The Global Warming, Science, Skepticism, and More Blog

The Open Climate Change Blog - August 2013

By: Birthmark, 4:10 PM GMT on August 15, 2013

I intend to run one of these continuously, updating probably once a month.

GISS has put out their July anomaly maps. Globally, the anomaly was +0.53 above the 1951-1980 baseline.

I also like to look at the "land only" anomaly since most of us live on the land. That's a bit higher at +0.65 above the 1951-1980 baseline.

I might as well add this on here. It should update daily.

And if you want to see that map full size, click here.

Updated: 1:49 PM GMT on August 17, 2013


A Very Brief Overview of Science

By: Birthmark, 3:51 PM GMT on August 15, 2013

The word "science" can mean either a body of knowledge in a specific field of study,
the Scientific Method. I will primarily use it in the former sense in this blog. I'll assume that most readers are familiar with the Scientific Method. If you are not, there are many descriptions available on the web that will help you out.

Based on my experience, what many people don't seem to know is the limits of science and why those limits exist. First, it must be understood that science does not prove things. Science merely supports its explanations with evidence. The confidence we can have in a scientific idea is only as good as the supporting evidence. The more evidence, the more confidence we can have that that explanation is correct. But we can never be totally sure because we can never know if we have *all* of the evidence. So we can't possibly know whether there is a piece of evidence out there somewhere that can bring even the most solid scientific explanation crashing down to so much intellectual rubble. Given that, it must be accepted that all scientific knowledge is provisional. There are no absolute facts, and logically there never can be.

Another misconception concerns scientific terminology, particularly concerning the word "theory." In science, "theory" has quite a different meaning from the colloquial use of that word. Colloquially, "theory" can apply to any explanation of an event. By contrast, scientific theories are explanations (hypotheses) that have been thoroughly tested against the evidence and adequately explain observations. Further, theories have to fit with what is already known or explain why they don't fit. This is quite different from how theory is used in common conversation. I should also point out that no scientific theory is complete, for the reason stated above.

Another source of confusion concerns scientific "laws" and how they relate to scientific "theories." Many people seem to think that "laws" outrank "theories" in some sort of heirarchy. This is simply not true.

That lack of a heirarchy is most easily demonstrated (for me) by gravity, Newton, and Einstein. Newton's Laws describing gravity are useful under all circumstances that anyone reading this is likely to encounter. However, those laws are limited to explaining observations in low-gravity, low-velocity environments. Einstein's Theory not only fills those holes in Newton's Laws, it can be used to explain observations equally well in environments where Newton's Laws hold --the math is just needlessly more complicated for most uses. So, in this case the "Law" is in no way superior to the "Theory" and is actually inferior since the laws are subsumed by the theory. (Personally, I'd like to see the laws downgraded to theories, but that's not going to happen.)


Chapter One: Introduction, Rules, Purpose of this blog

By: Birthmark, 2:53 PM GMT on August 15, 2013

This blog will be for the discussion of whatever takes my fancy at any given time. Primarily, that will be Anthropogenic Global Warming/Climate Change (AGW/CC). However, topics can (and will) include other aspects of science and science itself -what science is, what it does, and why it does it. In the interest of full disclosure, I will say that I claim no expertise in any of these areas. Everything in this blog will be my opinion unless otherwise stated through quotes or citations.

Rules for the blog:

1. Civility to the other posters on this blog is a requirement. If you want to insult the post or the idea behind the post, that's fine. Just don't extend that to the poster. Example: Answering a post "That's an idiotic POV" is acceptable, particulary if you explain *why* the POV is idiotic; "You're an idiot" is not acceptable.

2. This blog is for and about science. Links, pictures, and graphics should be to reputable scientific papers and/or data, OR they should be the result of the poster's own work. (IOW, you may use graphics from Wood For Trees that you yourself make. Such material from denialist sites will be deleted the moment I see it.

3. All standard WeatherUnderground rules apply.

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Ideas on adding/subtracting or clarifying the rules will be appreciated.

Updated: 2:54 PM GMT on August 15, 2013


About Birthmark

This blog will be for the discussion of whatever takes my fancy at any given time. Primarily, that will be Anthropogenic Global Warming/Climate Change

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