The Gulf Oil Spill and Moral Negligence

by Luke Muehlhauser on July 8, 2010 in Ethics,Guest Post,Video

The ethical theory I currently defend is desirism. But I mostly write about moraltheory, so I rarely discuss the implications of desirism for everyday moral questions about global warming, free speech, politics, and so on. Today’s guest post applies desirism to one such everyday moral question. It is written by desirism’s first defender, Alonzo Fyfe of Atheist Ethicist. (Keep in mind that questions of applied ethics are complicated and I do not necessarily agree with Fyfe’s moral calculations.)

cloud_break

I have been reluctant to write about the BP Oil Spill.

The first reason is because I am opposed to – and I think we have many and strong reasons to condemn – the practice of determining legal (and moral) guilt based on a few email articles. I believe that a morally responsible person has an obligation to put some effort into determining what the facts of the matter are before they pass judgment.

Remember the e-mail scam regarding climate change a while back? Emails from the University of East Anglia’s climatic research unit were stolen and produced to the public. Comments from a few of the emails were taken out of context to give the appearance that the climate scientists were involved in a conspiracy to promote the idea that there is global warming where, in fact, none exists.

These news articles likely convinced a great many people not to believe the claims on global warming and raised doubts for others. The misinterpretations of the emails were national news. It was in all the papers. However, the fact that the investigations provided no evidence wrongdoing – that the emails in their proper context were simply the statements of human scientists chatting with each other about their profession in a jargon other scientists easily understand – was not so widely reported.

That particular news item is quite likely going to have serious costs in terms of human lives and human well-being. The emails were leaked in the days just before the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Denmark – an attempt to form an international response to climate change. No such agreement has been reached. In fact, I am quite convinced that no agreement will be reached and future generations will not only have to suffer the huge burdens of our massive public debt, but also the global destruction that will result from sea levels rising, ultimately, by 200 to 250 feet.

But, I digress. My point is to illustrate the cost, and thus the reasons for action that exist, to condemn the practice of jumping to conclusions based on too little evidence. There are countless smaller, personal examples that can be given as well – people whose interests have been sacrificed by others who jumped to the wrong conclusion based on hear-say, innuendo, and the lies and distortions people put out for various reasons.

So, I am not inclined to jump to the conclusion that somebody at BP must necessarily be culpable for Gulf oil spill.

Furthermore, I hold that a person has a moral right to be presumed innocent unless proven guilty. By that I mean that a virtuous person will want to believe that another person is innocent, and will hold to that opinion in the absence of evidence, requiring good evidence before he will concede that the individual is, in fact, guilty. I would prefer it if it were the case that this was an unfortunate and unforeseeable accident that nobody could have predicted, than that somebody is blameworthy.

However, even if this were an unforeseeable accident, BP would be substantially responsible to compensate others for the harms done. It was, after all, their accident. They created the situation in which the accident took place. Furthermore, BP engaged in these actions in the full knowledge that such an accident was possible. Or, at least, any intellectually responsible agent would have known that such an accident was possible. There have been debates over the potential costs of an off-shore accident for years.

This causes me to ask the question: Why is it not the case that BP had a plan set up to deal with just such a possibility? Why did they not ask and answer the question, “What is our plan of last resort if we absolutely have to stop an open offshore well at the source?”

There seems to be sufficient evidence to indict BP executives on the charge of moral negligence.

An indictment, in this sense, is not an assumption of guilt. It is a claim that there is enough prima facie evidence available to hold a formal investigation. It says that we have reason to look for and collect the evidence that would go into determining whether such an accusation is true.

The issue of negligence happens to be the subject that distinguishes desirism from traditional motive-based theories of moral value.

James Martineau

Among professional philosophers, motive-based theories of moral value have been dead for over 100 years. In the 1800s, philosopher James Martineau defended a motive-based theory of ethics in which he argued that moral value is not to be found in actions themselves, but in the motives that give rise to those actions.1

A contemporary critic of Martineau, Henry Sidgwick, devoted a chapter of his book, Methods of Ethics, to refuting Martineau’s theory. Sidgwick argued that motive-based theories of value cannot account for the moral crime of negligence.

A negligent person, according to Sidgwick, is not a person who acts out of maliciousness or from any interest other than interests that we accept every day. The drunk driver is not out to kill the children he kills when he runs his car up onto the sidewalk. All he wants to do is to get home – a perfectly normal and perfectly legitimate motive for action. According to Sidgwick, a classical utilitarian philosopher, the wrongness of negligence is not found in the bad intentions of the agent. They are found in the consequences of the action.

Classical act utilitaranism has its own problems in that we often are not held morally responsible for the bad consequences of our actions. A police officer encounters somebody who points a gun at him. The officer shoots the individual, only to discover that the gun was a prop and the person pointing it thought that he was an actor who thought he was rehearsing a scene for a movie. The cop is not blamed for the bad consequences of his actions, seemingly because he lacked any type of evil intention.

Desirism answers these challenges by denying Martineau’s claim that an action obtains its moral value from the desires that give rise to it. An immoral action does not require evil intentions. An immoral action can also arise from the absence of good intentions. That is to say, people cannot only be condemned for the desires (motives) that they have, but also for the desires (motives) that they do not have, or for the fact that are not as strong as people generally have reason to cause them to be.

The problem with the drunk driver is not that he has a desire to get home, but that he lacks sufficient aversion to doing harm to others that he is willing to put them at risk in order to get home. People generally have many and strong reason to promote such an aversion to harming others that people take extra precautions when their actions create a risk for others. If we do not see them taking the precautions that would prevent or minimize risk, then we have reason to conclude that they do not have the level of concern for others that they should have. We then bring the social tool of condemnation to bear to promote a stronger level of concern.

There is enough evidence to at least indite the executives of BP on the charge of moral negligence – of demonstrating an insufficient level of concern for the welfare of others. There is more than enough evidence to get somebody involved in collecting evidence on this matter. If guilty, then this would be reason to believe that the executives are guilty of a moral transgression that is orders of magnitude worse than that of any drunk driver.

And we throw drunk drivers in jail as a way of expressing our condemnation, and to help the message of condemnation better sink into the brains of others who might also lack a sufficiently strong concern for the public welfare.

Remember those climate-change emails I wrote about at the beginning of this posting? Using them in such a way so as to put future generations at risk of suffering significant harm speaks to the same type of evil – speaks to the same absence of concern for the welfare of others.

Desires are persistent – and so is the absence of certain desires. Those who lacked sufficient concern for the welfare of others to secure them from the ill effects of a massive oil spill also are likely to lack sufficient concern for the welfare of others to protect them from the harms of climate change.

If we keep up this line of investigation, we might start to see a pattern.

- Alonzo Fyfe

  1. James Martineau, Types of Ethical Theory, 1885. []

Previous post:

Next post:

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Josh July 8, 2010 at 8:49 am
lukeprog July 8, 2010 at 9:20 am

Nice.

  (Quote)

sqeecoo July 8, 2010 at 11:21 am

Atheists rightly encouraging rational thought and critical thinking often surprise me by blindly accepting authority on the topic of climate change instead of wanting to see the evidence themselves.

Pronouncements by official bodies do not affect the climate, and nor do the official findings of an investigation change the fact that the e-mails at the very least clearly show intent to avoid giving out scientific data to skeptics – which is not only normal practice in science, but was in this case mandated by law.

Just read them yourself. With both the bible and the emails, reading them carefully is the simplest way to discover the silliness of the former and the misconduct in the latter.

  (Quote)

cl July 8, 2010 at 11:56 am

That is to say, people cannot only be condemned for the desires (motives) that they have, but also for the desires (motives) that they do not have,

Sins of commission, and sins of omission, respectively.

  (Quote)

rvkevin July 8, 2010 at 2:13 pm

the e-mails at the very least clearly show intent to avoid giving out scientific data to skeptics

Nope. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nnVQ2fROOg

  (Quote)

Alonzo Fyfe July 8, 2010 at 2:20 pm

squeecoo

Atheists rightly encouraging rational thought and critical thinking often surprise me by blindly accepting authority on the topic of climate change instead of wanting to see the evidence themselves.

I have seen the evidence myself, and can explain it to you if you would like.

However, I suspect you prefer to rely on your “Argument from Ignorance” fallacy. “Because I am substantially ignorant of the science of climate change I can assert that humans are not causing climate change.”

The worst part . . . apparently the potential suffering and harm to future generations does not concern you. When it weigh the value of preseving your ignorance to the potential to avoiding significant harm to future generations, you prefer preserving your ignorance.

  (Quote)

cl July 8, 2010 at 2:37 pm

In hopes of continuing the meta-discussion…

Alonzo,

1) How is desirism prescriptive if – as you say – it “prescribes nothing” in the case of 200 that P and one that ~P, where P = some malleable desire (for example pederasty or smoking)?

2) Regarding pederasty, you replied that you thought the Greeks were “probably wrong,” but all you offered in support was a vague allusion to an unspecified set of “venereal diseases” that would seemingly make all other forms of non-monogamous sex also “probably wrong.” Was non-monogamous sex also “probably wrong” at that time? Is non-monogamous sex “probably wrong” now, seeing as how we have more VD at our disposal today? If not, can you clarify your supporting arguments?

3) You argue against the invocation of “things that don’t exist” in moral arguments, yet, you frequently refer to the generic “we” and “people generally.” Isn’t that an invocation of things that don’t exist? Meaning, aren’t you invoking something ontologically similar to the hypothetical observer?

Also, when I asked,

What does desirism prescribe when we have two agents that want P, and one that wants ~P? What about two-hundred agents that want P, and one that wants ~P? What does desirism prescribe then? Who’s right?

…you replied,

Which side will win will depend on a number of factors such as strength, planning, and quantity of ammunition.

Really? I can’t help but to conclude that all you’ve given is a description of survival of the fittest. If desirism is simply a theory that says the strongest side wins, you’re going to have a hard time convincing people that your theory is about morality. So,

4) Is that what you’re saying?

5) If “no” to 4, what are you saying?

Also, concerning your hitherto unsupported argument for the existence of non-malleable desires, in your post Desirism, Descriptions, and Prescriptions, commenter Cyril asked for your clarification, as have others in threads here, which – to my knowledge – you still have not answered:

…you’ve made numerous references to the “malleability” of desires. This, however, you’ve ever gotten to a definition (“Malleable desires are those that can be molded using social tools such as praise and condemnation”).

But I’m not sure how useful this is. I tried to come up with some examples, but it seems that a lot of the things that we would think of as unmalleable desires turn out to be quite malleable (e.g. desire to eat v. anorexia, desire to live v. suicidal tendencies, homosexual desires v. being Ted Haggard, etc.)

The way I see it, these could be construed two different ways (here exemplified with anorexia):

Option A: The desire to eat is malleable, and that’s why we have anorexics.

Option B: The desire to eat is not malleable, but exists alongside a malleable desire to the contrary which overpowers the malleable desire.

Either one of these seems to describe the facts just as well, and so those wishing to propose one over the other would need to have an argument to that effect. And in the past, I seem to remember you deciding conflicts between different groups of desires on whether one of them was malleable or not. So that would be a good thing to explain.

Also, if you assume some kind of fuzzy logic for the malleability of desires (as would probably fit the data better), how does this fit into the theory? Then we can’t just say that when two groups of desires are in conflict, the one with the umalleable desires wins. Would it then be the least malleable desires? Individually or on average?

So, recap. Questions to be answered:

1) How do we know that there are malleable desires?
2) How does/would fuzzy malleability factor into your theory?

Extra question:
3) How are conflicts between different sets of malleable desires decided? Just let the chips fall where they may?

These are serious questions, and I hope that you would find it advantageous to give a somewhat in-depth answer, as such things cut to the very heart of your theory. Perhaps it would behoove you to do a post or series of posts devoted to the subject. (Cyril)

Alonzo, you say that “we” ought to condemn intellectual recklessness, and I agree. Recently, in your post , you wrote that the Copenhagen Declaration was,

…delivered as if it is some set of commandments carved in stone lacking any explanation or defense.

Yet, without solid answers to these questions, why should any reasonable person conclude that your desirism is any different?

  (Quote)

Kaltro July 8, 2010 at 6:50 pm

Alonzo, why don’t you provide the evidence and/or reasons that convince you of Anthropogenic Global Warming?

  (Quote)

lukeprog July 8, 2010 at 7:28 pm

Before Alonzo spends his time explaining something that has been explained by a hundred other people, let me pip in and see if I can help.

I was actually a skeptic of anthropogenic global warming for even longer than Michael Shermer. In fact, I was a skeptic of it when I started writing this blog! But I learned this was because I hadn’t had time to properly understand the issue, and my reasons for skepticism were not scientific but instead confusions that were being passed to me as scientific. If you haven’t seen them, start with potholer54′s highly enjoyable and informative videos:

http://www.youtube.com/user/potholer54#grid/user/A4F0994AFB057BB8

  (Quote)

cl July 8, 2010 at 9:52 pm

Luke,

Great link. I’ve never doubted the case for anthropogenic global warming. What I really liked about those videos was the way he dissected B-grade journalism down to its last naked bones. Those videos should be a must-view for journalists in all fields, if you ask me. They’re a great primer on skepticism and the importance of conservatively-stated claims, too. Hear hear!

  (Quote)

cl July 8, 2010 at 9:54 pm

rvkevin,

I just noticed you’d beaten Luke to the punch on the link to potholer. Credit due!

  (Quote)

lukeprog July 8, 2010 at 10:16 pm

cl,

Yeah, I really hate most journalism.

  (Quote)

cl July 8, 2010 at 10:49 pm

Luke,

If there’s one thing (a)theist argumentation has got going for it, it flies well under the radar of tabloid journalism. As such, it would seem we’re much less susceptible to – although certainly not totally immune from – the perils thereof. I mean, it’s not like we’ve got Daily Mail delineating on the POE or anything! Thank God, or FSM, or the entity du jour.

One thing that’s been keeping me wondering: what does the “prog” stand for in your handle?

  (Quote)

sqeecoo July 9, 2010 at 3:15 am

@rvkevin

Again, read the emails themselves instead of listening to apologists. Do I really have to go dig up quotes for you?

@Alonzo Fyfe

Well, I’d love you to explain the evidence to me. But your rant about me making an “argument from ignorance” (what you describe is not an argument from ignorance at all, it is plain stupidity) and your condescending tone does not give me much hope of a nice, rational discussion.

I expect better from atheists.

@lukeprog

Luke, since you are more polite at least, I’d prefer to talk to you. But I can post skeptical videos to each of yours, and that wouldn’t get us anywhere.

Why don’t you outline the evidence as you see it.

Remember, however, the following:

1. Yes, CO2 is a greenhouse gas. Of course its increase likely brings some warming. The question is how much.

2. Melting glaciers and evaporating lakes etc. are all evidence of warming, not of what CAUSED the warming. We need evidence that man-made CO2 is causing measurable, significant global warming, that we can distinguish this from warming by natural causes.

3. We are talking about empirical evidence, not computer models, not pronouncements from official bodies. In science, this means testing empirical predictions derived from the hypothesis against the real world. This is what counts in science, not authority or consensus.

4. You also might want to comment on the missing hotspot and on the stagnation in temperature rise during the last decade. It would seem that the theory of man made global warming predicted reality to be different, and has thus seemingly been empirically refuted (at least in its current version).

  (Quote)

AlonzoFyfe July 9, 2010 at 3:17 am

KaltroL/b>

Alonzo, why don’t you provide the evidence and/or reasons that convince you of Anthropogenic Global Warming? Kaltro

Why? Does it mean something special if it came from me.

There are whole libraries of peer-reviewed science literature that addresses the climate change issue. If you want to understand the case for man-made global warming, go there.

  (Quote)

AlonzoFyfe July 9, 2010 at 3:46 am

speeco

Well, I’d love you to explain the evidence to me. But your rant about me making an “argument from ignorance” (what you describe is not an argument from ignorance at all, it is plain stupidity) and your condescending tone does not give me much hope of a nice, rational discussion.

See, I have done all of this before. But what good would it do?

I have to wonder what is going on in the head of somebody who thinks he can learn science in the comment section of an athesit blog.

If I present this evidence, you are simply going to dismiss it. You have no interest in learning the actual facts of the matter. If you had a genuine interest in the facts of the matter, you would not be seeking to answer those questions here. You would be seeking to answer them by understanding the peer-reviewed scientific literature.

1. Yes, CO2 is a greenhouse gas. Of course its increase likely brings some warming. The question is how much.

Yep. That’s the question.

You seem to suggest that you know that the answer is “not very much.” Otherwise, I would have to ask you what you think about pointing a gun at a young child and pulling the trigger when you do not know whether or not the gun is loaded. Or, more appropriately, pointing a gun at whole generations of young children.

2. Melting glaciers and evaporating lakes etc. are all evidence of warming, not of what CAUSED the warming.

Nope. But it is a whole misrepresentation of climate change to depict it as a science that saw global warming and went looking for a cause.

The effects of human contributions to greenhouse gas concentrations was predicted by what was understood about the basics of electromagnetic radiation 100 years ago.

If there WERE NO global warming, scientists would have to go rethink whole branches of chemistry and physics.

3. We are talking about empirical evidence, not computer models, not pronouncements from official bodies. In science, this means testing empirical predictions derived from the hypothesis against the real world. This is what counts in science, not authority or consensus.

If you had a tub with water flowing in and out, and the water level stayed constant for 10000 years.

Then you turn on a faucet that pours 700 units per minute into the tub, and you see the the level in the tub start to climb by 350 units per minute.

Only an idiot would deny that the increase in water level of the tub cannot be attributed to the faucet that was just turned on.

4. You also might want to comment on the missing hotspot and on the stagnation in temperature rise during the last decade.

This is like demanding that somebody who claims that the tide is coming in to “explain” the changes in water level from one minute to the next.

There are smaller waves on the ocean in addition to tide that cause short-change increases and decreases.

My main point is that the flaws in these arguments are not difficult to understand. When somebody does not understand them, then this suggests that the person using them is somebody who can point a loaded gun at whole generations and pull the trigger without any moral qualms whatsoefer.

Which touches on the issue of being polite.

How polite would YOU be if you came across somebody spinning the cylinder on a gun, pointing it at a whole generation of children, and pulling the trigger, using utterly stupid arguments to support his contention that the gun is not loaded.

  (Quote)

rvkevin July 9, 2010 at 6:00 am

sqeecoo
Again, read the emails themselves instead of listening to apologists. Do I really have to go dig up quotes for you?

Yes. I suspect any quote you bring up will have been covered by the video previously posted, or would not be worthy of mention. Any quotes brought up by the media have been covered, if there was more damning evidence, why didn’t the media cover it? I’m not about to sift through thousands of emails to validate the investigation’s conclusion that there was no fraud, it would be a waste of time.

  (Quote)

sqeecoo July 9, 2010 at 7:36 am

@AlonzoFyfe

Yes, CO2 is a greenhouse gas. Of course its increase likely brings some warming. The question is how much.

Yep. That’s the question.

You seem to suggest that you know that the answer is “not very much.”

Exactly. Or rather, I don’t claim to know that it does not do very much, but rather that there is no evidence that it does. And you haven’t written absolutely anything that indicates otherwise.

The only thing of note is your tub analogy, but a more appropriate analogy for the climate is a tub with hundreds of faucets and drains all working at the same time, and influencing each other in ways we don’t quite understand. That’s how the climate looks.
And turning on the CO2 faucet will add some water, sure, that’s basic physics, but measuring how much exactly, and how it influenced the other faucets and drains is near-impossible in the chaos.

Everything else you said are basically insults.

Do you even know how much warming the IPCC itself says a doubling of CO2 will cause, without positive feedback?

You clearly have no idea what the missing hotspot is about. Here: http://joannenova.com.au/2008/10/the-missing-hotspot/

A direct empirical refutation of the climate models.

@rvkevin

Ok.

PS I’m getting hassled by a couple of people to release the CRU station temperature data. Don’t any of you three tell anybody that the UK has a Freedom of Information Act !
Phil Jones, CRU

A clear case of a scientist not wanting to release data to others. Absolutely unacceptable.

And there’s plenty more here, the worst of which weren’t reported in the media:
http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=44e23459-2c9f-4bc6-bc1b-36ccec0daae0

  (Quote)

cl July 9, 2010 at 9:02 am

sqeecoo,

I can’t help but think that if you were really interested in the pursuit of truth here, that you would go and take this up with somebody like potholer, who is actually qualified and competent to speak on the subject. Now, in all fairness, perhaps you have, but even then the question remains: Why are you taking this up with a moral philosopher, as opposed to say, a climatologist or an atmospheric physicist? Why are you providing links – not to the opinions of qualified scientists who’ve studied the data for decades – but a blogger who interprets the work thereof?

Alonzo,

If you’re going to eschew arguments, why not eschew those that can be easily refuted by links already provided, so that we might get back to the discussion on desirism? I mean, like you said: if sqeecoo is really interested, sqeecoo can go take it up with potholer instead of trying to make the point in the comment section of a post that has nothing to do with global warming. sqeecoo directs us over to some blogger, not a climatologist or atmospheric physicist – IOW, not a scientist.

  (Quote)

sparky July 9, 2010 at 10:16 am

Hi. Delurking to add Skeptical Science as another good resource for debunking skeptics’ claims. They do an excellent job of balancing hard science with accessible writing, and have compiled refutations for nearly every conceivable objection to AGW. They have a couple recent posts on Jo Nova’s hotspot claims, as well as some older ones about how we can separate the forcing effects of CO2 from other sources. Plenty of empirical evidence, too, if that’s your thing; I prefer to base my knowledge entirely on computer models.

Sorry, cl, nothing on desirism.

  (Quote)

cl July 9, 2010 at 11:32 am

sparky,

Sorry, cl, nothing on desirism.

No, no… no need to apologize at all, at least, not on my end. I’m not objecting to answering sqeecoo per se, I’m just saying that, if Alonzo is going to ignore questions, it makes sense that he should ignore ones that have already been tackled by more informed minds elsewhere. I appreciate your input, whether it has to do with desirism or not.

  (Quote)

lukeprog July 9, 2010 at 5:05 pm

cl,

A bajillion years ago when I created that internet nickname it stood for “programmer”. But I don’t do programming anymore, so I guess now it stands for progressive music I like, or something. :)

  (Quote)

sqeecoo July 9, 2010 at 5:06 pm

@cl

That’s a fair question, but the answer was given in my first post already. When it comes to climate change, atheists often resort to ad hominems (so did you with the “he’s not a scientist” bit), arguments from authority (rvkevin with “the investigation found nothing wrong so shut up” bit), condescension (basically everyone), and insults along the lines of those who disagree with you being bad persons because of it (Alonzo).

These are all things that atheists constantly encounter when trying to have a discussion with theists, so I really think we should know better.
Strongly disagreeing is fine, but don’t do the above. That was the point I wanted to make, and am prepared to drive it home by showing how uncertain the things you are so certain about really are – or at the very least that a good case can be made that this is so.

By the way, Skeptical Science is a pretty good site. But Jo Nova already has a pretty good rebuttal of their criticism on her site too :)

  (Quote)

lukeprog July 9, 2010 at 5:06 pm

sqeecoo,

Sorry, that’s not something I’m interested to spend my time on. Many other people, of whom you are probably aware, have explained the evidence far better than I can. If you don’t buy it, I won’t be able to persuade you. :)

  (Quote)

sqeecoo July 9, 2010 at 5:22 pm

luke,
well, I certainly don’t buy it (in fact, I haven’t seen any empirical evidence at all to “buy” – if there’s so much, why doesn’t someone here name just one thing? I named the missing hotspot and the last decade of stagnating temperatures as refuting empirical evidence).

But of course, I don’t mind at all if you don’t want to discuss this here. However, I’d still be interested in hearing your comments on my original point about atheists using silly religious rhetoric when talking about climate change, and on the quotes I gave from the e-mails you so confidently dismissed in your post.

Of course, you are under no obligation to reply :)

Cheers!

  (Quote)

cl July 10, 2010 at 11:03 am

Luke,

Funny! I had actually typed, “I was guessing it stood for programmer,” but I deleted it.

sqeecoo,

It’s not “ad hominem” to point out that Jo Nova is not a scientist. I’m not saying she can’t be saying anything correct because she’s not a scientist. I’m simply saying that climatologists, atmospheric physicists and scientists are the best sources of information for this matter. Bloggers interpret the professionals who interpret the data, and as such, can never amount to anything above a third-level source. In general, the less people in the middle, the better – at least in my opinion.

At any rate, we might as well get clear on your main line of argumentation here. When you’re referring to the “hotspot,” it appears you are referring to the consensus of computer models from the 70s to early 90s, which agreed that temperatures in the lower troposphere should be rising? Is that correct?

  (Quote)

Kaltro July 11, 2010 at 11:54 am

Alonzo, could you point me to some specific studies that you found most convincing? I’m not entirely sure what libraries/studies you’re referring to.

  (Quote)

Alonzo Fyfe July 12, 2010 at 8:53 am

It is a mistake to say that there is a specific document that convinced me.

The fact is that I was in a position to look at a number of documents and acquired an understanding of the subject matter. I am not convinced because a document convinced me. I am convinced because I understand emission spectrums, absorption spectrums, now atoms react to photons, how to read charts and graphs (and how to misinterpret charts and graphs).

In fact, it is the type of education that one does not get from one book. It includes seeing how one set of data corresponds to another set of data. It comes from reading how one group of people took a set of findings over here and tied that in with another set of data (oceanic acidification).

For example, human GHG emissions vs. atmospheric concentration gets tied in with measurements on oceanic acidification.

I have always had a keen interest in astronomy, so tie-ins with what was known of the environments of Mars and Venus and the possibility of terraforming Mars interested me.

So, it’s not a matter of reading some text like scripture and deciding to accept its contents on faith.

  (Quote)

Alonzo Fyfe July 12, 2010 at 8:55 am

squeeco

I named the missing hotspot and the last decade of stagnating temperatures as refuting empirical evidence

But what are you mentioning it here for?

Would it not be better to see what climate scientists have to say about the subject? Why think that we can provide a better answer than they can?

  (Quote)

Alonzo Fyfe July 12, 2010 at 9:01 am

squeeco

And, if you do want to discuss the “stagnating temperature”, go ahead and conduct this experiment.

Put a pan of ice water on the stove and turn the heat up.

Note that the temperature of the water does not go up. Instead, the ice melts.

Now, there is a lock where you can put your and in the water, and the lock will keep it there for an hour.

Tell yourself that the fact that the temperature in the water is not rising is reason not to be worried about what the future temperature of the water will be and lock hour hand in the water for the next hour.

This is the type of logic you are asking us to swallow.

For myself, I am aware that rising temperature is not the only way for a body to absorb heat energy. I consider this form of reasoning to not only be rather foolish, but morally irresponsible – particularly when you are advocating that we lock somebody else’s arm in the water without their consent.

  (Quote)

Kaltro July 12, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Alonzo, I’m just asking for specifics so I can examine things myself. What documents did you read, and are they available online? I was hardly intending to read them like scripture and accept their contents on faith. This is supposed to be about scientific data, after all. So, point me to the specific documents, as many documents as you like, and I’ll examine them as skeptically as I can and work to understand them.

  (Quote)

faithlessgod July 15, 2010 at 3:54 am

Hi Guys

This is not a climate science blog. It is an atheist blog covering, amongst other things, ethics. I am disappointed to see, yet again, the comment thread going way off the OP. Why is no-one discussing the ethics of the BP disaster which is what the OP is about? If you want to discuss climate change go to a climate change blog.

  (Quote)

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }