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October 30, 2012 / JayMan

Sandy…

New York:

New Jersey:

Connecticut:

Rhode Island:

Massachusetts:

Pennsylvania:

Maryland:

DC:

West Virginia:

Virginia:

North Carolina:

Ohio:

Canada:

Cuba:

Jamaica:

Haiti:

In the aftermath of this horrendous storm, one positive result is that it will—for a time—bring people together. People come together to help out their neighbors in need. Many people in my region are volunteering to help the victims of the storm, opening up their homes to provide a place for people to shower, as well as offering food and helping with the gargantuan clean-up effort that now must be undertaken.

Hurricanes are fairly unique as disasters go, in that they affect an enormous area, leaving millions of people across vast far-flung areas in shared suffering (see endnote). In this case, this is from Canada in the north to Jamaica in the south and from Nova Scotia in the east to Michigan in the west. At least briefly, we are no longer just neighborhoods, cities, states, or voting blocks, but one country, one people—and indeed, as this storm’s impact stretches across many national boundaries, we become (at least for the affected countries) one world, at least in a limited sense. This unity, even if fleeting, is an interesting contrast to what will be the subject matter of my upcoming post. Sure, problems will emerge, tensions will develop between certain groups—with certain usual suspects being more responsible for this, and politics as usual will get going likely rather quickly as the election draws near. But at least for now, some of that will be put aside.

  • Endnote: I’ve been following hurricanes for a long time, and I’ve seen some strong and highly destructive, long-track storms, but this one is fairly unprecedented in its scale and certainly in its track. It’s an open question as to whether global warming is involved, because we are still in an active period of Atlantic tropical cyclone activity. We will see.

15 Comments

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  1. ChevalierdeJohnstone / Oct 31 2012 7:46 AM

    There has been no warming measured in the past 10 years and global temperatures in 2012 are below what they were in 2005 when Katrina hit. Explain how a measurable lack of warming could possibly imply that “global warming” contributed to this storm.

    • JayMan / Oct 31 2012 7:51 AM

      If you’re going to do global warming denial, at least bring your A-game: Flatly wrong global warming denial | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine

    • redzengenoist / Oct 31 2012 9:40 AM

      With all due respect, “I’ve been following hurricanes for a long time, and I’ve seen some strong and highly destructive, long-track storms, but this one is fairly unprecedented in its scale and certainly in its track. It’s an open question as to whether global warming is involved”, and linking to that Discover article, ain’t A-game either.

      I’ve grown to suspect that that global warming is one of the most challenging subjects in existence, because it involves
      1. the full force of the evils of confirmation bias and political bias, permitting endless anecdotal evidence (“I’ve been following hurricanes for a long time”, ec) and endless echo-chamber effects in information sourcing,
      2. all of the complexity of extreme data scope, depth, and general richness, and
      3. all the detective-work and intrigue of data and analysis contaminated by large numbers of agenda-motivated, deceptive primates on either side.

      It’s a perfect storm, requiring incredible dedication to grok. A-game, and nothing but.

      I suspect that less than a few tens of thousands of human beings on the face of the planet have reached the correct conclusions from available data for the right reasons, and that all of them have reached numerous erroneous conclusions on the way… later to be discarded completely, like incorrect understandings of a card trick.

    • asdf / Oct 31 2012 11:03 AM

      bingo

      And as someone who watches credentialed professionals forge study results all the time for all sorts of reasons I always take my data with a cup of skepticism on the side.

      Global warming is pretty much the least important thing in the world to me. If it’s going to happen there are zero realistic political solutions, so either someone will come up with an engineering solution or not. If it’s not going to happen then great. Nothing for one to do about it in either case.

    • JayMan / Oct 31 2012 12:06 PM

      The ultimate test of any theory about human induced global warming—as with any scientific theory—is whether or not its predictions come to bear.
      Nonetheless there are some inescapable facts, which include:

      • Proof-of-concept exists (Venus, Earth’s own greenhouse history)
      • Planetary warming has been seen
      • No other putative explanations for the observed warming can be found (not variable solar luminosity [since the sun reallyisn’t all that variable] nor axial/orbital changes with the Earth)

      It’s a perfect storm, requiring incredible dedication to grok. A-game, and nothing but.

      As you might note from reading my blog, I prefer simplistic and far-reaching analysis to things that are overly complex and are prone to irrelevant gobbledygook and dubious assumptions. The results of one such simplistic analysis found that only atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations fit to the observed warming.

      Does that mean that some of the most doom & gloom predictions of those who study climate change will necessarily come to pass? Well, that’s the part that truly remains to be seen.

      asdf is correct in that, at this point, only something man-made can truly address the problem. That said, it’s probably a good idea to stop making things worse and shift away from hydrocarbon fuels. Of course, the only way that’s ever really going to happen—with increased reliance on nuclear energy—isn’t moving in the direction it should, and this will be topic of a future blog post.

      In any case, my main point to ChevalierdeJohnstone was that if you are going to be critical of global warming, which is fine, don’t cite reasons that can be easily shown to be rubbish.

    • redzengenoist / Oct 31 2012 1:11 PM

      “There has been no warming measured in the past 10 years and global temperatures in 2012 are below what they were in 2005 when Katrina hit. ”

      There are two statements contained in CJ’s post. The article which you link to does not refute them, but provide an argument of “true, but insufficient context”.

      I know that your rebuttal feels like a refutation to you, but this is the political part of your brain talking – he will not be persuaded that you have told him anything new, and you will be persuaded that you have refuted him, but nothing to the effect of a genuine trade of reason has taken place. It’s political one-upmanship, not scientific exchange.

      Pardon my saying so, but the same is the case for your reply post to me – the three “inescapable facts” you post are not even C-game, all 3 “inescapable facts” are very non-binary and extremely baroque, far more complicated than anything I know of in my own field of genetics. Pardon my saying so, but (and as a gentleman, be honest if you do correct me) your presentation of them in the confident tone of “inescapable facts” suggests that you haven’t spent hundreds of hours critically investing the exact details of said facts, and particularly not the take of the best of your perceived opponents on said facts. To put it provocatively, it’s like when a creationist presents the “inescapable fact” that if humans descended from monkeys, then there shouldn’t be any monkeys anymore, and looks around with a self-satisfied smile; you know at this point that the person has not been in a genuine argument with a versed interlocutor, but has been assured by an echo chamber that evolutions have no counter-argument to this brutal zinger, or perhaps presented it to a few extremely stupid atheists with success.

      I write all of this at the risk of alienating a person I respect, in the hope that my gentlemanly bluntness might persuade you that it’s worthwhile to try to investigate the “best case” explaining the other side. Or, if you cannot find the time to do this, please just acknowledge that you don’t have the time to defensibly form a strong opinion… it really [i]is[/i] complicated.

    • JayMan / Oct 31 2012 2:10 PM

      Whoa…

      I think that you may have greatly overestimated the scope of my statements or their intended level of definitiveness.

      In my post to you I stated my own position about climate change and where I don’t buy the arguments commonly circulated by climate change advocates, and why this is the case. As you should know from reading my blog, and contrary to assertions about my “political brain”, my positions are based entirely on the evidence.

      My position with global warming is currently that evidence for it and for its primarily human cause is good, as per what I’ve posted to you previously. The burden of proof is then on those claiming otherwise to show either:

      • Why this evidence is not so strong
      • Additional evidence that contradicts the evidence for human-induced climate change

      Note that I only initially claimed that this hurricane might have been influenced by global warming. As I see it, there are plenty of reasons to suspect that is might, and at the same time, plenty of reasons to suspect that it might not.

      ChevalierdeJohnstone seemed to imply with their statement that it was definitely not possible that climate change contributed to this storm. This was based on a somewhat faulty premise, which I’m sure was aided by the fact that I used the term “global warming” (in my mind, the proper term) rather than “climate change” as I suspected I should have (the term that must be used out of necessity, as demonstrated here). The short answer to their point was that

      1. there is certainly warming if you look further back than the past decade
      2. no one expects to see monotonic warming anyway, so the point is moot

      I have no stance that climate change must or must not be real on principle, and my mind is opened to being changed. However, if you want to change my mind, you need to present evidence, plain and simple, as it should be. I’d imagine you’d agree with this position.

    • redzengenoist / Oct 31 2012 9:46 PM

      ” contrary to assertions about my “political brain”, my positions are based entirely on the evidence.” I know that you are less vulnerable than most, but you (as I) remain a primate, vulnerable to your inherent biases.

      “ChevalierdeJohnstone seemed to imply with their statement that it was definitely not possible that climate change contributed to this storm.” I don’t believe so – he made two factual statements, in the context of which he asked you to explain the reasoning behind your “it’s an open question” implication of AGW in your post. I know you’re saying that you didn’t “really” implicate AGW, but that’s a bit like “i’m not saying yo momma is a whore, but it’s an open question where she gets so much money”. The explicit mention of GW does serve to suggest implication.

      “However, if you want to change my mind, you need to present evidence”
      I don’t, and I don’t.

      Rather, I seek to persuade you that it’s worthwhile to try to actively investigate the “best case” explaining the other side, on your own initiative.

      The difference is, in the first case, the burden of finding and presenting the evidence is on me. This type of exchange is a laborious and almost universally fruitless endeavor on the part of the evidence-presenter when the subject is a politically invested one, as your “snapshot of the problem” post evinces. I’ve done this a large number of times when I was perhaps too young to know better, of course more so with the case of HBD, and it has literally never proved a worthwhile endeavor, no matter how meticulous and polite and data-driven my presentation of evidence; to the contrary, it’s very unrewarding to present each step of a path to a person not interested in doing the work of walking it on their own initiative, and who sees any acknowledgement of their perceived opponent as a concession and defeat. This is the opposite of scientific exchange, where each party is seeking to falsify their own position.

      I’m convinced that the second case is the only case worth doing, and it’s the only one I’ve had any success with – convincing a person to, on their own initiative, actively seek out information which they admit they have not sought out yet, based on their estimation of your word that it is worthwhile to do put in the work of walking the walk.

      If you are persuaded that it’s worthwhile to do so, and merely ask for me to suggest a place to start, I would suggest continuing the train of reasoning which you yourself initiated. You realize that 10 years is insufficient context, and expand to 30. But on reflection of the size of the dataset, you will realize that a 30 year timeframe is likewise vulnerable to cherry picking. By your own argument, context must be expanded as richly as possible, so that natural variation may be recognized, and small-scale “noise” does not distort the conclusion.

      Expand to merely 100 years, and you will evince that most of the warming of this (again, cherry-picked) century has occurred prior to significant increase in CO2.
      http://upload.wikimedia.org/wi
      http://upload.wikimedia.org/wi

      Now, take your argument further still. Expand the timeframe to 1000 years, to include the mediaeval. Or millions of years, within which context current climate – both in mean temperatures, rates of change, and acceleration of change rate – are so remarkably unremarkable. In this full context, our past 10 years, or 30 years, are not even at the edge of the bell curve on any of these three dimensions: mean temp, rate of change, acceleration of change.

      If you feel swamped by this richness of data (as you should), and want an presentation-style introduction to Earth temperature over millions of years, there are many on youtube, I recall that Bob Carter has done several – and those are merely the *starting point*, from which you can critically assess each statement he makes, and each dataset he presents. If you genuinely want to grok it, you’ll have to take my word for it that it deserves nothing less than A-game. Hours and hours and hours, dude.

    • JayMan / Oct 31 2012 10:14 PM

      It seems that your links have been truncated, unfortunately, and don’t work.

      Now, take your argument further still. Expand the timeframe to 1000 years, to include the mediaeval. Or millions of years, within which context current climate – both in mean temperatures, rates of change, and acceleration of change rate – are so remarkably unremarkable. In this full context, our past 10 years, or 30 years, are not even at the edge of the bell curve on any of these three dimensions: mean temp, rate of change, acceleration of change.

      As you might note from my earlier post, another of my interests is astronomy, particularly planetary science. I am quite familiar with what has been said about the Earth’s climate and changes in such.

      On very long time scales, there is little argument that climate varies according to natural forces. On geologic timescales (i.e. billions of years), the sun has brightened considerably, and the Earth’s atmosphere and climate have changed as a result. On the timescales of the ice ages (i.e., tens of thousands of years), obviously natural forces are also at work. I’ll even concede that on the timescale of historical times (i.e., a few thousand years), climate can be naturally quite variable, even though human forces may have played a role. However, on the time scale of the last century or two, it doesn’t appear to be clear what natural forces are involved in affecting climate, and there is evidence of human activity playing a role. You still haven’t presented evidence to the contrary.

      Rather, I seek to persuade you that it’s worthwhile to try to actively investigate the “best case” explaining the other side, on your own initiative.

      You seemed determined to demonstrate that assertion for which I used the weak form (that climate change might be involved in the hurricane) is false. This is basically saying that that claim could not be true. That’s a big claim to make, especially in light of the evidence I’ve posted. The burden of proof lies squarely on the shoulders who assert that climate change couldn’t be involved with the storm.

      I previously stated that I’m not overly attached to any position on this matter. I’ve only gone where my nose has taken me. I see that you’re not particularly willing to make a thoroughly reasoned case, understandably. However, if so, perhaps it’s just best to leave the matter at that.

      I don’t really see the need for me to investigate the issue much further, as my point has been sufficiently made as far as I’m concerned.

    • redzengenoist / Oct 31 2012 10:59 PM

      “I don’t really see the need for me to investigate the issue much further”

      Yeah, ok.

      “Or, if you cannot find the time to do this, please just acknowledge that you don’t have the time to defensibly form a strong opinion”

      “I’ve only gone where my nose has taken me.”

      I suggest that your nose should be treated by yourself as insufficient grounds for presenting confident terms such as “inescapable facts” that “No other putative explanations for the observed warming can be found “.

      Better to just say “I don’t have the time to investigate the matter, so I feel uncomfortable making statements of fact about it”.

    • JayMan / Oct 31 2012 11:03 PM

      I suggest that your nose should be treated by yourself as insufficient grounds for presenting confident terms such as “inescapable facts” that “No other putative explanations for the observed warming can be found”

      I presented my sources. You’ve said that I’m wrong. The burden of proof is on now you.

      Final post on the topic unless you have evidence to present.

    • JayMan / Oct 31 2012 11:56 PM

      To be fair you did mention something for me to look at. I will take a look at it and get back to you. Sorry about that, you did mention evidence.

    • redzengenoist / Nov 1 2012 9:18 PM

      Fair enough. In the same spirit, here are the truncated links:
      http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9e/Atmospheric_carbon_dioxide_concentrations_and_global_annual_average_temperatures_over_the_years_1880_to_2009.png
      http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a2/Climate_Change_Attribution.png

      FWIW, I’m not claiming that you’re wrong in your conclusion, or otherwise wrong, I’m encouraging the postponement of conclusion until investigating the best case from the other side.

  2. qwer / Oct 31 2012 12:54 PM
  3. dave06516 / Nov 3 2012 7:24 AM

Comments are welcome and encouraged. Comments DO NOT require name or email. Your very first comment must be approve by me. Be civil and respectful. NO personal attacks against myself or another commenter. Also, NO sock puppetry. If you assert a claim, please be prepared to support it with evidence upon request. Thank you!

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