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I've got to tell you.(21 posts)

I've got to tell you.lotterypick
Nov 26, 2003 1:20 PM
If you are concerned about the environment or hear statements about the doom or this or that, you need to read the Skeptical Environmentalist.

It is a great read on how the data is often just made up, if it even exists to support the claims of these groups that state that doomsday is coming, everything is worse, etc.

This guy explains and gives UN, etc. data showing that it's often wholly untrue, a flat out lie or at best an ideal picture versus the picture of what is happening at the human level.

FOr example, he talks about statements like 3 million xyz people are starving and it's getting worse.

Then he shows you the data that it may be true (about the 3 million number), but 10 years ago 10 million of them were starving. Of course, 3 million is still a lot, but it's getting better at a good rate.

Then he talks about priorities of nations and how hard data should be used to prioritize the biggest concerns. Malnurition may not be an issue, when everyone's dying of AID, etc.

CHeck it out. It's an eye opener and will only help me understand issues and statements that go flying around my neck of the woods often (california).
So, same data different interpretation?czardonic
Nov 26, 2003 1:36 PM
I didn't occur to me that there was anyone out there who believed that "these groups" were dissemintating anything other than their interpretation of the available data and/or their opinion about what problems human-kind may be causing or should prioritize as dictated by their personal values.

I'd always figured that some people believe took and "ounce of prevention" view of things, and others took a "make hay" view.
I think is more of a glass half full vs half empty view :O) nmLive Steam
Nov 26, 2003 1:40 PM
Nov 26, 2003 1:52 PM
I take your point, pessimism vs. optimism, its all in how you see it.

But whatever your view, you can not deny that humans are making drastic changes, and that drastic changes tend to have consequences.
I think we give ourselves more credit than we deserveLive Steam
Nov 26, 2003 2:20 PM
We like to believe that we are the all powerful and the end all be all. I am not sure how much power we have to effect the Earth and "Mother Nature". Yes we can certainly blow it up and spread radiation contamination, but that is at the drastic end of the scale.

The point I'm trying to make is that Mother Nature is very powerful. Much more so than we. She has the power to do more damage to the Earth than we certainly do. I think we believe that we must be effecting something because "we exist", therefore we must be doing something negative. It's the naturalists viewpoint that unless something is left undisturbed and untouched my man, it must have been damaged in some way, just by our interface with it. Kind of like touching a birds nest. They won't return to it once someone does. That is only partially true, because they won't re-use the nest the following year anyway.

I have always wondered what the fascination with the Alaskan perma-frost is. If you disturb a layer of dirt it will never be the same. So? What would that effect? In many ways we prevent Mother Nature from polluting herself more than she would otherwise. Extinguishing forrest fires is one way in which we do just that.

The Earth has gone through many catastrophic changes and many other changes, though catastrophic in their results, took millenniums to occur. Have we impacted the Earth? It would be silly to deny it. How much have we impacted it? I believe only in a superficial way - like a scratch on an elephant. Not that much.
Far be it from me.czardonic
Nov 26, 2003 2:29 PM
What makes you think that destroying the Earth once and for all (or at lesat a few millenia) represents some kind of quantum leap in mankind's destructive power? Humans understand neither nature nor their own potential. All we can do is push our luck until it runs out.

I don't think the mere fact of human existence makes them a threat to the natural order of things. We live by the same rules as all other orgamisms, and will die by them too. The only thing that makes us different is the ability to see fate coming and at least try to duck.
The data he stateslotterypick
Nov 26, 2003 2:44 PM
supports your thoughts.

Things have overall gotten much better and yet human existence is improving also. Better world and better life together.
Nov 26, 2003 2:41 PM
It's more like, they don't have data at all or very narrow data.

Mostly, the bottomline is that they jsut repeat things often to keep people on the edge.

The head of Greenpeace is quoted as saying (in paraphrase) We need to keep it gloom and doom or people will become lackluster on their issues.

That coupled with sayings and blanket statements repeated over and over (without supporting data or very narrow data) keep the appearance that it's true.

There are a lot of good points the whole way so far. I'm going to keep reading as it really is amazing, since I've heard those statements over and over. It's eye opening.
Prudence ain't so bad.czardonic
Nov 26, 2003 2:57 PM
I am sure that the environmental movement can no more prove that we are destroying the earth than the doiminion theologists can prove that we have nothing to worry about because God put us here to use the earth and will see us through (not to draw an absolute dichotomy between the two).

But so what? For better or worse, mankind's impact on Earth is significant. It doesn't seem nutty to me to try and reign in that impact and consider the consequences before it is too late. We are dealing with a complex system that we do not fully understand. I would rather act on what we know rather than what we hope (or what can't be falsified).

If it takes trumpeting the worst-case scenario to get people to pay attention to the issue, then that is what it takes.
the problem, chicken littleDougSloan
Nov 26, 2003 3:12 PM
Sorry about the name calling; it's meant to be generalized, not personal. The problem with always spouting worst case scenario is that you lose credibility, and then people don't listen at all. That's been a consistent problem of the environmentalists.

Again, so?czardonic
Nov 26, 2003 3:25 PM
Spouting the worse case scenario has acheived a great deal in the last quarter century. Are you suggesting that downplaying potentially drastic environmental issues would get more people to think about them? I fail to see the consistent problem you infer is dogging the environmental movement.

Some people are simply not amenable to appeals to restraint. It would be a waste of time for environmentalists to pursue "credibility" with them.
false cause and effect, tooDougSloan
Nov 26, 2003 3:08 PM
Often, information is cited that may contain an *association*, yet there is no cause and effect. This can frequently be misleading. Let's take some examples:

1. Children with larger feet read better. This is certainly true for the most part. However, do large feet *cause* better reading? No! Older children have larger feet than younger children, and older children have more highly developed reading skills.

2. People with wrinkled ear lobes have more heart disease. Yup. It's true. Again, to wrinkled ear lobes cause heart disease? Is there a genetic link between the two traits? No! Older people have more wrinkles, and older people have more heart disease.

See a pattern? You could come with many examples, but some are not so clear. Some are not even clear to scientists who are experts in their fields. Often opinions about a particular relationship changes among scientists over time.

Now, does this mean we halt all progress and terminate any changes in our environment until we are certain of the result of our actions? Doesn't sound reasonable to me.

What does sound reasonable to you.czardonic
Nov 26, 2003 3:16 PM
We continue to do whatever we want until it is proven beyond a "reasonable" doubt that we have gone to far? You'd have to believe that we can always just put the genie back in the bottle.
There you go flying to far sidelotterypick
Nov 26, 2003 3:23 PM
Can't you believe that there are advocates for both sides and that the end result will be somewhere in the middle.

And perhaps that middle will be a fine place, where the environment is looked after and people have a good quality of life.

Right now, indicators show that human life all around the world is getting better. Not ideal but better. All the while the environment is doing better too. What's wrong with that.
What is wrong is that. . .czardonic
Nov 26, 2003 3:27 PM
. . .the bottom line is that nobody knows for sure, and I am in the "ounce of prevention" camp.
Nov 26, 2003 3:20 PM
You always have great input even when it's not to my benefit.

Glad to be on the good side this time.

I'm going to keep reading because I want to have good questions and thoughts on this important and often bought up discussion.

THanks again for the funny stuff. I was thinking, do big feet make better reading? ha ha ha.
LOL indeed. Speaking of fallacies. . .czardonic
Nov 26, 2003 4:00 PM
. . .if one can draw a correlation between large feet and reading, that phenomena alone is enough to warrant further attention. Of course, no scientist would make the mistake of forgetting to account for age when defining "children", especially when dealing with issues closely related to development. I wonder if either of you can come up with a useful example of this "pattern", or if you assume that the "bad side" is as reliant on strawmen as yourselves.
Earlobe crease--valuable diagnostic correlation to heart diseaseContinental
Nov 27, 2003 7:02 AM
Doug--The wrinkled earlobe correlation has more value than you think. My family has history of heart disease so I keep up on this stuff. See Medline stufy summary below.

Relation between diagonal ear lobe crease and ischemic chronic heart disease and the factors of coronary risk.

Gutiu I, el Rifai C, Mallozi M.

The presence of a diagonal ear lobe crease (DELC) was studied in 350 non-selected patients admitted to the Clinic. The overall incidence of DELC was 45%, with a significant increase after the age of 50 years (24.8% before and 59.5% after fifty, p less than 0.001). The relationship between DELC and ischemic chronic heart disease (65% as against 23% in the patients without DELC, p less than 0.001) and with some coronary risk factors: arterial hypertension (40% in patients with DELC, 29% in those without, p less than 0.01), smoking (43%) as against 35% in those without DELC. The relationship with diabetes mellitus and obesity was not significant. A higher incidence of DELC was observed in males (66%) than in females (34%) (p less than 0.02). The lipid profile of patients with DELC presents significant cholesterolemia changes (251 +/- 71 mg as against 232 +/- 70 mg in those without DELC) and a less marked increase in lipemia and beta-lipoproteins. All risk factors presented a net increase in the subjects with bilateral DELC. It is concluded that DELC can be used for selecting asymptomatic subjects in the screening of a possible coronary heart disease.

PMID: 3726421 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Risk benefit evaluationContinental
Nov 27, 2003 7:15 AM
In many cases the risks we take with the environment are way out of proportion with the benefits we gain. The potential risk incurred by high CO2 accumulation is catastrophic climate change. The benefit of driving inefficient vehicles is nil. People are generally too stupid, uneducated and complacent to make reasonable evaluations of risks and benefits, so they must be presented with hyped-up worse case scenarios, whether it be in regards to environmetal issues or national security policy.
Oh, those pesky liberal media....Silverback
Nov 28, 2003 8:56 AM
I've read the Skeptical Environmentalist for years, along with half a dozen other journals in the same field. There are distortions and exaggerations on both sides, and the only thing any of them prove is that we believe what we want to believe. People will read a story in something they don't like or don't agree with and claim it's biased, then read a story in--in this case--the Skeptical Environmentalist and, without questioning it or examining its provenance, accept it because it says what they want to hear.
The Environmentalist, like the Sierra Club Magazine, the Guardian, the Wall Street Journal and every other publication, represents a point of view, nothing more.
PEER REVIEWED papersTri_Rich
Dec 1, 2003 6:16 AM
Too many people without an real grasp of the issues involved are writing and shaping policy about environmental issues.

There is no longer any debate in the scientific community about whether humans are creating unprecedented changes in the climate system.