Thursday, June 8, 2017

What kind of advanced science degree do you have?

Once again, someone has asked me what my credentials are to argue about #TraceGasWarming theory. "What kind of advanced science degree do you have?" he asks. This is a question one gets from those who have no science degree and probably took few science classes. They take on faith whatever is said by "scientists," except when scientists run up against one of their prejudices, like GMOs or Roundup.

This is the fallacy of arguing from authority, and I run into it also from spokespeople for the theory that trace gases are destroying our climate, when I challenge their science. The last one said that she believes what the climate scientists tell us, a common response. One of the most famous of these non-credentialed activists, Bill McKibben, told me, "Carbon dioxide is the difference between Venus and Mars!" That's a funny claim, considering that they both have around 96-97% CO2 in their atmospheres. Venus just happens to be a lot closer to the sun than us and Mars a lot further away, and Venus is also a lot larger than Mars and holds a much thicker atmosphere.

I guess it's all right for the non-science-degreed activists to make the circuit of public radio talk shows supporting this theory, but not to argue against it on radio, FaceBook and news sites.

This man shared an article from another writer who starts out with sarcasm, and proceeds to proclaim the "fallacy of incredulousness"--or something like that, saying that not being able to believe something is not a logical argument against it. In the real world, an incredible story has a greater burden of proof. The tailors for the emperor who had no clothes said that anyone who couldn't see the cloth was just too stupid to see it and the emperor believed it.  Just because everyone but one little boy played along because they didn't want to be thought stupid doesn't mean that the little boy was wrong.

I don't buy the Big Bang theory either because it is downright impossible for all the matter in the universe to be in one place at one time. If your "facts" lead you to an impossible conclusion, as Sherlock Holmes said, you must check your premises. One of them is wrong. In this case, it is that the Red shift, which has been mistaken for a Doppler effect. Since this theory was brought out and accepted, we have figured out that light from distant stars can be bent and frequency thus lowered by the gravity of stars that they pass, but it has not been applied to the red shift by astronomers. The light of all stars passes by masses that tug on those photons and thus produce a shift toward the red.

My arguments against trace gas warming are basic and involve basic science, the kind that is being ignored by the so-called climate scientists. The first one is "Correlation is not causation." Correlation is about all that these folks have going for them. They searched for proof of causation for a long time, but when the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, a UN panel) came out saying that man definitely is causing global warming with trace gases, that search ended and the witch hunt began, based on "consensus," which is not science, but is a political term from a political body.

CO2 and methane, the two most abundant greenhouse trace gases, are products of decomposition, so a rise in temperature will cause more of these to be produced. I waited for years for them to prove causation of warming at the present level of these gases and they never did.

But they use the production of these gases from more heat to argue that we will reach a "tipping point" where the earth will have runaway heating from feedback. The world has been a lot warmer and had a lot more CO2, yet that has never happened at any point. At one point, before fungi were able to decompose lignin and the dead trees were piling up, being buried and turning to coal, CO2 got very low, but the earth was not colder for it. Nor did it warm up when trees rotted and it returned to normal levels.

I don't watch many videos, but these are interesting:

What does CO2 do?

Should we celebrate CO2?

I've been following the debate for about 30 years and started arguing against it about 10 years ago, when I realized that the proponents were ignoring the million in "parts per million" and did the math. Converted to percentages, CO2 has risen, as a portion of the whole atmosphere, about 0.012%, twelve thousandths of a percent, in the 250 years or so since the industrial revolution began. Methane is measured around 1800 parts per billion. It may be 25 times more powerful than CO2 as a converter of light to heat, but at only about 0.00018% of the air, it is only about 1/67th as abundant as CO2.

I've been told that the oxygen and nitrogen bulk of the atmosphere doesn't matter because they are transparent to light and do not convert it to infra-red wavelengths like CO2. I've read in science publications that CO2 and other trace "greenhouse" gases "hold" heat. They do not; they convert light to heat. They hold no more heat than their mass can hold.

Any light that gets to the ground or other solid objects also becomes heat if it is absorbed and not reflected. So what is the difference caused by the greenhouse gases? If they were transparent, the light would still reach the ground and warm the air and water.

And then there is more basic science, the kind taught in elementary school: the water cycle, with college physics added later. Water is the most abundant of greenhouse gases, at 1%-4% of the air. Water evaporates where it is warm, condenses on dust particles in the atmosphere where and when it is colder, and becomes clouds, fog and rain, which cools the earth with shading and cold water. Evaporation itself cools objects down to 40 degrees F, where it stops evaporating. Condensation reverses that, releasing heat absorbed by turning liquid water to vapor, often high in the atmosphere. Freezing of water vapor high in the air releases more heat, right up where it can radiate into space.

Water is also the most abundant greenhouse gas by far, measured in parts per hundred (percentage), rather than parts per million, billion and even trillion for some of these gases. On a humid night, you can feel the heat that 4% water vapor holds, because there is enough mass to hold it.

Proponents of trace gas warming never want to talk about any means of slowing warming but reducing CO2, or "carbon" as they like to call it, which brings to
mind black soot pollution, not an odorless, colorless gas that is not pollution at anywhere near the levels that exist. And most of them also want us to save water, regardless of local supplies and conditions, when using it for sprinkler irrigation and misting is the easiest way to share it with drier areas inland, cooling the immediate area and points downwind and uphill and even over the mountains with clouds, rain, and evaporation.

Josephine County is drying out:  #WaterModerator v #ChickenLittleScience

But to return to the appeal to authority, my generation, the Boomers, has been shown all our lives that we must question authority and that scientists, doctors, food companies, teachers, preachers and politicians do not always have our best interests at heart, to say the least.  The history of science includes the fad of eugenics, which was wildly popular for decades early in the century and contributed to the Holocaust, which showed how ugly it could get and how wrong it was. Religions had holy wars, the Inquisition and witch hunts, and in our time, pedophile priests became a scandal. Politics is rife with scandals of all sorts. And then there are the food companies and the scientists that work for them.

In high school chemistry class, we learned what hydrogenation was: making oils solid by "saturating" the fat molecules with hydrogen on all the places it can hold it, or most of them for softer fats. It is used to make margarine and shortening from vegetable oils. I immediately realized that "polyunsaturated margarine" was a fraud, because the fat was artificially saturated. I also decided that naturally saturated fat, like butter, is probably healthier than the artificially saturated margarine we were eating every day, saving expensive butter for Thanksgiving. After I left home, I bought only butter and olive oil for cooking fats.

It took another 20 years for researchers to figure what I suspected: that hydrogenated fats cause heart attacks and strokes. But they immediately came up with a new name for them, "trans" fats, probably to save face for food companies, their scientists and all the doctors who had told us that they were healthier than butter, lard, and coconut oil.  

It took only a little longer for researchers to question the idea that saturated fats make bad cholesterol that clogs arteries, and just a bit longer still to question the idea that everyone should take statins to control cholesterol. In the last 10 years, it has been known that mixing acid blockers and antibiotics causes antibiotic-resistant gut infections like Clostridium difficile, but my dad died of dysentery last year because they gave him both in the hospital when he went in with pneumonia, because they are in the habit of giving acid blockers to every patient in a bed. They tried to give me acid blockers and blood thinners when I was hospitalized overnight with heart pain, which turned out to be from my heart skipping beats, which I inherited from my Dad.

I believe that vaccines are probably not harmful, but I can't blame people for being skeptical. I believe that some GMOs are bad, but don't blame people for avoiding all of them.  

I know darn well that insecticides are counter-productive because they kill more predators than pests, to longer-lasting effect than on the pests, who can breed immunity with their great reproduction rate, while their predators disappear from both poison and lack of food. I know that bare-soil farming not only grows weeds but leaves many predators homeless, without mulch to hide under. I learned from the Plant Doctor on the radio that the herbicide glyphosate (Roundup) is a powerful fertilizer and, having been taught exactly what it is, an amino acid with phosphate attached, I knew she was right, and it is specifically a broad leaf and annual grass fertilizer because of the added phosphorus. I saw as I used it that it breeds pill bugs and worms, which bring in moles, because of its amino acid nitrogen and phosphorus. I previously took Soil Science in college, and used their own facts about the nutrient/bacteria cycle to show that organic is better than chemical fertilizers.

So don't ask me what advanced degree I have. I cut my reading teeth on natural science. I took science in high school and 5 years of college, off an on. 25 years after graduating high school, I graduated from RCC with a certificate in Landscape Management, because that is all I wanted at that point. I read Science News, despite their obsession with climate change, because they still have interesting news and I can use their facts against their theory. If your incredible theory can't stand up to basic science, it isn't worth much.