Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Congratulations to President Gore

Congratulations to President Gore for his Nobel Peace Prize for his work popularizing environmental issues, especially the issue of global warming. Taking the general consensus of the scientific community and polishing it up for public consumption is something he's been doing for literally decades now, starting with his 1992 tome Earth In The Balance, and he does it well.

And what does the Never-Right Wing(tm) say about all this? Well, to quote one of their minor troglodytes:

Global Warming is a religion, and Al Gore is their Messiah. Science and the scientific method are bullshit.

Sigh. Where to start. First, science is about things that can be directly observed and measured. The scientific method consists of designing experiments to test directly observable phenomena (such as the temperature of the Earth over time, the effects of CO2 gas upon heat retention inside a greenhouse, the amount of CO2 gas produced by burning a ton of coal or a barrel of oil, the number of tons of coal and barrels of oil extracted over the decades, etc.), then using this data to validate or invalidate a hypothesis such as "human activity of burning coal and oil can cause global warming". However, just gathering data and making hypotheses is not enough. The experimental design must pass muster via peer review to qualify for publication in a peer reviewed journal (and peer reviewed journals will publish pretty much anything that passes a basic laugh test), and the experiment must be independently replicated by other researchers in the area. If, and only if, a phenomenon can be independently validated by the overwhelming majority of researchers in an area as published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, is it accepted as a scientific fact. Human contributions to global warming have passed this muster. Thus global warming is a scientific fact, not a religious one, and the Never-Right Wing Troglodytes are wrong (as usual) to call it religious.

Given that, their next step is to try to discredit science and scientists as a whole by calling it, and the scientific process involved, "bullshit". We have over 500 years of experience saying that this is a lie. You are using one of the product of those 500 years of experience right now. If you want to go back to living in filth picking lice out of your beard, smelling like ripe garbage, losing your teeth by age 30, and with 90% infant mortality giving an average lifespan of 30 years meaning that your family graveyard is full of tiny headstones saying "Baby Republican B April 5 2005 D April 6 2005", fine and dandy. That's a personal choice you make. But personally, I prefer having all these products of science available to me. If science is "bullshit" as the Never-Right Wingers put it, it's "bullshit" that has worked pretty darned well for you and me, my friend, which is all I care about (this is the philosophy known as "Utilitarianism", BTW, if you want to go study Philosophy 101 in college).

If you can find me an alternative to science that works better, tell me about it. Until then, I'm going to continue relying on science and the scientific method to produce the advances in our knowledge that make our life safer and better, because we have 500+ years of experience showing us that it's pretty darned good at doing that. Just one stroll through my family's old family graveyard looking at the dozens of tiny little headstones surrounding every large headstone in the old section of the graveyard is enough to tell me that much.

As for the Never-Right Wingers, when was the last time they were right about anything, whether it was weapons of mass destruction in Iraq or the genius of George W. Bush? Personally, I will rely on the scientists to do the science. Since I am not a climate scientist, I will rely on the climate scientists using the mechanisms of science (i.e. peer-reviewed papers replicated over time to validate experimental data) to tell me this, not PR people in the pay of oil and coal companies or random ignorant people off the streets or even random former weathermen who are not climate scientists and have never done any climate science. Science. It has a 500+ year track record of working. Right-wing faith-based argumentation, on the other hand... shrug. Only track record it has is of being never right. 'Nuff said.

-- Badtux the Warming Penguin

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