Logical Fallacies and Conflations

My husband and I got in a huge fight this past weekend.  In fact, it was the biggest fight, lasting several days (and is still sputtering along right now, although most of the fire is out) that we have had since we nearly broke up.

What was this fight over?  Global warming.

It seems that several of the HAMS in his local group fancy themselves climatologists and are determined to make a myth of global warming and climate change.  In fact, when DH first brought up some contradictory information to them regarding the evidence, they shot him down and directed him to several blogs and websites devoted to debunking them.  He read them, was impressed by the ‘data’ and phoned me on my way home from work to insist I read this ‘new’ information.  It really blew him away.  When I refused and said I could pretty much guarantee the sites were funded, either directly or indirectly by big oil or other such groups he accused me of being closed minded…whence ensued the fight.

It took me literally 7 minutes of research on the internet to find the major funding groups for those sites (which I’m not naming by name because I refuse to drive ANY traffic to them) and lo and behold, there it was….ExxonMobile, Phillip Morris, RJ Reynolds, … you get the idea.  One of the sites was a blog by a supposed meterologist whose major contention is that people are fudging temperatures in order to create the global warming myth.  When I pointed out to DH that the graphs posted that supposedly contradict whatever evidence they are trying to debunk have no attributions for where the data was gathered, nor do they have any study information, and no baseline for understanding the graphs, he at first didn’t understand what I was saying.  I also stated quite explicitly that those in his group wouldn’t care that their data was cherry picked and flawed just the same as the data they were supposedly refuting, and that they have a vested interest in debunking it due to the psychology of previous investment.  No one wants to face the fact that they are personally responsible for the mess we’re in now, and no one wants to have less than they do now.

The next morning, on the morning net, he pointed out when the usual talk got started the fact that those sites were in fact funded by the above mentioned groups and was told he could not bring that up because it was bringing politics into it.  So he was effectively shot down for pointing out that there might be corruption of their data the same as the stuff they were trying to debunk — for instance, the major item of discussion recently is the fact that supposedly the data in Gore’s movie, specifically the tree ring data, was cherry picked from only one tree.  Now that might be so, but it doesn’t change the fact that other things pointed out in the movie, and the news from all over the world supports the idea that the climate is getting unstable as compared to previous millennia.

He did receive emails from the moderator of the group, and wrote back saying that if pointing out the funding sources was wrong, then they shouldn’t be using data from private websites or blogs, either, and stick only to govt published data.  In response, he received an email back with info that suggested (again) that weather monitoring sites were corrupted by being placed at airports, in cities, in trash burn barrels, etc.

What the hell?  I asked my husband.  So, the fact that Sky Harbor Airport is a giant heat island in Phoenix due to the massive amount of blacktop, IS hotter than the surrounding area, doesn’t count?  The fact that the heat ripples out in waves to the surrounding area and makes it hotter doesn’t matter?  The fact that Phoenix itself is a giant heat island that you can feel until you get a good 15 miles outside of the city (where there is a DISTINCT ambient temperature drop, quite abruptly) doesn’t matter?  Really?  And no one on this net thinks this doesn’t affect local weather patterns, just like forest fires do when they get to a certain size?  And that doesn’t in turn affect larger areas of weather? The fact that we haven’t had a 10 year flood in about 15 years doesn’t matter?  The fact that our own area used to get a lot more rain when Phoenix metro area was smaller doesn’t matter?  Really?  Because one of the weather stations is at the airport it’s spurious data?  Even though the effects are real and verifiable by anyone especially on a summer day?

I also keep pointing out that people in his group are conflating global warming with climate change.  They have some similarities, but they are NOT the same.  The terms are NOT interchangeable.   Yet every time they bring up climate change, the data they refer to is dedicated to debunking global warming.  Yes, parts of the world are getting hotter…and some are getting colder.  Most are getting extremes in both directions with little of the relative stability in weather patterns one could count on as in times past.  It doesn’t take a climatologist to read stories worldwide to see this pattern starting to emerge.  DH did also bring this up on the net and was told flatly it didn’t matter because they were only coincidences, not data.  Eh???  Yes, singly, they are coincidences…but together they add up to something more, as I pointed out.

I guess I pay closer attention because I view my garden as one of my major sources of food, not just a hobby.  It means more to me what the weather is, because it affects my crops.  It means more to me because I have to know what the weather is going to probably be like in days and weeks to come so I can plan my rotations and future crops.  If there is no stability in the weather (and there hasn’t been in a while) I can’t plan, my plants can’t grow well, and my harvest suffers as a result.

What it comes down to I guess is that for me, as I keep telling Mr. Tin foil, is that I only need to look out my window to see there’s a problem.  That’s all that matters to me.  I have no need, nor desire, to convince those that are determined not to be convinced (or those who say they’re still in doubt like Mr. TF) because my garden gives me all the proof I need.

In addition, my garden is going to be one of my primary food sources, if my fears regarding our economy come to pass.  Our agriculture is completely dependent on fossil fuels, easy credit, and government subsidies.  If our economy slides down any further, and I see no reason to believe it won’t, there are going to be supply interruptions, lack of credit for farmers, increased costs, and so on.  Climate change is only a part of the larger picture.

8 responses

  1. Those discussions, when there is some disagreement, are the most difficult between spouses and bless you for taking it on with your DH. We have those discussions too but I am so bad with numbers and remembering the right ones that I lose heart very fast, and have to walk away.
    Luckily DH is totally on board lifestyle-wise. He simplifies out of principle (not take more than what you need) while I do it out of that principle too but am spurred to more urgency by my need to prepare for a bleak future. If he weren’t also into what I want to do – flushing with rain water and keeping the temp down to 60F etc – I don’t know… It would be very difficult!

  2. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to have a discussion with fundamentalists their data is correct simply because it agrees with their own convienent ideas; anything else is produced by the right/left wing media. I concur with Katrien that you should be commended for taking up with your DH – tread carefully! A 3 day fight is no fun.

    While you can’t dodge this one – and I empathize with that– I have for better or worse stopped fighting many, if not all, these battles choosing to spend my energy on the Battle Ahead. I liken it to a river flowing around a boulder, I am choosing to flow around the stubborn obstacles and move towards my goal. Over time I may likely wear away at it, but at the end of the day the boulder is immaterial and only a distraction to my reaching the destination.

  3. Funny you should bring up the water analogy! I used to meditate on being like water — wearing down the barriers, running around them, just going on. Seems I need to spend some time visualizing that again.

    I have spent HOURS today researching scientific blogs and articles, websites, articles with hard data that specifically refutes many of the denier stuff. DH says he will read it, and keeps stressing that he is a seeker after the truth and doesn’t know what to believe. I saved it all, for him so we will see.

    Meantime, I’m moving on and preparing for Samhain and beginning my Yule gifts. I always have the goal of a completely hand made gift giving season but I usually don’t succeed. Maybe this year I’ll come closer.

  4. CO2 may be increasing slightly over the years (recently) but you should note that average global temperature is not. If global temps were driven by CO2, this could not be. Secondly, the fossil evidence is that atmospheric CO2 has in the past been at least 10 times what it is now, without significant warming. These people are not supported by ‘big oil’:


    There are lots and lots and lots of people who are not paid to not believe in anthropogenic global warming.

    • And as I pointed out, even belabored in my post, global warming is not what I’m worried about. Climate change IS.

      And as I also pointed out, your data is cherry picked. There’s no (or very little in comparison) C14 in the CO2 in the atmosphere they’ve been measuring to get the increased CO2 levels. That means it’s industrially caused, not anthropogenic. Apples and oranges do not compare well.

      • Oops, slip. Industrially caused, not naturally caused. Meaning anthropogenic. I got what you said, I just shouldn’t post when it’s long past my bedtime.

        BTW, an entire group of atolls near Papua New Guinea is permanently evacuating to islands with higher ground; last Christmas one of the tribesmen caught a fish with his spear in the middle of the village due to the ocean tides being so high that it washed out the village. And Samoa’s president is recommending to his people that they not rebuild their villages where they were washed away by the tsunami. He is encouraging them to rebuild on higher ground because he is convinced this will happen more often in the future. And the Maldives’ Cabinet held their most recent meeting underwater, in scuba gear, to bring publicity to the fact that they like many other small island nations are directly threatened by rising ocean levels.

        It’s not very good science to point at the last few years’ temperatures and say ‘oh, look, it’s not as warm as it was, so global warming is a myth’ because the temperature, historically always gets a little cooler right after a hot year. However, if it’s still hotter than in centuries past, it’s still hotter. Period. Remember the dust bowl? Human caused. Beyond a shadow of a doubt. So was the weather that went with it — desertification, windstorms, duststorms, hotter weather, increased desertification, windstorms, dust storms, increased desertification….
        Kinda like what’s happening in Ethiopia. Remember the famine? Well, it’s worse than ever, they’re in year ten I think of a drought now. Mainly human caused, with that nasty desertification.

        I could go on, but that’s from one day’s news cycle. Today is several days later, and there’s lots more. I haven’t even touched on the fact that the snow cover in the Himalayas is melting off 30% faster each year than is getting replaced by snow in the winters. It’s the supply for nearly all the river systems, which are the watershed for a great portion of the prime farmland of Asia. Or that one of India’s largest aquifers is also being depleted at about the same rate, for the same reason.

  5. Pingback: Vindication. | The Tin Foil Hat Society

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