Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Scientific American’

Scientific American: Glaciers Were Smaller Before They Were Bigger Before They Were Smaller

2011/12/29 5 comments

Not unexpectedly, Scientific American has gone full-moron with just 4 scientific stories in the Top 10 science stories of 2011.

Of those 4, one is a paid-up baseless list of conjectures about climate change, officially making Scientific American now worse than “New Scientist”.

Incredibly though, it’s the same Scientific American that just allowed a blog post describing vast increases in Alpine glaciers during the Little Ice Age, thereby undermining the magazine’s own scream-in-panic policy on climate change.

I guess it’s just another case of “stopped clock“. In fact, I’m quite happy of having unsubscribed from what appears to have become just another general-interest magazine.

Dear Scientific American… (An Open Letter)

2010/02/15 7 comments

Dear Scientific American

(editors@sciam.com, subscriptions@sciam.com)

Subject: Subscription renewal: please stay away from this climate contrarian (or worse)

Thank you for asking me to fork another $43.75 to get 12 more issues starting from July or August 2010.

I am afraid I am not the kind of subscriber you may want to consort with.

You see, I am one of those despicable people “standing up and exposing the science, the costs and the hysteria behind global warming alarmism“. In your definition, I am one of the “contrarians, naysayers and denialists.

And it gets worse. Some time ago I published a paid article on an online magazine that received (I think, or maybe suspect) some money from Exxon. The shock, the horror, etc etc doo bee doo bee doo.

Please spare yourself from having your articles read by these deceitful, amateurish, intellectually dishonest eyes of mine and just leave me alone.

many thanks
regards
maurizio morabito

Neandertals At Risk Of Causing AGW Extinction

2009/08/03 1 comment

Another gem from the August issue of Scientific American, a few pages after David Appell’s climate double-entendre titled “Stumbling Over Data“: it’s time now for Kate Wong’s “The Mysterious Downfall of the Neandertals“, given the pride of cover to discuss the most up-to-date theories about the disappearance of those “bygone humans” around 28,000 years ago.

Here’s a detail of one of the theories:

[…] the isotope data reveal that far from progressing steadily from mild to frigid, [between roughly 65,000 and 25,000 years] the climate became increasingly unstable heading into the last glacial maximum, swinging severely and abruptly. With that flux came profound ecological change: forests gave way to treeless grassland; reindeer replaced certain kinds of rhinoceroses. So rapid were these oscillations that over the course of an individual’s lifetime, all the plants and animals that a person had grown up with could vanish and be replaced with unfamiliar flora and fauna. And then, just as quickly, the environment could change back again. […]

What else goes extinct then with our barrel-chested, stocky-limbed cousins in the space of a few sentences? Let’s see: unprecedented climate change; global warming endangering polar bears; life on Earth threatened by wild climate swings; collapsing global ecosystems; disappearing coral reefs; upcoming biodiversity crisis; etc etc etc.

Not only that…if our direct ancestors’ “somewhat wider range of cultural adaptations provided a slightly superior buffer against hard times“, why would those characteristics fail us now, their direct descendants more than 280 centuries later?

Unless of course we force ouselves to admit that our forefathers were wiser than us, stuck as we are into asking our so-called leaders to stop the solar cycle, or elicit volcanic eruptions

Many Thanks To David Appell (And Scientific American)

2009/08/03 2 comments

What is there to complain about David Appell’s “Stumbling Over Data: Mistakes Fuel Climate-Warming Skeptics” (Scientific American, August 2009)?

It is perfectly written: at the same time, a long defence of AGW orthodoxy, and an introduction to AGW skepticism, with McIntyre’s, Watt’s and Morano’s blogs explicitly mentioned. It can be read as a demonstration that “mistakes” on climate data are minor, and that they are symptoms of a larger issue.

We are told that “open-source data are ultimately a great thing” (no kidding!).

If I were an AGWer, I would start suspecting that with the change in Editor, there is some potential opening against the “consensus”.

Nonskeptical Skeptic Michael Shermer (Unwittingly) Disproves AGW – Plus Bonus From Scientific American

2009/07/01 38 comments

When is a non-skeptical skeptic a skeptic? Why, that’s when skeptical words come out of a skeptic who, whilst for some reason unwilling to connect the last dots about Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW), still manages to make a good case against AGW.

Step forward Michael Shermer of Skeptic Society fame, writing for the 100th time in the July issue of Scientific American to ponder: "What Skepticism Reveals about Science".

As usual, Shermer’s remarks are very useful to explain how fundamentally and intrinsically reasonable is to have a skeptical approach on everything. For example this is the perfect reply to those tut-tutting skeptics as purveyors of nothing (in fact, it’s the people all too ready to believe in this or that phenomenon, the ones making it much more difficult to understand):

I’m a skeptic not because I do not want to believe but because I want to know

Here’s instead why it makes little sense to ask skeptics to come up with alternative explanations:

the burden of proof is on the person asserting a positive claim, not on the skeptics to disprove it

Alas, Shermer’s skepticism stops at the door of AGW, presented by him as an example of "historical and inferential sciences…that point to an unmistakable conclusion"

Climate scientists prove anthropogenic global warming from the environmental sciences, planetary geology, geophysics, glaciology, meteorology, chemistry, biology, ecology, among other disciplines

Thus the Great Thinker of Contemporary Skepticism Michael Shermer appears to be a (firm?) AGW believer (even if not of the Romm/Desmogblog/Real Climate variety).

And who would have guessed it? Shermer, the poor thing, has been convinced of AGW by a showing of Gore’s "An Inconvenient Truth" (for a not-your-usual rebuttal of AIT, follow this link. You too, Michael, please…).

But if you can take the skeptic out of Skepticism, you cannot take the skepticism out of the Skeptic. A few words away from AGW’s "unmistakable conclusions", Shermer manages to disprove AGW. Let’s see:

The principle of positive evidence applies to all claims. Skeptics are from Missouri, the Show-Me state. Show me a Sasquatch body

Can anybody "show me" anthropogenic global warming? With the recent Copenhagen scientific conference making little progress in detection/attribution, I guess not.

Shermer continues:

negative evidence along the lines of “I can’t think of any other explanation,” … is no evidence at all

How many times have we been told that the evidence for the reality of AGW is in the impossibility to write a realistic model using only natural variability? Answer: many. Well, now we can reply with Shermer: that "is no evidence at all".

it is okay to say, “I don’t know,” “I’m not sure” and “Let’s wait and see.”…In science, lots of mysteries are left unexplained until further evidence arises, and problems are often left unsolved until another day…If there is one thing that the history of science has taught us, it is that it is arrogant to think we now know enough to know (w)hat we cannot know

For example, climate models are incomplete, still not functioning and not reasonably realistic and most likely pretty much useless for serious climate projections at the moment and for ever.

Wouldn’t it make sense to leave the climate computation problem unsolved until another day? Isn’t it arrogant to think we now know enough to know what we cannot know?

==============

AND NOW A BONUS FROM SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN

Millimeters away from Shermer’s column, an article by Harrison "Jack" Schmitt, the one and only scientist that has ever visited a place rather than Earth. He’s been called in due to his expertise about planets, you know, to write about: "Space Geology: From the Moon to Mars".

Looks like Schmitt is qualified to talk about planets. But wait…isn’t the same Schmitt that has "come out" as a self-proclaimed AGW skeptic?

Who knows, one day we might get a Shermer column on how an expert cannot see what are supposed to be AGW’s "unmistakable conclusions"…

Is Global Warming Invisible?

2008/06/18 1 comment

Is “global warming” invisible, or at least very, very difficult to depict, one wonders. How else to justify image-rich weekly The Economist’s decision juxtapose to an article about “climate change talks”, a picture of a smog-choked Chinese city? A place where the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is surely the least of their pollution concerns…

Evidently they had absolutely no way to show in pictures what “climate change” and “global warming” actually look like

This goes on par with Scientific American’s inability to find 10 “pictures of a warming world “ (slides 1 and 2 are just one single “evidence”; slides 4, 5, 7 and 10 are no evidence of anything; and slide 9 may be misleading…)

Is It Ethical To Hold a Biased, Negative View on Climate Change?

2008/05/22 8 comments

There are at least two key omissions in John Broome’s “The Ethics of Climate Change” (Scientific American, June 2006). One is about the uncertainties of predicting the future. The other concerns the unethical stance of considering Climate Change as purely a collection of negatives.

(1) There are many things we do not know about future climate. The IPCC itself is not in the business of predicting anything, rather of working on projections of where the global climate may be heading to, for those variable that we can compute. There are other variables involved, that are not captured by climate models (for example, of course volcanoes cannot be foretold). In other words, there is no way to know what the climate of 2058 or 2108 will actually be.

There is no trace of such uncertainty in Broome’s discourse. I would go as far as to say, Prof. Broome completely disregards the concept of risk management.

And so we are told at some point that we should take a “temporally impartial” stance, that is the death of a child today is as important as the death of a child in 100 years’ time (Broome rather unethically recommends to read his books to find out why).

But a child dying today is a certainty, whilst little can be said about children decades in the future: their very lives, and their deaths are a matter of probabilities. And surely the longer we try to see in the future, the fewer the chances of getting those probabilities right.

A Victorian scientist would have had no idea of how many children would survive today into adulthood. To claim that we are better today at seeing the XXII century is truly preposterous.

(2) As many sad articles about Climate Change, Broome’s is a collection of negatives.

Now, does one have to be a philosopher to understand that, as in almost everything else, in climate matters too there are positives and negatives whatever happens? Because the alternative would be, to consider a cooling world as a collection of positives…

We are told for example of how many deaths and disasters will Climate Change bring. Is Prof Broome aware of the fact that heat waves kill the already-dying, whilst cold waves simply kill? Death rates get below average at the end of a heat wave: they only get back to normal at the end of a cold wave.

Where are the people whose lives will be saved by an increase in global temperature? Certainly nowhere to be seen or taken care of in Broome’s article. And why not? Are some deaths more equal than others?

WIll people matter if they die because of heat, and matter less or not at all if they die because of cold?

=========

Until such huge reasoning and moral gaps are not filled up properly, I will say thank you, but no thank you, I don’t need your ethical lessons, Prof. Broome.

%d bloggers like this: