Do you all know any climate skeptics … named Steve?

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Last January Prof. Steve Steve, Bora, and I met Congressman Brad Miller (D-NC) at the NC Science Blogging Conference. We took the opportunity to explain to him NCSE’s Project Steve and our Project Steve Steve.

Rep. Miller is the Chairman of the House Science and Technology subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation and promised us that he’d ask science skeptics that testify before him “How many are named Steve?”.

Today, he did it:

Do you all know any climate skeptics … named Steve?

During a hearing about the impact of global warming on the arctic he unexpectedly asked the panel if they knew any Steves that agreed with them. The global warming skeptics couldn’t name any off the top of their head, while the global warming researchers named two.

Miller also gave the Panda’s Thumb a plug for good measure.

The discussion about Steves begins a bit before one hour, fourteen minutes (1:14) in the RealPlayer clip of the hearings. It continues for a few minutes.

I’d love to see the clip on youtube if anyone can extract it. If not, a transcript would be nice. (A lot of people don’t like dealing with RealPlayer.)

I guess that Miller had a good time bringing up Project Steve because he directed his staff to email us about it.

Hopefully, more politicians will follow his example when dealing with “expert” testimony.

4 TrackBacks

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20 Comments

Miller did say that they could get back to him because it was an unexpected question.

Steve Milloy is however not a climate scientist

Neither is Stephen McIntyre.

I fear that ExxonMobile will now be on a desperate search for scientists named Steve whose research they can fund, provided, of course, the results of the research are suitable.

But they are climate skeptics

PvM:

But they are climate skeptics

Note that I only quoted a small part of the comments on “Project Steve”. In context, Miller makes it clear that he is asking for scientists who are climate skeptics, not climate skeptics in general.

when confronted by a climate skeptic I tell them I have an open mind, then I ask for peer reviewed science that supports their view. The subject usually gets changed and I never hear from them again.

On entering the library, there are 2 tables, the table on the left (global warming) is stacked to the ceiling with peer reviewed literature. The table on the right (denier) has a single sheet of paper and it is not peer reviewed, its got Rush’s picture on it. Each table features a promoter, the right wingers believe the the guy on the right and avoid the left table. Strange!

Rush the band or Rush the OxyContin addict?

Steve, schmeve, why didn’t he ask them about “Project Miller”? “Project K. Miller” to be specific. Scientists who not only accept evolution but also defend it against misrepresentation include at least 2 K. Millers, Kenneth and Keith. I’m not sure about those scientists who are incredulous of anthropogenic global warming (I suspect that they are not “skeptics” in the scientific sense), but I doubt that there are any who signed the dissent from “Darwinism” statement.

I live in NC. I like Brad Miller. While I’m skeptical, because he’s a politician, I’m less skeptical than I am with other politicos.

I’m a little worried about connecting global warming to evolution in this fashion and yet it seems to be coming more common. (And the pro-evolution pro-scientific consensus aren’t the only ones doing it. For example the DI has been involved in some global warming skepticism as well, and UncommonDescent has hosted some also). I think that most of us would agree that the probability that the scientific consensus is wrong about evolution is likely substantially lower than the probability that the scientific consensus is wrong about about global warming. (Asides: I’m using probability of being wrong rather than probability of being right because two numbers both very close to 1 aren’t very helpful. Also, I know that there are philosophical and mathematical issues with discussing probability about these sorts of situations. It may be helpful to think of the “probabilities” simply in terms of what ratios one would be willing to bet). So here’s the issue: First, it isn’t clear that that much is gained by linking evolution to global warming in the public mind. Second, if global warming turns out to not be occurring(ridiculous unlikely but arguably not as unlikely as evolution being wrong) or turns out to not be manned made (more likely, still most likely wrong) then we give the anti-evolutionists a powerful rhetorical tool. I’m not sure we want to risk getting into that position.

I agree with Joshua. The issues of evolution and global warming are not related.

I believe that man induced global warming is occurring because of overwhelming evidence that 1) the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing; 2) the isotope rations of the carbon dioxide shows that the increase is due to fossil fuels; 3) historical temperatures have increased as carbon dioxide increases.

We need to reduce fossil fuel usage and carbon dioxide emissions. We need government plans to help us.

However, I have two problems with some of the global warming educators. Firstly, there are way too many variables to accurately predict the future. One of my child’s teachers told her class that in 10 years New York City would be under water. Predictions such as these are based upon apocalyptic speculation more than on scientific analysis. There are also correlations made between global warming and other events (i.e. Hurricane Katrina) that are not supported by hard evidence.

If some other natural force (i.e. asteroid, volcanic eruption, etc) causes changes that override man-made global warming, then the predictions of the “scientists” that the world will be underwater in 10 years will look as silly as the predictions by the “scientists” of Newsweek and Time in the 1970s that we were about to undergo an ice age.

Paul R. Ehrlich is another scientist (Crafoord Prize winner and NOT Paul Ehrlich the Nobel Prize winner) who made predictions that did not come true. From Wikipedia: Ehrlich wrote that “the battle to feed all of humanity is over … In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.” Ehrlich also stated, “India couldn’t possibly feed two hundred million more people by 1980,” and “I have yet to meet anyone familiar with the situation who thinks that India will be self-sufficient in food by 1971.” His work is used by creationists as evidence against evolution. I hope that current specific predictions made by scientists, educators, and politicians are not used against evolution 20 years from now.

I’m a little worried about connecting global warming to evolution in this fashion and yet it seems to be coming more common.

It’s based on the observation that evolution deniers and global warming deniers overlap. It’s my ignorance begets ignorance hypothesis, what causes many people to reject science when it comes to evolution, also leads them to reject science when it comes to global warming.

Although there are many possible contingencies that can affect climate (including asteroids or massive volcano eruptions), the relationship of evolution to global warming is still in the background. There is sufficient historical evidence that extreme environmental stresses cause by climate, radiation, environmental degradation, etc. have all played a role in the evolution of life on Earth.

Maybe the specific predictions of Malthus and others were off the mark by a couple of centuries, but the general effects of overpopulation on environment still remain. This planet is finite, and eventually the environmental consequences of overpopulation will put sufficient strains on the current species that evolution will continue in unforeseen directions. And maybe not in the directions we would like.

Just as climate change affects life forms, so do life forms affect climate. Given this, it is a bit difficult to completely separate the theory of biological evolution from the (more primitive) theories of climate evolution.

This planet is finite…

The wonderful thing about human beings is that we are adapatable to finite resources, namely through markets and technology.

Edwin,

Much of the reason that those demographic catastrophes didn’t occur was due to the good work of scientists like Norman Borlaug.

________________________________

It might be helpful to describe what one means by a climate change skeptic. For example if someone argues that yes, we are living in a warming world but it won’t be a major catastrophe does that make one a “climate change skeptic?”

SoS:

we are adapatable to finite resources, namely through markets and technology.

In principle yes, much as evolution makes for adaptions whether population sizes (or their resources) are decreasing, stable or increasing. And in practice too, since both markets and technology has been historically used under such circumstances.

But just as evolution differs in characteristics between decreasing, stable or increasing resources, so will economy. Current economy is based on exponential value increase. (Not necessarily resources as such, but steady improvements in efficiency makes a fixed interest possible on the extracted value.) We may not like the alternative.

Personally I’m cautiously optimistic about both evolutionary, economical and social evidences of flexibility and durability. I just think we shouldn’t have to experience, or worse, push these limits so often. Populations do crash, and so do economies and societies.

It might be helpful to describe what one means by a climate change skeptic. For example if someone argues that yes, we are living in a warming world but it won’t be a major catastrophe does that make one a “climate change skeptic?”

Not if we could agree on what a major catastrophe is, how it connects to global warming, and what it means to be skeptic about it. But I believe much of that framework is missing.

You could simply say that it is a bit premature to worry about the seriousness of major consequences. But I think we would do well to adopt a risk strategy in the face of missing information.

Btw, it may have been glossed over in the above comments, but AFAIU it is expected that the current extinction rate, on the order of earlier major extinction events, will be accelerated by habitat loss and competition from an adapting economy.

It is certainly the case that loss of genomic capital (its diversity) will be regained on the order of 100 My or so, and mainly result merely in a lowering of quantity and quality of economical and social resources. And it is perhaps hard to envision economical strategies that takes this into account without loss of market efficiency. We are damned if we do, damned if we don’t.

But at the same time it will increase risk of total extinction. For example, we are due another impactor of the order of the one triggering the last major extinction. The dynamics of such bodies may or may not be correlated to certain time periods, and again we currently lack crucial information and/or methods of prevention.

Thanks for this wonderful post. Really enjoyed reading it. And also i agree about this topic is something we should take into consideration. Keep up the good work.

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This page contains a single entry by Reed A. Cartwright published on October 17, 2007 3:19 PM.

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