Monday, June 15, 2015

Kids "Indoctrinated" By Feds On Climate Change? Get Real!

Paul H. Tice,  in a WSJ op-ed ('Schoolroom Climate Change Indoctrination', May 28, p. A15) claims American kiddies are being relentlessly "indoctrinated" on climate change via "teaching materials largely sourced from federal agencies". But who is he kidding? His real beef is that the info and materials aren't coming from the climate change deniers - recently exposed as generating a $140m blitz to try to torpedo the scientific facts on what's happening to our planet.
But see, deniers aren't interested in facts, but supporting a massive campaign of agnotology, or the sowing of doubt in order to promote an unsustainable economic model based on fossil fuels. See e.g.

Tice is vexed that (ibid.):

"The National Research Council framework for K-12 science education recommends that by the end of Grade 5, students should appreciate that rising global temperatures will affect the lives of humans and all other organisms on the planet. By Grade 8 students should understand that the release of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels is a major factor in global warming. And by Grade 12, students should know that global climate models are very effective in modeling and predicting the current and future impact of climate change."

He then complains of the "reach" - noting "the  learning concepts have been incorporated almost verbatim into the New Jersey Department of Education model science curriculum". He then beefs that the "materials and resources used by instructors in teaching are sourced from government agencies" - to which I respond, 'So what?'

Where the hell else do you think the materials will come from, and at a price the schools and instructors can afford?  Let me correct that, where do you think the scientifically factual materials will come from?  It is precisely the federal agencies,  including the NRC, the NSF (National Science Foundation) and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) that will be the optimal sources for materials given the volume of work already published.

Tice then claims that relying on such curriculum materials from federal agencies "raises a number of issues". Chief among these is that the materials leave "no room for balanced discussion". What balanced discussion? There is no "balance" in this discussion because there are not two sides to this issue any more than there are two sides to whether the Holocaust occurred.  This is exactly what the economic agnotologists want you to believe: the 2 sides malarkey. Then they can keep the  pseudo debate churning  endlessly while the planet goes down the shitcan.

Tice then commits the most basic error of the scientifically uninformed by averring:

"The science of climate change is still just a theory"...

Oblivious to the fact that a theory  - by definition - has already made confirmed predictions based on the associated observations. In this case - for example  - that the polar regions are warming more rapidly than temperate regions, and that sea level increase is an accompaniment of ongoing climate change, see e.g.

He then, as if to try to make his specious case, asks more questions typical of the scientifically ignorant such as:

"For instance, why has the planet inconveniently stopped warming since the late 1990s even as carbon dioxide levels continue to rise?"

The fact is this is a myth, originating through a goofy, statistical misinterpretation of the data that a high school science nerd ought to have spotted, see e.g.

In addition, an important paper by Sonia Seneviratne appearing in Nature Climate Change in March last year showed another, secondary source of statistical error inheres in ignoring peak high temperatures over long duration in extended land areas. Seneviratne's team reported a clear rise in the area of land experiencing more than 30 days of harsh heat per year and other regions experiencing more than 50 days of sever heat. Both of these under-reported in satellite assays and hence disclosing a lower mean temperature than should have been noted. The results, the authors state:
"Show that it would be erroneous to interpret the recent slowdown (in the late 90s and early 2000s) as a general slowdown of climate change"   Adding:

"The mean temperature or any single variable is not enough to talk about climate change"

A more recent paper, published in the journal Science on June 4 also knocks down the "temperature pause" bunkum  noting that previous research wasn't accurate because of irregularities in how temperatures are measured on land and sea - basically confirming the research of Seneviratne appearing in Nature Climate Change  a year ago.  The lead author, Thomas Karl, quoted in a related WSJ piece ('Warming Hasn't Slowed, Study Says'. June 5, p. A12) asserted:

"We found that the rate of warming over the past 15 years was no different than the rate of warming in the second half of the twentieth century"

As I pointed out before, the whole boondoggle with this fake pause was unfortunate, given how the climate change skeptics jumped on it to try to bolster their flimsy case and push their agnotology.

Another specious question put forward by Tice is:

"How statistically significant is a 1.4 degree Fahrenheit increase in average global surface temperatures since 1880 for a 4.6 billion year old planet with multiple ecosystems and a surface area of some 200 million square miles?"

But he commits the error of statistical conflation, mixing up different epochs when average temperatures varied wildly, i.e. on account of intermittent Ice ages. Thus, "significance" is only valid for the epoch under consideration.  The key statistical fact Tice ignores? Never has an Ice Age occurred when the CO2 concentration is above 200 ppm, and never has an interglacial lasted very long when the CO2 concentration is less than 200 ppm. It now stands at nearly 396 ppm, and we believe the threshold to trigger the runaway greenhouse effect will kick in between 480- 500 ppm. At even 400 ppm, most climate scientist acknowledge any future Ice ages are out of the question.

Thus, neither the planet's age nor its total area  matters, it is instead all about the given epoch under which we consider the pertinent conditions, namely temperature increase since the onset of the Industrial Revolution and the accompanying CO2 concentration and its rate of increase. Let's also not forget the 1.4 F increase Tice references  appears to be less than it actually has been - closer to 2.0 -2.4 F. See also:

An equally absurd question, but typical of the agnotology -denier brigade is:

"How dangerous is the current level of carbon dioxide in the world's atmosphere when 400 parts per million expressed as a percentage of the volume of the atmosphere would equate to only 0.04% or approximately zero?"

Here Tice fails to note or process that it is the nature of the molecule as a thermal insulator that renders its proportion in the atmosphere critical, not the proportion in relation to total atmosphere per se.   To fix ideas, Spencer Weart in his excellent article: 'The Discovery of the Risk of Global Warming’, in Physics Today, Jan. 1997, p. 34). pointed out that even a tiny, minuscule amount of CO2 is vastly more efficient at blocking the re-radiation of energy than any amount of water vapor- at those bands. Part of the misconception arose because early researchers, lacking the current technology of infrared spectroscopy, assumed that water vapor bands already blocked out most of what would (ordinarily) be taken by CO2.

But using this stratagem to try to baffle the scientifically illiterate is typical of climate disinformationists like Tice.  "The tiny little number compared to the whole" ....makes it meaningless!   When in fact, the relative increase from an Ice age threshold of 200  ppm to 400 ppm is highly significant, because it means the difference between future Ice ages and no Ice ages. Not to mention further increases at the rate of 2 ppm/year push us into the maw of the runaway greenhouse within 30-40 years.

In many ways this sort of "tiny change" argument resembles that of the pro-Warren Commission disinformers who would have us believe that Gerald R. Ford's "tiny alteration" of the bullet wound placement upwards (from the  third thoracic vertebra level of back,  to the 5th-6th cervical vertebra)  "didn't change a thing". When in fact it literally provided the spurious basis for the idiotic single bullet theory and the lone gunman myth.

But this is the nature of  the bogus craft of agnotologists, pseudo skeptics and disinformationists: to always keep the hoi polloi guessing and in a state of perpetual doubt or denial.  Paul Tice, alas, has taken a page right out of this forlorn playbook.

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