Thursday, October 22, 2009

"The Polar Bears, Daddy"

Sears has a commercial running now where people have been encouraging a man to buy new appliances that are energy efficient. His daughter says, "The polar bears, Daddy" when he admits he's being pressured.

Now, I'm sure global warming is happening. The data shows that the average temperature of the earth is going up, admittedly slowly.

What I'm not so sure about is the cause. There are statistical analyses known as correlations. Yes, greenhouse gases are going up and so is the average temperature. Are they related? Yes, greenhouse gases are increasing as is factory output. Are they related?

People make correlations all the time. Statisticians will be the first to tell you that a strong correlation (co-relation) doesn't mean there really is a "relation". There have been correlations developed between female skirt lenghts and the Dow Jones Index. Correlations exist between who wins the World Series and who will win the presidential election. Correlations are not evidence for cause and effect.

Just because the level of greenhouse gases can be correlated with earth's temperature doesn't mean they're related. It doesn't mean that reductions in greenhouse gases will reduce the temperature. Did you know that the earth's temperature was actually higher than today? Apparently, that was true for nearly 500 years early in the first millenium. What caused that? Automobiles, steel factories, airplanes, power plants? Obviously not.

Here's a bit from another blog entry: according to the IPCC, the international group charged with tracking climate change, the earth was warmer from approximately 1000 A.D. to 1400 A.D.--400 years of warmer, global temperatures than we have today. There is a coincidence that lately (in the past 200 years) we have increasing temperatures and more mechanization and industrialization and we have increasing temperatures. From that coincidence, most scientists believe in the causal link between industrialization and climate change. However, they're ignoring the other evidence. What industrialization or human effort caused the global roasting a millennium ago? And there was a lot fewer people back then--one tenth of what we have today. How did 600 million people create more carbon dioxide than 6 billion people with cars, planes, steel mills and lots of beef cattle? Are the causes similar for the two different millennia? How do we disprove that the causes for both periods of global warming are the same?

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