Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Global Something

Even if the climate were warming at an alarming and dangerous rate, it would be imperceptible at any single location. If, by some wild chance, you had been taking measurements of sea levels or dates-of-first-blossom or whatever, you might suspect something was up after a few decades of puzzling results.

This counts also for skeptical backlash that warming-is-a-fraud. Even if it were a terrible inaccuracy perpetrated on gullible citizens in order to effect the societal transformation of impoverishing oil executives and elevating earnest young clerks at solar-heated non-corporate bookstores, you wouldn't be able to detect that from your front porch, even if you'd lived there for years.


Sam L. said...

On the other hand, being told to shut up and "listen to your betters, we KNOW what we're doing" makes and/or deepens one's disbelief in what they tell us.

William Newman said...

A good point, but you make it sound as though people just somehow mistakenly assume that they should see change, like a farmer going Young Earth Creationist when he notices that no speciation has ever occurred among his cows. There must be at least some of that, but I think the larger effect is a reaction to advocates claiming that one *can* see the effect strongly in various individual places. And not just anonymous internet crank advocates: MSM reporting, MIT professors blogging while gunning for tenure, _An Inconvenient Truth_... And beyond that, while it seems uncommon for such reputable advocates to claim explicitly that one can see it in every individual place, there is an impressive level of message discipline in reporting and teaching only changes which suggest warming, implying that such reports are representative. So if Suzie Social Studies Star happens to become a grouchy solitary long-term gardener who doesn't care as much what other people think of her factual opinions as she used to, she may experience decades of nonwarming as a contradiction of what she was taught and/or told by her betters.

There is no bright line for sly propagandizing without an explicit false claim turning into clear falsehood, but at some level few reasonable people differ on whether it has occurred, and many reasonable people start reacting to inconsistent facts as sharp contradictions. I was never taught in so many words that South Vietnam fell to a lightly armed popular uprising, but little effort was spared to make me think that I knew that. I was memorably thunderstruck when I learned something later how many North Vietnamese armored units were involved. I don't have a typical experience on the CAGW propaganda offensive: among other things I read a book on the history of the Little Ice Age sometime (late 80s?) well before the CAGW funding juggernaut got properly underway, and I got my Ph.D. in Chemistry in the 90s, and I haven't had any personal connection with grantsmanship since. But I imagine that someone with a more ordinary experience, an ordinary dutiful Science Feelings Studies student or just MSM customer, is at risk of a climate change thunderstroke similar to my memorable Vietnam thunderstroke.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Loved the examples. I was thinking along the lines of the people who do think they are observing warming because it is unseasonably warm this early December in New England this year. Educated people. Commenting on it as evidence.

Texan99 said...

All it takes is selective attention. My excellent neighbor, so sensible in most other respects, notices every warm spell but not every cold spell. I've learned never to discuss it with her. At most I might mildly refer to a cold spell when she talks about a warm one. She usually just changes the subject then; I suspect she also has decided never to discuss it with me. She's also a big believer in "clusters" of illness, and there's no use trying to discuss statistical significance with her--nor do I feel like distressing her by trying, because she really is a lovely person whom I value enormously as a friend.