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Yes, Prof. Derr, the Planet Is Heating Up

At the First Things blog, resident climate change denialist Thomas Sieger Derr (whose dishonest tactics Grant has exposed before), after weighing in on the cap and trade debate, lets loose with a predictable volley of faux-scientific silliness:

All this diplomatic turmoil is proceeding against a backdrop of growing public indifference. So the alarmist community has reacted predictably by issuing ever more apocalyptic statements, like the federal report Global Change Impacts in the United States issued last week which predicts more frequent heat waves, rising water temperatures, more wildfires, rising disease levels, and rising sea levelsheadlined, in a paper I read, as Getting Warmer. This is mostly nonsense, and it is certainly not getting warmer. The earth stopped warming in 1998 and since 2002 has been getting slightly cooler. Sea ice in the arctics is growing. Sea levels are not rising faster than their usual steady tiny pace. The incidence of severe storms is not increasing. And so on. If you want to worry about the climate, worry about colder weather and lower crop yields as the sun remains unusually quiet.For heavens sake, climate people, pay attention to real life, real time data and not your wobbly and unreliable computer models.

Let's go through this line by line, shall we?

The earth stopped warming in 1998 and since 2002 has been getting slightly cooler.

Actually, no. As the indispensable John Cook explains, 1998 happened to be an unusually warm year thanks to abnormally high levels of El Nio activity, but when we correct for that anomaly we find a consistent warming pattern that continues the trend of the past century-plus, with the eight warmest years on record all having occurred since 1998. The idea that global surface temperatures in an obviously extreme year can be taken as a straightforward data point to compare with temperatures from other years is as wobbly and unreliable a strategy for measuring climate trends as there could possibly be.

Sea ice in the arctics is growing.

Again: no, not really. Like the above-discussed claim about planetary temperature trends, misleading talk about sea ice has become a common trope among climate change denialists, most famously in a recent George Will column that the Washington Post fact-checkers seemed to have forgotten about. But it's every bit as dishonest when Derr appeals to it as when Will does: for one thing, it's only in the Antarctic where sea ice levels show a pattern of long term growth; and for another, as Cook helpfully explains once again, the increase of sea ice in the Antarctic is something that seems to be an effect of warming patterns in the region, not cooling ones.

Sea levels are not rising faster than their usual steady tiny pace.

Untrue. As the NOAA notes, the rate of sea level rise over the past century has been "significantly larger" than that of the past thousand years, and this trend is expected only to worsen as greenhouse gas levels rise. A similar point to that last one also holds for the incidence of severe storms, which is projected to increase as the Earth's climate warms; the fact that such an increase hasn't been observed since the relevant projections were issued in 2007 is no good reason to think that they are wrong.Mostly nonsense, indeed. If the First Things crowd ever decides to do one of those fundraising cruises that have become so popular of late, I know of a river in Egypt that would be an appropriate destination.P.S. None of this is to say that the Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill, which Derr begins by criticizing, is worthy of support. (Even many environmentalists think it may not be.) But it's entirely possible to argue that without pretending that global warming and its effects are any less real than Thomas Sieger Derr's evident penchant for intellectual dishonesty.

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Goes hand in hand with the First Things approach to the church and theology. We call it the "ostrich effect."

Not to be a denialist, but does anyone have any idea how we are measuring worldwide sea levels down to the millimeter for, say, 2,000 BC? Seems as if that's nearly an impossible task today.

I should have said difficult, not impossible.

Meteorology is a young science with many, many mysteries, and we don't even really know what all the variables are. Surely we should pay attention to alternate opinions. For instance, Freeman Dyson, a highly respected scientist though not a practicing meteorologist,, thinks that global warming is not the whole explanation of the obvious climate changes we've been experiencing. Should we look for possible alternative causes? And should we distinguish global warming and climate change as over-lapping but also somewhat different phenomena? In other words -- there might be more than one cause of climate change.Meteorology is a young science with many, many mysteries still. And we don't even really know what all the variables are. Surely we should pay attention to alternate theories(Why is it socially acceptable on blogs to call people dishonest but not to call them dum? Hmm.).

Dumb, that is.

Also, from what little I can tell, whatever miniscule sea rise has occurred in the past few thousand years is a blip in a 100 million year trend in which sea levels have dropped by an estimated 250 or so meters. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Phanerozoic_Sea_Level.png Moreover, sea level today is at about the lowest it's every been in world history (as far as anyone can guess). So how do we know that we're not just seeing the tiniest bit of regression to the mean here? I'm not trying to be difficult or a "denialist," I'm just wondering why I should be freaking out over fractions of a millimeter.

It's not all that difficult to explain why people on the left see certain issues one way and people on the right see them the other way. But why the left should believe global warming to be a fact and the right should believe it is a hoax mystifies me. Is there any other empirical, scientific issue on which the left and the right tend to take opposite sides? I suppose a big one is evolution, but I don't think where a person is on the political spectrum has as much predictive value regarding beliefs on evolution as it does on global warming.

So which is it, Stuart Buck? Are we able to determine sea levels from 100 million years ago, or not? And it's not, by the way, those fractions of a millimeter themselves that are the cause for concern, but rather the whole mess of long-term trends of which they're only a part.And Ann Oliver: You're absolutely right that it's important not to oversimplify, and I think that provocative thinkers like Freeman Dyson are worth taking seriously. But Derr is not a scientist, and arguments like these ones are pure denialist claptrap.

David Nickol --ISTM that the reason global warming has become an issue is because many scientists say that people are the cause. This makes us responsible for it. We are not responsible for Boyle's laws -- but we are at least partially responsible for the amount of heat in the atmosphere, with attendant changes in weather. Being responsible implies that we must do something about it, which probably involves moretaxes, which conservatives always seem to thing are too high. Taxes, David, that's the big liberal/conservative divide.

I can understand how we might estimate historical sea levels on the order of meters or hundreds of meters; what I don't quite grasp is how we're so confident in historical measurements that are a thousand times more precise (down to the millimeter), or even how we reach that level of precision today. That doesn't seem contradictory to me at all.

"But why the left should believe global warming to be a fact and the right should believe it is a hoax mystifies me."David--I agree, it is intriguing how the left and right have different views on global warming, and life in general. My sense is that those on the right tend to rely upon their belief that, ultimately, God is in charge and He is good, so they don't fret about the cosmic things. The left tends to think this view is pollyannaish and irresponsible. The left, on the other hand, does not seem to possess the same equanimity in their soul, and believe they have the wherewithal and the responsibility to make sure things turn out right. And that if they don't, all hope is lost. The right tends to think this view is prideful and counterproductive.

John, You said: ". . . we find a consistent warming pattern that continues the trend of the past century-plus, with the eight warmest years on record all having occurred since 1998."If you follow the reference you'll find that refers to the U.S temperature's, not global temperature. Also, it notes that during that period 11 states were cooler than normal. Why is warming a concern but cooling is not?misleading talk about sea ice has become a common trope among climate change denialists,What is the "correct" level of sea ice? If is cause for concern then we must have some objective standard for determining what the levels should be, right? What are they?(For the record, I'm neither a believer or denier in global warming. I think its a case of we humans once again claiming to know more than we really do.)

Mark, which are the "cosmic" things that trusting in God excuses us from having to worry about? I'd like to make a list.

If you follow the reference youll find that refers to the U.S temperatures, not global temperature.

Sorry, but that's not right. The second reference goes here, which is a NASA report of global temperature trends, and notes that "[t]he eight warmest years in the GISS record have all occurred since 1998, and the 14 warmest years in the record have all occurred since 1990".

Also, it notes that during that period 11 states were cooler than normal. Why is warming a concern but cooling is not?

If there is evidence - as I take it there may be - that human actions contributed to those cold spells in the Plains and the southeast, then that would obviously be a concern as well.

If is cause for concern then we must have some objective standard for determining what the levels should be, right?

I don't see why this should be so. If human actions are helping to cause the earth to warm, ice to melt, sea levels to rise, natural habitats to be destroyed, etc., then that is cause for concern, period.

Mark,If it doesn't upset the equanimity in your soul too much, maybe you could tell us how the conservative obsession with national security fits your grand thesis about the "prideful" anxiety of the left and the right's trust in divine providence. If God has all the big stuff taken care of, why did we invade Iraq? Maybe you could also tell us how the holy resignation of the right compares with the solicitude and self-sacrifice we find in the Gospel. Your idea of trust sounds a lot like presumption to me.

Mollie--I could give you a list of things not to worry about, but that would be counterproductive because, being left of center, you'd still worry about them, and also worry that I'm NOT worrying about them. Seriously, though, as an example, take our president's reaction to the situation in Iran. Obama seems to be fretting about taking a strong stand in support of the protesters, worrying that it will harm his efforts at diplomacy. The left sees this as prudent. The right sees it as a missed opportunity, a loss of nerve, a failure to live up to the injunction to be not afraid. A true conservative would more likely have the confidence that doing that right thing (supporting the protestors) will in the end yield the best result, because that's the way God created the world. As evidence for that position, remember Reagan's calling the Soviet Union the evil empire that it was, and calling on Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin wall. Many on the left fretted that he was courting disaster, but it seemed to work out pretty well, thank God.

The right sees it as a missed opportunity, a loss of nerve, a failure to live up to the injunction to be not afraid.

As an unapologetic conservative who thinks Obama's response to the situation in Iran has been characterized by too much "tough talking", I'd beg to differ with this characterization. Somehow I expect that occasional Commonweal contributor Andrew Bacevich would have a similar perspective, too.

"Be not afraid [to threaten military action against Iran]?" "Be not afraid [to continue to pollute]"? Is that really what Our Lord meant? If so I guess I am a hopeless worrywort. O me of little faith.

"If human actions are helping to cause the earth to warm, ice to melt, sea levels to rise, natural habitats to be destroyed, etc., then that is cause for concern, period."I may be reading this too literally, but what if human actions are not the cause? Would it still be a concern? Where I am coming from is similar to what Joe Carter seems to be saying - what is the right global temperature or range of temperatures? From that NASA data it seems like moving average of global temps has been rising since the late 19th century, so what year or years do we feel are "best" (however you feel that should be defined)?

Mark,You've really thrown me for a loop. Here I thought you were preaching resignation: Let God take care of the Iranians and global warming; there's nothing for us to do. But no! Trust in God turns out to require windy outrage in the first case and blithe resignation in the second. A very flexible quality, your conservative "trust." But, you know, I think I've got it now. Worried about how NAFTA affects peasants in Mexico or blue-collar workers in Detroit? Butt out, that God's business! Worried about the connection between Iraq's Baathists and al-Qaeda? Be not afraid to worry yours heads off -- or, rather, theirs! Afraid that too much moralizing from the White House might have unintended consequences in Tehran? Speak the truth, and let God worry about the consequences. Want to make sure workers get a living wage? Beware of unintended consequences!

One thought, Stuart, about how we can know ancient sea levels with some accuracy. Consider the graphic you posted from Wikipedia. There are two sets of data about sea levels, one labelled "Exxon Sea Level Curve" which is from a 1977 monograph, the first to try to show general globas sea levels over a half-billion years. The data this was based on was a large collection of proprietary oil exploration data. There were doubts about this curve due to the lack of detailed access to data, but later open studies (as this graphic shows) roughly agree with it.Detailed data and modelling of the pattern of geological stata is essential to oil exploration. The numbers are not published, of course, but I feel confident (and very conservative) in estimating that many hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on this effort alone across the energy industry. The pattern of seafloor sediment deposition is closely tied to sea level, and detailed estimates of local and global sea levels are a result of this area of study.

Matthew--Can you explain to me what you see as the difference between windy outrage, moralizing, etc. and speaking out against persecution (of Iranian women, Mexican peasants, or whomever)? I'm having trouble understanding your pivot points."Speak the truth, and let God worry about the consequences." Yeah, I'm good with that. Except when your wife asks "if this dress makes me look fat."

John--You blog for Commonweal, claim people who question global warming are in denial, and think Obama talks too tough on defense--are you SURE you're a conservative?

Yes, Mark, it's just that I'm also firmly grounded in reality. And by the way, I blog at The American Conservative, too.

Claude Muncey --Having worked for The California Company. which (with a name change) is now one of the biggest oil exploration companies in the world, I'm very much inclined to trust the studies you mention. The people in the Paleontology dept. at the CA Co. were the smartest set of human beings I've ever encountered, except for the philosophy faculty at Cath U. 50 years ago. Brains, brains, brains. And I expect Exxon was just as smart.

I have no doubt that they were the smartest people who have ever lived, but I still wonder about how meaningful it is to say that something as ever-changing as the sea level has been measured, whether today and thousands of years ago, down to the tenth of a millimeter.

whether today OR thousands of years ago . . . .

JohnIm not sure if youre implying Im not firmly grounded in reality, people who hold a different opinion than you on global warming are not firmly grounded I reality, or something in between, but its good to see a Pat Buchanan conservative blogging here! How did you make it past the Commonweal call screeners? ;-)

OK, "its only in the Antarctic where sea ice levels show a pattern of long term growth," but considering that's where 90% of the ice on the face of the planet is - isn't that good news? And BTW the ice coverage in the Arctic this year is the most extensive it has been in years. Certainly that's not proof of a long term trend, but a trend has to start somewhere.Perhaps part of the reason that conservatives are skeptical is that we have so many examples of statist solutions being pushed in the name of urgent and undeniable crises that we just aren't buying it. Alar anyone? Thank God we outlawed DDT and saved large birds of prey - not so good for the hundreds of thousands of dead malaria victims in Africa. Ban off shore drilling or we will have unusable and uninhabitable coast lines.What's more, the left treats these things like religious beliefs. You don't agree, you are irrational and want the earth destroyed. A great example of this near irrational adherence to these articles of faith was when my son came home from college (a notedly liberal college) and said he was reading "The Population Bomb" in a freshman ecology class. Mind you, not to debunk it, but as a serious text. It would be kind of like having to read Merlin's "Principles of Alchemy" in Chem 101.Traditional conservatives and libertarians, when it comes to economic and social issues has always taken a skeptical view to alarmism, and they are usually right.

Sean Hannaway: As I noted above, the growth of sea ice in the Antarctic doesn't mean that warming isn't happening in that region - it is, and it's believed that the ice mass is increasing because of the warming. So no, it's no sign of a trend at all.

Perhaps part of the reason that conservatives are skeptical is that we have so many examples of statist solutions being pushed in the name of urgent and undeniable crises that we just arent buying it.

Yes, like the Iraq war and the PATRIOT Act, right? I have no problem at all with objecting to the proposed solutions - as I said in the post, there are plenty of reasons to think that Waxman-Markey is a bad bill. But the pretense that there's nothing to be concerned about is just absurd.

its good to see a Pat Buchanan conservative blogging here!Now now. Let's not go calling people names.

I remain unconvinced that we know much for sure on this issue (despite there being many other good reasons to radically rethink our environmental practices), but everyone knows that it just isn't playing fair when ANY evidence necessarily counts toward your thesis. Hey, more ice means its actually getting WARMER. Hey, colder temps are actually proof of the long term WARMING trend. Essentially, for a certain crowd, global warming is non-falsifiable...which is why so many on the other side see it is pseudo-religious rather than science. Why is it so hard to admit that we probably don't know what's going on? Especially when we have so many smart people on both sides of this issue:http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124597505076157449.html

Hey, more ice means its actually getting WARMER. Hey, colder temps are actually proof of the long term WARMING trend.

Those are clear misrepresentations of what I said. We know that it's getting warmer because we can tell from our temperature measurements (including those in the Antarctic) that it's getting warmer, and small-scale idiosyncrasies like these are entirely compatible with the evidence we have for long-term planetary trends.

John you admitted that the long-term trend for antarctic sea ice is one of growth. In response to this trend you claimed, "its believed that the ice mass is increasing because of the warming." How did I misrepresent this claim? When lack both sea ice growth and sea ice diminution count as evidence of global warming your opponent has a hard time responding, doesn't she?

Because "it's believed that the ice mass is increasing because of the evident warming" is not the same as "it's believed that there is warming on the basis of the evident increase in ice mass", and it's the latter claim that you attributed to me in your comment.

But, John, I did not say that you said its believed that there is warming on the basis of the evident increase in ice mass." Rather I said that you said, "more ice means its getting warmer." If 'we get more ice because of warming', then it logically follows that 'more ice means its getting warmer' right? To be honest, its hard to believe we are talking about this minutia rather than the apparently non-falsifiable theory which the hard-liners put out there.Why not just admit that we don't know...and focus the argument for (much needed!) environmental reform on things to which most everyone can agree? It seems like the effort is more about wanting to the prove the skeptics wrong more than wanting to convince the middle. You'll likely never get the skeptics...they are making an economic argument anyway. Your job, in my opinion, is to convince people that are willing to go along...but get nervous about the things I mention above. Let's admit we don't know for sure...but then argue that's not a reason not to act...and that there are many reasons other than global warming to act.

I still wonder about how meaningful it is to say that something as ever-changing as the sea level has been measured, whether today and thousands of years ago, down to the tenth of a millimeter.Is that the claim being made? Here's what the NOAA entry says.Global mean sea level has been rising at an average rate of 1.7 mm/year (plus or minus 0.5mm) over the past 100 years, which is significantly larger than the rate averaged over the last several thousand years.So, does this look believable to a layman?First of all, this is a rate *averaged* over 100 years, whose claimed accuracy is around .5/1.7 or +/- 30%. If one simply measured the difference over that period you'd see a *cumulative increase of 1.7 mm * 100 = 170mm (about 6.7 inches) over that time span, which doesn't seem to be a difficult quantity to measure within the stated accuracy limits. Secondly, the satellite estimates since 1992 seem to fit pretty well with tide gauge data since 1950. Understandably, the graph shows increasing error estimates prior to that. Thus, from this layman's perspective, the data since 1870 looks credible. With respect to estimates over several thousand years, My guess is the NOAA may be dealing with cumulative measures over periods of time which may be more readily ascertainable. Nonetheless, what's being claimed is an increase in the *rate* at which the sea level is rising. Nothing is said about measuring sea levels back then to tenths of a mm accuracy,In all this, the real question, of course, is whether or not the NOAA would publish data and assessments that would not pass muster with other experts in the field. My belief is they would be foolish to do so.

If we get more ice because of warming, then it logically follows that more ice means its getting warmer right?

No, that's not right, since an effect isn't always evidence for its cause, and "more ice means that it is getting warmer" clearly indicates that the increased ice mass supports the belief in global warming, which simply isn't what I said. We have independent reason for believing - indeed, knowing - that temperatures in the Antarctic are increasing, and a theory that explains how that evident warming could have caused the ice mass to increase; that's not at all the same as saying that the increasing ice mass means that things are getting warmer.

Why not just admit that we dont know ...

Because we do know, and many of the people who are claiming we don't are doing so for demonstrably bad reasons.

If this were a fight, they'd have to stop it.

more ice means its getting warmer. If we get more ice because of warming, then it logically follows that more ice means its getting warmer right? To be honest, its hard to believe we are talking about this minutia rather than the apparently non-falsifiable theory which the hard-liners put out there.Strictly speaking, "more ice" accords with a particular theory of global warming. The objection, of course, is that the phenomenon, which accords with the theory, has been used by denialists as evidence that the theory itself is incorrect.

OK, John...since you apparently really want to do this:1. You said "its believed that the ice mass is increasing because of the warming." Of course its the case that an effect isn't always evidence for its cause. But this is precisely what you are arguing here. The effect (increased ice mass) is evidence of its cause (warming). You are attempting to argue for a causal relationship. Your word 'because' here is key.2. I described this as 'more ice means its getting warmer.' Of course I'd be wrong to say this is what you had said if you hadn't already argued for a casual relationship between the warmth and ice. Perhaps the (supposed) warmer temperatures (there is disagreement about this) merely coincides with (rather than causes) the ice growth. But that's not the argument you made. You didn't even say, as you suggest directly above, that we have a 'theory' which 'could' explain a causal relationship. Because you argued precisely for a causal relationship--that ice mass is increasing BECAUSE of the warming--then I certainly was justified in saying that you mean that 'more ice means its getting warmer.' More ice exists, in your stated view, BECAUSE of warming temperatures. Perhaps this isn't what you meant, but its what you said.And I'm sure you can understand why, when a confused and open-minded person in the middle hears stuff like this, they might think that there is something fishy going on here. Not to mention that its just a gold-mine for skeptics to cite in their own arguments. "Look at these crazy nature-worshiping idiots. Any evidence at all counts for their religious beliefs in global warming."Why not just pull the rug from underneath them and make a different argument?

You said its believed that the ice mass is increasing because of the warming. Of course its the case that an effect isnt always evidence for its cause. But this is precisely what you are arguing here. The effect (increased ice mass) is evidence of its cause (warming). You are attempting to argue for a causal relationship. Your word because here is key.

No, that's still wrong. I am indeed arguing for a causal relationship, but you're once again confusing that with an evidential one: the increased ice mass is not evidence for the Antarctic global warming, which is something for which we have all the evidence we need in the form of temperature records. As Antonio Manetti rightly observes, all that I'm doing by pointing to the theorized dependence is criticizing those who use the phenomenon of increasing ice mass "as evidence that the theory [of global warming] itself is incorrect". In other words: I'm saying that the increased ice mass is not evidence that the temperatures are cooling (which they demonstrably aren't), not that it is evidence that they are.

Because you argued precisely for a causal relationshipthat ice mass is increasing BECAUSE of the warmingthen I certainly was justified in saying that you mean that more ice means its getting warmer. More ice exists, in your stated view, BECAUSE of warming temperatures.

Again, this is confused, since as I said - and as you seemed to agree - "X is happening because of Y" does not at all entail "X, therefore Y". The increased ice mass could have many different causes and so is compatible both with warming and cooling in the region; the reason we know that the Antarctic is in fact warming has nothing at all to do with the increasing ice mass, but is strictly a consequence of measuring the temperature.

Why not just pull the rug from underneath them and make a different argument?

As should hopefully be clear by now, that's exactly what I was doing.

John, "X is happening because of Y" surely DOES entail "X, therefore Y." However, and this looks to be what you actually meant, it does NOT entail "X, therefore ONLY Y." There might well be multiple causes for the ice growth...but you apparently want to argue that warming is ONE of them. You can't argue that warming is currently causing the ice growth and then at the same time argue that ice growth is not evidence of warming. You 'might have all the evidence you need' (though many smart people think you don't) appart from this evidence...but this still counts as evidence given your point of view. And strange evidence it is. Especially when the OPPOSITE trend, ice diminution, also counts as evidence for your thesis.Again, I say this as someone that wants your argument to be persuasive. But as the WSJ article points out, the trend has been disappointing...the environmentalists are not winning the public argument. I respectfully suggest taking a very different track. Beat your opponent on her own terms...admit that we don't know...and then show we should still act anyway.

You cant argue that warming is currently causing the ice growth and then at the same time argue that ice growth is not evidence of warming.

Yes, I can argue that, just as I can believe that A-Rod hit (i.e., was the cause of) that home run while still maintaining that the fact that such a home run was hit is no evidence at all that A-Rod was at bat. This is Critical Reasoning 101, really.

Wait. What? If the home run is being hit by A-Rod (X is happening because of Y), then it logically follows that A-Rod's home run implies A-Rod (X, therefore Y). Now, the homerun might have other causes, right? Wind blowing out, a hanging curveball, the game being largely over in the late innings (when he tends to hit them), etc. But A-Rod's homer-run does imply A-Rod.But perhaps this isn't where you are going.Perhaps you are no longer arguing, as you had stated originally, that "the ice mass is increasing because of the warming." Just as any old home-run could have any number of causes, this ice could have any number of causes. Heck, it might not be connected to warming at all. But then obviously I would withdraw my criticism if you are changing your original claim.

But A-Rods homer-run does imply A-Rod.

Right, but a home run doesn't, and if you can't see how that shade of difference is relevant (note that I said "the ice mass", not "the ice mass whose increase is caused by global warming") then I don't know how I'm going to explain it to you. Just recognize, please, that by your lights, anyone who says something of the form "It may seem unlikely, but X led to Y" can apparently be accused of using the presence of Y as evidence for that of X. Thankfully, that's not how causal reasoning works.

John, are you expecting me to believe that when you said "the ice mass is increasing because of the warming" you didn't mean the "the ice whose increase is caused by global warming." If you didn't mean that, your first claim becomes unintelligible. I think I've figured out what you actually disagree with. You're pressing the point here that you DON'T NEED the increase in antarctic ice to be evidence of warming. Well maybe, maybe not...but that's not what we're arguing about. I'm saying that it FOLLOWS LOGICALLY from your point of view that even increased ice counts as evidence for global warming. You may not need it. You might not want to use it. But the fact is that when you claim "the ice mass is increasing because of the warming" you give your opponent an opening to press this point. And, in point of fact, many have. And they are winning the argument.My plea, which I don't want to get lost in the minutiae here, is that we stop trying to say things like "the ice mass is increasing because of the warming" and take our opponents on on their own terms. This will get the middle back on our side.

If you didnt mean that, your first claim becomes unintelligible.

No, it only becomes non-tautological. If I'd said "The increase of the ice mass whose increase is caused by global warming is caused by global warming", I wouldn't have been saying anything substantive at all.

Im saying that it FOLLOWS LOGICALLY from your point of view that even increased ice counts as evidence for global warming.

And I'm saying that it doesn't, and that you've got the logic of ordinary causal statements blatantly wrong.

John, what does it mean to say that "the ice mass is increasing because of the warming" if the ice you're referring to isn't increasing because of the warming? My lack of critical thinking skills are bubbling up once more, I'll wager.

Yes, they are; your question is a bit like asking how Lois Lane could believe that Superman was not Clark Kent given that "Superman" and "Clark Kent" refer to the same person. The claim that the glass broke because a rock struck it does not, for the thousandth time, mean that the brokenness of the glass can be used as evidence that it was hit by a rock as opposed to, say, a ball: it's only because we have independent reason to believe that a rock was involved (or: that the temperatures in the Antarctic are in fact increasing, etc.) that we are in a position to make this causal claim, and so it can't be used to reason backwards in the way you suggest.

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