personally be more convinced by "skeptic" arguments than you are with Creationist arguments, but that doesn't mean they're any more or less scientifically valid.
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  29. Nature has just published an editorial which is consistent with my article:
    "...That [the EPA endangerment] finding is scientifically sound had no bearing on the decision to push the legislation, and Republicans on the House of Representatives’ energy and commerce committee have made clear their disdain for climate science. At a subcommittee hearing on 14 March, anger and distrust were directed at scientists and respected scientific societies. Misinformation was presented as fact, truth was twisted and nobody showed any inclination to listen to scientists, let alone learn from them. It has been an embarrassing display, not just for the Republican Party but also for Congress and the US citizens it represents...the legislation is fundamentally anti-science, just as the rhetoric that supports it is grounded in wilful ignorance."
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  30. Tom Curtis @177 "2) Attempting to place the burden of proof entirely on the opposing theory" This is the root of many a skeptic argument tactic. They reject the evidence as inadequate or fraudulent thus forcing the burden back onto the supporters of the AGW theory. Since this rejection is based entirely on ideology it makes it impossible to shift back. You can present evidence and facts til you are blue in the face and all the skeptics need do is deny them as facts. It is an unwinable struggle and a very unscientific attitude.
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  31. "That's not true. If for example there were an all-powerful deity which created the Earth 6,000 years ago and put all the pieces in place to make us think the planet is 4.5 billion years old, that wouldn't contradict modern science. " Dana, this wouldn't contradict known facts, but this would plainly contradict the very spirit of science. You could argue as well that the world was created just yesterday and that nothing existed before. Science has begun when mankind has ceased to believe that events could happen randomly or through the will of deities, but should obey definite laws. This is precisely why creationism isn't acceptable as a science. It is as a belief, of course. Weren't this feature, it would be perfectly admissible and debatable. But there is nothing like that in the discussion about CC. It's just a discussion around a very complex system that nobody really knows.
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  32. Looks like Obama is putting physics to rights... "As the largest consumer of energy in the U.S. economy, the Federal government can and should lead by example when it comes to creating innovative ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency, conserve water, reduce waste, and use environmentally-responsible products and technologies," said President Obama.
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