Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Common attributes

The denialist is an easy creature to spot. Well, for starters, he or she denies a theory that is a strong, well studied and consistently supported and reinforced by experimental data. There are, however, numerous other characteristics that can be used to accurately identify the shill.

Tim Lambert's Global Warming Sceptic Bingo nicely covers many of the individual pieces of guff they're commonly known to spout.

There are a few other traits, however, that I've noticed of late that have crept into the denialist genome. Evolution? Nah.....devolution caused my numerous uncorrected mutations, I reckon.

Al Gullon, a writer for transport magazine Thinking Highways, demonstrates:

1. Get those credentials out there. Doesn't matter what they are or whether they have anything to do with climatology. Somehow, the mere fact of a few letters after the name must add weight to the argument.

Says Al, BSc., PEng:

I hasten to add that it is not 'another opinion piece'. I put many hours (and my two undergraduate degrees) into an analysis of the IPCC and NASA data on trends in "global warming" and solar radiation.
Wow....not one, but two whole degrees!!!! And not just sitting back doing nothin'. They were put right there in that analysis.

2. When drawing a graph, make sure the axes are adjusted so that it if one doesn't actually look too closely, it appears to support a conclusion that the raw data it is based on clearly doesn't.

Al shows us how it's done (click for full size):

Check that delta [CO2] out!!!

3. Go with what you want to be right, rather than what is.

Al discusses how he came up with the previous figure:

However, while researching on the ‘net I was reminded that volcanoes can have a lengthy impact on global temperatures and so explored both them and El Ninos. As you can see at the bottom of Figure 2 it was an Eureka moment. Actually several moments, because each of these extreme events locked into one of the aforementioned irregularities, until finally all of them were covered. They are colour-coded so that blue indicates an event which pulls the temperature down in their year(s) of operation and red indicates one which tends to raise global temperatures. By mentally moving the temperature line back to where it would have been without each event one can clearly see that the global temperature line has a great visual correspondence with the solar irradiance line.

Mentally moving, hey? Kind of like what happened in the last X-Men movie (and we know how that panned put).

4. And finally, pretend to really, really care:

Now all this is most definitely NOT to say that we should do nothing about the energy consumption of the automobile or more generally the energy consumptive nature of today’s human society. What the environmentalists are forgetting is that engineers, including automotive engineers, are the original conservationists. As a personal example, I shudder every time I see a two tonne SUV with only the driver on board.