Climate Change and Copenhagen

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.

Re: Climate Change and Copenhagen

Postby pink_trike » Tue Dec 15, 2009 6:14 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:Today's cartoon from xkcd seems relevant to some parts of this thread ...

http://xkcd.com/675/

:tongue:

Kim

On the other hand, need I remind you how many times scientists have been stupendously wrong, and how many times well-regarded scientists have announced that "we now know everything there is to know about XXXXX". :tongue:

Not to mention those that sell and conform their "data" to the highest political bidder...
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

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Re: Climate Change and Copenhagen

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Dec 15, 2009 7:29 am

pink_trike wrote:On the other hand, need I remind you how many times scientists have been stupendously wrong, ...

Of course, and in science the highest accolades usually go to those who show that others have been stupendously wrong.

By the way, that cartoon isn't fiction, it's the real-life experience of physicists, who have to deal with uncountable amateurs who think they've spotted a basic flaw in relativity. I regularly get such emails (and I'm not even the the President of Physics).

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Re: Climate Change and Copenhagen

Postby cooran » Tue Dec 15, 2009 7:43 am

mike said: (and I'm not even the the President of Physics).


Image

How can my world ever be the same again? :shock:

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Re: Climate Change and Copenhagen

Postby Dan74 » Tue Dec 15, 2009 9:25 am

pink_trike wrote:
Kim O'Hara wrote:Today's cartoon from xkcd seems relevant to some parts of this thread ...

http://xkcd.com/675/

:tongue:

Kim

On the other hand, need I remind you how many times scientists have been stupendously wrong, and how many times well-regarded scientists have announced that "we now know everything there is to know about XXXXX". :tongue:

Not to mention those that sell and conform their "data" to the highest political bidder...


Scientists can be as wrong as everybody else, but established scientific theories are usually pretty spot on. Not in the sense of being the final word on something but within their limitations, spot on. Newtonian physics was spot on and a great predictor of 99% of the things it set out to understand. Einstein's Relativity supplanted it and can now explain more things. But Newton wasn't completely wrong. In fact he was 99% right.

We use science hundreds of times every day. Right now typing this, heaps of science! And it works. WOW! Do we understand it? Do we respect this amazing body of knowledge and technology? And yet we often feel qualified to dismiss what thousands of people have worked for years on without a proper investigation.

I guess I am saying that doubt is one thing, but dismissal shows a lack of respect and understanding (not referring to you, PT)

_/|\_
_/|\_
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Re: Climate Change and Copenhagen

Postby pink_trike » Tue Dec 15, 2009 9:38 am

Dan74 wrote:
pink_trike wrote:
Kim O'Hara wrote:Today's cartoon from xkcd seems relevant to some parts of this thread ...

http://xkcd.com/675/

:tongue:

Kim

On the other hand, need I remind you how many times scientists have been stupendously wrong, and how many times well-regarded scientists have announced that "we now know everything there is to know about XXXXX". :tongue:

Not to mention those that sell and conform their "data" to the highest political bidder...


Scientists can be as wrong as everybody else, but established scientific theories are usually pretty spot on. Not in the sense of being the final word on something but within their limitations, spot on. Newtonian physics was spot on and a great predictor of 99% of the things it set out to understand. Einstein's Relativity supplanted it and can now explain more things. But Newton wasn't completely wrong. In fact he was 99% right.

We use science hundreds of times every day. Right now typing this, heaps of science! And it works. WOW! Do we understand it? Do we respect this amazing body of knowledge and technology? And yet we often feel qualified to dismiss what thousands of people have worked for years on without a proper investigation.

I guess I am saying that doubt is one thing, but dismissal shows a lack of respect and understanding (not referring to you, PT)

_/|\_

True. Completely agree.

What I'm jabbing at is the unquestioning reverence for "science" that many people have...the equivalent of religion - that conveniently forgets that the scientific mainstream has also fought, sometimes bitterly and recently, against scientific theories that are now taken for granted.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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Re: Climate Change and Copenhagen

Postby Rui Sousa » Tue Dec 15, 2009 9:29 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:Without doing that, all you can possibly be doing is 'confirming' your own pre-judged position. As I said, the amount of data you have looked at is far too small to justify your conclusions.


I would not say that by looking at small datasets my pre-judged position would be more or less relevant. In my opinion if such position is present the amount of data I will look at is irrelevant.

You are right, of course, when you point out my hit and run approach, and how it is insufficient. Further work is needed and I am willing to take it at hands. I have been working on creating a database in which to compare at least three data sources: HadCRUT, GISS and ECA. So far I have done a C# program to import the HadCRUT data into an SQL Server 2005 database, and I am close to end the code to import the ECA data. I will share it with anyone interested, and I will likely make that my thesis on Decision Making Information Systems by early 2011.

That said I disagree that analyzing a small dataset is misleading. I handle databases that produce several million records per day, and Gigabytes of information, looking at calculated values that refer to the whole dataset is pretty useless, any minor or medium mistake or error is disguised by the amount of data. When analyzing the data to verify its consistency it is better to start from zero data and increase the amount of data until inconsistencies are detected, then with that small dataset understand the problem and find a solution.

Recently I made a mistake in one piece of code that was deleting hundreds of thousands of records each day. The global indicators showed no problem for months, and when a client said one of his records was missing I was at first mislead by the global indicators that showed no problem. But eventually i sat down with him and looked at ONE record. It was not there, it was missing, why? After a few days I was able to answer that question and solve the problem, by correcting my mistake.

It was by reducing the amount of data, within a certain context, that I was able to discover the bug that was deleting hundreds of thousands of records each day. After making the correction the global indicators should a great difference, that was not visible before. In my experience cherry piking is indeed a good practice. So I know, because the above story is one in many, that reducing datasets to minimal amounts is a useful technique to analyze huge datasets. The analysis I have done for one station shows inconsistencies that potentially are affected other stations, or not, but by understanding those differences I will be able to understand other things, in greater depth.

The first station I looked at was the nearest to where I live, and there were inconsistencies.

Putting this conversation in the context of Buddhism, how could one understand the world and be freed from suffering by observing the breathing of one single human being? If his breath is insignificant when considering the global breathing that is going on in the world? And how can one learn anything from observing its own breath, specially when having a pre-judged position that we can learn anything from it? And yet... I believe there is much to be learned from one single breath, from one single database record, from one single meteorological station.

If you can't do that, I think you have to accept expert advice. Would you accept a climatologist's opinion on the data correction methods you use in the bank?
[/quote]

Of course I would accept a climatologist's opinion on my work, in fact I seek contributions from outside IT and Banking in my work, because there are many different approaches to any problem, and fresh thinking and criticism is something I always welcome.

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Re: Climate Change and Copenhagen

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Dec 16, 2009 12:38 am

Hi, Rui,
I have re-arranged you last post a little bit to make it easier to talk about ...
Rui Sousa wrote:You are right, of course, when you point out my hit and run approach, and how it is insufficient. Further work is needed and I am willing to take it at hands. I have been working on creating a database in which to compare at least three data sources: HadCRUT, GISS and ECA. So far I have done a C# program to import the HadCRUT data into an SQL Server 2005 database, and I am close to end the code to import the ECA data. I will share it with anyone interested, and I will likely make that my thesis on Decision Making Information Systems by early 2011.

Great!
Rui Sousa wrote:
Kim O'Hara wrote:Without doing that, all you can possibly be doing is 'confirming' your own pre-judged position. As I said, the amount of data you have looked at is far too small to justify your conclusions.

I would not say that by looking at small datasets my pre-judged position would be more or less relevant. In my opinion if such position is present the amount of data I will look at is irrelevant.

The is a proverb in English, 'One swallow doesn't make a summer'. It is a warning to anyone who is desperately waiting for the end of winter, sees one swallow returned from the South and says, 'Winter must be over'. Really, you have to wait until you see lots of swallows to be sure winter is over.
That is, wishful thinking makes a small amount of data seem more significant than it really is.
That said I disagree that analyzing a small dataset is misleading. I handle databases that produce several million records per day, and Gigabytes of information, looking at calculated values that refer to the whole dataset is pretty useless, any minor or medium mistake or error is disguised by the amount of data. When analyzing the data to verify its consistency it is better to start from zero data and increase the amount of data until inconsistencies are detected, then with that small dataset understand the problem and find a solution.

That can be true, of course, but you have to remember (and always say) that your conclusions are only valid for that particular subset of the data, at least until you have shown that the same problem exists elsewhere in your data.

Putting this conversation in the context of Buddhism, how could one understand the world and be freed from suffering by observing the breathing of one single human being? If his breath is insignificant when considering the global breathing that is going on in the world? And how can one learn anything from observing its own breath, specially when having a pre-judged position that we can learn anything from it? And yet... I believe there is much to be learned from one single breath, from one single database record, from one single meteorological station.

It has been said that if we knew absolutely everything about one single pebble, we would know the whole history of the universe.
But we still have to be careful not to make statements that go beyond the limits of our knowledge.
Kim O'Hara wrote:If you can't do that, I think you have to accept expert advice. Would you accept a climatologist's opinion on the data correction methods you use in the bank?

Of course I would accept a climatologist's opinion on my work, in fact I seek contributions from outside IT and Banking in my work, because there are many different approaches to any problem, and fresh thinking and criticism is something I always welcome.

Great attitude! :smile:

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Re: Climate Change and Copenhagen

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Dec 16, 2009 4:24 am

From New Scientist:
50 reasons why global warming isn't natural
Michael Le Page, features editor

A British newspaper today published a list of "100 reasons why global warming is natural".
Here we take a quick look at the first 50 of their claims - and debunk each one.
http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2009/12/50-reasons-why-global-warming.html

A good summary of the commonest contrarian arguments and why they are wrong.
It leaves me a bit depressed on two counts, though:
(1) that it's even necessary when the science is so well established
(2) that the comments at the end reveal so little willingness to learn.

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Re: Climate Change and Copenhagen

Postby Kim OHara » Sun Dec 20, 2009 2:49 am

Okay, time to cheer up.
Here's a cartoon by Joel Pett:
http://www.cartoonistgroup.com/store/add.php?iid=41786
:smile:

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Re: Climate Change and Copenhagen

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sun Dec 20, 2009 3:26 am

mikenz66 wrote:
pink_trike wrote:On the other hand, need I remind you how many times scientists have been stupendously wrong, ...

Of course, and in science the highest accolades usually go to those who show that others have been stupendously wrong.

By the way, that cartoon isn't fiction, it's the real-life experience of physicists, who have to deal with uncountable amateurs who think they've spotted a basic flaw in relativity. I regularly get such emails (and I'm not even the the President of Physics).

Mike


lol

Mike, it is a lot like the very serious and sincere, but rather amateur buddhologists who are often stupendously ill informed that we have to deal with, mainly on online forums! haha! (And I don't mean to suggest at all that you are one, for you definitely are not.)

How about Secretary General? :P
My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: Huifeng's Prajnacara Blog.
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Re: Climate Change and Copenhagen

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Dec 20, 2009 3:51 am

Hmm, Thanks, I think... :thinking:
Paññāsikhara wrote:How about Secretary General? :P

Isn't that what our former leader Helen Clark is aiming for...? Oops, her field isn't Physics... :alien:

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Re: Climate Change and Copenhagen

Postby Kim OHara » Mon Dec 28, 2009 9:37 pm

Good news, about defections from the US polluter lobby groups, from the Huffington Post:
Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) announced today that the utility giant is dumping its membership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, citing the business group’s "extreme position on climate change."

Announcing the pull-out in a company blog titled "Irreconcilable Differences," PG&E says that its Chairman and Chief Executive Peter Darbee told the Chamber in a letter today that:

"We find it dismaying that the Chamber neglects the indisputable fact that a decisive majority of experts have said the data on global warming are compelling and point to a threat that cannot be ignored. In our opinion, an intellectually honest argument over the best policy response to the challenges of climate change is one thing; disingenuous attempts to diminish or distort the reality of these challenges are quite another."
Bravo to PG&E for taking a stand.

Pete Altman at NRDC reports that Nike is equally displeased with the U.S. Chamber’s head-in-the-sand approach to climate change threats. The company issued a statement yesterday stating that Nike “fundamentally disagrees with the US Chamber of Commerce's position on climate change.”

Referring to the U.S. Chamber’s recent boneheaded call for the EPA to hold "the Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century" to debate whether climate change is man-made, Nike berates the Chamber in its statement:

"Nike believes that climate change is an urgent issue affecting the world today and that businesses and their representative associations need to take an active role to invest in sustainable business practices ..."

Whole article is here:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brendan-demelle/pge-quits-us-chamber-of-c_b_295424.html
Follow Links from the article to see earlier examples of similar action.

:smile:
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Re: Climate Change and Copenhagen

Postby cooran » Fri Mar 12, 2010 11:17 pm

Hello all,

This may be of interest:

Climate change is a fact, says China By China correspondent Stephen McDonell
A deputy director of China's most powerful economic ministry has come out swinging against climate change denial.
Senior Chinese government figures have described the view that climate change is not man-made as an "extreme" stance which is out of step with mainstream thought.
The comments were made during China's annual sitting of the National People's Congress.
During the congress, a series of press conferences are held which, in many cases, are the only chance to put questions to members of China's power elite.
Last night, one such press conference was held on the subject of climate change.
The ABC asked the panel what they thought of the view that climate change had nothing to do with human activity and was in fact a natural phenomenon.
Xie Zhenhua, a deputy director at China's powerful economic ministry, the National Development and Reform Commission, answered that he believed that made-made climate change denial is, at best, a very marginal view.

"Climate change is a fact based on long-time observations by countries around the world," he said.
"There are two different views regarding the causes for global warming.
"The mainstream view is that climate change is caused by burning of fossil fuel in the course of industrialisation.
"There's a more extreme view which holds that human activity has only an imperceptible impact on the natural system."

He said the responsibility for this climate change rested squarely with the Western world, so the onus was on it to clean up the mess caused in the rush to industrialisation.

"The climate in China is warming. It's something every one of us can feel," he said.
"Climate change is having an impact on China in terms of the instability of agricultural output.
"There's now more flooding in the south of China and increasing shortages of water in the north. Forests and grasslands are being eroded and there are more typhoons and storm surges along our coast.
"So, if you look ahead to the long term, climate change may have a huge impact on China's food security and the life and property of our people."
The chairman of the Congress Environmental and Resources Protection Committee, Wang Guangtao, also spoke.
He acknowledged there were some experts who believed current statistics on climate change were not reliable enough.
But he said that merely meant more work needed to be done on the minutiae of the statistics.
He said that did not detract from the pressing need to reduce fossil fuels and expand the world's forest coverage.
First posted Thu Mar 11, 2010 6:07am AEDT
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010 ... 842415.htm

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Re: Climate Change and Copenhagen

Postby Ben » Fri Mar 12, 2010 11:32 pm

Thanks Chris
I heard that on Radio National yesterday morning.
Didn't surprise me really. China is just apportioning responsibility back to the west.
kind regards

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saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

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Re: Climate Change and Copenhagen

Postby Kim OHara » Sat Mar 13, 2010 10:43 am

Ben wrote:Thanks Chris
I heard that on Radio National yesterday morning.
Didn't surprise me really. China is just apportioning responsibility back to the west.
kind regards
Ben

I heard it, too. (All together now, 'Aussie, Aussie, Aussie ...' :tongue: )

But Ben, there's more in it than China just trying to pass the blame (though they are undoubtedly doing just that).
The news item points up the fact that, just within the ABC, we have reporters asking sensible questions and reporting the answers honestly even while their ultimate boss is denying the scientific consensus. If you look at http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/10/2842322.htm, he is really saying the ABC should run more coverage of climate change denialist stories. One of our Greens senators has asked him to withdraw the comments and apologise for them; myself, I think offering him a job in China would be poetic justice.

Also, the good news that China is swinging into action to reduce their own impact on the health of the planet - driven by the fact that they are feeling the impacts already but at least not being held back by official BAU policies or foot-dragging. They are leaders, for instance, in wind power - see http://www.gwec.net/index.php?id=30&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=247
China doubles installed capacity for fifth year running – Global markets up 31%
Brussels, 3 February 2010. The Global Wind Energy Council today announced that the world’s wind power capacity grew by 31% in 2009, adding 37.5 GW to bring total installations up to 157.9 GW. A third of these additions were made in China, which experienced yet another year of over 100% growth.


There's an un-obvious sense, too, in which the Chinese spokesman was absolutely correct to blame the West: by importing all our manufactured goods from China, we have effectively exported the pollution the manufacturers produce. IMO, that pollution is morally ours.

:namaste:
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