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Old 04-17-2008, 07:32 AM   #1 (permalink)
Pissing in the cornflakes
 
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Obvious but disturbing none the less....

Now most long time TFPers know I'm a global warming skeptic and as some know I actually hold a degree in Ecology, so I'm not just some internet guy who likes to talk about things he has no training on but has strong opinions.

This is not really a post about that, but its why it caught my attention when I saw this story on another web site.

http://www.nationalpost.com/todays_p...?id=440268&p=1

Quote:
Wikipedia's zealots

The thought police at the supposedly independent site are fervently enforcing the climate orthodoxy

As I'm writing this column for the Financial Post, I am simultaneously editing a page on Wikipedia. I am confident that just about everything I write for my column will be available for you to read. I am equally confident that you will be able to read just about nothing that I write for the page on Wikipedia.

The Wikipedia page is entitled Naomi Oreskes, after a professor of history and science studies at the University of California San Diego, but the page offers only sketchy details about Oreskes. The page is mostly devoted to a notorious 2004 paper that she wrote, and that Science journal published, called "Beyond the Ivory Tower: The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change." This paper analyzed articles in peer-reviewed journals to see if any disagreed with the alarming positions on global warming taken by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. "Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position," Oreskes concluded.

Oreskes's paper -- which claimed to comprehensively examine all articles in a scientific database with the keywords "climate change" -- is nonsense. As FP readers know, for the last 18 months I have been profiling scientists who disagree with the UN panel's position. My Deniers series, which now runs to some 40 columns, describes many of the world's most prominent scientists. They include authors or reviewers for the UN panel (before they quit in disgust). They even include the scientist known as the father of scientific climatology, who is recognized as being the most cited climatologist in the world. Yet somehow Oreskes missed every last one of these exceptions to the presumed consensus, and somehow so did the peer reviewers that Science chose to evaluate Oreskes's work.

When Oreskes's paper came out, it was immediately challenged by science writers and scientists alike, one of them being Benny Peiser, a prominent U.K. scientist and publisher of CCNet, an electronic newsletter to which I and thousands of others subscribe. CCNet daily circulates articles disputing the conventional wisdom on climate change. No publication better informs readers about climate-change controversies, and no person is better placed to judge informed dissent on climate change than Benny Peiser.

For this reason, when visiting Oreskes's page on Wikipedia several weeks ago, I was surprised to read not only that Oreskes had been vindicated but that Peiser had been discredited. More than that, the page portrayed Peiser himself as having grudgingly conceded Oreskes's correctness.

Upon checking with Peiser, I found he had done no such thing. The Wikipedia page had misunderstood or distorted his comments. I then exercised the right to edit Wikipedia that we all have, corrected the Wikipedia entry, and advised Peiser that I had done so.

Peiser wrote back saying he couldn't see my corrections on the Wikipedia page. Had I neglected to save them

after editing them, I wondered. I made the changes again, and this time confirmed that the changes had been saved. But then, in a twinkle, they were gone again! I made other changes. And others. They all disappeared shortly after they were made.

Nonplused, I investigated. Wikipedia logs all changes. I found mine. And then I found Tabletop's. Someone called Tabletop was undoing my edits, and, following what I suppose is Wikietiquette, also explained why. "Note that Peiser has retracted this critique and admits that he was wrong!" Tabletop said.

I undid Tabletop's undoing of my edits, thinking I had an unassailable response: "Tabletop's changes claim to represent Peiser's views. I have checked with Peiser and he disputes Tabletop's version."

Tabletop undid my undid, claiming I could not speak for Peiser.

Why can Tabletop speak for Peiser but not I, who have his permission?, I thought. I redid Tabletop's undid and protested: "Tabletop is distorting Peiser. She does not speak for him. Peiser has approved my description of events concerning him."

Tabletop parried: "We have a reliable source to this. What Peiser has said to *you* is irrelevant."

Tabletop, it turns out, has another name: Kim Dabelstein Petersen. She (or he?) is an editor at Wikipedia. What does she edit? Reams and reams of global warming pages. I started checking them. In every instance I checked, she defended those warning of catastrophe and deprecated those who believe the science is not settled. I investigated further. Others had tried to correct her interpretations and had the same experience as I -- no sooner did they make their corrections than she pounced, preventing Wikipedia readers from reading anyone's views but her own. When they protested plaintively, she wore them down and snuffed them out.

By patrolling Wikipedia pages and ensuring that her spin reigns supreme over all climate change pages, she has made of Wikipedia a propaganda vehicle for global warming alarmists. But unlike government propaganda, its source is not self-evident. We don't suspend belief when we read Wikipedia, as we do when we read literature from an organization with an agenda, because Wikipedia benefits from the Internet's cachet of making information free and democratic. This Big Brother enforces its views with a mouse.

While I've been writing this column, the Naomi Oreskes page has changed 10 times. Since I first tried to correct the distortions on the page, it has changed 28 times. If you have read a climate change article on Wikipedia -- or on any controversial subject that may have its own Kim Dabelstein Petersen -- beware. Wikipedia is in the hands of the zealots.
My emotions on this are sort of mixed. Obviously any thing that is open to edits is open to this sort of thing, its something of an internet joke about trusting wikkipedia for any information. On the other hand, despite understanding that such behavior is possible I am still angered with this sort of thing going on. I have to admit I've used wikkipedia as a basic source before while posting on TFP. Mostly because its easy to use, easy to quote, normally 'seems' plausible, and I have a life beyond posting on the internet. I don't want to spend the hours its takes to find original source material for posts that will be most likely ignored anyways, and even if hotly debated, is still just something for my own personal entertainment. So I use it and it seems ok for most topics. I have to wonder if this is why not too long ago I had a very hard time finding anything on wikkipedia useful on solar cycles and the earths temperature.

But I think this article helps show where we are heading with the information age. Policy will be decided by those who can shape the information, put it as first hits on the search engines, and whos causes have people with nothing better to do than edit sites like wikkipedia, or post basically propaganda on various message boards under the guise of 'concerned citizen'. Something I have been accused of here myself which is amusing since we have a 'democrat operative' who only posts in political themed threads already on tfp.

In the end I have to wonder if the liberation of information which is what so many people feel the information age is about is really just a transformation from the prepackaged news of the past into a more insidious concealed propaganda for the hearts and minds of the voter at the level of source information.

I'd like to think the public was smart enough to figure it out, and obviously most TFPers are, but then I have people working for me which in their 20's do not know that Europe is not a single country (I asked them for the hell of it recently) who constantly 'research' stuff on the internet. Votes like those are as 'good' as yours and mine.

Its rather depressing.
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Last edited by Ustwo; 04-17-2008 at 07:44 AM..
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Old 04-17-2008, 07:59 AM   #2 (permalink)
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My trust in Wikipedia disappeared after Ryan 'Essjay' Jordan was outed by the New Yorker. This was a man who claimed to be a tenured professor with two Masters' degrees, but in reality was a college dropout.

Wikipedia relies on anonymous individuals and anonymous editors with unverified credentials. The fact that they have free reign to push any agenda as they please makes them completely unreliable, even as a starting point for research. Jimmy Wales disinterest in correcting this situation only means that they will continue to have no legitimacy in my book.
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Old 04-17-2008, 08:00 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I'm not sure how to reply to this. I agree and disagree.

On the issue as a whole, I sympathize. I too think it's distressing that there are people out there willing to spend a dramatic amount of time editing things to fit their world view, and it's especially concerning when it's things I'm interested on. My only consolation is knowing that it's just an effect of allowing psuedo-anonymous editing by anyone. I know that things will be slanted to the right and slanted to the left, and I can at least see who slanted it. Before the "information revolution" of the Internet, it was a lot harder to see the history of distortion by an individual - Wikipedia history allows this.

I'm also comforted by the fact that this man's address in the newspaper will probably generate a lot of interest about that article. It might even get locked or given the same "correction" attention from someone on your side of the fence. All "Kim Dabelstein Petersen" needs to match her is someone who will modify as often as she will. Soon, someone will "win."

On your final point, though, I have to disagree:

Quote:
In the end I have to wonder if the liberation of information which is what so many people feel the information age is about is really just a transformation from the prepackaged news of the past into a more insidious concealed propaganda for the hearts and minds of the voter at the level of source information.
While the example above is one example of "concealed propaganda," I really don't feel like it's an identifier of a systemic problem in the Internet. There is a LOT of information out there on the vast Internet that isn't available through the "prepackaged news of the past," and that amount will only continue to increase. At least now I can get all the different slants and arrive at my own conclusion, somewhere in the middle. Before, I was left guessing what the opinion of the wacky contingent on the other side was thinking.

Also, Forums like this one help me have faith that there really is a liberation of information on the Internet. While nothing we say might be entirely factual, entirely without bias or even very convincing, we can at least discuss current events beyond the 2 or 3 people gathered around a TV or newspaper. I can hear perspectives from Iceland, California, Africa, and even Yemen when I'm on TFP. Never before could someone do that, even on something so simple as day-to-day politics.
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Old 04-17-2008, 08:08 AM   #4 (permalink)
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It's kind of tragic, because I WANT a communally-edited document to be more reliable than a monolithic source of information. In theory it ought to be. But Wikipedia is very easily gamed by those with sufficient motivation.
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Old 04-17-2008, 08:20 AM   #5 (permalink)
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The new world, where if enough people say 2 + 2 = 5, then it is so. Whoever controls the information controls the "truth" and you just have to decide where you get your "truth" from.

Google is a lot like Wikipedia, except people trust it more. There are tons of people out there whose job is to manipulate web content so that it appeals to Google better. What this means is that Google does not serve the most reliable information, it only serves the information that matches its requirements of format and authority. If I were so inclined, I could write a false story, format it for a specific keyword, create trusted authority by linking to it, and watch as Google eats it up and serves it back to everyone searching for information on that keyword.

The point is to believe none of what you read and only half of what you see.

We're in a time where information is a big deal. We have to protect ourselves.
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Old 04-17-2008, 08:35 AM   #6 (permalink)
Pissing in the cornflakes
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ratbastid
It's kind of tragic, because I WANT a communally-edited document to be more reliable than a monolithic source of information. In theory it ought to be. But Wikipedia is very easily gamed by those with sufficient motivation.
I'd be less concerned if it was only limited to an open editing site like wikkipedia, but I will assume that many special interest groups/political agendas already have people out to spread the faith so to speak in less obvious places.
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Old 04-17-2008, 08:45 AM   #7 (permalink)
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i just read through the entire saga, including all the comments on the fj site and the relevant media watch australia pages (andrew bolt is well known as being far right and media watch as part of the abc has been constantly criticized for being far left and both are constantly at each other´s throat) and my only thought on the matter is it´s another case of ´who´ll police the police?´
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Old 04-17-2008, 10:55 AM   #8 (permalink)
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The only difference between now and then is that there is more information available. There will always be people who speak loudly and inaccurately and there will always be people who believe them. The more things change the more they stay the same.
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Old 04-17-2008, 02:18 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ustwo
Now most long time TFPers know I'm a global warming skeptic and as some know I actually hold a degree in Ecology, so I'm not just some internet guy who likes to talk about things he has no training on...
You're a dentist with a degree in ecology? That seems like an odd combination.

I, on the other hand, am a guy who just likes to talk about stuff he has no training in. Training is over-rated.
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Old 04-17-2008, 02:34 PM   #10 (permalink)
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You'd think a degree in physics or chemistry would be of more use than a degree in ecology as far as global warming is concerned.
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Old 04-17-2008, 03:15 PM   #11 (permalink)
Pissing in the cornflakes
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martian
You're a dentist with a degree in ecology? That seems like an odd combination.

I, on the other hand, am a guy who just likes to talk about stuff he has no training in. Training is over-rated.
I was even at Earth Day 1992

I was only there for the speeches because two hippie chicks we met that night before came and woke a buddy and myself up to go.

The ugly one wanted me and I had to listen to Jesse Jackson speak

So imagine being hung over, tired, eating dry fruit loops out of a empty beer stein listening to Jesse Jackson speak on subject matter he has no idea about while an unattractive hippie chick hits on you. By this point I already tried to point out to a male earth day hippie that no, nuclear power does NOT cause CO2 build up in the atmosphere (yes they even had a booth to claim that nuclear power caused global warming) That was my day. It was so surreal it was worth it as a memory

Ah college.

I went on to do some post graduate work, but finally decided they were all nuts and went on to dental school instead. Since I had to have all the basic biology requirements for my ecology degree and even worked in a genetics lab for a couple of years its not a stretch to get into dental school from there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by filtherton
You'd think a degree in physics or chemistry would be of more use than a degree in ecology as far as global warming is concerned.
Actually I think Geology would have a better grasp than either of them if you had to pick a 'best to analyze' as a solo degree, but its too big a question for just one discipline to look at all potentials, but thanks for your concern
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Old 04-17-2008, 03:29 PM   #12 (permalink)
Nothing
 
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No matter what the source, doubt it. Do not take any source as the One And Only.

Wikipedia, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Nature, The Lancet, etc, etc, etc... There is no reality from one source. Reality comes from many sources and the 'qualifications' a person may hold really entitle them only to members of a certain school of group-think (generally).

Wikipedia is convenient for many things, but it's pretty easy to spot its flaws and strengths with some other searches - either through google, directory sites (looking for opposing views) or.... or... or... yeah.

Anyway.

Wikipedia is, for the vast majority of its content IMO, very much on the money.

Nothing and no-one is without flaw.

Doubt everything.
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Old 04-17-2008, 03:38 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tisonlyi
Doubt everything.
Trust no one.
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Old 04-17-2008, 03:40 PM   #14 (permalink)
 
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what tisonlyi said.
i was going to post it earlier, but i got derailed by the "o this is only a gateway into this larger problem" thing in the op.
it's kinda funny--if you accept that wikipedia, like any other information source at all anywhere--can be problematic, you also tacitly accept the set-up.
whatever.
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Old 04-17-2008, 09:38 PM   #15 (permalink)
Nothing
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ASU2003
Trust no one.
X.

Trust everyone, until they prove themselves completely untrustworthy.

HIPPYISM!

Also, one very good thing about wikipedia, if you in any way think the article is misleading, is the "discussion" tab - which will usually inform you of any and all dissenting opinions on the subject.

Unless it's a completely obscure piece of arcane trivia...
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Old 04-18-2008, 08:06 AM   #16 (permalink)
Pissing in the cornflakes
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tisonlyi
X.

Trust everyone, until they prove themselves completely untrustworthy.

HIPPYISM!
Unstable losing strategy, and I'm talking mathematically. Over all the best is trust everyone until they are proven untrustworthy once.

Quote:
Also, one very good thing about wikipedia, if you in any way think the article is misleading, is the "discussion" tab - which will usually inform you of any and all dissenting opinions on the subject.

Unless it's a completely obscure piece of arcane trivia...
As an informed person, this is fine, but the undereducated masses are what concern me. Even people with a 'good' education on paper are often lacking outside of their particular field and fall prey to what sounds good and they are told is correct. If one does not understand the controversy they wouldn't look for it.

Edit: Hehe looking at the page, apparently the higher ups are not happy this made the national press. On the other hand if I knew nothing of the controversy I wouldn't be sure what all the hubbub was about reading that page.
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Last edited by Ustwo; 04-18-2008 at 08:16 AM..
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Old 04-18-2008, 12:57 PM   #17 (permalink)
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A bit of a threadjack, but while we're on the subject ...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/mai.../eatree117.xml

Quote:
World's oldest tree discovered in Sweden
By Roger Highfield, Science Editor
Last Updated: 2:01pm BST 17/04/2008


The world's oldest tree has been found in Sweden, a tenacious spruce that first took root just after the end of the last ice age, more than 9,500 years ago.

The tree has rewritten the history of the climate in the region, revealing that it was much warmer at that time and the ice had disappeared earlier than thought. Previously, pine trees in North America were thought to be the oldest, at around 5,000 years old.

But Swedish scientists report that in the mountains, from Lapland in the north to Dalarna in central Sweden, there are much more ancient spruce trees (Picea abies). Prof Leif Kullman at Umeå University and colleagues found a cluster of around 20 spruces that are over 8,000 years old.

The oldest tree, in Fulu Mountain, Dalarna (“the dales”), was dated by carbon dating at a laboratory in Miami, Florida to 9,550 years old and underneath the crown in the soil there were another three generations of wood from the same clone, dating 375, 5,660 and 9,000 years old that have the same genetic makeup.

The clones take root each winter as snow pushes low lying branches of the mother tree down to ground level, explains Prof Kullman. “A new erect stem emerges, and it may lose contact with the mother tree over time.”

The trunks of the mother tree would survive only around 600 years but the trees are able to grow a new one, he adds.

The finding is surprising because the spruce tree has been regarded as a relative newcomer in the Swedish mountain region and is thought to have originated 600 miles away in the east.

"Our results migration in the complete opposite direction has be considered, because the spruce is one of the oldest known trees in the mountain range,” says Prof Kullman.

Ten millennia ago, a spruce would have been extremely rare and it is conceivable that the ancient humans who lived there imported the tree, he says.

“Man immigrated close to the receding ice front. We have also found fossil acorns in this area, and people may have taken them with them as they moved over the landscape.”

It had been thought that this region was still in the grip of the ice age but the tree shows it was much warmer, even than today, he says. “Spruces are the species that can best give us insight about climate change,” he says. The summers 9,500 years ago were warmer than today, though there has been a rapid recent rise as a result of climate change that means modern climate is rapidly catching up. [Must have been those SUVs that were all the rage 9500 years ago.]

The tree probably survived as a result of several factors: the generally cold and dry climate, few forest fires and relatively few humans.

Today, however, the nature conservancy authorities are considering putting a fence around the record breaking tree to protect it from trophy hunters.
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Old 04-18-2008, 03:23 PM   #18 (permalink)
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We can argue all day about why it is happening or if it is happening or what is causing it... But what I want to know is does anybody have a plan if things do go bad (regardless of who did it). What happens if 1 billion people need to move away from the coast (I wonder if the tundra in Canada and Russia thaws out, could it soak up a lot of the water...) What happens if there is a year when we have a really bad harvest? How long would it take to correct problems in the future if they happen?

If we have a plan and we are prepared for the worst, then we will be ok.
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Old 04-18-2008, 04:00 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ASU2003
We can argue all day about why it is happening or if it is happening or what is causing it... But what I want to know is does anybody have a plan if things do go bad (regardless of who did it). What happens if 1 billion people need to move away from the coast (I wonder if the tundra in Canada and Russia thaws out, could it soak up a lot of the water...) What happens if there is a year when we have a really bad harvest? How long would it take to correct problems in the future if they happen?

If we have a plan and we are prepared for the worst, then we will be ok.
Do we have a plan for the Supervolcano in Yellowstone erupting?
Do we have a plan for Las Palmas causing a massive tidal wave on the east coast?
Do we have a plan for an asteroid hit?

There comes a point where you stop planning and deal with it as it comes. If we KNEW that say an asteroid was going to hit the pacific ocean in 10 years we could plan and the expense would be worth it, but if there is only a chance that at SOME point in the next 20 million years there will be an asteroid strike, good luck trying to convince people to build that underground city with special solient green goodness.
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Old 04-24-2008, 03:18 PM   #20 (permalink)
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This does bother me.

Maybe they should limit the number of chances, per person, per day or week.

Because anybody who has the time or inclination to do huge numbers of edits is likely to be somewhat of a nut (in my view). At the very least, they're not participating in a profession - something I'd expect from an educated/informed source.

Sadly, I have to say that the wikipedia model has serious limitations.

Last edited by Nimetic; 04-24-2008 at 03:21 PM.. Reason: Very minor clarification.
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Old 05-03-2008, 11:21 PM   #21 (permalink)
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why? i don't think they should limit the quantity
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Old 05-05-2008, 09:33 AM   #22 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nimetic
Sadly, I have to say that the wikipedia model has serious limitations.
The only limitation is that for some reason many take it as truth.
Just like anything else you made read or trust in, you ave to understand the source.
It should, in theory, be more turthful or less biased then any other single source of information.

My point is that every source has issues.
What should be trusted? I don't know.
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Last edited by Sticky; 05-05-2008 at 09:40 AM..
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Old 05-05-2008, 11:29 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ustwo
...
Actually I think Geology would have a better grasp than either of them if you had to pick a 'best to analyze' as a solo degree, but its too big a question for just one discipline to look at all potentials, but thanks for your concern

I'm a gas man. That is I work in the natural gas distribution industry, nominally in IT, but directing strategic development for operations. My degree, though, is in Physical Geography, Area of concentration being Climatology.

I've been a long time sceptic of global warming as it relates to the current orthodoxy (or should I say scientific McCarthyism) simply because we were educated, trained, or indoctrinated to understand that global climactic systems are always changing. The cycles are sometimes measured in hundreds of years, or in aeons. The current debate rages around if the perceived climactic oscillations are the result of man's influence, or part of the natural order.

I suspect that there's a little of both involved and while there is nothing wrong with attempting make ecological concessions to further the green agenda, human SCM systems are much more variable than climactic systems and can have real impacts. Witness the sudden food shortage and the direct links to ethanol production.

Or is this another conspiracy? I would hope that debate can occur in any forum, even Wikipedia, but the witch hunt can be dispensed with. Do we not learn from past experiences???
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