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Steve Likes to Curse
Writing, comics and random thoughts from really a rather vulgar man
Mark Steyn hopes you’re as ignorant as he is 
Wednesday, March 10th, 2010 | 11:41 am [commentary, politics, science]
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Yesterday someone commented on the article I published Saturday about Mark Vuletic’s global warming argument. The commenter included a link to a piece written by Mark Steyn, frequent guest host for Rush Limbaugh, aspiring singer, and tireless denier of anthropogenic climate change. The comment, and the article, provoked a response from me that I thought would just be a shame to leave buried in a comment thread. So, in the hope of encouraging further discussion on the issue, I’m re-posting the comment and my reply here.
 
That comment is reproduced below, followed by my lengthy response.
 

Posted by Anonymous:

 

I would go with the possible fifth option mentioned in Vuletic’s notes, personally.

 

I like this piece from Mark Steyn, layman or not, the article provides a good chronology of unchallenged speculation moving up the ladder to consensus. http://www.steynonline.com/content/view/2893/28/ “Glacially Motivated.”

 

 

My response:

 

You disagree with Vuletic that that possible (v) is really just a re-statement of (iv)? Either way, it’s a hard argument to swallow. You honestly believe that the vast, overwhelming majority of climate scientists are either a) that ignorant of their own fields, or b) that unabashedly corrupt?

Steyn’s global warming denialism (I dislike that word, but what Steyn evinces is not rational skepticism, and I can’t think of something better to call it at the moment) is based on that assumption, and on an ignorance of the evidence that is either intentional or innocent, but is certainly undeniable.

In the piece you linked, he suggests that the whole case for disappearing glaciers is based on a weak chain of, as you call it, unchallenged speculation traceable back to a single study published in New Science over ten years ago. Steyn is either himself unaware, or hoping that his readers will be unaware, of the existence of the
World Glacier Monitoring Service, which has measured glaciers all over the world since the 1940s and collected overwhelming evidence that, with relatively few exceptions, the Earth’s glaciers are shrinking.

To be fair, there is some argument over exactly why the glaciers are shrinking. In some cases, including the snows of Mt. Kilimanjaro that Al Gore famously claimed were vanishing due to global warming, the actual cause is more complicated and includes factors other than climate change — like deforestation, in
the case of Kilimanjaro.

But the fact remains that the glaciers are melting, and the evidence includes a lot more than a single article in a popular science magazine, as Steyn claims in his piece. That, like much of what Steyn says about climate change (including his endlessly repeated claim that
the planet hasn’t warmed since 1998) is just wrong.

Steyn is either a liar with soap to sell or an ignoramus. Since he seems unwilling to give the majority of the world’s climate scientists the benefit of the doubt and insists they are the former, I’ll be kinder to him and suggest that he is the latter.

 

Mark Steyn, and all those who deny the evidence of climate change for political reasons, is peddling ignorance to people who have too much of it already. The science behind global warming is substantial, and the consensus among the scientific community is strong and significant, not “melting faster than the glaciers,” as Steyn claims. His arguments have the same ring as those offered by creationists against the facts of evolution. To anyone that knows better, he sounds desperate and either seriously misinformed or deeply dishonest.
Comments 
Thursday, March 11th, 2010 | 02:38 pm (UTC) - Mark Steyn
Anonymous
Mark Steyn is the only one who makes sense to me.

Don't get me wrong, I am well read, with a Ph.D. in engineering from a top-tier university. Yet the arguments he makes from politics, to the melting down of Europe we are witnessing now, are so complleing.

One of his best lines that I throw to the face of your types is this "People who tell us that controlling the borders or health care cost is almost impossible insist they can control the heaven above (temperature) if they can regulate our activities even more"

I know you angry, but pretty sure you will mature one day, where I mean by maturity not advancing in age but knowing the facts.

Thursday, March 11th, 2010 | 03:27 pm (UTC) - Re: Mark Steyn
I never mentioned anything about the proposed attempts to mitigate global warming through the capping and reducing of emissions, or the various other proposals that people like Steyn are so afraid of. If you want to have a discussion about the plausibility of slowing or reversing climate change through regulations and transitioning to clean, renewable energy sources, that's fine, but I'm not qualified to have that discussion. I do think that it sounds like a good idea to try, however.

The line from Steyn that you threw to my face was about his skepticism regarding the proposed methods of mitigating climate change, and his general hysterical anti-government paranoia, not the facts of climate change themselves. If you want to talk about facts, let's stay with that. The facts are climate change is real, and most scientists who study it think man's activities have something to do with it.

And do I come off as angry? I'm not. Frustrated, maybe, at hearing the same arguments from people who don't know any more about this issue than I do, but have somehow convinced themselves that they know more than the vast majority of scientists, and frustrated that peddlers of misinformation and distortion like Steyn are being held up as authorities, but not angry.
Thursday, March 11th, 2010 | 03:49 pm (UTC) - Who are the WGMS
Anonymous
"welcome to the world glacier monitoring service -
under the auspices of: ICSU (FAGS), IUGG (IACS), UNEP, UNESCO, WMO"

I think that just about sums it up. the WGMS is supported by fags and severely compromised (read: corrupt) institutions like the United Nations.
Thursday, March 11th, 2010 | 04:01 pm (UTC) - Re: Who are the WGMS
Instead of accounting for the evidence and explaining why it doesn't mean what the WGMS and others say it means, you're simply arbitrarily disqualifying it, and tossing a bigoted insult on top. That's a shitty way to present an argument.
Thursday, March 11th, 2010 | 06:46 pm (UTC) - global warming
Anonymous
I'm not a scientist and no, I haven't studied all of the evidence. But there has been so much admitted and well documented fraud, bad faith and deceit, by pro-warming scientists and by national and international bodies, that it will take a lot to make me take the warming case seriously.

There are two issues in particular you might want to comment on i.e. true or false: the claim that Al Gore is on the way to becoming super rich thru trading carbon credits and (b) that the famous hockey stick graph is an admitted fraud.

True or false?
Thursday, March 11th, 2010 | 07:48 pm (UTC) - Re: global warming
I'll grant you that the first one is definitely true. Gore's green investments are making him a fortune, thanks in part to environmental policies he himself played no small part in influencing.

Your second claim is more complex than "true" or "false". The data used to create the hockey stick graph has been questioned since it was first presented, but I'm not aware of either Phil Jones or Michael Mann or anyone else involved in making it calling it a "fraud". Can you fill me in?

More to the point, these are straw men. Challenging the integrity of Al Gore and questioning the accuracy of one graph don't disprove global warming. Let's say I grant you both your premises, that I unequivoally declare both your statements true. Fine. Irrelevant. Climate change science is based on more than Al Gore's documentary and one graph.
Friday, March 12th, 2010 | 12:14 am (UTC) - reply to steyn aricle
Anonymous
hahaha! "the facts of evolution"....good one!
Friday, March 12th, 2010 | 12:20 am (UTC) - Re: reply to steyn aricle
If you find the factuality of evolution laughable, I can't say I'm surprised that you also reject the existence of global warming.

What are your thoughts on the theory of gravity?
Friday, March 12th, 2010 | 04:25 am (UTC)
Anonymous
"Mark Steyn, and all those who deny the evidence of climate change for political reasons, is peddling ignorance to people who have too much of it already."

Yes, but what about those who insist that climate change is truth for political (and financial) reasons?

"The science behind global warming is substantial"

Substantial, indeed. But also gathered and proffered by those who insist climate change is truth for political (and financial) reasons.

"the consensus among the scientific community is strong and significant"

A consensus made up of, you guessed it, those who insist that climate change is truth for political (and financial) reasons. There are many scientists who are skeptical of AGW who have nothing to gain from their skepticism (quite the contrary—they have a lot to lose by taking that position). As much as you would like to, you cannot separate the science of AGW and the politics. Call it a strawman if it makes you feel better, but when science and politics/financial gain become bedfellows, it turns into commerce. And once that happens, the science becomes suspect at best, and contaminated and manipulative at worst. Governments are basing monumental decisions based on a science that has been plagued by scandal and fraud for a while now. And for you to ignore that is the worst form of ignorance. Willful ignorance.
Friday, March 12th, 2010 | 03:23 pm (UTC)
Let me go back to the Vuletic article that started all this, to explain why this troubles me:

[I]f you have studied climate science enough to have a doctoral-level understanding of the field, and you still reject anthropogenic climate change, more power to you—but you should be arguing with other experts, not trying to incite a mob of laymen who are in no position to rationally adjudicate your dispute.

What you, and most people on your side of this debate, are doing is dismissing the evidence against your position out of hand, rather than attempting to actually refute it. Instead of saying, for instance, the evidence for a warming trend is contradicted by A, B, and C, you are saying the evidence doesn't count because the scientists who collected, analyzed, and presented it have been corrupted by political or financial interests. I hate to repeat myself (actually I don't; it makes things a lot easier when I do that), but this is the same tactic used by creationists to attack the evidence for evolution, for the age of the Earth, the age of the universe, etc. Instead of refuting the evidence against your position, you're just ignoring it and hoping to convince me to ignore it, too.

You are correct that there are scientists (you say there are many, but relatively speaking they are a small minority) who are skeptical of the consensus opinion on global warming. Many of these scientists, like the so-called scientists who advocate for creationism, are not making their case to fellow scientists. They are making their case to laymen like me and (presumably) you. That doesn't fill me with confidence in their position.

If the skeptical scientists feel they have a legitimate case to make, that case must be made to the scientific community. Science isn't rigid, it isn't dogmatic. It's flexible, and it's self-correcting, and it flourishes on debate. Darwin's ideas about evolution through common descent were not immediately greeted with cheers and Hosanna's. The big bang theory was positively ridiculed by some of the most eminent astronomers and cosmologists in the world before it was finally accepted on the strength of observations and evidence.

If the present consensus on global warming is wrong and the dissenters are right, they need to spend their time convincing their fellow scientists, not people like me who, as Vuletic says, are in no position to rationally adjudicate the dispute. I'm not a zealot about the existence of man-made global warming. If the scientific community is convinced it isn't real, it'll convince me, too. But claiming the vast majority of the world's scientists just can't be trusted isn't gonna do it.
Friday, March 12th, 2010 | 05:10 am (UTC) - Politics is a Kabuki Show. Grow up.
Anonymous
The evidence is laughable, conjecture built on assumptions, based on spurious models based on incomplete and shoddy data sets. This is a house of cards that is falling as I write.

Next topic: The guy who dropped in to deny evolution isn't a conservative, by the way. He's a liberal who always drops on to these threads to make conservatives seem like knuckle-draggers, which we most certainly are not.

I'm a former Liberal. And I do feel I've wised up as I've grown up. Particularly I am grateful if slightly saddened to have escaped the liberal information bubble which is so protective of one's ego, so flattering and full of idealism, fostered by fools and knaves equally.

The only way forward is through technological evolution. The only way that is going to happen is if the economy is going full steam ahead. Whatever pushes us forward economically, is what will bring your ideals to fruition. Protesting in Washington will be met with fake treaties and posturing.

Best wishes,
Former Lib...
Friday, March 12th, 2010 | 03:05 pm (UTC) - Re: Politics is a Kabuki Show. Grow up.
I'm not a big one for protests, either, so I'm with you on that one. Public protests from the left are as unimpressive to me as those on the right, and usually just as ineffectual.

You mention being free of the liberal information bubble, but isn't there just as much of one around many conservatives? Isn't there a chorus of voices telling conservatives that their ideals are the true principles of America, that they — and not their ideological opponents — are the champions of freedom, and that all liberals really want is to impose direct government control over every aspect of your life?

I realize (and am incredibly grateful) that not all conservatives take their cue from Limbaugh, Beck, Levin, and Hannity, but those voices are there and undeniably very influential to a significant segment of you folks who count yourselves as conservatives.

Maybe you managed to escape the liberal bubble without being trapped by the conservative one. If so, good for you. But don't pretend the conservative one isn't there, because it's there and just as full of fools and knaves as the one on the left.
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