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On the scepticism of causality

Published 06th November 2009 - 18 comments - 2792 views -

"Eyes mark the shape of the city.

Through the eyes of a high-flying bird, we take in the scene from midair. In our broad sweep, the city looks like a single gigantic creature - or more like a single collective entity created by many intertwining organisms. Countless arteries stretch to the ends of its elusive body, circulating a continous supply of fresh blood cells, sending out new data and collecting the old, sending out new contradictions and collecting old. To the rythm of its pulsing, all parts of the body flicker and flare up with squirm. Midnight is approaching, and while the peak of activity has passed, the basal metabolism that maintains life continues undiminished, producing the basso continuo of the city's moan, a monotonous sound that neeither rises nor falls but is pregnant with foreboding."



This breathtaking description of a modern city is the opening of Haruki Murakami's novel After Dark. It is Tokyo, but I think it is a true description of any global city. Urbanization is maybe the biggest revolution in the history of mankind. Unfortunately it is fueled by oil, and emits co2.  Oil is in the food we eat, in the buses we take to work, the cars we drive on crowded streets, in the clothes made in other countries we wear. Oil is nothing less than the blood of modern life, and that is why it is so painful to replace it. But to presume that such a massive thing as a modern fossil fueled city, multiplied by thousands, would not affect our environment is counter-intuitive. It is like throwing plates in the floor and presume that they will not be affected. Of course they crack.

Yet this is exactly what the people defining themselves as "sceptics" are telling us. That we can consume whatever we want, live how the heck we want, that we can build larger-than-life cities and send jetplanes, trucks and ships around the world 24 hours a day to feed them, and yet our actions are too small to affect the world we live in. Does it sound reasonable to you? then take a walk in the city you live in, with open eyes. Drive down the highway and reflect over the agro-industries on your sides. A human being is small - but humanity is a behemoth. To presume that the biggest revolution in the history of mankind can pass unnoticed is ... esoteric.

It doesn't take scientific knowledge to see that we are affecting the earth. All it takes is common sense (thanks to Hemant for constantly reminding us about this). I confess - I have neither the skills, nor the education to make a critical assesment of IPCC's findings. I am a humanist blogger, so in stead I use my common sense. I look around, listen to the people's stories, and compare the reality I see with the resarch I read about in secondary sources. Then I trust the scientist who can explain the reality I see.

Heating gases

Greenouse gases in the atmosphere since year 1000


Global temperature since year 1000

"You see a relationship here? Sorry, my textbook says your wrong..."


Everyone, especially those who work professionaly outdoors, like ski-resort owners, speak of a changing climate. These guys are not natural born environmentalists, they are in the nature to exploit it. But when climate change threatens their profits, they don't have to think twice.

And still, people who call themselves "sceptics" without ever hesitating about their own life style answer me with high school-level physical experiments, and theories pronounced on a prose wmore reminiscent of the medival stoics than Newton. But what bothers me more than their literary style* is that they never, ever refer to the world as it is. They never comment on pictures of a melting Arctic, or a devastaded Africa. I will never believe anyone whose theories don't correspond with reality as seen through an open eye.

This is what common sense is for - it can not replace science, it simply evaluates its findings.

Off topic... when I read After Dark I learned that Haruki Murakami is actually born in Kyoto... so it seemed relevant to bring him up in the discussion about climate change...


All pictures are from Wikipedia

Category: Climate Politics, | Tags: scepticism,


Vitezslav Kremlik on 06th November 2009:

When I look around our world, I do not see a devastated ecosystem. Our cities have never been more clean and ultra-hygienic than now. Medieval cities used to spill waste on the streets and were full of cholera, stink and dirt. 

And our nature? I haven’t noticed the increase in temperatures in the Czech Republic. I can see beautiful woods out of my balcony and I love strolling in them.

Where is the disaster you are talking about?
This is what MY common sense is telling me.

And if you think, that droughts, rain, floods or tornadoes are a new thing, caused by industry… go read some medieval chronicles.

Adela on 06th November 2009:

@Vitezslav, how many cities have you seen?
I’ve been into Prague and Brno and if the rest of your country is the same, yes, it’s VERY clean and nice. But one country doesn’t cover for the whole world.

Unless you’re very old (like several hundred years old) you don’t have a life experience of Medieval times. So comparing them with the modern ones is not common sense. It’s making assumptions.

@Daniel I haven’t read anything by Haruki Murakami, but from the quote you gave, he sounds like a doctor. smile

Mike on 07th November 2009:

Prepare to be educated.

Paper: [url=]CO2: The Greatest Scientific
Scandal of Our Time[/url]

Figure 1: Fraudulent fitting of ice core data.

Figure 2: Cherry picking of CO2 data from over 90,000 chemical measurements between 1800-1955.

Figure 3: Reconstruction of CO2 from 90,000 chemical measurements, ice core data imposed on top. No hockey stick.

Figure 4: 2000 year global temperature reconstruction. No hockey stick. Medieval warm period clearly warmer than it is now. Thermometric records are based in the coldest period of the last 2,000 years.

Not even the IPCC uses that fradulent temperature hockey stick anymore.

Mike on 07th November 2009:

Fixed link: 2000 year global temperaure reconstruction.

Daniel Nylin Nilsson on 07th November 2009:

@Vitezslav , you are right that an enormous work has been carried out to clean up cities, which is great. Prague is a nice example smile

What I mean is not that cities are dirty. If you compare today’s Stockholm to medieval Stockholm, today’s city is much much bigger, and is completely dependent on its population.
Yet Sweden is a small and decentralised country - elsewhere there are even bigger cities with even bigger needs. The result is that almost every corner of the world is connected to the supply chains suppoting us. And of course that will affect the planet. Everything has a cause and an effect - and big things have big effects.

@Adela haha smile Yes, maybe he has the eye of doctor. I strongly reccomend him, especially After dark or Norwegian Wood.

@Mike If you want to be taken seriously you should avoid using words like “junk science” (your lst link), a phrase deliberatly invented by the tobacco industry to discredit its sceptics, later transferred to the climate debate.

Interestingly the connection is there… the tobacco industry worked together witht eh Heartland Institute, the science smearing think tank, not afraid of using the word “junk science”, to which Craig Loehle belongs. Could you be surprised I choosed different, less discredited, sources for my “education”?

Mike on 07th November 2009:

Anything to dismiss or deface the messenger so long as you never have to address the core of the argument!

I did not in any instance here use the word “junk science”, nor does the paper or the images I supplied contain those words.

You should apologise for such a disgraceful baseless attack on me.

hemant anant jain on 07th November 2009:

Vitezslav said: “When I look around our world, I do not see a devastated ecosystem. Our cities have never been more clean and ultra-hygienic than now.”
Vitezslav - you are becoming boring. I have explained to you that your world view is rather small. I also suggested you should go out more often and don’t imagine things which do no exist.
And you should read some modern science and not medieval chronicles. They will help you understand the diffence between natural climate change and human caused accelerated climate change.
I am suprised that people like Mike and Vitezslav keep repeating themselves.
You guys have been taught enough science in one of the debates and you keep coming back with your repetitions.

Great post Daniel!

Vitezslav Kremlik on 07th November 2009:

Hemant, you should stop fantasizing about devastated Earth. You should not base your opinions on sci-fi movies like Emmerich’s “The Day After Tomorrow”. Just go out and see for yourself. Sky is not falling, grass is green, sun is shining.

Yes humans surely affect the environment and cause some pollution, but it is not a disaster. In Europe we used to have huge rainforrests all over. Millenium ago we destroyed them. In the preindustrial period And so what?

Mike on 07th November 2009:

Hemant, try and prove what I have said here is wrong. You can’t. Because the hockey stick temperature reconstruction is a fraud, one that not even the IPCC recognises anymore.

If we are repeating ourselves, it’s because the likes of you continue to divert attention from our arguments use irrelevent ad hominem attacks to dismiss us.

How about discussing the facts, right here, the facts that I have presented, right here, that the hockey stick graph for temperature reconstruction, is a fraud, one that not even the IPCC supports anymore.

I challenge you to respond to the arguments and not continue your meaningless distractions. Are you even capable of that?

Benno Hansen on 07th November 2009:

Vitezslav & Mike,

I am happy for you, Vitezslav, that you have a nice view from where you live, but…

How does your sources of (lame conspiracy) theories explain the rises in methane and nitrous oxide concentrations?

Vitezslav Kremlik on 07th November 2009:

Benno, you do not understand. We do not deny, that humans polluted the environment with PBC, emissions, CO2 or other substances.

We just doubt, that it has a significant impact on the temperatures/climate. For instance an oil slick surely is a bad thing. But it does not destroy the climate.

After all, climate survived even 5 times greater CO2 concentrations during history. With no problem.

Daniel Nylin Nilsson on 07th November 2009:

@Mike, regarding “junk science”, this is your last link:

regarding the IPCC and hockey stick, here is a quite form the WG1’s last publication: “The global atmoshperic concentration of carbon dioxide has increased from pre-industrial value of about 280 ppm to 379 ppm in 2005. The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide in 2005 <u>exceeds by far the natural range over the last 650,000 years (180 to 300 ppm) as determined from ice cores.”

Obviously your sources and the IPCC disagree on this topic. Personally I am not in the position to make a critical assesment of these numbers, but I am able to make a critical assesment of the sources I choose to trust, which is pretty much what I wanted to say in this post.

@Vitezslav. I am not so sure that co2 levels were ever higher, but how do you think human societies responded to these changes in climate? Some of them died because of minor changes in temperature, and I would say that we are even less resilient today, dependent as we are on artificially boosted food production in aeas severly threated by drought. What was a local problem in the mediveal times s a global problem today.

Mike on 07th November 2009:

Daniel, is not the source of the image, I only linked the image so you could easily access it, so you are being incredibly facetious. The source of the image is peer-reviewed.

You can stop being a douche and apologise.

So you don’t evaluate arguments based on their merits, you rely on your religious faith to the IPCC. Jaworowski has published several peer-reviewed [urk=]papers[/url] that demonstrate how ice cores and glaciers are unreliable CO2 proxies. I have posted evidence of 90,000 direct measurements of atmospheric CO2 that completely contradict the ice core records, throwing their validity out the window. If you cannot refute this or Jaworoski’s criticisms of the assumed reliability of ice cores, then you cannot say you base your views are grounded in science.

And you have still completely ignored the fraud of Mann’s hockey stick temperature reconstruction, for that is without a doubt, a fraud.

hemant anant jain on 08th November 2009:

In addition to the abovementioned article, Jaworowski also wrote “The Truth about Chernobyl is Told,” which claimed that fears about radiation illness were unfounded.

Ha. Ha. Ha. Mike, you sure do pick your sources and waste everyone’s time.

Jaworowski claims that rather that selecting the most accurate values, Callendar made an arbitrary selection to produce the result (increasing CO2) that he desired. Jaworowski has not a scrap of evidence for his claim and all other data supports Callendar. The green line shows measurements of CO2 concentration from ice cores at Law Dome. Notice how it agrees with the values Callendar chose and the red line of the Mauna Loa measurements. Jaworowski has an answer to this. The ice core measurements are fraudulent, as are the Mauna Loa measurements. Multiple independent ice core measurements agree with those from the Law Dome, so presumably Jaworowski believes that these are the product of a huge conspiracy as well. It should come as no surprise that Jaworowski’s theories were not published in a scientific journal, but in 21st Century, a magazine published by Lyndon LaRouche, renowned for his belief in various conspiracy theories.

Mike on 08th November 2009:

The ice core data was made to fit Mauna Loa by assuming the age of the air in the bubbles were 83 years younger than the ice it was trapped in. There is no scientific basis for this assumption. It is also true that data at Mauna Loa must be corrected for volcanic activity nearby, which introduces the possibility of bias. Callendar rejected more than 69% from 90,000 measurements ranging from 250 to 550ppm. Without such selection the 19th century data compiled by Callendar averaged 335ppm.

And nice try, but you’re gonna have to do better than citing wikipedia in your ad hominem attacks. Perhaps if you scrolled down a little further you’d see all his published peer-reviewed articles suppoting the same arguments.

If Jaworoski and those 90,000 direct chemical measurements are wrong, and CO2 levels have been flat for 2000 years before the industrial revolution despite the medieval warm period and little ice age, then this proves that CO2 has no discernable effect on temperature and climate.

Either way, you lose.

Mike on 08th November 2009:

Bleh, overstepped the line, subtract “proves” for “suggests”.

Lovorka on 12th November 2009:

There is a true story which sounds like joke. In the 60’ my granny went to Alps with her ‘crew’. anyway bunch of relatively healthy 65+ decided to spend weekend on fresh air. So bus brought them to some hotel on some peak and they step on the ground. So nice nature, fresh air everything is perfect… However, 2 min after they arrived one of gentlemen started to choke… Doctor who was with them drag near the engine of the bus.
Old guy felt better, to much of ‘fresh clean’ air, organism not accustomed to so much oxygen doc. said ...

p.s I add my recommendation to “South of the Border, West of the Sun”

Paul Montariol on 10th December 2009:

I start to believe that there are the skeptics of the climate and the skeptics of technology!
I put both in the same basket!
An English man has just carried out a system of heating which consumes ten times less and without heat pump! etc….

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