Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Maybe the answer was no, after all

Martin Cothran did me the favor of correcting my usage of English as a part of his response to an earlier post. I somehow mixed 'disparagements' and 'aspersions' into the accidental portmanteau 'dispersion', even though there is a homonym with no relation at all to the meaning of 'aspersion' or 'disparagement'. Frankly, it would not surprise me at all if Cothran can "speak it [English] more competently than I". Certainly, one of his duties for the Kentucky version of Focus on the Family is to make speeches, and I have no such experience. Although, since I don't believe he has ever heard me speak, he probably meant write, and I would not be surprised if he did that better, as well. Since my original comment was quoted as "It turns out his English is not nearly sufficient to warrant [Cothran's] casting of dispersion on other posters, or maybe it's his grade-school-level-science that is lacking", I have no problem accepting it's a matter of grade-school-level-science.

So, that's probably a couple of tally marks on his side of the ledger. Of course, based on his post, on my side of the ledger there would be the ability to apply logic to a daily situation, the ability to separate experts from non-experts, an ability to better read English, and a grasp of the differences between short-term and long-term phenomena. I'll address those points below the fold. Of course, I probably shouldn't be keeping score, that's just the gamer in me coming out.

The first point, Cothran's apparent inability to apply logic to a daily situation, is pointed out by Cothran's continued confusion of temperature with precipitation (not to mention apparently missing the implication of the "or" in the quote above). While Cothran is busy blogging about snow levels, 2009 was the second warmest year in the modern era. That means that every year of 2000-2009 is in the top twelve years, IIRC. It seems a simple concept: you measure warmth by looking at temperatures. Even in grade school we learned the difference between a rain gauge and a thermometer. Of course, Cothran teaches as a Christian school, so science is probably low in their curriculum priorities. At any rate, given his continuing difficulties distinguishing between precipitation and temperature, maybe he would refuse to wear a coat in a freezer.

For the second point, who does Cothran point to as authorities making predictions concerning global warming? Politicians. When I want advice on how a law is made/executed/adjudicated, I'll go to a politician. When I want direction on a scientific prediction, I'll go to scientists. I'm just crazy that way.

Of course, some people are probably thinking to themselves that Cothran did also link to an IPCC report. This is indeed a good authority, and if Cothran was not lacking in his basic ability to read English, he might have even interpreted this authority correctly. However, contrary to the assertion "But it's the IPCC saying that Global Warming is inconsistent with increased snowfall", there is not one part of that article which predicts decreased overall snowfall. In fact, the article specifically predicts increased precipitation, and lists snow as one type of precipitation that will increase. For example,
Because precipitation comes mainly from weather systems that feed on the water vapour stored in the atmosphere, this has generally increased precipitation intensity and the risk of heavy rain and snow events.
The only place where reduced snow is mentioned is
As temperatures rise, the likelihood of precipitation falling as rain rather than snow increases, especially in autumn and spring at the beginning and end of the snow season, and in areas where temperatures are near freezing. Such changes are observed in many places, especially over land in middle and high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, leading to increased rains but reduced snowpacks, and consequently diminished water resources in summer, when they are most needed. Nevertheless, the often spotty and intermittent nature of precipitation means observed patterns of change are complex.
So, the prediction is for more precipitation overall, including heavy snow, but in the spring and autumn and in a couple of geographic locations some of the snow will be replaced by rain. This was a very readable and accessible document that Cothran completely inverted the meaning of.

Finally, we get to the difference between long-term and short-term phenomena. One extra-hot year one continent is not proof of global warming. So far, the overall temperature increase since the 1960s is less than two degree Celsius, well with typical temperature variation on a single continent from year to year. By the same token, even if 2010 was a cold winter, one cold year on one continent is not proof against global warming. However, we don't even have a cold month here: February 2010 was one of the hottest Februarys ever (again, the difference between temperature and precipitation). So, here is my response to the challenge
Now maybe One Brow could explain how more snow at lower latitudes is consistent with Global Warming.
It's really quite simple: we had more snowfall at lower latitudes and one of the warmest Februarys ever. That occurred at the same time, therefore they are consistent. QED

Maybe, when he has time, Cothran will use his superior English writing skills to tell me how it can be disadvantageous to have a scientific theory? I am much more interested in that question than in climate, frankly.


J said...

The snooty right-winger like Cothran often thinks he's won an argument or proven something by pointing out some trivial grammatical glitch or objecting to a writer's "tone".

Indeed, the yacht-club conservative (or wannabe-yacht clubber, like Edvard Feser) doesn't even bother responding to content, re( he generally doesn't know squat about the physics or chemistry or modelling issues anyway); instead he simply assumes that since his critic X doesn't sound like WF Buckley or Frazier, X can't be correct, regardless of his scientific expertise. There's some fallacy for that (a type of ad hom, actually).

aintnuthin said...

My onliest question is this here: When we gunna git on with a full-blowwed Muslin dispersion, I ax ya?

One Brow said...

If you follow his blog, they appear from time to time.