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."

-George Carlin

“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.

-Albert Einstein

“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”

-Carl Sagan

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.

-Christopher Hitchens

 

Rush Limbaugh: ‘If You Believe in God, Then Intellectually You Cannot Believe in Manmade Global Warming’

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.

(Source: patheos.com)

Why Conservatives Turned Against Science

Remember when environmental protection was a bipartisan effort?

A prediction: When all the votes have been counted and the reams of polling data have been crunched, analyzed, and spun, this will be clear: Few scientists will have voted for Republican candidates, particularly for national office. Survey data taken from 1974 through 2010 and analyzed by Gordon Gauchat in the American Sociological Review confirm that most American scientists are not conservatives. A 2009 study by the Pew Research Center found that only 9 percent of scientists self-identified as conservative, while 52 percent called themselves liberals. Only 6 percent of American scientists self-identified as Republicans. This state of affairs is bad for the nation, and bad for science.

It was not always this way. In the 1968 election, Richard Nixon won the votes of 31 percent of physicists, 42 percent of biologists, 52 percent of geologists, and 62 percent of agricultural scientists (compared with 43.4 percent of the popular vote). While these data do not include party affiliation, they suggest that the scientific community of the late 1960s was much more evenly divided between the two major parties than it is now, and, with the exception of physicists, slightly more conservative than the American voting public at large.

Why have scientists fled the Republican Party? The obvious answer is that the Republican Party has spurned science. Consider Mitt Romney’s shifting position on climate change. As governor of Massachusetts in 2004, he laid out a plan for protecting the state’s climate. As presidential candidate, he has said that climate change is real, but has questioned whether humans are causing it. His stance is consistent with the Republican Party platform, which unambiguously calls for expanding the production and use of the fossil fuels that drive climate change. In 2009, Paul Ryan accused climate scientists of “clear efforts to use statistical tricks to distort their findings and intentionally mislead the public on the issue of climate change,” echoing false accusations leveled against climatologists at the University of East Anglia. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan exemplify the conservative turn against science, but what explains it?

(continue)

Global Warming

religiousragings:

meedok:

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.

What the science says…

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.

~ Steve

(Source: m33d0k)

Science Denied

WHY, IN THIS AGE OF SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL MARVELS, ARE CREATIONISM AND THE ANTIVACCINE MOVEMENT GOING STRONG?

Hint: comforting narratives are more convincing than hard facts.

Top Ten Impacts Climate Change Is Making Worse Right Now | ThinkProgress

tinfoilandtea:

Rising Food Prices
Over half of the Continental U.S. is now facing severe drought–the worst in fifty years. As a result of extreme temperatures and little rain, corn production suffers although analysts predicted record production at the start of the year. In coming months, record-high food prices will continue to rise, affecting thousands of supermarket products. See also “Story of the Year: Warming-Driven Drought and Extreme Weather Emerge as Key Threat to Global Food Security.”

Goodbye Glaciers, Sea Ice
This week, an iceberg twice the size of Manhattan tore itself off of one of the largest glaciers in North Greenland, following another break of comparable size in 2010. Scientists say that such dramatic change is unprecedented, and report that “the Arctic had the largest sea ice loss on record for June.” [ClimateProgress]

Landslides
A recent landslide on an Alaskan glacier was massive enough to register as a 3.4-magnitude earthquake, even recorded in Canada. “We are seeing an increase in rock slides in mountain areas throughout the world because of permafrost degradation,” a scientist said. [Huffington Post]

Massive Dust Storms
In addition to dangerous wildfires and drought, the current heat wave is helping to create massive dust storms in Arizona. These walls of dust and strong wind can be thousands of feet high, destroying property, setting of a chain of further environmental damage and killing an average of five people per year. [New York Times]

Toxic Algae Pollute Drinking Supply, Lakes: Spurred by warmer winters that prevent seasonal a die-off, Lake Zurich in Switzerland is seeing an increase in a toxic species of algae known as Burgandy blood algae. “Research on Lake Zurich in Switzerland reveals that Burgundy blood algae, a toxic cyanobacteria species, has become more dense in the last 40 years as warm winters prevent seasonal die-off.” [CBS News]

$1.5 Billion Hail Damage: In a striking example of current dramatically unpredictable weather patterns, some cities now experiencing record-breaking temperature highs are also dealing with the after-effects of extreme hail damage. Estimates suggest that total damage in places like Dallas, St. Louis and Norfolk, Nebraska could exceed $1.5 billion. [Inside Climate News]

Wildfire Causes $450 Million Damage In Colorado
States like Colorado and New Mexico have experienced their worst wildfire season on record, and the damage totaled an estimated $450 million in Colorado alone. However, there are additional costs of the fire. “Water quality, for example, is being compromised up to 100 miles from burn sites,” and air quality has been damaged, even indoors. [Washington Post]

Greater Terrors For Mountain Climbers: “Sharper seasonal variations of ice and snow and temperature are being repeated all across the world from the Himalayas to the Andes, which scientists say are driven by a higher level of energy in the atmosphere from global warming.” Veteran climbers “say today’s conditions are combining to create a volatile highball of risk.” [NY Times]

More Drilling In The Arctic, Taxpayers Pay For Risks: Ironically, oil companies are capitalizing on ice melt in the Arctic caused by global warming. “Royal Dutch Shell has spent $4.5 billion since 2005 preparing to explore for oil off Alaska’s north coast in the Arctic. U.S. taxpayers may end up paying almost as much to supervise future operations in the region.” [Bloomberg]

Blackouts
Extreme temperatures stress the power grid, and Con Edison recently took action to lower power voltage, known as a “brown out” in NYC, to prevent mass black outs. Of course, millions suffered from blackouts during brutal heat after a rare, heat-fueled derecho impacted the Washington area. [Reuters]

—-

Um, crime. Just saying.

How We Know Global Warming is Real and Human Caused

Donald R. Prothero addresses climate change denialism head on, demolishing deniers’ arguments and rebuttals, and clearly demonstrating how we know global warming is real and human caused.

ryking:

Global warming in America: Arizona’s heating up the fastest, Florida the slowest

In the last 100 years, the continental United States has warmed about 1.3°F overall. But not every state has been affected the same way. Some have been warming much faster than others. A new report from Climate Central takes a finer-grained look at some of the variations.

ryking:

Global warming in America: Arizona’s heating up the fastest, Florida the slowest

In the last 100 years, the continental United States has warmed about 1.3°F overall. But not every state has been affected the same way. Some have been warming much faster than others. A new report from Climate Central takes a finer-grained look at some of the variations.

mothernaturenetwork:

How human activity is warming the oceansHuman-produced greenhouse gas emissions have steadily raised the average ocean temperature by 0.045 degrees per decade for the past half-century.

Natural fluctuations alone do not explain warming in the upper layers of the planet’s oceans, confirms a new computer modeling study.
 
The ingredient necessary to fully account for rising water temperatures in the last 50 years? Humans’ greenhouse gas emissions.
 
While attributing global warming to humans is hardly a new conclusion, this study adds to research intended to tease apart the effects of natural climate cycles, which can occur over decades, from changes caused by human alterations to the environment. 
 
“The bottom line is that this study substantially strengthens the conclusion that most of the observed global ocean warming over the past 50 years is attributable to human activities,” climate scientist Peter Gleckler, of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, said in a statement.
 
Measurements show that, between the surface and a depth of 2,300 feet (700 meters), the global oceans have warmed on average 0.045 degrees Fahrenheit (0.025 degrees Celsius) per decade over 50 years. This is much less than atmospheric warming because water is much slower to absorb heat. The oceans can also store heat much more effectively.
 
In this study, researchers combined improved observational estimates of actual ocean warming with model simulations that use mathematical equations to simulate a variety of scenarios.
 
The team led by Gleckler compared climate simulations that included the effects of human greenhouse gas emissions with those that did not. The latter scenarios essentially left humans out of the climate change equation to see how warming might progress without them.
 
“Although we performed a series of tests to account for the impact of various uncertainties, we found no evidence that simultaneous warming of the upper layers of all seven seas can be explained by natural climate variability alone. Humans have played a dominant role,” Gleckler said in a statement.

mothernaturenetwork:

How human activity is warming the oceans
Human-produced greenhouse gas emissions have steadily raised the average ocean temperature by 0.045 degrees per decade for the past half-century.

Natural fluctuations alone do not explain warming in the upper layers of the planet’s oceans, confirms a new computer modeling study.  

The ingredient necessary to fully account for rising water temperatures in the last 50 years? Humans’ greenhouse gas emissions.  

While attributing global warming to humans is hardly a new conclusion, this study adds to research intended to tease apart the effects of natural climate cycles, which can occur over decades, from changes caused by human alterations to the environment.   

“The bottom line is that this study substantially strengthens the conclusion that most of the observed global ocean warming over the past 50 years is attributable to human activities,” climate scientist Peter Gleckler, of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, said in a statement.  

Measurements show that, between the surface and a depth of 2,300 feet (700 meters), the global oceans have warmed on average 0.045 degrees Fahrenheit (0.025 degrees Celsius) per decade over 50 years. This is much less than atmospheric warming because water is much slower to absorb heat. The oceans can also store heat much more effectively.  

In this study, researchers combined improved observational estimates of actual ocean warming with model simulations that use mathematical equations to simulate a variety of scenarios.  

The team led by Gleckler compared climate simulations that included the effects of human greenhouse gas emissions with those that did not. The latter scenarios essentially left humans out of the climate change equation to see how warming might progress without them.  

“Although we performed a series of tests to account for the impact of various uncertainties, we found no evidence that simultaneous warming of the upper layers of all seven seas can be explained by natural climate variability alone. Humans have played a dominant role,” Gleckler said in a statement.

Dear Conservatives

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

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.

TEMPERATURE RISING  

Even with the complexities of climate change, scientists still take the planet’s pulse with a basic benchmark measurement—temperature. The world has experienced nine of the 10 warmest years on record since 2000. And in 2011, the ninth warmest year since 1880, the average temperature was nearly a full degree warmer (0.92 Fahrenheit) than the 1951-1980 average, which is used as a baseline for comparison. Scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies compute Earth’s long-term temperature trend by analyzing readings from thousands of ground-based weather stations and sea surface temperature data from ships and satellites. 

Earth’s long-term warming trend remains driven primarily by an unprecedented increase in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, created largely by increased fossil fuel burning for generating electricity and powering cars. That rate of increase has overwhelmed the prior, slow pace of atmospheric changes between geologic eras.

 Watch in the visualization video to see how temperatures across the globe have crept upward since the late 19th century.
TEMPERATURE RISING

Even with the complexities of climate change, scientists still take the planet’s pulse with a basic benchmark measurement—temperature. The world has experienced nine of the 10 warmest years on record since 2000. And in 2011, the ninth warmest year since 1880, the average temperature was nearly a full degree warmer (0.92 Fahrenheit) than the 1951-1980 average, which is used as a baseline for comparison. Scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies compute Earth’s long-term temperature trend by analyzing readings from thousands of ground-based weather stations and sea surface temperature data from ships and satellites.

Earth’s long-term warming trend remains driven primarily by an unprecedented increase in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, created largely by increased fossil fuel burning for generating electricity and powering cars. That rate of increase has overwhelmed the prior, slow pace of atmospheric changes between geologic eras.

Watch in the visualization video to see how temperatures across the globe have crept upward since the late 19th century.

The Top 4 GOP Candidates Views of Evolution and Climate Science

jtotheizzoe:

As the horses remaining in this race dwindle to a quartet of middle-aged, white males, it’s worth revisiting their views on science issues.

Of course, does their electorate even care? Do GOP voters care as much as their opposition does that these guys are ignoring good science? We’ve looked at the possible neurological differences in liberals and conservatives before.

You know what’s really interesting? When you read this collection of responses, you see glimmers of reality shine through. Tiny hints that yes, these guys do have real, expensive college degrees and do understand that climate science is real and evolution is an established rule. But then you see them switch back to party-pander mode, obscuring their own intellect and replacing it with the anti-intellectualism that they think their voters so desperately crave.

And when you’re only fed anti-intellectualism, how will you develop and appetite for anything else?

tinfoilandtea:

Republicans that believe in climate change.

They do exist!

An extremely rare sighting. I’m not sure I believe that there is a silent majority of GOP voters who believe scientists on anything.