• Google
    This Blog Web

October 2011

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31          

RSS Feed

Bookmark and Share

Email Feed

  • Powered by FeedBlitz

« Nanobots for Surgery? | Main | The Most Merciful Thing »

February 17, 2007


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

abu ameerah

very interesting...

Brian Wang

The Gregory Benford proposal sounds like the cheapest and safest method for climate modification.


Of course society should to actually stop making the problems worse as described in Jamais article. But a problem is that most plans from environmentalist fail to recognize the scope of the problems or involve everyone suddenly becoming virtuous. Where we all start car-pooling all the time and use far less electricity. I actually spoke with some people from the Post-carbon institute recently who espoused these views.
These are equivalent to the obesity problem would go away once everyone starts eating right and exercising or medicare would have far lower costs if everyone went on calorie-restricted diets. Those plans do not recognize the reality of human nature. Plus this become virtuous thing would also involve stop shopping, since China makes a lot of the products and 85% of their power is from coal power.

The failure to accept the scope of issues is where some evironmentalists like German Herman Scheer (member of german parliment, who is credited with getting the feed in tax introduced to support renewables) talks about a massive and near instantaneous switch to renewables. I heard it speak at the same event and he claimed that a wind generator can be installed in one week and we can install them anywhere. The most efficient wind generators (5 MW) are about 45 stories tall and to replace current coal electricity with them we would need 250,000.

The recent study for the wind generating capacity of the east coast of the USA is 330GW using 160,000 wind generators.

There are some studies that wind generation would effect local and global climate, which makes sense because of the super-mothra scale of this butterfly effect.

Herman also wants everyone to switch to electric cars. Which means of course someone would have to start building them in huge numbers. There are 70 million new cars every year. China is going form 4 million new cars in 2006 to 8 million in 2007. There is an installed base of over 500 million cars. Plus until we switch off from coal and gas the electric cars would suck even more coal and fossil fuel power. Plus the steel and materials would also be made using fossil fuels.

The stop digging the whole deeper are huge problems that barring breakthroughs in technology will need the use of every technology and clever plan we can come up with. This includes nuclear power, which more people need to look at the actual incremental risks of making more nuclear power. There are 443 reactors in the world now making 369GW of power (note more than the theoretical amount from east coast of the USA wind). People don't like new ones built near them. But what do nuclear reactors do to the area around them and to proliferation ? One of the most popular country for tourists is France. Yet they have 85% power from nuclear energy. A lot of people would move to France with its beautiful countryside if they could afford it.

France has some of the best statistics for greenhouse gas emissions. Better than Germany.

Germany still and looks like it will continue to get most its power from coal.

If nuclear so called waste is examined in detail, the parts that people have the most problems with can be used. The 99% unused nuclear fuel from current once through reactors. Not all reactors are the same and we should use molten salt reactors.
For the immediate term, we should up-power existing reactors (recent MIT work indicates 50% power increases are possible) and continue to make more reactors from existing technology (200 being built, planned or proposed).

I am all for wind, solar, biofuels, conservation and everything not coal. But being pragmatic coal will be with us for a long time we need to do everything to get off it as soon as possible but also try to clean up what we do have. The coal plants that are the dirtiest are the smallest ones (less than 50-100MW). Get rid of those first and find ways to make the existing ones less deadly (1 million dead per year from air pollution from coal, 27000 in the USA each year, 25 times Iraq war dead) while they are being used.


The whole "warmest year ever" nonsense is the usual junk science: It was the warmest year in regards to surface temperatures, which have long been understood to NOT relate to the greenhouse effect.

Note that, as is 100% the case, the claim that there is some kind of anthropogenic global warming is continually linked by its advocates to some agenda, usually involving money or power.

I was a consultant in DC for a decade, and as usual this all goes back to Fear Equals Funding, as I was routinely told by administrators and employees at Federal agencies.

Chris Phoenix, CRN

Kaz, this is not the place for trolling on climate change. If you have studied the science (not the politics) for more than a decade, and are not receiving covert funds from oil companies, then we might listen--except that this is not a climate change blog.

I have sympathy for iconoclasts who've paid their dues, but not for people quoting opinions that are neither mainstream nor their own.

[Edited by author]



Is it possible that global warming is not actually due to us wee humans? I'm asking because as I recall when I was a boy everyone was freaking out about the coming ice age. I even seem to recall someone talking about covering the caps with black-something-or-other to generate and capture heat. As someone who hasn't invested much effort in studying this, but I do consider myself fairly reasonable, please help me understand. If we can't reliably forecast the weather for tomorrow how can we forecast it for a decade or a millennium?

I'm all for leaving things cleaner than they were when you got there. Heck, I learned that in cub scouts. But terra-forming earth seems naive at best.

Chris Phoenix, CRN

Eric, I'm not an expert either, but as far as I understand:

If you look at natural climate cycles, the earth tends to have warm spikes in between ice ages. The last few thousand years it's been stable and warm, and when we first noticed it was warming further, we may have thought it was about to turn cold. That's just my guess; I don't know what the argument was based on.

Today, there is a lot more CO2 in the atmosphere than is normal for this temperature and climate. So whatever happens, it won't be exactly like what has happened in the past. And it won't be exactly like today. So the climate scientists build the best models they can, and they try to figure out what will happen.

And their best calculations, which a lot of different models agree on, is that the earth will warm up quite a lot, and sea levels will rise some. Sea levels may rise a lot more, and more quickly, depending on how unstable ice sheets really are. Scientists are still learning about that.

We can't forecast things long distance, but climate is slower than weather, so they can, they think, tell what it will do 100 years from now. Whether we have an ice age or a heat wave 1000 years from now is probably less certain, but certainly less important.

If, as James Henson thinks, ice sheets may break down as fast as decades, and if we've got enough CO2 in the atmosphere to simulate an early-spring part of the solar cycle (which melts ice sheets), then we're literally in the soup.

But even if Henson is wrong, several degrees of warming over the next 100 years would create lots of problems that we're not accustomed to, like shifting rainfall patterns, loss of mountain glaciers, movement or loss of species...

Please remember that this is a non-expert's best guess at what serious science is actually saying. I think I'm more reliable than Kaz, but the actual IPCC--which represents the combined opinion of 2000 scientists--is far more reliable than either of us.


Tom Craver

KAZ may have taken a harsh tone - but I don't think it warranted your reaction.

He didn't claim there's no global warming. He claimed that surface temps aren't linked to the CO2 greenhouse effect, which seems to imply that he has spent some time studying the science.

His claim that "Fear equals Funding" is the mirror image of your implication that critics of GW are shills for the oil companies. While both claims may have some validity - I doubt that they really identify the motives of the majority of scientists on either side of the debate.

For what it's worth, here's an interesting bit of science that I don't believe is represented in the IPCC report...


Chris; why focus on the speaker, instead of his argument? That points to a likely lack of any substance in whatever stance you're taking.

In this case, attack my (accurate) claim that the greenhouse effect is thought to warm the upper atmosphere and oceans, not to impact surface temperatures directly.

Ignoring the fact or logic of what someone says, only attacking whether or not they have cited their credentials, is like surrendering any of your own credibility up front.

If a kindergardener logged on here and stated some fact or logic, the question would still be whether his fact or logic was true, not whether he was a government-financed bureaucrat with sufficient years of fund-grubbing under his belt.


I join Tom Craver in requesting that both sides of this debate reconsider what seem to be ad hominem arguments. As a suggestion of a way to get to the fundamentals of the debate I would like to suggest that folks here follow the link to one of the best straight forward, no-spin, expositions of the climate science behind the debate (this link was initially posted on this site on Feb 3rd) http://bostonreview.net/BR32.1/emanuel.html

The problem, as I see it, is that our ability to influence our climate exceeds our ability to understand the workings of our climate. Our ability to alter things is likely to become still greater over time. To bring MNT back into the picture, in the $25 Million Prize comments, I posited a development of an "off the grid" capability for nanofactories that refine their own feedstock in situ. If such a nanofactory were to use atmospheric C02 as a source for carbon, under 10% of the worlds population producing an average of 1kg/person/day of carbon in the form of bulk diamond, nanotubes, and covalent carbon nano-machinery would sequester in the neighborhood of 200 million metric tons of carbon annually from the atmosphere.

The difficulty is that even if we can figure out how to balance the effects of human activity on our ecosphere to net out to close to zero, that is still not the same thing as saying this is what we should do. What is "natural" is not always desirable: Ice Ages are natural, after all. My guess is that humanity will, in the medium term, try to aim to act as a thermostat for the Earth's climate, damping out changes to the average mean temperature from its current value whether perturbations arise from natural or anthropogenic factors. What the down sides to doing this, aside from the cost of the effort itself, might be I cannot predict. I will close by paraphrasing professor Emanuel: Increasingly, we will find ourselves in the driver's seat with regard to climate regardless of whether we want to be there or not. It is incumbent upon us to learn how to drive.


>>See the final paragraph of Greg's post above.<<

I think this is one of the most sane comments I've seen with respect to global warming in a long while. I'm still all for trying to reduce emissions and increase gas mileage, etc. But let's do it because it makes sense for all the other reasons that it does. Strategically to eliminate dependence upon foreign oil reserves. Economically to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our machines and factories. Standard of living to simply have as clean and pristine a living environment as we can reasonably afford. Aren't those good enough reasons to strive towards? Do we really need all of these drastic measures in place today? Is the world going to fall apart tomorrow? I'm still not sold on the idea that we understand the global climate. Demonstrate to me that you can predict what the weather will be like consistently for a whole lot of tomorrow's before you shut down the world's economy please...

Chris Phoenix

In areas of uncertainty and politicization, where non-experts try to make sense of highly technical ideas amid a flood of deliberate disinformation, it is important to consider the source of arguments. Kaz left no doubt about his source, and it is not a source that belongs on this blog.

I seem to be incapable of responding in primate-appropriate ways to unconstructive people. That is unfortunate but should not obscure the fact that Kaz's comment was unconstructive and does not belong here.

The story seems to have been about extreme weather variations more than surface temperature. In any case, knowing a talking point is not an indication that someone has looked at the science for themselves, much less looked at it sufficiently to have earned such a strongly stated opinion.

Tom, the cosmic-ray hypothesis is not new, and I assume it was considered by IPCC and factored into their uncertainty ratings. RealClimate.org argues that cosmic rays haven't increased in the past 50 years and thus can't explain the recent temperature rise. Also, CO2 has increased, and is projected to cause about the level of temperature rise we've seen.

Eric, there are indeed a number of reasons to reduce emissions. Reducing future climate change may be one of them. Reducing ocean acidification may be another. No one is suggesting that the world's economy be shut down. But it may in fact be a good idea to focus 1% or so of the world's GDP on reducing emissions, because there's a good chance that not doing so could cost a lot more GDP in the future. Finally, climate prediction is substantially different from weather prediction.



That is an extremely good point; modern science points to at least four examples of how, if there is global warming, WE could be causing it with our own authoritarian environmentalist regulations.

The most obvious and interesting case is that of Global Dimming. The cries of ice age in the seventies was based upon a drop in the numbers produced by our haphazard attempts at calculating a "global mean" in surface temps at the time. This drop now seems to have been caused by a gradual reduction in how "bright" the sunlight reaching the earth was.

But "global dimming" has diminished since then, significantly enough to more than offset the temperature drop. It is possible that this change is a result of the environmental regulations imposed by (in the case of the US) the EPA and other coercive (or otherwise) pollution-scrubbing efforts.

This change in global dimming is enough to possibly be the REAL reason surface temps, which would not be changed directly by greenhouse changes, have risen without a corresponding rise in upper atmospheric temps.

If so, this means that our Big Brotherment solutions of the last 40 years have resulted in an overcompensation, CAUSING the "global warming" (of our crudely calculated mean surface temperature) that is now being used as an excuse to impose MORE overcompensation in the other direction.

Perhaps, ironically, unregulated pollution actually involved a relative balance of both particulate reflection (global dimming) and greenhouse gasses, so that this is why there is not the historic link between increased pollution and the (supposed) global mean temperature that there SHOULD have been if the global warming hypothesists were correct.

Likewise, it turns out that the forced reforestation of Europe largely involves trees which produce a significant amount of a far more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2. If there were an actual increase in greenhouse-driven temperatures, it could be exacerbated by the production of nitrous oxide by

And, joy of joys, it turns out that the CFC replacements our petrochemical companies bribed our governments to require are ALSO greenhouse gasses, so while "fixing" the naturally occurring thinning in the ozone over the antarctic (which, because of the angle of the sun, never encounters significant UV light at ground level either way), we actually may have exacerbated the greenhouse effect.

Oh, and of course the artificial imposition of "wetlands" is actually increasing the amount of methane (and other greenhouse gasses) produced in those land areas, while not significantly increasing the amount of CO2 consumption (CO2 being one of the very weakest greenhouse gasses) at all.

The more these arrogant thugs try to force people to do things, the worse it gets. This is the rule of authoritarian government; whatever it forces people to do will have the opposite of the intended effect.


Kaz, that seems to take the point of regulation WAY to far...to the point of appearing irrational. Though I do buy into the unintended consequences argument when attempting to manipulate a system as complex as global climate.

Chris, I'd much rather see that 1% go towards MNT or basic research in general with the belief that a rising tide raises all boats. The further along we advance technologically I believe the better we'll be able to understand and address complex issues. I would have no problem investing tax dollars to better understand our planet and climate. I'm not certain we really do know cause and effect though.


Chris Phoenix

Eric, I could agree with you on spending money on basic research rather than mitigating problems... for now. Ocean modeling (including field study) and ice sheet study appear to be high priorities.

But there are ways to reduce CO2 emissions while simultaneously reducing our dependence on foreign oil, the damage done by coal mining and burning, and the vulnerability of our power infrastructure to terrorism and natural disasters. I'd think that's worth spending some money on today.

Kaz, I don't want to see another post like the last one on this blog. It is too full of misinformation and vitriol for me to waste my time debunking it. The alternative is to leave the mess for everyone to see, or delete the post. I do not have much patience for that kind of garbage.

Tom, Greg--suppose I had done a post on the use of nanotech to diagnose lung cancer, and someone had posted...

"The whole 'tobacco/cancer' nonsense is the usual junk science: the rise in cancer is highest in states with coal mining, which have long been understood to be a REAL carcinogen.

Note that, as is 100% the case, the claim that there is some kind of health risk from smoking is continually linked by its advocates to some agenda, usually involving money or power.

I was a legal researcher for Philip Morris for a decade, and as usual this all goes back to Fear Equals Funding, as I was routinely told by scientists I worked with."

Would you say it was "ad hominem" for me to say that we didn't want to hear any opinions coming out of Philip Morris? Would you say that, because I should be kind to a kindergartner who asked about tobacco risks, I should also be kind to the hypothetical troll?

Again, I don't have time for the kind of garbage that Kaz is dumping here. I don't have any sympathy for him, nor any desire or obligation to be civil to him. And I'm a little disappointed that when I call a troll a troll, I'm taken to task for it.



Chris, I think the idea of working to clean up the emissions is reasonable so long as it isn't overly burdensome to the system. Incremental steps is likely to be the best way to achieve most of these long term goals. Like most it probably always feel like a "faster please!" situation, but people are often mostly okay only if that burden is being placed on someone other than themselves.

I'm NOT saying that is your position... I've read enough of your posts that I think your ideas are reasoned and for the most part conservative efforts towards long term goals.

Maybe what I was looking for was an answer as to whether or not this is an URGENT problem that requires an immediate resolution to or not. It doesn't feel like "The Day After Tomorrow" arctic USA scenario to me or even a decade-like timeline. A century is a long time for technology to impact this and more scientific research would be appropriate. Which is what I think you're saying too...?

Brian Wang


what is your position on air pollution. (world health organization indicates 3 million dead each year from air pollution, 1 million per year from coal) the particulates from coal.

Is that time urgent ?
8,000 air pollution deaths per day
2,500 coal air pollution deaths per day

In the US it is 27,000 coal pollution deaths per year (american lung association figure)
70 deaths per day.
Over 25 times the deaths in Iraq
People lose on avg 14 years of life.

Coal is a cost burden to the system. Cleaning up and replacing coal is not a cost burden because we can save medical and business costs.

I would argue that the costs from allowing the air pollution are greater than the costs of fixing them.
Particulates closely tied to increased health risks.


Each increase of 10 micrograms per cubic meter there was a 24-percent increase in the risk of a cardiovascular event among the study subjects and a 76-percent rise in the risk of death, the researchers found.

DOE position on PM2.5 and PM10 (2.5 micron particulates and 10 micron)

To improve the capabilities of power plants to capture primary particulates, the Energy Department's Fossil Energy program assisted in the development of devices that combine the best features of both a baghouse and an electrostatic precipitator (ESP) in the same compact enclosure. This device removes at least 99.99% of the solid particles in the flue gas of coal-fired power plants. Other projects developed improvements to the efficiency of existing electrostatic precipitators by installing a device that concentrates particles escaping the ESP and recycling them back to the ESP inlet. Another project developed low-cost, non-toxic conditioning agents that are injected in flue gases before they enter the ESP to make the tiny particles more susceptible to capture.

The costs to the medical system are about $2000 per person (not just dead but those who are made sick, nonfatal asthma attacks, heart attacks etc...).
About 25% of our medical costs.

40% of rail freight is to move the billion tons of coal. 40% of rail maintenance.

We need to force the 99.99% or better effective particulate matter solutions ASAP and we must remove the grandfathering protection from the old polluting plants which are not even using the 99% effective solutions.

Then instead of paying about $700/KWe for retrofits which do not deal with CO2 or the "cleaner" new plants with $1500-2000/KWe and no carbon sequestering we should pay for the $1600-2000/KWe nuclear plants.

Japan has demoed reprocessing capability of uranium and plutonium and a full plant that handles 80% of their annual waste is online now.

We can also convert 60% of nuclear plants to a thorium fuel mix for reduced waste.
We can develop molten salt thorium reactors that burn up all of the nuclear material without needing reprocessing.

Again: not hypothetical deaths. Real deaths every day now that should be stopped.
Plus the stupid experiment of tossing billions of tons of CO2 and particulates and 20,000 tons of uranium, thorium and more tons of mercury and arsenic into the air. Do you need more studies of mercury in your fish?

the temperature is going up and CO2 is not helping. So why continue when it costs lives, medical costs, business costs from lost sick days and from air traffic delays (visibility related delays from smog)

higher prices on goods and products. Companies are passing on the higher health premiums that they pay for their workers, plus the lost productivity for workers that are out sick because of pollution.
Higher costs for acid resistant paint for cars, houses
Extra costs for public buildings that need more repair to the outside because of pollution damage
Toxic waste, superfund cleanups
Less fish, higher prices for fish
Less resale value on cars in places with acid rain (more rust and corrosion). New Jersey, Detroit etc...
Any flight delays in or out of Los Angeles and other places because of visibility

Cost estimate

It estimates US air pollution costs at $145 to 530 billion. Extract the $18 to $140 billion estimate for greenhouse gases. Still $127 billion to $390 billion.

Sulfur Dioxide ** 52 to 122 billion

visability/airline delays 12 billion

health/work productivity 30 to 100 billion

lakes/recreation 10 billion

Nitrogen Oxide ** 25 to 55 billion
health/work loss 10 to 40
eutrophication 5
lakes/rivers/rec 5
ozone layer damage/
nitrous oxide(N2O) 5

Materials Damage 10 to 35 billion
Probably reduced life of vehicles, homes etc...

Toxic Metals ** 10 to 60 billion

Particulates/Health 5.6 to 48 billion

Chris Phoenix

Brian, thanks! Very powerful argument--it makes it obvious that we should deal with coal ASAP--and coal emits the most CO2 per watt of any fossil fuel.

Eric, I don't know whether we have a looming disaster. I would say that two things need to happen RIGHT NOW:
1) A lot more study of key potential tipping points.
2) An absolute refusal to tolerate special-interest science distortion--either muzzling scientists, misrepresenting their work, or spreading deliberate confusion among the public.

As far as I can tell, there is a more-than-tiny possibility that we will discover a looming disaster as we learn more about how climate works. We should start thinking about how we would respond in such a case.

It's also worth considering: What if we discover that there is a disastrous tipping point at, say, 425 or 450 PPM CO2? It'll be a lot easier to cut back if we have started getting used to it. I was a bit surprised to read that Britain has already reduced its CO2 emissions below 2000 level. If they can do it, we can too.

Molecular manufacturing tempts me to say, "Don't worry about it. Nothing horrible is going to happen in the next 15 years, and after that, planet-scale engineering will let us undo whatever we've done." But I think that would be unwise. There's always the chance that I'm wrong about MM, especially the timeline for widespread availability (which depends on several kinds of politics, not just technology). And it's possible that within the next 50 years, something horrible could happen.


Chris Phoenix

Eric, I just read a very interesting article on offshore Atlantic wind turbines:

It says that there's more power offshore than the region needs--enough to displace CO2 emissions by 68% and overall greenhouse gases by 57% from nine states--Massachussetts to North Carolina.

Harvesting 330 GW of power would require 166,720 wind turbines spread over 50,000 square miles of ocean.

Now, I'm not suggesting that we start in constructing those turbines on a large scale. But I would suggest installing 100 turbines of varying designs, all up and down the coast, so that we can begin to learn what kind of engineering and law and sociology are required for the project. This probably would not be economical. But in the event we have to act quickly, we will be very glad for the knowledge gained. (Even if we build the turbines of diamondoid in 20 years, we will still have gained legal and social knowledge.)

There's a question we ask about molecular manufacturing: If you knew that in ten years you would have to walk a tightrope without a net, how soon would you start practicing? Let me ask you a variant on that question: If you knew there was only a 10% chance you'd have to walk that tightrope, would your answer change? Mine wouldn't.

I'd suggest that it would be appropriate to "start practicing" today, in case it turns out that we have to take substantial action sometime in the next two decades.



Concerning the "Ad hominem" issue, the implication often is that "special interest money" effectively bribes those taking such money to take the positions that they do. My experience is that often the causality works in the other direction. If I am were to be in charge of public relations (or lobbying, in the case of politicians) for such a party, I would much rather seek out and find those already in accordance with my ideas and fund them to do further work than to find someone neutrally disposed and attempt to ply them with money to get them on board (trying to bribe someone to change sides is apt to be so risky, I wouldn't even consider it).

This provides us with an alternative hypothesis to the bribery hypothesis in the kind of situation where the only opponents of a widely held belief are ones getting money from an interest that stands to profit greatly should that belief become less widely held. This alternative is that the folks in question might simply have provided material support to anyone with a position even vaguely favorable to them and if they could find more people with such views, they would find more money for those folks too. As evidence for this alternative hypothesis, I offer the fact that there are still to be found stubborn holdouts to the scientific consensus on matters like the Big Bang where there are no "special interests" who would profit from a victory for the Steady State theory. I predict that if there were to be such an interest, it would readily pony up money to support those few holdouts against Big Bang and the only opponents of Big Bang would then be those receiving such money.

Brian Wang

Bribery and special interests.
I think it is a bit of both. Sometimes it is supporting and encouraging those who already have the same or similar view and sometimes it is moving those on the fence.

A lot depends upon the situation and the institutional/regional conditions. For example, some places like the Philippines, if you do not bribe you pretty much do not get anything done. Their newspapers mostly place articles based on payment.

The ratios are not uniform across a governing body and across all issues. Someone is willing to be swayed on some issues but not others.

also how much Guanxi or personal relationships come into the decision is also variable. This is not necessarily sinister. I may trust the opinion of a friend or acquaintance because my experience is they were right in the past.

Brian Wang

Bribery and special interests.
I think it is a bit of both. Sometimes it is supporting and encouraging those who already have the same or similar view and sometimes it is moving those on the fence.

A lot depends upon the situation and the institutional/regional conditions. For example, some places like the Philippines, if you do not bribe you pretty much do not get anything done. Their newspapers mostly place articles based on payment.

The ratios are not uniform across a governing body and across all issues. Someone is willing to be swayed on some issues but not others.

also how much Guanxi or personal relationships come into the decision is also variable. This is not necessarily sinister. I may trust the opinion of a friend or acquaintance because my experience is they were right in the past.

Chris Phoenix

What I said was, "If you have studied the science (not the politics) for more than a decade, and are not receiving covert funds from oil companies, then we might listen--except that this is not a climate change blog."

Please note first that I was not talking about funding source, but about covert funding.

I have no clue where, if at all, Kaz gets climate-related funding. I was not thinking of Kaz when I wrote the funding-related half of that sentence. I intended the first half--the part about studying the science--to exclude Kaz. Then I thought that I should also exclude those who do study science but are paid to prostitute their reputation for bogus beliefs.

It should be clear now that my discussion of science funding is not related to Kaz because he's not a scientist.

The fact that scientists in the pay of tobacco companies did their best to argue that tobacco doesn't kill--long past the point where everyone else knew differently--shows that funding can be important in evaluating a person's argument.

If a scientist started with a skepticism about some aspect of climate change, and wanted to research it, and got money to research it, and acknowledged the source of their funding, then I'd only suspect them of being susceptible to influence--which everyone is anyway--the question is how strong the influence is, and I don't think it's always ad hominem to bring up the topic of funding.

If on the other hand a scientist received covert funding while taking a position that was convenient for the funder... that would be grossly unethical, and unmasking such behavior is always appropriate, never ad hominem.


The comments to this entry are closed.