Chronicling the follies of religion and superstition, the virtues of skepticism, and the wonders of the real (natural) universe as revealed by science. Plus other interesting and educational stuff.
"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."
“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.
“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”
The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.
Rush Limbaugh made the argument on his show yesterday that you can’t believe in both God and manmade global warming, an idea many evangelical Christians have long embraced:
"See, in my humble opinion, folks, if you believe in God, then intellectually you cannot believe in manmade global warming.
You must be either agnostic or atheistic to believe that man controls something that he can’t create…”
Even for Christians, that’s a weird belief to hold, especially since they tend to believe in the idea of free will. Why doesn’t God stop murder? Because he gave us free will to make our own decisions. Similarly, if God created the universe, you could argue that it’s our responsibility to protect it.
There’s also the fact that—-oh, why bother. It’s Rush Limbaugh. If you’re listening to him, you’re not concerned about facts, anyway, only rhetoric and misguided talking points.
So…is mankind causing the rest of the solar system to warm up as well? Or is that unrelated? Also, the climate was technically hotter during Roman/Medieval times..is that also unrelated information? But na, our greenhouse gases make way more sense than much stronger cosmic phenomenon. Additionally, I like how people are so ready to follow one theory, yet will shun another even though both have evidence to support it. Who knew science could be so based on opinion.
Mars and Jupiter are not warming, and anyway the sun has recently been cooling slightly.
This argument is part of a greater one that other planets are warming. If this is happening throughout the solar system, clearly it must be the sun causing the rise in temperatures – including here on Earth.
It is curious that the theory depends so much on sparse information – what we know about the climates on other planets and their history – yet its proponents resolutely ignore the most compelling evidence against the notion. Over the last fifty years, the sun’s output has decreased slightly: it is radiating less heat. We can measure the various activities of the sun pretty accurately from here on Earth, or from orbit above it, so it is hard to ignore the discrepancy between the facts and the sceptical argument that the sun is causing the rise in temperatures.
TSI from 1880 to 1978 from Solanki. TSI from 1979 to 2009 from PMOD.
But if the sun’s output has levelled off or even diminished, then what is causing other planets to warm up? Are they warming at all?
The planets and moons that are claimed to be warming total roughly eight out of dozens of large bodies in the solar system. Some, like Uranus, may be cooling. All the outer planets have vastly longer orbital periods than Earth, so any climate change on them may be seasonal. Saturn and its moons take 30 Earth years to orbit the Sun, so three decades of observations equates to only 1 Saturnian year. Uranus has an 84-year orbit and 98° axial tilt, so its seasons are extreme. Neptune has not yet completed a single orbit since its discovery in 1846.
This is a round-up of the planets said by sceptics to be experiencing climate change:
- Mars: the notion that Mars is warming came from an unfortunate conflation of weather and climate. Based on two pictures taken 22 years apart, assumptions were made that have not proved to be reliable. There is currently no evidence to support claims that Mars is warming at all. More on Mars…
- Jupiter: the notion that Jupiter is warming is actually based on predictions, since no warming has actually been observed. Climate models predict temperature increases along the equator and cooling at the poles. It is believed these changes will be catalysed by storms that merge into one super-storm, inhibiting the planet’s ability to mix heat. Sceptical arguments have ignored the fact this is not a phenomenon we have observed, and that the modelled forcing is storm and dust movements, not changes in solar radiation.
- Neptune: observations of changes in luminosity on the surface of both Neptune and its largest moon, Triton, have been taken to indicate warming caused by increased solar activity. In fact, the brightening is due to the planet’s seasons changing, but very slowly. Summer is coming to Neptune’s southern hemisphere, bringing more sunlight, as it does every 164 years.
- Pluto: the warming exhibited by Pluto is not really understood. Pluto’s seasons are the least understood of all: its existence has only been known for a third of its 248 -year orbit, and it has never been visited by a space probe. The ‘evidence’ for climate change consists of just two observations made in 1988 and 2002. That’s equivalent to observing the Earth’s weather for just three weeks out of the year. Various theories suggest its highly elliptical orbit may play a part, as could the large angle of its rotational axis. One recent paper suggests the length of Pluto’s orbit is a key factor, as with Neptune. Sunlight at Pluto is 900 times weaker than it is at the Earth.
Claims that solar system bodies are heating up due to increased solar activity are clearly wrong. The sun’s output has declined in recent decades. Only Pluto and Neptune are exhibiting increased brightness. Heating attributed to other solar bodies remains unproven.
Actually, I’ve learned that people who refuse to actually look at science are a lot more subject to the whims of opinion.
I was a global warming denialist for many years. I learned that the people that I trusted, that were giving me the information, were deliberately lying and distorting the data. It was a very hard lesson to learn.
I know some of you are worried sick. I understand that you feel that God is being driven from our culture and strange customs are being tolerated and embraced: People are learning that sexual orientation is a varied spectrum of preferences rooted in genetics and not a binary conscious decision. Many people, even the President supports equal rights for all to marry and have families regardless of these preferences. Behaviors that used to be taboo are all over your televisions and are being generally accepted in mainstream society.
Women are in the workplace, they are moving into positions of power and they are seizing control of their reproductive systems and expressing their sexuality if/as they see fit. Even different races and ethnicities are mixing and demanding equal access to all areas of society. People are finding that the bedrock of family values is not sexual or ethinic composition but love, support and understanding.
Science education is dominated by the theories of the big bang and evolution by natural selection. Children are learning that the universe is 14 billion years old, the earth over 4 billion and that we evolved ultimately from single celled organisms and more recently from lower primate ancestors along with the other modern “great apes”. We’ve also learned that the balance of our world’s ecosystems is not static, but very much susceptible to the actions of humans. The Bible’s account of creation and balance has been completely usurped.
I can tell that some of you think this is some secular liberal plot to overthrow Christianity and force everyone to be gay atheist evolutionists. But I’m here to tell you, what you are witnessing is not some conspiracy to destroy America. It is simply that the earth is turning and time is rolling forward. The world is progressing and society is evolving. Populations are growing, science is uncovering the mysteries of the universe and humans are rethinking some of our more archaic beliefs and customs. The spread of technology is giving more people access to information that is naturally expanding their minds. It is a process that has been underway for all of human history and has indeed been met by opposition all along from those who were happy with the way things were and who saw change as decline and destruction.
I can understand why this is unsettling to an ideology that is dedicated to conserving tradition, one rooted in one book that was written before humans knew what a star was. But your efforts are futile, no matter how angry or violent your response, you can not stop the steady march of time and the tide of discovery. No matter how much shelter you find in your faith, the world around you is changing; It always has and always will. To stop this would amount to stopping the earth from spinning, or to resisting the invention of the wheel, resisting desegregation or rejecting heliocentrism. It turns out that the values that you see as objective and eternal are actually as subjective as “spicy” and “bland” and the knowledge that you seem to see as complete and everlasting is a constantly evolving body of human work. There is no war being waged on your values, no enemy in these developments but discovery itself, and if your beliefs are threatened by progress and discovery, perhaps they should be.
A failure to embrace these progressions will no doubt lead to further anger, fear and confusion amongst you as the changing world becomes a stranger and stranger place. Instead, smile and find joy and pride in human progress and discovery. Join us in welcoming tomorrow and whatever new knowledge it brings. You are invited.