Answering the ‘Science’ Question

As expected, one of the questions in last night’s GOP debate concerned Rick Perry’s views on certain scientific matters, specifically global warming:

HARRIS: Governor Perry — Governor Perry, Governor Huntsman were not specific about names, but the two of you do have a difference of opinion about climate change. Just recently inNew Hampshire, you said that weekly and even daily scientists are coming forward to question the idea that human activity is behind climate change. Which scientists have you found most credible on this subject?

It was a totally expected question, and one that could have been easily answered. Unfortunately Rick Perry rather muffed it (more so than is evident in the transcript):

PERRY: Well, I do agree that there is — the science is — is not settled on this. The idea that we would put Americans’ economy at — at — at jeopardy based on scientific theory that’s not settled yet, to me, is just — is nonsense. I mean, it — I mean — and I tell somebody, I said, just because you have a group of scientists that have stood up and said here is the fact, Galileo got outvoted for a spell.

 But the fact is, to put America’s economic future in jeopardy, asking us to cut back in areas that would have monstrous economic impact on this country is not good economics and I will suggest to you is not necessarily good science. Find out what the science truly is before you start putting the American economy in jeopardy.

Harris followed up, giving Perry a second chance:

HARRIS: Just to follow up quickly. Tell us how you’ve done that.

Are there specific — specific scientists or specific theories that you’ve found especially compelling, as you…

Again Perry failed to answer the question, or put the issue to rest:

PERRY: Let me tell you what I find compelling, is what we’ve done in the state of Texas, using our ability to regulate our clean air. We cleaned up our air in the state of Texas, more than any other state in the nation during the decade. Nitrous oxide levels, down by 57 percent. Ozone levels down by 27 percent.

That’s the way you need to do it, not by some scientist somewhere saying, “Here is what we think is happening out there.” The fact of the matter is, the science is not settled on whether or not the climate change is being impacted by man to the point where we’re going to put America’s economics in jeopardy.

Again, Perry really failed to address the issue decisively. The sad thing is that this issue really isn’t that hard to answer; in fact credible scientists have already done the work for him. This is how Perry should have answered:

“A scientist I find credible on the issue is Richard Muller, Professor of Physics at Berkeley and author of the book Physics for Future Presidents. He has been critical of some of the data and methodology used to support theories of climate change in favor anthropogenic warming. I further agree with his view that the biggest threat to the environment comes not from activity in the US and Europe, but from manufacturing activities in China and India, countries not covered by the Kyoto treaty.

 I also find interesting recent findings by European scientists at CERN, the group which works with the Hadron collider, that have determined some of the warming we are seeing is the product of  cosmic radiation.

So rather than strap the American economy to a science which is still being debated by scientists and which has become a political hammer used by self-interested liberals who have no solutions for our economic problems, I prefer to approach the problem from a position of economic strength, which gives us greater leverage to face the challenges global warming could present in the future.”

I don’t expect to hear such an answer from any of the candidates (though they are free to borrow mine 🙂 ) because it isn’t sound-bite friendly and would require said candidate to put some actual thought into an answer – but this is the answer they should give if they want to put the issue to bed.

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11 Responses to Answering the ‘Science’ Question

  1. Mike D says:

    Yeah, so, in that “interesting find” from CERN, the actual author of the study said that it “actually says nothing about a possible cosmic-ray effect on clouds and climate”. Golly, strange that didn’t make Fox News, amiright? Phil Plait did a write-up on it over at Bad Astronomy, and Media Matters did their usual bang-up job of exposing the stupidity of conservative media.

    Oh, and I suppose you missed it when when Richard Muller presented the findings of his independent research group, which found… wait for it… “global warming trend that is very similar to that previously reported by the other groups.” In fact, Muller went so far as to say, “Despite potential biases in the data, methods of analysis can be used to reduce bias effects well enough to enable us to measure long-term Earth temperature changes. Data integrity is adequate. Based on our initial work at Berkeley Earth, I believe that some of the most worrisome biases are less of a problem than I had previously thought.” Read his full testimony here.

  2. jackhudson says:

    The Wall Street Journal gave quite a different write up to these set of events; of course given your undying faith in liberal publication’s interpretation of facts, it’s unlikely you will read it or give it any weight. Most notable was this bit:

    But while the cosmic-ray theory has been ridiculed from the start by those who subscribe to the anthropogenic-warming theory, both Mr. Kirkby and Mr. Svensmark hold that human activity is contributing to climate change. All they question is its importance relative to other, natural factors.

    Through several more years of “careful, quantitative measurement” at CERN, Mr. Kirkby predicts he and his team will “definitively answer the question of whether or not cosmic rays have a climatically significant effect on clouds.” His old ally Mr. Svensmark feels he’s already answered that question, and he guesses that CERN’s initial results “could have been achieved eight to 10 years ago, if the project had been approved and financed.”

    The biggest milestone in last month’s publication may be not the content but the source, which will be a lot harder to ignore than Mr. Svensmark and his small Danish institute.

  3. Mike D says:

    I really don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish by leading your reply with a personal smear. In the sources I cited, Kirkby and Muller themselves explicitly state that the conclusions you are attributing to them are not true. Kirkby further stated to Live Science that his research will only refine current models, not disprove them. That completely refutes everything you said.

    It is impossible for cosmic rays to be responsible for the modern increase in global temperature. That’s because the behavior of cosmic rays, which fluctuate up and down over decades, has not changed significantly over the past 60 years even as the global temperature has risen significantly. Kirkby’s research is strictly about how cosmic rays might affect cloud formation, and has nothing to do with global temperature trends. His research might ultimately help us more accurately predict temperature increases, but as Kirbky himself said, this does not disprove the current models.

    But by all means, ignore these facts and retort with some more bullshit about how I’m a biased liberal.

    Oh, and I noticed you didn’t want to talk about Muller anymore. The facts don’t align with the narrative you’re trying to present, so you just ignore them. Would it kill you to concede a point once in your life? Really man, it’s not that bad. Life goes on.

  4. Mike D says:

    Damn, typo city in that first paragraph. “Personal”, and just “Kirkby and Muller”, not “the Kirkby”, obviously.

    *fixed*

  5. jackhudson says:

    So when Kirby says, “”The result simply leaves open the possibility that cosmic rays could influence the climate,” – he is lying?

    And I have no problem talking about Muller. He has never rejected globbal warming to begin with, and in his book on policy (which I mentioned) strikes what I believe is a reasonable view on the subject. The short answer is doesn’t rise to a Al Gore level of hysteria.

  6. Mike D says:

    No, he’s not lying, he’s talking about something unrelated. Yes, cosmic rays may influence the climate, which is why he said that it could potentially help climate scientists make more accurate predictions about global temperature increases. It won’t disprove any of the current models, as he’s explicitly stated.

    Muller’s been a skeptic, but c’mon… you hawk him as a prestigious critic of scientific data, then he comes out and says, unambiguously, that he was wrong and the data is right. Let’s not lose site of the context you referenced him in your original post, which is misleading at best.

  7. jackhudson says:

    No, he’s not lying, he’s talking about something unrelated. Yes, cosmic rays may influence the climate, which is why he said that it could potentially help climate scientists make more accurate predictions about global temperature increases. It won’t disprove any of the current models, as he’s explicitly stated.

    Unrelated to what? He is commenting in an article specifically discussing the relationship to anthropogenic warming.

    Muller’s been a skeptic, but c’mon… you hawk him as a prestigious critic of scientific data, then he comes out and says, unambiguously, that he was wrong and the data is right. Let’s not lose site of the context you referenced him in your original post, which is misleading at best.

    No Mike, you are reading what I wrote with your Al Gore glasses on. I am agreeing with him that a reasonable response is necessary, not the typical left-wing radicalism you favor. Destroying our economy by tying it to global treaties which don’t solve the problem is insane.

  8. Mike D says:

    Unrelated to what? He is commenting in an article specifically discussing the relationship to anthropogenic warming.

    Jesus H. Christ on a bicycle Jack, it’s right there in front of you. Cosmic rays/cloud cover and global warming trends are separate issues. The very guy you cite said the conclusion you’re attaching to his research is false. Quit lying and backtracking, and just own up to the error.

    No Mike, you are reading what I wrote with your Al Gore glasses on.

    You said of him, “He has been critical of some of the data and methodology used to support theories of climate change in favor anthropogenic warming.” Well guess what?HE RECANTED. What part of that do you not understand?

    Good lord, reasoning with you is like romancing an Orc. You won’t even correct basic factual errors if it means reconstructing your bullshit narrative. Hawkins was right: you’re just not worth the trouble.

  9. jackhudson says:

    Jesus H. Christ on a bicycle Jack, it’s right there in front of you. Cosmic rays/cloud cover and global warming trends are separate issues. The very guy you cite said the conclusion you’re attaching to his research is false. Quit lying and backtracking, and just own up to the error.

    Well I wouldn’t be nearly so contrarian if you didn’t have a penchant for misrepresenting what people say. For example this is how you quote Kirby:

    “Yeah, so, in that “interesting find” from CERN, the actual author of the study said that it “actually says nothing about a possible cosmic-ray effect on clouds and climate”.

    When the entire paragraph in Nature (where the paper is published) from which that quote has been mined reads like this:

    Early results seem to indicate that cosmic rays do cause a change. The high-energy protons seemed to enhance the production of nanometre-sized particles from the gaseous atmosphere by more than a factor of ten. But, Kirkby adds, those particles are far too small to serve as seeds for clouds. “At the moment, it actually says nothing about a possible cosmic-ray effect on clouds and climate, but it’s a very important first step,” he says.

    This is significantly different than you portrayed it; why in our google-age you feel that you can so blatantly misrepresent the facts is beyond me.

    You said of him, “He has been critical of some of the data and methodology used to support theories of climate change in favor anthropogenic warming.” Well guess what?HE RECANTED. What part of that do you not understand?

    Actually I pointed out he has been critical (he has) and I pointed out his take on global warming has been much more measured than the typical global warming fanatic – it continues to be. Since you are into offering books to read in a discussion, you should really read his Physics for Future Presidents Mike; perhaps it will temper your global warming fanaticism.

    Good lord, reasoning with you is like romancing an Orc. You won’t even correct basic factual errors if it means reconstructing your bullshit narrative. Hawkins was right: you’re just not worth the trouble.

    Like most atheists, ‘not worth the trouble means ‘doesn’t roll over and accept every claim I make-up’. But I do find it ironic how often you insult others given the fact your shriek about the smallest perceived slight. I forget hypocrisy isn’t a sin for atheists.

  10. hosa says:

    You said of him, “He has been critical of some of the data and methodology used to support theories of climate change in favor anthropogenic warming.” Well guess what?HE RECANTED. What part of that do you not understand?

    Good lord, reasoning with you is like romancing an Orc. You won’t even correct basic factual errors if it means reconstructing your bullshit narrative. Hawkins was right: you’re just not worth the trouble.

  11. jackhudson says:

    The word ‘recant’ Is typically used with regard to disavowing a previously held religious belief, usually a heretical one.

    The fact that it is used here to describe a scientist’s current view of  the data merely confirms the fact that global warming extremists are less concerned with ‘science’ than they are ideology and politics.

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