Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×

Comment Re:There is a legitimate dispute (Score 1) 534

Not only are there legitimate criticisms about the interpretations of measurements, but even of the measurements themselves. Prior to the 1920s, most stations around the world providing temperature measurements weren't staffed with trained personnel recording the data. In many cases, the measurements weren't taken at any regular intervals, but rather when someone had free time in between performing other work to do so. In fact, it was often a janitor or other completely untrained staff member recording temperatures because it wasn't viewed as a critical task and being with a degree or two was good enough. This began to change around the 1920s and 30s, especially as radio and television began to take hold and the sciences around climate and weather began to develop.

Accurate instruments didn't even become available until the late 1800s, so any direct measurements taken prior 'til then are highly suspect regardless of who was in charge of taking them. This makes most of the direct measurements prior to ~1930 extremely limited and any direct measurements prior to ~1880 just about utterly useless. It isn't until the 1960s that you really start getting measurements useful to a discussion about 1C of variability in climate worldwide. Earlier climate data is even worse, as that primarily comes from proxy measurements. Two problems there: 1) the proxies lack the precision to be useful in a discussion of 2-3C of climate variation and 2) the proxies don't agree with one another, nor do any of them agree with direct measurements.

Statistical smoothing is used to work around this, and that's where we get into what you stated about problems with interpretations of the measurements and the way in which mathematical principles are applied. You can blur your way out of very minor errors and largely leave the data intact, but you can't do so when your error bars are orders of magnitude greater than the trend you're seeking. At that point, by the time you've blurred away the errors, any reliable data hidden in there has long since been turned to mush.

None of this is to say we shouldn't be working hard on climate science. Rather, it's to say we need to do better work on the subject and stop pretending we understand our world's climate or its history. None of this is to say we shouldn't be working hard on shifting from technologies that pollute and poison our environment to cleaner and better technologies. Rather, it's to say we shouldn't jump to absurd doomsday conclusions and take radical actions like geo-engineering "solutions" to problems we can't yet say for certain even exist.

Good science is honest about its faults; about what it does know, what it should know, and what it can't know. Good science starts with good data, strict methodology, open presentation of work for review, and the ability to accept valid criticism. Unfortunately, climate science has been tribalized into an "us vs them" situation unlike virtually any other science. There are great debates in science about the validity of things like string theory, quantum loop gravity, etc, but those arguments are based on the underlying math and how well it explains what we've actually observed thus far in our universe. The debate around climate science is mostly crap. It's two sides screaming "WE'RE RIGHT, YOU'RE WRONG!" at each other. I'm not surprised that there's a group that will always refuse to believe humans have any impact on the climate of our world because we have a group (and it's largely the same group) that refuses to believe evolution is a real thing despite the fact that we can observe it happening in front of us. No, what surprises (and saddens) me is that there's a group that believes in AGW with a religious fervor on par with the worst of the zealots. Questioning the data or the science behind their dogmatic beliefs is an attack on their very being, and they respond by spewing hate. It's unfortunate, because there are extremely important questions to answer and there needs to be real work done on answering them rather than merely confirming beliefs.

Comment Re:Almost seems destiny (Score 1) 406

The politics of Russia are not the politics of China.

Russia can get away with it because Russians don't really have much in the way of standards and are satisfied to live in shit so long as they can thumb their nose at the rest of the world and get drunk. The Chinese people are far more demanding for the sake of their children. Their acquiesce is entirely contingent on their guarantee that anything they endure ensures a better, brighter future for the next generation. Hence, Putin can push old school Soviet style foreign policy that creates terrible woes for the Russian people, but China has to walk a very fine line wherein they don't burn the bridges that keep them growing.

And China is incredibly smart about it. Look at their activities throughout Africa: they're sealing up deals with the worst of the worst leaders in the region to roll in and extract every natural resource worth anything and they're even bringing in their own people to do it. And they're refurbing old Russian naval equipment so that when some of those leaders threaten to renege on the deals (or new leaders rise to power and murder the older leadership, then threaten to renege on the deals), they can project power to enforce their rights. That's long term, strategic, ruthless thinking and frankly it's the easiest way to get what you want in many parts of the world. They use their money setting themselves up for a future where they control vast amounts of precious resources and we burn ours trying to force peace in places where people don't want it (or us).

And that's why China doesn't want or need to dump our debt. That's short-term, feel-good, short-sighted thinking. That isn't how China rolls. China plays the long game and they do whatever they have to do to rig the game so they win.

Comment Re:Almost seems destiny (Score 1) 406

That would crush their economy far worse than ours.

Our government survives recessions. If they don't show significant growth each year (and much of that is fueled by foreign investment), their people would no longer tolerate the draconian restrictions under which they live. When you talk with ordinary Chinese people, they know all about the freedoms the rest of the world has, but they also know that most established Western nations who have those freedoms see 1-2% annual economic growth versus 6-8% (after removing China's fudge factor for all reported data) at home. So they tolerate their government for as long as that government can deliver huge growth.

We should be so lucky as to see China dump our debt. We'd have a few years of tough times. They'd have a bloody and drawn out revolution.

Comment Re:Cue the hipocrisy... (Score 1) 412

We're talking about a tectonic shift in an industry which effectively constructed the middle class of this country and upon which the entire concept of the American dream is based. One could literally finish some level of schooling (in many cases, not even high school until much later) and get one job that you kept your entire life and which paid enough to buy a decent house in a decent neighborhood, put a car in the driveway, modern appliances throughout, and buy everything needed for a wife and 2, 3, even 5 or 6 kids. More often than not, most or all of those kids did the same thing: finished some level of schooling and went to work doing the same job as dad or something quite similar. Entire towns and even cities were built around this model. Generations of families were built around this model. And not for a tiny number of niche workers in some remote and isolated part of the country: this was the backbone of the United States' economy.

I'm not disagreeing with the substance of what you've said: changes are happening and the old models are rapidly losing their economic viability in most cases. But until the political leadership recognizes the immense cultural and even psychological impact of these changes and provides a specific, actionable, immediately tangible path to a positive outcome, any promise to preserve what has been for a long time is going to get a ton of traction. And when I say immediately tangible, I mean to say it has to be actively happening and visible. These are not the types to be swayed by a 12-point plan of some possible future concept. They need to witness their friends and neighbors actually transitioning on the path to whatever the model may be (perhaps construction and maintenance of these automated factories as part of it?) before they'll be convinced.

So either show them a path forward or promise them a path backward. I don't think anything else is going to resonate with them and I don't think Democrats can win much of anything without them. If state and local Republicans figure this out before Democrats do, watch for a big shift there too. And once they're out of power, those state and local Democrats aren't going to have much ability to put a path forward into practice. I fear Republicans may be perfectly happy to just keep making promises of a return to the past, since they're free, quick, easy, and (at least for now) work.

Slashdot Top Deals

One good suit is worth a thousand resumes.