School Strike for Climate

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Steve James
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School Strike for Climate

Postby Steve James » Wed Sep 18, 2019 4:36 pm

When it comes to social media, relationships, interacting with peers, being responsible enough to drink, watch pornography, or drive, society thinks that school age children are not skilled enough at weighing up right from wrong and reality from fiction. Yet when they seem to have jumped on a bandwagon for which most of them can not have possibly weighed up the truthfulness of it, people somehow think they have a voice worth listening to.

I wonder how many of these striking children have even been informed that there is an alternative view on this.

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Ian Kay
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Re: School Strike for Climate

Postby Ian Kay » Fri Sep 20, 2019 11:07 am

Steve,
You say that school children "can not have possibly weighed up the truthfulness of it". Isn't this rather patronising? No-one is expecting them to be experts in climate science, but most teenage school children are perfectly capable of assessing what the experts are saying and drawing their own conclusions in an informed and intelligent way.

You also say that "there is an alternative view on this". What alternative would that be? The one peddled by climate change deniers like Lord Lawson and Donald Trump? There is a reason why virtually every professional climate scientist in the world agrees that the earth's climate is getting hotter at an alarming rate, and that humans are mainly responsible. The reason is that the evidence is overwhelming and undeniable. If you don't believe me I suggest you read the IPCC's various reports, particularly the 2014 Synthesis one at

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Steve James
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Re: School Strike for Climate

Postby Steve James » Fri Sep 20, 2019 11:58 am

Hi Ian,

Thanks for your reply.
Yes it may be patronising but it is also patronising to say that they are not developed enough to watch certain films, for sexual relationships, drive cars, smoke cigarettes and all the other things that they are not allowed to do by law.

Your language 'climate change deniers' and ' peddled by ' are also patronising, indicating that your view is more valid than mine.

Yes, there is a reason why every climate scientist believes the same thing, that is because it is socially unacceptable to deny what has now become a religion and you wouldn't get any kind of funding to prove the alternative.

The original IPCC report was the start of this campaign and many of the contributors denounced the conclusions as incorrect, yet were unsuccessful at removing their names from the contributors' list so were added to the list of people advocating those conclusion. Since then, silencing any critics and having a man-made climate change media agenda has caused this snowball.

Despite that, I am not saying that man is not changing the climate, I am saying that people don't know and the force with which people are peddling the idea is disproportionate to their knowledge - although it is proportionate to their belief.

Look how Galileo was ridiculed by suggesting that the Earth rotates around the sun. Te number of people believing something isn't necessarily proportionate to its truthfulness.

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Ian Kay
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Re: School Strike for Climate

Postby Ian Kay » Fri Sep 20, 2019 9:43 pm

Hi Steve,
Hmm, I'm not sure about your paragraph about cigarettes etc, but I'll let that pass as it's off the topic.

You are right when you say that my language indicates that I think my view is more valid than yours - that is because I think it is. I use the term 'climate change deniers' because that accurately describes them. I can't think of any other term that makes sense - are they not denying climate change? I deliberately used the verb 'peddled' to indicate that the views they are promulgating are dangerous falsehoods. False because they are in conflict with the evidence, dangerous because they undermine efforts to alter humanity's attempts to save us from catastrophic global warming.

Your statement about climate scientists believing the same thing, because it is socially unacceptable to deny it, reveals a fundamental misunderstanding about the way science works. (I speak from experience here as I was a professional scientist in my distant past). It is nothing to do with social acceptability, it is all about the evidence. If you were an ambitious young scientist wanting to climb the greasy pole you would ideally want to disprove the established dogma, simply verifying the generally accepted view would get you nowhere. But you need evidence, convincing enough to overturn decades of meticulously observed, verified, independently reproduced data, presented in peer-reviewed journals by tens of thousands of professional scientists, many of them world experts. That is a very tall order.

You describe climate science as a religion. Religions are based on belief and faith, whereas science is based on reproducible, independently verifiable evidence. If the evidence doesn't support the theory, the theory is abandoned - there are plenty of examples of this in science. Does this ever happen in religions? I don't think so!

It is true that climate change deniers have been shut out of the conversation, but that is because they are talking rubbish. This isn't an argument between competing theories that are both equally valid: on the one hand you have a mountain of evidence meticulously gathered over decades, independently verified, confirmed, and published in tens of thousands of peer-reviewed research papers written by scientist working in universities and institutes from all over the world; and on the other hand you have a handful of people, many of them (though not all) extravagantly funded by the fossil fuel industry, supported by evidence which is somewhere between pathetically flimsy and non-existent.

Finally your reference to Galileo is irrelevant - he was opposed by religious zealots, not scientists. If the evidence-based scientific method had been accepted in his day he would have prevailed.

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Steve James
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Re: School Strike for Climate

Postby Steve James » Sat Sep 21, 2019 3:04 pm

Hi Ian,

It is interesting that you dismiss my paragraph about cigarettes etc as off topic because that is the fundamental point I was making. If you read my original post, it was asking why we treat the striking school children as having the answers and so knowledgeable, when in other avenues of life, we don't trust them to think correctly. It is you who has change the topic to whether climate change is man-made and the evidence.

I understand that scientists try to break the norms, however, it is not the scientists who are to blame for peddling only one view, it is the government and the media. It is not that scientists believe the same thing, it is that those who believe a differently from the accepted view will not get their voices heard, so people get a biased report.

The term 'Climate change deniers' is not accurate. I don't deny that climate change is happening, I just keep an open mind as to whether it is man made - or indeed man fixable. I have seen very little evidence of this and it can only be speculation without a control world, devoid of humans, to measure the difference.

The document you referenced was fell short of absolutes and instead commented on the confidence level of each piece of evidence. That causes it to be based on belief and faith.

Do you think that people who hold a different view from yours should be shut out of the conversation? Interesting attitude.

You refer again to the evidence and the work done to collect it. You don't however refer to who were the paymasters of the people gathering the evidence except to somehow silence the alternative view as being funded by the fossil fuel industry.

The Galileo reference is only irrelevant whilst you continue to dismiss the belief aspect of the 'evidence' that you cite.

I would like to invite you again to answer the original post, which was questioning why we think school children are so wise in thoughtful in this regard, but in many other regards, we consider them as not mature enough to think straight.

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Ian Kay
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Re: School Strike for Climate

Postby Ian Kay » Mon Sep 23, 2019 4:42 pm

Hi Steve,
At the risk of slipping into something like Groundhog Day I’ll address your points paragraph by paragraph...

Para 1: OK, guilty as charged – I avoided your point about school children. This was mainly because I see what they are saying as more important than the fact that they are young and at school, but it is also because it opens up all sorts of other issues that we could be here till Christmas arguing over. In fact I don’t really understand the point you are making – are you seriously suggesting that because we curtail the freedom of young people to put their physical and mental health at risk (drinking, smoking etc) and endanger others (driving), we should dismiss what they have to say about climate change? There is an enormous difference between issues about how quickly and at what age we relax the constraints on their personal freedom to damage themselves, and taking their views seriously (which we should do whatever their age). Personally I am thrilled that young people are taking climate change seriously and are prepared to do something about it.

I also object to your statements that they are ‘jumping on the bandwagon’, and that they ‘can not have possibly weighed up the truthfulness of it’, and your suggestion that they haven’t been ‘informed that there is an alternative view’. OK, peer pressure is undoubtedly a factor (as it is with adults too), but I see no reason to think that young people are any less well informed than the rest of us. They are probably, on average, more so, particularly if they have studied the subject in class.

Para 2: In theory, the government decides its position based on the recommendations of the UK’s Committee on Climate Change (chaired by Lord Deben), which in turn are based mainly on the various IPCC reports. In practice of course, politics interferes with this. It is not sensible for the government or the Committee on Climate Change to pay attention to a tiny minority whose ideas have been thoroughly de-bunked. The same applies to the media. A few years ago the BBC came in for justified criticism for a discussion between Lord Lawson and a climate expert (I forget who it was), which implied their views were equally credible, which of course they weren’t (see my previous post).

Para 3: I’m not sure why you object to the term ‘climate change deniers’, but I accept your point. Most people in that category have (belatedly) accepted that the planet is warming, but deny that mankind’s activities are responsible. Maybe we should call them ‘anthropomorphic-induced-climate-change deniers’, but that’s a bit of a mouthful so I’ll stick with ‘dissenters’.

There are lots of authoritative articles about climate change myths, one of the best IMHO is at https://skepticalscience.com/argument.php

I’m glad you are keeping an open mind. No doubt you think I have a closed mind, but I make no apologies for that. If something extraordinary comes along to disprove the mainstream view I’ll reconsider, but I’m not holding my breath. I see it like saying some people think that the earth is round, and others think it’s flat, so if you don’t take the latter’s views seriously and give them equal weight you are biased and closed minded.

You say you have seen very little evidence that climate change is man-made. I respectfully suggest you haven’t been looking in the right places - try section 1.2 of the 2014 IPCC Synthesis Report (which I sent a link to previously) for a start.

We don’t need a control world devoid of humans to assess the contribution of humans to climate change. Climate scientists use computer models to evaluate the contributions of various human activities, as well as natural inputs, such as the El Nino cycle, volcanic eruptions, changes in solar radiation, etc. The picture is complicated, but the general conclusion is that the human contribution is far greater than the natural ones, as explained in the reference above.

Para 4: It is standard practice in science to provide margins of error whenever a physical quantity is measured or calculated. This leads to a confidence level in the conclusions that are drawn from the data. It isn’t guesswork – there are generally accepted statistical methods for calculating these. The fact that the IPCC reports (and the research papers they are based on) follow this practice does not mean that they are ‘based on belief and faith’, on the contrary, it means that they are being honest about the confidence they give to their conclusions. If they were claiming absolute certainty then your accusation that they are based on belief and faith would be more plausible.

Para 5: I don’t think that people who hold a different view from mine should be shut out of the conversation – but I do think it is wrong to give equal weight to a handful of dissenters whose ideas have been discredited, as against the overwhelming majority of experts working in the field, whose conclusions are based on authoritative, verified research and a mountain of evidence (see my point about flat-earthers above).

Para 6: The ‘paymasters of the people gathering the evidence’ are generally universities and research institutes from all over the world, which are in turn funded mostly by governments. The notion that they are somehow pressing researchers to distort the evidence or draw biased conclusions from it is absurd. Even if some researchers wanted to distort the evidence, how could they possibly get away with it when everything is independently verified, peer-reviewed and double checked before it gets anywhere near the IPCC reports? (This has echoes of Donald Trump’s ludicrous claim that climate researchers are ‘politically motivated’, as if they all had the same political views.)

Para 7: You keep talking about belief, so I think we need it unpick this. From the point of view of a professional scientist, belief has no place in his/her work; the only important questions are ‘is the data reliable?’ and ‘are the conclusions justified by the data?’ But as outsiders, we aren’t in a position to assess the evidence – we haven’t trawled through thousands of research papers, we don’t have access to the raw data or computer models, and we don’t have the expertise to evaluate the conclusions. So we have to decide who to believe. Is it, say, the contributors to the 2018 IPCC Report ‘Global Warming of 1.5C’ written by 91 authors from 40 countries, based on 6,000 studies with 1,113 reviewers, all of them experts in their field, or is it the handful of ‘dissenters’ with no evidence to back up their views? I know which I believe!

Para 8: see Para 1.

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Steve James
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Re: School Strike for Climate

Postby Steve James » Tue Sep 24, 2019 9:10 am

HI Ian,
Thanks for your reply once again and for picking up the original point. I will try to make this short by covering the overall issues as I see them - its brevity is meant to be for the sanity of all and to draw some agreement!

First, the original point:
The point I am making is this: We generally don't consider school children mature enough of mind to make important decisions so we make it illegal for them to do certain things until an age where we think they are able to make better decisions. I find it very cynical that those trying to rally support for climate action have utilised this group of individuals to further their message when in all other walks of life their opinion is less worthy. I agree that many may be very switched on, but we don't operate in a meritocracy in this age group, merely an age barrier (unless it helps propagate the message.
Although many will be switched on to the message, I would be surprised if most of those 'striking' (withdrawing their labour!! ) have more than a superficial appreciation of the situation as seen on the news.

I am sure that scientists are not forced to skew the evidence but when it comes to reporting the findings, we all know that the government always give 'the right message' as a priority over the facts, so I don't think that reporting is balanced. I am sure you think one way about this and I think another!

It is because of the above paragraph (and the need for authorities to give 'the right message') that all of the web sites and references are sort of irrelevant - I believe that the information dissemination is biased. If I don't believe the messenger, then more messages from the same messenger isn't going to persuade me. As it happens, I am more a sceptic than denier and the refusal of campaigners to admit that the opposite view has some value (however small) builds on this distrust. Yes I do think that you have a closed mind but then you probably think I am gullible!

Just one other thing the universities get grants to study topics. Good luck to any university applying for a grant from their paymasters to study the truthfulness of man made climate change!

I realise that I haven't answered all your points individually. If there was a killer point that you specifically wanted me to answer, please feel free to point it out and I will do my best.

In the meantime, thank you for engaging in debate.

Best regards,
Steve

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Ian Kay
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Re: School Strike for Climate

Postby Ian Kay » Thu Sep 26, 2019 8:58 pm

I think we will have to agree to disagree. Maybe we could reconvene in 2040 amid the tropical palms and waist deep in sea water. Nice debating with you.
Ian