Sunday, May 28, 2006

more climate change skeptics

The "Washington Post Magazine" this weekend features a bunch of climate change skeptics, including one old scientist whose primary complaint (in addition to the fact that younger scientists ignore him) seems to be that the mathematically-minded climatologists today don't fly into hurricanes and focus on computer models.

He reminds me of some old crank baseball coach who complains about sabremetrics (that's the study of baseball stats) instead of just watching players. That misses the fact that while observation (in baseball or climate) are important, you are foregoing valuable tools if you decline to look at the statistics. Numbers, in baseball or in climatology, can help you discern trends and pick out developments that may not be visible to the naked eye, especially since no observer can watch everything that is happening.

Most of the other skeptics in the article are people opposed to climate change science on ideological or economic grounds, essentially wishing facts about climate change weren't real because to change would be inconvenient. As one scientist in the article noted, they are approaching the debate on climate change as lawyers rather than scientists, acting as if one fuzzy data point or unexplainable micro-phenomena disproves the entire body of science about climate change. And they are doing this to save the short-term profits of their corporate paymasters, in the process potentially ruining the planet and human civilization. I hope they sleep comfortably, their children may not.