Wednesday, April 06, 2011

EnviroUSA/Global: Climate Change: Temperature records with 2% sample say Yes -- iffy or spiffy?

Volokh Conspiracy law-prof blog (Apr4,2k11)

refWrite comment:  The esteemed law scholar, Jonathan Adler, makes a neutral blog-entry on findings by scientists funded by a both/and set that includes both Koch Foundation and a Bill Gates Fund, with many others from both r+t and left, and inbetween (I presume, but I'd like to see the actual list at some point in time).  Purpose of the study is to determine the reliability of previous analyses of earth-surface temperatures as reported in 1.6 billion diverse measurements.  I consider this a most important endeavour, altho at present the sample studied is only 2% of the total known measurements.

Let's face it, science is an ideologically and pisteutically "contaminated" endeavour as there are no facts except what human beings make (the word "fact" itself derives etymologically from verbs in other languages for "to make" ("to manufacture" so to speak).  The term "data," the plural for the Latin "datum" only seems to be different.  They both derive their latterday day meanings from word-origins and concepts dependent on the Greek word "poiesis," from which our word "poem" is rather directly born.  All of this wordplay only goes to underscore the fact (gotcha) that the laity of our scientistic culture simply have to choose which source on many issues -- in this case scientific issues relating to the environment (in Portugese the word very ruffly seems equivalent to our "ambience" which in English steers the intended meaning a little to the r+t or left, Koch or Gates for instance)...each of us laity simply has to choose who of the authoritative voices on this subject we trust).  The idea that science has one voice, has in each discipline an immutable one true voice, and is not subject to paradigm shifts over time -- this has itself been overthrown philosophically by Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, and the debate of the books's successors.  Postmodernism has picked up on this pisteutic anomaly. But Kuhn, Jerome Ravetz, Paul Feyerabend, Imre Lakatos, Peter L Berger, Michael Polanyi and all-importantly for refWrite, Herman Dooyeweerd, the Christian philosopher who anticipated all these developments in his New Critique of Theoretical Thought (English expanded version 1953-57).

Read more ... click the time-stamp below...

In the event, to the academic journal Social Text, the physicist Alan Sokal submitted the article “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity” proposing that quantum gravity is a linguistic and social construct and that quantum physics supports postmodernist criticisms of scientific objectivitySocial Text published the article in the Spring/Summer “Science Wars” issue in May 1996. Later, in the May 1996 issue of Lingua Franca, in the article “A Physicist Experiments With Cultural Studies”, Prof. Sokal exposed his parody-article, “Transgressing the Boundaries” as an experiment testing the intellectual rigor of an academic journal that would “publish an article liberally salted with nonsense if (a) it sounded good and (b) it flattered the editors’ ideological preconceptions”.[11] The matter became known as the “Sokal Affair”, and proved to be the intellectual fraud that thrust the academic world’s in-house scientific objectivity wars into the public eye.[12]  Wikipedia   article on "Science Wars"
We are well advised as laity in relation to the various sciences (including quantum physics and theology), I believe, to follow at least these three precepts:

1.) a science can only produce probable truths -- probabilities are what overstatedly are "scientific truths" (another way of stating the matter is simply to state that there are no scientific truths, only probabilities that must themselves by formulated scientifically);

2.) the existing axiomata of the positive sciences must be assumed in advance in order to do any measuring and quantifying at all -- this assumption constitutes a key to the pragmatics of every science (Marinus Dirk Stafleu, physicist and physics curriculum specialist for students in schools from kindergarten thru hi school, and for the accompanying teacher training; author of Time and Again and other works on theoretical physics, etc), altho the axiomata themselves are subject to reformulation (in drastic cases, Kuhn), a process best pursued in a dialogue between a philosophy up to that task, such as is Dooyeweerd's, and each science where someone sees the advisability of reformulation of the science's working axioms (this is the kernel of truth in positivism, as I learned from Cornelius Jaarsma about Herman Bavinck's reading all sides in the then-aggressively expanding and diverging new sciences of psychology, which in time brawt Bavinck into crisis and to his abandonment of the body/mind substantialist psychology of Scholasticism that he had touted up to recantation in his last years, leading in time to the functions-mantle theory attending the philosophical anthropology of Herman Dooyeweerd and DHTh Vollenhoven);

3.) the Heisenberg Principle (Werner Heisenberg's Uncertainity Principle, born in the quantum mechanics field of theoretical physics) which stipulates that our instruments of scientific observation distort the realities we are observing, instruments that select to construct data from the realities upon which our instruments have been designed-for our purposeful focus upon our designated observables to extract data from the phenomenal wholeness of those observables which nevertheles hint at their all-dimensional existence prior to objectivization at the behest of our instruments of data-construction.  A prime example of this heisenbergian theory elevated to axiomatic principle for the pragmatics of quantum theory is the cyclotron, particle accelerators (most famously for many years that in Nantes, France), thru which experimentation produced radiological treatments for cancer, also metals research with applications used in inventing new metals for the automotive industry (for example), ion plasma injection effects, and in Stafleu's theorizing that distinguished the changing numerical foundational functions (from numerics, to spatiatics, to kinematics (all mathematics speciality sciences) where the physical mode is the leading function for all the foregoing atomic stages in quantum physics based on the synchronocyclotron).   There's
a new concept of the full scale ion plasma injector for ECRIPAC—a new supercompact collective action accelerator for ions. The injector has an electron cyclotron resonance (ECR) 10 GHz ‘‘min B’’ quadrupolar magnetic structure which, in contrast to the traditional ECR ion sources, allows the microwaves to penetrate on the periphery of the plasma, and also on the axis of the plasma in conditions close to the first and second Bernstein modes. © 1996 American Institute of Physics.
Have I lost you? -- well, I'm lost too.  In this manner, I underscore the necessity of laity to absorb as much as possible from scientific experts, but with the proviso that one has to trust which scientific experts mediated by which science journals and reporters mediated by which communications media by which journos and bloggers in a complex information exchange that cannot be fixated upon any one nexus of communication (which is always a two-way process).  We cannot all trust the same autority/ies in any process of dissemination of results of a science.  For one thing, that woud be uncritical and render society prone to propaganda.  Unfortunately, most popular consensus-es (I coudn't find the correct plural form of this noun -- consensii? consensae?) are more like herd phenomena, than anything approaching "scientific."  School teachers can remain only on the surface of the sciences they teach, dependent as teachers are upon the scientists they trust -- altho pure-mathematical fields can be appropiated to quite a distance even by some school children.  Generally, I cite for this paragraph, how Ernst Cassirer pointed out to us in the third volume of his masterpiece, The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms, the value of myth as a pre-scientific way of knowing (to which I coud add science fiction as a post-scientific recovery of the mythic).  After the volume on language, in the third, Cassirer traced the historical rise and efforiation of mathematics, transformation of observation into machine-assisted data-generation, and the expansion of mathematics and and probability concepts to replace the Scholastic and positivistic notions of propositional truth as the only valid form of truth.

Transferring the analogy from physics to biologics will place before you the problem of the sociology of knowledge of global/regional temperature change/s, its/their climatological implications and probable consequences, and prospects for the human future on this planet, the Good Earth, made so by God.

As a philosophically-informed journo-blogger, I have tried to maintain a functional neutrality so that I had less of a chance of slanting ideologically whatever little influence this blog may have, slanting it this way or that in a rather bipolarized field of attitudes, opinions, and cawzes fiercely advanced.  I must say that recently a scholarly friend of mine (PhD in the humanities) recounted how his son (PhD in environmental biology) was engaged in a research project (Imre Lakatos) regarding the history of temperature changes and climate effects using advanced computer-generated statistical explorations of the available data.  He has tried to be open to all data and measurements, yet has come to feel sure that climate change is in a historically-atypical pattern in our times. It's getting warmer, folks! The projections he examines are quite tremendously worrisome, if you dwell on them. How much he regards climate change today as humanity-generated, I don't know.  But there is a micro-social transmission of his working conclusions to his father and now further to his father's friend, me.  Personal knowledge (Michael Polanyi).  So, as a matter of public knowledge I now have a personal motive to keep me watching Jonathan Adler on the subject, and the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Project as it works its way thru the billion-plus records regarding temperature on this globe, with a both/and neutral set of funding sources, neutral to such a degree as are unlikely to be marshalled on the topic elsewhere.  But absolute neutrality is a conceit.  If you're a human it escapes you, sometimes utterly.  Scientists are mere human beings.

In refWrite, as its general editor and a columnist, I will continue to feature environmentally-positive projects on the more directlt functional ground-level, but since there is such a great variety of competing agencies and voices of all colours, all creeds (not to mention intra-movement politics which are sometimes apparently quite vicious), I will tend to report and encourage those which, in my philosphically-informed scientific inexpertise, may best point us without extremism to contribute to a pro-environment knowledge and activity.  God bless.

-- Owlb

Posted: 04 Apr 2011 07:12 PM PDT
(Jonathan H. Adler)

The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project was launched to conduct a re-evaluation of the surface temperature record in order to resolve persistent debate over the reliability of prior analyses and provide an open record that could form the basis for future scientific research.  The effort is led by several respected scientists, including UC Berkeley physicist Richard Muller, and funded by a wide variety of sources, ranging from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation to Bill Gates’ Fund for Innovative Climate and Energy Research to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. While not a climate “skeptic,” Muller has previously raised concerns about the reliability of conventional climate assessments and warming projections.
The project was not created to confirm the reliability of the existing temperature record, but it appears that is what it is doing.  As today’s Los Angeles Times reports:
Muller unexpectedly told a congressional hearing last week that the work of the three principal groups that have analyzed the temperature trends underlying climate science is “excellent.... We see a global warming trend that is very similar to that previously reported by the other groups.”
The hearing was called by GOP leaders of the House Science & Technology committee, who have expressed doubts about the integrity of climate science. It was one of several inquiries in recent weeks as the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to curb planet-heating emissions from industrial plants and motor vehicles have come under strenuous attack in Congress.
Muller said his group was surprised by its findings, but he cautioned that the initial assessment is based on only 2% of the 1.6 billion measurements that will eventually be examined.
The preliminary findings, and a link to Muller’s testimony, are here.  It bears repeating that these findings are preliminary, but it is also significant that they are confirming prior claims that the earth has experienced significant warming in recent decades, a conclusion also supported by the satellite record (which goes back to 1979).

The reality of global warming may not justify the expansion of federal regulation under the Clean Air Act and other existing statutes, but it does merit a serious policy response.  Even less-than catastrophic warming projections justify action to address climate change.  Indeed, some of the things that would set the nation on a more climate-friendly course — such as shifting the tax-burden away from income and wealth creation toward consumption — would be a wise thing to do even if climate change were no concern at all.

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