I read some articles a few weeks ago about a study which found wind farms causing localized ground surface warming in certain regions because they mix the higher, warmer air with the cooler air closer to the ground at night. The headlines were predictably misleading at first, saying things like “Wind farms causing climate to warm.” In a few days, things settled down and the people who understood the study responded with explanations… no, they’re not causing global warming. It’s localized warming. It’s at night. Here’s what happens. etc… etc…
So most headlines were more accurate from that point. Not all. There were still plenty of misleading ones, just not as prominent or numerous. What I found funny, however, was the collection of headlines in my Google News feed on the subject (ordered and formatted here as it showed up in my feed). Note the headline message… and the news source. One of these things is (predictably) not like the others. Ha!
Don’t believe the headlines. Wind farms do not cause ‘global’ warming.
Christian Science Monitor – 20 hours ago
A recent study published in Nature Climate Change suggests that large wind farms could be pulling down hot air at night, raising the average temperature of the local region.
No, wind farms are not causing global warming
Washington Post (blog)
Myth-busting claims that wind farms cause global warming
In Depth:Wind farms are causing global warming, researchers say
If we offer too much silent assent about mysticism and superstition – even when it seems to be doing a little good – we abet a general climate in which skepticism is considered impolite, science tiresome, and rigorous thinking somehow stuffy and inappropriate. Figuring out a prudent balance takes wisdom.
- Carl Sagan
Paul Krugman had an editorial today in the New York Times about the decidedly anti-science bent of the Republican party… or at least of the current crop of candidates. John Huntsman seems to be the only candidate grounded in actual scientific reality at the moment. Romney was, too, but now he’s hedging.
When it comes to science, Republicans seem to have no problem with things like atomic theory, gravitational theory, germ theory, physics, chemistry, etc. The problem is just when it comes to science that reaches conclusions that don’t mesh well with their ideology (or the ideology of their base). The obvious mentions are evolution and climate change, both of which are supported by an astounding amount of evidence, yet both of which cause Republicans some discomfort; one on political note and one on a theological note. But rather than acting responsibly and dealing with the reality the science represents, they attack the science or the scientists or the data or (more often) the make-believe stories conjured up as easily-attackable straw men.
Sadly, Huntsman is way behind in the polls, so that leaves either the outright anti-science group or Romney, who has, in a politically stereotypical move, hedged his bets on science in an attempt to placate the Republican base. That leaves the party with pretty lame options. As Krugman says in his editorial…
So it’s now highly likely that the presidential candidate of one of our two major political parties will either be a man who believes what he wants to believe, even in the teeth of scientific evidence, or a man who pretends to believe whatever he thinks the party’s base wants him to believe.
Phil Plait, on his Bad Astronomy blog, follows up on Krugman’s piece with a few more details on some of the candidates, and with this thought…
[Huntsman] recently said he thinks both evolution and global warming are real. This makes me sad, and scared. Why? Because this statement is considered bold.
How can it be bold to accept reality, to not deny the overwhelming evidence, and to agree with the vast, vast majority of scientists studying the very topics of discussion?
Huntsman wants his party not to be "the antiscience party". But that shouldn’t be bold. That should be common sense.
It should be common sense. Sadly, for most of the Republican presidential candidates, it seems to be neither common nor sensible.
I’m not a fan of Dawkins’s writing, as he tends to ramble and go off on tangents that are related to his main point, but sometimes only marginally… and they go on far too long.
There was plenty of good information about evolution in the book, but it was tough to stay with it because of the asides and meanderings. There are much better books on the topic (even his own The Greatest Show on Earth is better, though it suffers from the same problems). In the end, the point that evolution is not a product of random chance is sufficiently made and explained, which is, after all, the intent of the book, so it is successful on that note.
A bit of sarcasm from Phil Plait.
… [B]eware those who deride predictive science in its entirety, for they are also making a prediction: that we have nothing to worry about. And above all, do not shoot the messenger, for this is the coward’s way out of openly and honestly confronting the problem.
- Dr. Kerry A. Emanuel during the Congressional hearing for U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science Space and Technology
Interestingly, those who “deride predictive science in its entirety” are frequently the same folks who deride science in general when it reaches conclusions that don’t support their pre-existing political or religious ideology.
That’s all too common.