I get great pleasure out of thinking. Concentrating on the meaning of life is as satisfying to me as, I presume, it is for a golfer to concentrate on an important putt. I don’t place any greater or lesser importance on my pleasure than on the golfer’s pleasure. I write these thoughts largely for myself though it is quite possible that if I were the only person in the world, I would not bother.
Would I still think if I were alone? One of the things I have found when I am alone is that I frequently think in the past tense. “As I walked up the road toward Mt. Vesuvius from where the bus had dropped me …” I was 27 when I was having that thought in those words while climbing Mt. Vesuvius. I wrote them down in my diary along with the thought “If there was only one person left on earth, and he was I; He would die. Why?”
Why? Because the thought in my head seemed to indicate that I was not climbing through a flowering orchard on a spring day with the cone of Vesuvius ahead of me for my current pleasure but rather for an experience that I could relate to others. Otherwise, why were not my thoughts in the present tense?
Deep breath. “Ahhh. The air is so sweet. God! I love this.” I breathe the air again. I look toward a sound and see a bird. As I emerge from the orchard and start up the cone I can feel my body carrying me upward smoothly. I pause and turn to look out over the bay of Naples. No words in my head about what I am doing. I’m just doing it. No recording necessary.
Would my mind be blank, blank of worded thoughts that is? I shouldn’t think so. The bird might call to mind something I know of birds that could be added to. The fragrance of the air might recall a spring day somewhere in my past. The pull of gravity on my body might bring thoughts of pride at my fitness or a resolve to become more fit. But I’m glad my thoughts weren’t in the present tense. Realizing that brought the philosophical thought, that I was not doing this for myself alone. It is those somehow larger thoughts that I enjoy most, larger and ever so debatable.
There are many things I would not do were there not other people to tell but that is a different thing from thinking. If all other people on the planet suddenly disappeared, would I stop thinking? First I would probably think that was strange. Then I might think it a bit frightening. My life would clearly be different with no one to talk to. I would have to sort out my needs and figure out how to meet them. There would be no one to generate electricity or make matches. How would I cook food? Where would I find food? There would be a lot to think about, at least at first.
At age 27 I thought that I would die if I were the last person on earth. Now, I’m not so sure. Of course I would die eventually but I’m not sure that I would just curl up and die because the only reason for living was to communicate with others. I think I would want to solve the important questions like food and shelter and then I think I would be able to amuse myself with thoughts about the meaning of it all. What was going on? What was I supposed to be doing? The thoughts might not be global or cosmic so much as “What is over the horizon?” “Am I truly alone in the world or are there people that I can find somewhere?” “How did this happen?” Ah, the thoughts seem to progress toward the more philosophical fairly soon.
It is difficult to try to understand thinking before there was language. One model would be animals, I suppose. What does the woodchuck think when it’s nose touches my electric fence for the first time? How do animals learn to be fearful of predators? Are they fearful or merely cautious? What did the early hominid think before language? Can there be thoughts before language?
If I try to think without using words, I think I can have thoughts. Are they thoughts or emotions? Certainly they would be extremely limited absent thoughts from others through written and spoken words. Hunger, shelter, sex are processed through the brain. Those are the “thoughts” I can imagine without words as I sit here half a million or so years later. It was clearly thoughts that brought about the development of tools. It has only been within the past 3,000 years that we have been thinking philosophically. Most of our thought up until then, I suspect, was focused on survival and on improving the quality of life.
What is my dog thinking when she huddles close to me during a thunder storm? What is she thinking when, alone in the house during a thunder storm, she gets into the bathtub? If dogs could communicate about things like thunder, would they exchange ideas on how to cope, try out each others ideas, and come to a general agreement on which strategy worked best?
Before language did hominids wonder what thunder was all about? Did they try to figure out a reason behind it? Once they developed language how did they come to the conclusion that thunder was caused by a god driving his chariot across the sky? As I try to think myself into the skin of people living under those conditions it seems a pretty logical explanation for something that was inexplicable at that time.

Climate Change Dialogue IV

In two weeks my Old Friend has not responded to either my comments on the link he sent me or on the Berkley Earth study He did send the following yesterday to his whole email group most of whom are, as nearly as I can tell, right-wingnuts.

It is an opinion piece from the Wall Street Journal by Harrison H. Schmitt and William Happer: In Defense of Carbon. “The demonized chemical compound is a boon to plant life and has little correlation with global temperature.”

My Old Friend’s note was: Who Knew????

My response: Actually, I knew; well, I knew that CO2 is used in greenhouses to stimulate growth. The ambient CO2 is about 340 ppm; when it goes down very much as can happen in greenhouses, it has an adverse effect on plants; raised to 1,000 ppm can have a positive effect. Unfortunately CO2 levels can’t be raised in the fields (if it could, you may be sure some farmers would be doing it) because CO2 doesn’t hang around near the ground but goes up into the atmosphere.
The authors of this piece are unaware of the Berkley Earth study and deny the research of 97% of the climatologists in the world; paragraph 2 is total nonsense. I was surprised that neither of them was a biologist or agronomist–even a paleontologist would have been interesting. Kinda makes you wonder where they are coming from.

Dear followers of ThomasD, I’m sorry if I have bored you with this dialogue. It has been going on for a number of years with me questioning myself occasionally: “Why am I doing this?” I think it is because I am trying to understand thought processes that fly in the face of reason. I found myself picking apart one of the pieces my friend sent me under the assumption it was a denier piece [] when I realized that there was valid information in it. I read it again and found that I agreed with the author. Then I did some research on the author and found that it was a respected climatologist. My friend had misread the piece and thought it supported his denier position. We are probably all guilty at times of putting our bias ahead of objectivity.
I leave this dialogue with the following for your amusement:
OF: You do notice that the PCC wants to track changes from 1990 so they can show a tiny temperature increase, but the deniers want to use 1998 (one of the hottest years in recent history) as the starting point to get a distinct record of global cooling.
ME: Did you reread your last before sending it? It sounds like something I should have said. “The deniers want to use 1998 (one of the hottest years in recent history) as the starting point to get a distinct record of global cooling.” Yeah, take the hottest year in recent history and lo and behold the subsequent years will be cooler. Climatologists are tracking 250 years and the increase is significant.

Climate Change Dialogue III

ME: How do you feel about the following two quotes?

“Suddenly the hockey stick, the poster-child of the global warming community, turns out to be an artifact of poor mathematics. That discovery hit me like a bombshell, and I suspect it is having the same effect on many others. How could it happen?”
Richard Muller October 2004
OF: From what I’ve read about Mr. Mann’s hockey stick theory, I definitely agree with the comment.
ME: How about this one?
“It’s a scientist’s duty to be properly skeptical. I still find that much, if not most, of what is attributed to climate change is speculative, exaggerated or just plain wrong. I’ve analyzed some of the most alarmist claims, and my skepticism about them hasn’t changed.” Richard Muller July 2012

OF: I think the second comment hits on what I’ve been saying for a long time … there can’t be that many “climate scientists” on the planet … we wind up with a lot of people with degrees in biology and other scientific fields writing articles on things well beyond their core competency, but it’s all feel-good sort of stuff and gets lots of support.

ME: OK, Old Friend, this is my last shot; I’ll leave you alone on this subject after this. Those quotes by Richard Muller, a global warming denier questioned the temperature statistics used by climatologists. He created Berkeley Earth address potential biases in the land surface temperature record and got grants, among others a $150,000 grant from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. He felt there were biases from urban heating, from data selection, from poor station quality and from human intervention and data adjustment.
Please take a serious look at this research and tell me how it is flawed.

OF: while I’m reviewing what you sent, please take a squint at this:

Subject: Amid criticism, Berkeley Earth extends record, upholds findings : Nature News Blog

Apparently some folks think Mr Muller is a flipping idiot … certainly not me … I do hope he’s not doing that tree ring thing

ME: Thanks for this link. I enjoyed it immensely especially the link to climatologist Judith Curry’s blog where I found this quote from climatologist Ken Caldeira:
I am glad that Muller et al have taken a look at the data and have come to essentially the same conclusion that nearly everyone else had come to more than a decade ago. The basic scientific results have been established for a long time now, so I do not see the results of Muller et al as being scientifically important. However, their result may be politically important. It shows that even people who suspect climate scientists of being charlatans, when they take a hard look at the data, see that the climate scientists have been right all along.

***I am looking forward to my friend’s response to the Berkley Earth research and conclusions in which Professor Muller states:

“Much to my surprise, by far the best match was to the record of atmospheric carbon dioxide, measured from atmospheric samples and air trapped in polar ice.” Muller emphasizes that the match between the data and the theory doesn’t prove that carbon dioxide is responsible for the warming but the good fit makes it the strongest contender. “To be considered seriously, any alternative explanation must match the data at least as well as does carbon dioxide.”

Global Warming Dialogue II

You may recall from Dialogue I that I asked my Climate Change Denier Friend if he felt dismissing 6 panels that exonerated the East Anglia scientists after the hacked emails was a reasonable approach to denying the validity of their work.

Old Friend: You got me … didn’t even read what you provided about those panels … I gave up on them when one of the first ones came out exonerating the guy from Penn State.

ME: So, if something comes along that doesn’t agree with your view, you disregard it, don’t even try to understand because your mind is made up?

OF: Don’t even recall why I found that to be a rigged jury, but I did.

ME: I believe I told you why. It was a very, very spurious argument. “Rigged jury” on

House of Commons Science and Technology Committee (UK)
Independent Climate Change Email Review (UK)
International Science Assessment Panel (UK)
Pennsylvania State University (US)
United States Environmental Protection Agency (US)
Department of Commerce (US)

Here is how you did it.  . Throw out House of Commons Committee (government and all governments are corrupt); Independent Review (one of this group was connected with E.A.); International Panel (government); Penn State (a guy there was among the emailers); EPA (they never do anything right); and the Dept of Commerce (government).

There. Now you don’t have to do any digging to try to figure out why you found those six panels to be rigged. I think Associated Press did some digging also but that’s liberal media so easily dismissed. I wouldn’t want you to worry about how you dismissed and continue to dismiss all of the climate models but it seems to me that this one event (the emails) and dismissing the findings of the panels has done that. It seems to me that if something doesn’t fit what you believe to be the case, you dismiss it.

OF: There was more than enough smoke to confirm to my satisfaction the existence of several fires.  Defending East Anglia would seem to be the height of folly … not too many even try.

ME: You dismiss the fact that 97% of climate scientists around the world believe that human activity is causing global warming.

OF: I think the fact that East Anglia University and its long list of (discredited) resident scholars have faded into virtual nonexistence on the global warming issue is all anyone needs to know.

ME: Interesting piece of information. The East Anglia climate model is still in the forefront. I believe it has been mentioned in some of the links I sent you. You see, when the six or more panels exonerated the scientists they were, well, exonerated, at least in the eyes of all but followers of Murdock Media.

OF: Fact is, their tidal wave of grant money intended to prove the point has dwindled to a tiny ripple.  They screwed the pooch and everyone knows it … well, almost everyone, certainly those shoveling money.

ME: I’d love to know the source of this information.

Note: My Old Friend has not responded to this perhaps because I asked him to send me credible links other than blogs and opinion pieces.

Global Warming Dialogue

Me. Do you still think our actions have little if anything to do with global warming?

OF (old friend): Not that long ago the facts contradicted the desired conclusion, so the folks at East Anglia (remember them) decided to simply ignore some of the facts and alter others … there’s pure science for you.

Me: Sorry to learn that you are still stuck in the East Anglia time warp.
After the emails were exposed and panels set up to investigate you had a wonderfully open mind, at least in my recollection. I believe when the first couple of panels came out vindicating the scientists you emailed your list of conservative friends with an attachment about the panels and a note something like “Maybe the scientists have something”. Someone fired back the put-downs of the panels vilifying them because on each panel there was someone connected with the scientists in some way. That worked for you and you have hung your hat on vilifying the scientists ever since. In the end there were six panels and all six found the science valid. If half of the panels had gone one way and the other half the other, I’d have probably still been leaning toward accepting the East Anglia climate model. Had five or six of the panels questioned the science, I’d be on your side.

OF: Here is a hint of what you might find with just a little research … concepts never to be heard on NPR or seen on PBS … why is that?

Me: Actually I am aware of all of this, have received it on PBS/NPR and am aware that the scientific points have been figured into the climate change programs. This article is about earth’s orbital variations which are in 100,000 year cycles, 42,000 year cycles and 21,000 years cycles. The climatologists have figured those into their models.
The article also says the sunspot cycle is now believed to be in a 125 year cycle. That, too, is part of the East Anglia model.

The second link you sent was an opinion piece titled “Evidence That the Earth Wobbling on it’ Axis Causes Climate Change…Could this Finally Prove The Global Alarmists Wrong?”
A quote from this piece, “There are many reasons why Global Warming can take place…” is common knowledge among those of us who follow this issue with unbiased interest. The East Anglia model incorporates all of them looking at the best and worst case scenarios which is what gives the range of predictions
OF: I am truly astounded … PBS and NPR … you wouldn’t kid your old roomie would you?
Not much for the deniers to deny when there’s nothing new from the other side … all the news lately tends to counter the notion of a warming planet … most says it’s cooling.
Me: You really might want to consider your source of news. The following link is to a transcript of a program I heard on NPR last week. I wasn’t looking for something on climate change. I just turned on the radio.

The cooling part you talk about is where we are in the sunspot and earth wobble cycles which makes the fact that the earth is warming even more…oh, dear, do I dare say “alarming”?
OF: I know this is pretty heavy stuff for an actor turned gentleman farmer, but give it your best shot. The science is not settled and Al Gore is still a self-serving scoundrel, if not simply a flaming idiot.

Me: Oh me oh my, I did my best to understand that link but the language was so…what should I say, “biased” that it was difficult to keep from laughing; but it was really wonderful to get another look at your news sources. I did use some of their links which were enlightening but I confess I got tired of the repetition and didn’t get much more than half way through. I did look all the way through just in case there was some gem hidden away. Please compare the language of the link you sent:“,,,there remain those political elites and mainstream ‘journalists’ bitterly clinging to their blatantly incorrect, non-scientific, irrational (insane?) fears of “scary” global warming.”
compared with the language of the link I’m sending below.
“Subsequent research has confirmed this result. A survey of 3146 earth scientists asked the question “Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?” (Doran 2009). More than 90% of participants had Ph.D.s, and 7% had master’s degrees. Overall, 82% of the scientists answered yes. However, what are most interesting are responses compared to the level of expertise in climate science. Of scientists who were non-climatologists and didn’t publish research, 77% answered yes. In contrast, 97.5% of climatologists who actively publish research on climate change responded yes. As the level of active research and specialization in climate science increases, so does agreement that humans are significantly changing global temperatures.”

I know you will appreciate this as you dismissed one article I sent you as being poorly written. When I suggested you take a look at the research that the article was about you wrote: “I’ll probably get to it, but why should we have to research it if the guy who reportedly did the work can’t make a convincing case?” I’m guessing you didn’t as I didn’t hear any more after that.

Following is another quote from the most recent link you sent:
“Taxpayers have spent billions on CO2-driven climate model ‘science,’ which the empirical evidence now suggests was like pouring money down a rat-hole….the abysmal prediction failure of CO2-centric models is simply fact – are there actual scientific models that can replace this current wasteland of biased AGW climate research?”
The answer to that question is “You betcha.” Here is the link to the research this author and you haven’t read.

PS: I found it interesting that you had time to Google a response to my email rather than answer it directly.
PPS: I got a kick out of “actor, gentleman farmer”, I mean, ha, ha, ha, how could I have anything substantive to say, right?
OF: OK, you’re right I didn’t respond to your original message … You gave me a link to something you heard on NPR. I know, you listened to the broadcast so you probably saw no need to read the transcript … I did … well, much of it. Looks to be a group of “scientists” whimpering over the lack of respect they are accorded. In his attempt to talk about his science (page 2) Michael Mann describes the foundation of his famous Hockey Stick theory … temperature readings only go back about 100 years so beyond that we look at tree rings, corals and ice cones. I believe most scientists quite placing their faith in tree rings after discovering these didn’t coincide with actual recorded temperatures in the second half of the last century. Later Mr. Mann talks about Hurricane Sandy … “ there is certainly a climate change component …”. Thomas, I don’t think he can find too many scientists that blamed Sandy on climate change, even though the media did its damndest to do just that. Mann wants us to believe that the storm surge was roughly a foot higher than one might expect from a hurricane except for climate change … I doubt he can convince a group of knowledgeable 8th graders with that argument.
The old adage: Figures lie and liars figure is more than just a little appropriate on this subject. You reminded me of a critique I provided on an article that I wrote it off, simply because it was so poorly written. If memory serves, my objection was that it was presumably “peer reviewed”. If so, one should question the qualifications of the peer group. When I said earlier that the reason you haven’t seen much from the deniers lately is because all the new “evidence” seems to support their position … there’s nothing new to deny. Would you agree that since 1998 all of the statistics seem to show that global warming has stalled, if not reversed? According to some, the planet has actually cooled 0.08 degrees in that period and they’re using data provided by the UN’s IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). Here is an IPCC report that the IPCC didn’t want to get out until they could find a way to spin it:
Subject: Leaked IPCC Climate Report Shows UN Overestimated Global Warming

Here is another example of playing with the data to make a point that supports a predetermined conclusion:
Subject: Was 2012 the Hottest Year? Alarmists Blowing Hot Air Again

There’s entirely too much BS associated with this subject and it’s being bandied about by people who are not qualified. I do firmly believe that I am still being open minded and objective in looking at it, but if you disagree that’s your privilege.
ME: Well, you still didn’t respond to my original message. By response I mean to what I said. I’ll keep this real short.
I said there were six (actually eight) panels that vindicated the East Anglia scientists and said their research was valid and that if they had said otherwise, I would have accepted that the research was tainted at best.
You choose to accept the put-down of those panels, all of them. What would your reaction have been if the reports had been the opposite and I had disregarded them because of some nonsense floating around the internet?

Satan Wrote The Bible fans, you may wonder what this has to do with this site. My Old Friend is a practicing Catholic. I think research would show that people who have stayed in one religion for life are less likely to think outside the box they construct around themselves.
I’ll be passing on more of this dialogue. My Old Friend has still not answered this question