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Climate Change Global Warming Omniclimate Science

Ruining the Planet, One Toad At A Time

Cornelia Dean is right in pondering the risks inherent in experimenting with scientific fixes meant to save the planet from global warming but with “environmental effects impossible to predict and impossible to undo” (“Experts ponder the hazards of using technology to save the planet“, IHT, Aug 12, 2008).

Actually, that is not just an issue for the future. There are several examples from the past of enviromental cures that have turned out to be worse than the original problem. One of the biggest, and perhaps the best known, is the story of the introduction of Cane Toads to Australia.

Originary of South America, and imported to Australia in 1935 as a scientific way to control beetles that were destroying sugarcane crops, cane toads are still spreading to this day. They are harming native wildlife, poison household pets, and are unstoppably expanding their range at up to 50 kilometers (30mi) per year.

And of course the cane toads have failed to do anything to the beetles.

There is no need to repeat such a mistake on an even larger scale, by depositing sulphur in the upper atmosphere or dumping iron in the open oceans. It is high time we admit that natural systems are way beyond our control and our best bet is adaptation and the use of simple, clear technology.

Categories
Climate Change English Environment Ethics Letters Science

Ruining the Planet, One Toad At A Time

Cornelia Dean is right in pondering the risks inherent in experimenting with scientific fixes meant to save the planet from global warming but with “environmental effects impossible to predict and impossible to undo” (“Experts ponder the hazards of using technology to save the planet“, IHT, Aug 12, 2008).

Actually, that is not just an issue for the future. There are several examples from the past of enviromental cures that have turned out to be worse than the original problem. One of the biggest, and perhaps the best known, is the story of the introduction of Cane Toads to Australia.

Originary of South America, and imported to Australia in 1935 as a scientific way to control beetles that were destroying sugarcane crops, cane toads are still spreading to this day. They are harming native wildlife, poison household pets, and are unstoppably expanding their range at up to 50 kilometers (30mi) per year.

And of course the cane toads have failed to do anything to the beetles.

There is no need to repeat such a mistake on an even larger scale, by depositing sulphur in the upper atmosphere or dumping iron in the open oceans. It is high time we admit that natural systems are way beyond our control and our best bet is adaptation and the use of simple, clear technology.

Categories
AGW catastrophism Omniclimate Policy Science

The Toad vs. The Climate

This was my summary posted at the NERC debate, last year, before it was closed off:

Thursday, 25 Jan 2007 – 02:52:10 GMT (post 364)

Proponents of AGW have to rely also on models as evidence, depend in part on “attribution-by-exclusion“, show little tolerance of scepticism and let political representatives mingle in their field of work.

Not really signs that AGW is a “strong” scientific theory

And now for the details:

1- Scepticism

Colin Prentice (CP) in #355: “There isn’t any contradiction. Of course, ‘sceptics’ can say what they like

Leaving aside attacks to individuals and institutions, NERC imply scepticism of AGW is not valid and anti-scientific, as per text (A) “...there are STILL sceptics who dispute the data… If you don’t BELIEVE the science…” (my emphasis).

But CP writes in #351 “Without sceptisism, there would be no science! I would defend your right to be sceptical!

If that is true, considering also that “the best evidence comes from a combination of models and observations” (CP, #265), shouldn’t we _expect_ plenty of valid scepticism of AGW?

Therefore, (A) should change to “…there are OF COURSE sceptics who dispute the data…

2- Attribution-by-exclusion

CP in #355: “The GHG explanation for climate change is not attributed ‘by exclusion’

Steve Schulin #362 answers that.

But my point is that a scientific discipline should abhor attribution-by-exclusion as a matter of principle: unless anybody here wants to support Intelligent Design as “science“.

3- Science and Government

AGW is unique as it mysteriously has to go through an “Inter_GOVERNMENTAL_ Panel“.

In the words of Associated Press (Jan 23), the upcoming IPCC report is written and reviewed by 1,200 scientists and then “edited by bureaucrats from 154 countries“.

Note that the IPCC report is not just a policy document: it collates and presents the science of AGW.

If I were a climate scientist I’d find the whole setup upsetting and humiliating. I wonder what “bureaucrats” had to say about evolution or particle physics.

Does this mean the people at NERC are victims of their own prejudices?

I wouldn’t be that harsh.

Climatology is a science, only it’s too young to be immune from the work of well-meaning people currently busy (1) paving the proverbial way to hell (without realising it), and (2) trying to find out how to convince us to use that road.

Sort of like anthropology in the XIX and early XX century, when the misguided aim of a just-founded science was to classify and rank human races: that too, honestly done to improve humanity and the world.

I always point to what happened when extremely well-meaning and knowledgeable people decided to introduce the Cane Toad (Bufo Marinus) to Australia to combat beetle infestations. ..with worst-than-disastrous results…