Discussing complex scientific concepts in a medium limited to 240 character messages is probably the worst idea anyone has come up with. Yet here I am, allowing myself to get dragged into drawn out discussions with armchair “skeptics” who don’t really deserve that label. A few weeks ago, Scott Adams, famous as being the creator of the Dilbert comic strip (to his credit, I love these comics), issued a “Climate Challenge” on twitter. Here is his tweet:
Challenge: What is the most persuasive climate change argument you can provide a link to (for non-scientists to consume) arguing that CO2 is raising temperatures at a dangerous pace. Please put link in comments.— Scott Adams (@ScottAdamsSays) December 29, 2018
Scott’s challenge was asking for your best link to make the case “that CO2 is raising temperatures at a dangerous pace.” Here is a follow up video commentary on the challenge. It starts at 24:50, apparently he likes to cover a number of issues in these videos.
Video commentary 1: climate starts at 24:50
In the video, Scott claims to have the “best link” to make the case against the climate change argument. Also that nobody has previously put these best arguments in any sort of head-to-head match up before. Well, like any good natured climate proponent, I jumped into the fray, first commenting with my own link. For that, I provided a link to the first video in a series on climate change by Peter Hadfield, who goes by Potholer54, on youtube https://youtu.be/52KLGqDSAjo.
It’s an older video now, but all the points are just as valid. Mr. Hadfield is a former Geologist, who has been doing science journalism for past 35 years [TODO: Confirm]. In all his videos, he does an excellent job in examining what the root sources of an argument are and what the data from those sources actually show. If there is one lesson you should take from Potholer54, it’s that you should always critically examine the original source of a claim.
After posting my own link, I browsed some of the others. I commented on someone posting the already debunked idea that Ice core data shows CO2 increases lag temperature increases by 800 years. Implying that temperature causes CO2 increases. This report comes from a guest writer on wattsupwiththat, Dr. Tim Ball. (https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/09/09/empirical-evidence-shows-temperature-increases-before-co2-increase-in-all-records/). While this is true, it’s not telling the whole story. What this chart ignores is shifting lag/lead patterns in CO2/temperature patterns between both the Northern and Southern hemispheres. It is a rather confusing relationship.
This is only a single point of confusion and misinformation in the climate discussion. Since Scott Adam’s post, I got involved in numerous discussions on the subject, and other threads. It’s understandable that any laymen would find it challenging just navigating the points of this debate and falling victim to not vetting their sources properly. Scott has since come through on his promise to share his “best link.” He actually shared two:
#ClimateChange Challenge: Review both sides of the argument (2 links each) and tell me which side of the climate debate is more PERSUASIVE.— Scott Adams (@ScottAdamsSays) December 29, 2018
Tony Heller: https://t.co/cwITSOz31H
One was an article from Forbes attacking the famous Cook study claiming that 97% of climate scientists agreed with the theory of anthropogenic global warming (AGW). The other a video from Tony Heller supposedly debunking data that support the idea of AGW. At this time, I haven’t yet been able to listen to the Tony Heller video, but I plan to. A (admittedly biased) summary I've read concludes that he spends time both complaining about the quality of data, and efforts to correct/improve that data.
Scott is objectively an intelligent person, and he seems to attract a following of intelligent people, especially from engineering backgrounds. Reading Scott’s comments, it seems like he has a strong desire to understand the root of people’s claims, and the data they are providing to support them. But Scott has also been notable
conservative left of Bernie, but right of RPOS personality on twitter, so has also attracted a large following of conservatives, who seem to have fallen for the misinformation spread by bloggers who deny AGW or it’s effects. While he does seem willing to call out bullshit, even from people from his own political persuasion, I worry that the sheer amount of misinformation spread by his followers will eventually lead to a confirmation bias.
Scott Adams tweeted at me a correction on his political affiliation.