Scientific Skepticism | Dr. Steven J. Allen

97% is a number you might have heard a lot in the last few years. That’s the number of scientists who supposedly believe in global warming theory. That 97% claim is questionable, but let’s ask the more important question: why do we find the idea of consensus convincing at all? The terms “Global Warming Skeptic” and “Climate Change Skeptic” are insults, but those who use this line of attack ignore that science only works when there are skeptics. Science is rooted in replicable research and experimentation. A scientist examines an existing set of facts, and concocts a theory that explains those facts. He or she makes a prediction to test that theory. If the prediction comes true, that constitutes evidence to support the theory. If the prediction fails, that undermines the theory, and the scientist goes back to the drawing board. It doesn’t matter whether a scientist is on the payroll of the American Cancer Society or a tobacco company, whether he is a Communist, or a Jew or a Baptist, beats her spouse, or volunteers at a soup kitchen. Only the evidence counts.

But what happens when someone gets the evidence wrong and it needs correction? That’s what critical peer review, aka “skepticism,” is for. In biomedical sciences, non-replication rates are estimated to range between 75 to 90 percent. Venture capital firms now take it for granted that 50 percent of published academic studies cannot be replicated. Imagine what would be done in those cases if there were no skeptics. Business and medicine would be at a standstill. If climate skeptics end up being correct, those attempting to silence them will go down in history alongside the members of the “scientific consensus” that, in years past, agreed that the earth was the center of the universe, that continental drift was impossible, that canals existed on Mars, and that evils such as white supremacy and eugenics were scientifically true.

When told of a publication entitled “100 Authors Against Einstein,” Albert Einstein reputedly said, “Why one hundred? If I were wrong, one would have been enough.” Science cannot function if skeptics are harassed and ostracized. When someone is challenging a scientific consensus with facts and logic, that’s to be encouraged, not dismissed due to politics. Argument, not anathemas, is the way to approach scientific issues surrounding climate changes. To learn more, you can read our study on Climate Change advocacy at climatedollars.org. I’m Dr. Steven J. Allen, thanks for watching..

Climate Change Denial Could Be Coming To Your Child’s Classroom

Right now Republicans in four different states are trying to pass legislation that will either prevent science teachers and teachers in general from explaining students the science behind climate change, or in other instances, they're trying to pass legislation that will give teachers the complete ability to decide whatever they want to teach students whether it's Creationism, Flat Earthism, and even in some cases, the laws are written so poorly that it would allow for teachers to teach their students white supremacism. Here's the thing. The science behind climate change is not debatable. 97% of all scientific research done on this issue, that's the 97% number that you've heard about, shows that there is a direct link between the actions of human beings and climate change. That climate change, yes, it is happening. Teachers are the ones instructed, tasked with, who have willingly taken on the opportunity to teach the new generation of American citizens. There the ones who we depend upon to turn children into knowledgeable human beings that go off into the world, become doctors, lawyers, politicians, nurses, drivers, whatever it is. We need them to know as much as possible.

For a party that says that they hate big government, they don't want the government interfering with anything, it seems to me like these laws that republicans are trying to pass in these different states are the example, the prime example, of government overreach. Do we need the federal government stepping into schools and telling teachers what they can or can not say in regards to science? I understand that public schools are funded by the federal government but beyond that, the government should not have any say in what teachers tell those kids as long as it is scientifically accurate and able to be proven by science. No, that means that Creationism goes out the door. We need to teach these kids everything they need to know to be fully functional human beings. We can't fill their head with fantasies from the fossil fuel industry or from the religious rite. We need to tell them what's actually happening.

If they choose to not believe it later on, that's their decision but at least put the knowledge out there so that they have it. Now, we have already seen over the past few years the fossil fuel industry stepping in, creating coloring books for children about the wonderful benefits of coal and all kinds of things like that. They're actively trying to influence what is being taught to our children. These private organizations that are helping to warm the planet. Now republicans are just playing right into their hands. We're stripping knowledge away from our kids, away from the generation of American citizens all to the benefit of the fossil fuel industry. Why are we doing this? Why are we bastardizing the education of our children just to benefit a few corporate CEOs? The Coke Brothers. Is that what you want for your children? Do you want your children to be dumber because we want the the Coke Brothers to make another billion dollars this year? Is that a good trade off? Your kids grow up, can't find a decent career because they didn't get a proper education but hey, the Coke Brothers, they made a few extra dollars this year.

According to the republican party, that is more important. It is more important that we coddle the dying fossil fuel industry than it is to take care of the next generation of Americans..

It’s so Cold, there can’t be Global Warming

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold tow opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald Meanwhile we’ve got this updated Fox news global warming alert, it is still cold, in fact it is getting colder, much colder, environmentalists telling me DUHHH “because it’s winter”…IT IS FREEZING! We’ve heard a lot of talk lately from deniers that cold temperatures are proof that there is no such thing as global waming. It looks like it will be an annual event for me to remind people that winter still follows summer. So, before we get started, a little review. It was a cool summer, right? Chicago, New York, places like that, so, how can it be global warming? This is how. Look at the context. These blue dots over North America represent below average temperatures for the summer, June, July, August, what we call climatological summer.

But look at the context, they’re lost in a sea of red dots, across much of the rest of the globe, just a couple other blue dots here and there, those red dots are above average temperatures. What that translates to in terms of a ranking, for this summer and for august, globally, second warmest on record, period of record going back a little more than a century. June through august globally, the third warmest on record, the oceans, which had cooled for a couple years, now recovered with a vengeance, August the warmest on record, June through August, also the warmest on record, and in the southern hemisphere, August was the warmest on record. The warm summer was followed up by a very warm november, globally, including abnormally warm temperatures in north america. Ironically, unseasonal warmth set the stage for dramatic winter weather, when temperatures did drop in december.

Let’s talk about why we’re seeing such a huge and significant lake effect event. The Great Lakes themselves, the water temperature there is still some 3 or 4 degrees warmer than it should normally be this time of year, because of a very mild November. Now again, its very cold air right now, its about 17 degrees, the cold air is coming over these warm lakes, picking up all this moisture, and dumping inch after inch of snow down wind, and, people, waking up on your friday, dealing with perhaps 2 to 4 feet of snow. People love to talk about the weather, and a series of strong storms and cold temperatures in December and early january sparked a lot of discussion. What scientists are telling us is that an important circulation pattern, the arctic oscillation, is in it’s negative phase. Normally, in the positive phase, the arctic oscillation produces strong winds around the arctic that keep cold air bottled up. When the oscillation is in its negative phase, cold air spills out of the arctic, and flows into north america and eurasia. Paradoxically, while temperate zones feel an arctic chill, the arctic itself becomes warmer than usual, exactly the effect that has been observed over the last several weeks.

The UK meteorological office produced this map, and described the observations. “Canada, North Africa, the mediterranean, and south-west Asia have all seen temperatures above normal, in many places by more than 5° C, and in parts of northern Canada, by more than 10° C.” When we look at the graph of the monthly arctic oscillation index, we can see that the current one is the strongest negative since the 1970s, which is why many people were surprised by the blasts of cold air, that are expected under these conditions. One effect was on air circulation over western europe, which normally flows from the west over the atlantic, delivering warmer air. Under the negative arctic oscillation, the warmer winds are blocked, and most of of the air flow is cold arctic winds, leading to snow and cold in many european countries. This diagram from NOAA shows the pattern of warmth in the arctic and unusual cold in mid latitudes around the northern hemisphere.

Dr Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data center, told reuter’s news agency: “It’s very warm over the Arctic, with air temperatures locally at 10 to 15 degrees F (5.6 to 8.4 degrees C) warmer than they should be in certain areas,” This map from NASA also shows the pattern, which was well illustrated in a BBC report with graphics from the UK Met office. This MET office maps show’s today’s temperatures around the northern hemisphere. There’s cold air over us, but warmer air elsewhere. Look further south and east, there’s an unusually warm band of air there. Then, further east, and over China, another very cold pocket. But just as the arctic was unseasonably warm, other areas of the globe also were not feeling the cold. While much of the Northern Hemisphere suffers from one of the hardest winters in years, the thermometer is shooting way up, down under. On Monday, Melbourne was melting with highs soaring to 110 degrees fahrenheit, monday night, Melbourne sweltered through its hottest night since 1902, the temperatures topping 34 degrees Celsius, or 93 degrees fahrenheit.

Most people think of global warming as a process where the planet sets new warming records year after year. A clearer picture comes in a new study from the National Center for Atmospheric research, described here by senior scientist Gerald Meehl. But what we noticed is in the last 10 or 20 years there’s been this ratio of about 2 to 1, for every 2 record high maximum temperatures, there’s only been about one record low minimum temperature set, on average over the US. We looked at a model simulation going off into the future, and in this model simulation we had a scenario where we are increasing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases going off into the twenty first century. And as the climate continued to warm, this ratio continued to grow. In other words, you kept having more and more record high maximum temperatures, fewer and fewer record low minimum temperatures. So by the mid twenty first century, this ratio, which is now about 2 to 1, was about 20 to one, by the end of the century, with this continued warming, this continued change in the distribution of records, the ratio is about 50 to 1.

One of the messages of this study is, you still get cold days. Even at the end of the twenty first century, in the model simulation, when the climate’s warmed up by 3° or 4° Centigrade on average across the US, you’re still setting record low minimum temperatures on a few days every year. So, people always get very alarmed if there’s a cold snap in the winter, and they say, “what’s happened to global warming? We’re freezing out here.” And you say, well, that’s just the weather. In the northeast we’re talking temperatures well above average, Boston heading up to 43, warm in New York at 44, DC, we’re in the 50s, that’s about 10 degrees above average. And no cold in the midwest either, we are well above average here, friday temperatures 20 degrees above average in Bismark, at 39 degrees, we’ll be warm in Kansas City, in Denver will be mild, and in Great Falls, Montana, about 20 degrees above average, the warmth hangs on on saturday, all across the midwest.

When I look out at the world from a limited perspective, my senses tell me that the earth is flat. For thousands of years, most human beings probably believed that this was so. But in a technological, scientific world, our perception is greatly expanded, and we have a much larger view of the world and our place in it. We need to understand the larger perspective about our changing climate as well. Sophisticated instruments and advanced science show us details that our senses could never see, and recent satellite measurements show, that in fact, on january 13th, global temperatures were the warmest for a january day in the satellite record. And this week, NASA released data showing that 2009, was the second hottest year in the instrumental record. We’ll be looking more at this new data in coming weeks and months. The science of global climate is vital for us to understand if we are to pass along to our children a planet that is liveable, diverse, and abundant.

It’s the most important task this generation will undertake, and you can keep track of our progress right here, on climate denial crock of the week..