By Phil Plait
5 April 2013
"Against unreason, the gods themselves contend in vain." —with apologies to Friedrich Schiller
(Slate.com) – Lately I’ve been trying to write more about science, rather than write about those who attack it. I love science, and I love promoting it. It gives us wonder, knowledge, advances in technology and medicine, increases our lifespan and the joy that fills it. It also reveals the world as it truly is, and while that may not always be comforting (or joyous), it’s the way things are. We need to acknowledge that.
But the forces of antireality keep plodding forward, shouting and frothing and making a mess of things. At some point I can no longer ignore it, and have to say something.
This is me, saying something. I tried to keep it brief—despite the urge to get shouty and long-winded-speechy myself—but wound up having to break this down into the different sectors of nonsense. Mix and match, or collect ‘em all. [Good stuff on vaccines elided. – Des]
Global Warming? In my planet?
The Earth is warming up, just as inevitably as there are ideologues who will deny it. They never rest, but neither will reality.
Recently, a big study was released which showed that the warming we are seeing over the past century is unprecedented for at least the past 11,000 years, and while there were warmer periods in the past, the rate of current warming is what’s so scary.
This study was well-done, carefully referenced, and clearly worded. So of course it’s under vicious attack by the usual suspects. Happily, there are people like Tamino who show these attacks are nothing but—to coin a phrase—hot air. He has a fantastic post about the Marcott, et al., study, showing how robust it is. He also has a followup post about it that’s important as well. This quotation stood out for me:
“My opinion: the Marcott, et al., reconstruction is powerful evidence that the warming we’ve witnessed in the last 100 years is unlike anything that happened in the previous 11,300 years.”
There’s a great post up at RealClimate as well, with a rebuttal to the attacks by Marcott and his team. I’ll note that some people are claiming there has been no warming over the past few years. Those people are wrong.
By the way, last year the Arctic ice cap shrank to its lowest extent measured. And this winter its maximum was the fifth lowest on record. Nine of the ten smallest maximum extents have been in the past decade. Not coincidentally, nine of the ten hottest years on record were in the last decade too. The current state of affairs if summed up pretty well in a post by Peter Gleick in three very depressing graphs.
I’ll add I’m in the middle of reading climate scientist Michael Mann’s book, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars. It’s a fascinating read, and very, very upsetting. The vicious attacks on him—not just his data, but him—were and still are disgusting.
These global-warming-denying jokers are fiddling while the world burns. [more]