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Shoddy journalism by Sagarika Ghose on Global Warming

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Last night on her Twitter account, Indian journalist Sagarika Ghose posted the following:

Is even the science of climate change dodgy? is there any evidence that CO2 is bad for us? who says the climate’s changing for the worse?

I am not sure where to begin parsing the statement, which displays either a stunning naivete or a sly dishonesty  calculated to get people charged up. Either way, it is quite appalling.

Actually, what is really appalling is the way she then goes about trying to prove her point.

Considering she works for CNN-IBN, which must to their disposal have at least one computer connected to this technology called the internet, where there exists these sites called Google and Bing that can be used to quickly search any topic. Not to mention that she must have at her disposal some sort of a research team, or the ability to get in touch with the relevant specialists for researching.

But what does she do when called for evidence of her statement? She retweets from some other guy offering up Bjorn Lomborg, the thoroughly discredited Danish academic as her source for anti-climate change (e.g see this, this or this).

If you are going to argue such a controversial issue, it pays not to be lazy – not to mention incredibly lame – enough as to cite Lomborg as your anti-climate change source! Heck, she could have even gone the Dubner-Levitt pathway given it has been on the news so much recently!  This is just stupendously shoddy journalism.

I have no problems with Ghose formulating a question for a proper debate – after all it is a supposedly free country with freedom of speech (though one of her contemporaries at least, has some sort of a problem with the definition of free speech, but we will let that go for now). However, it is inexcusable that she goes forth and makes statements that could be proven to be laughably false with the most perfunctory research.

Could it be that she is simply indulging in cheap sensationalism to improve ratings of her news channel? Quite possible given that she framed her question in the context of India’s role in reducing green house emissions, and whether

we [are] about to retard our industrial development because of america’s demands that we cut carbon emissions? (link)

Trying to whip up a bit of nationalist pride and sentiments against the US does no harm to ratings.  Statements such as, “Interesting point raised last night: our problem is poverty, not climate. lets first get rich, then we can go green.” are lame but sure to be a hit with the masses. Even then, it is  rather sad what she does to a complex discourse.

Consider that most die-hard skeptics now agree that climate change is real, and there is even a major consensus regarding the anthropogenic contribution to climate change. But how to solve the issue is however a highly charged debate involving as it does socio-economics and politics of a wide variety of country. For Ghose to reduce such complexity to levels stooped by the likes of Fox News and cronies is an incredible low.

(Thanks to Sakshi for many of the links)

update: Found this link with an incredible amount of resources to satisfy anyone’s climate change questions. I am not asking Ghose or anyone to absolutely agree with everything said here, but at least the person should argue on some intellectual basis.

——————————————–

1. On these lines, it is quite unfortunate that TV journalism in India has been reduced to screeching hosts and overexcited, juvenile on-site reporter.s Ghose is married to Rajdeep Sardesai, whose histrionics during the Mumbai bombings were rightly criticized. Much has also been said about the media’s culpability during the 26/11 siege of Mumbai.

2. On a lighter note, Ghose’s naive question “ is there any evidence that CO2 is bad for us?” reminds me of Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachman trying to argue that global warming is of no concern because carbon-dioxide is natural and causes no harm!!

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

October 21, 2009 at 12:02 pm

29 Responses

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  1. Thank you for taking her to task. I was really pissed last night with her tweets as any one with half a brain and internet would have been able to answer her lame-ass pondering. If you check her entire timeline you will end up wondering if her job is to reduce complex problems to one liner pithy solutions. Now a days, it seems like journalists offer sensationalized news and not insightful discourse.

    Sakshi

    October 21, 2009 at 12:18 pm

  2. I don’t know how any Indian with half a brain who’s stepped outside his or her air-conditioned office can ask the question “who says the climate’s changing for the worse?”. Let’s see, already subtropical climate now with increased temperatures, more severe droughts, drying up of Himalayan rivers, famine, more severe cyclones, and who knows what the heck else.

    gawker

    October 21, 2009 at 12:54 pm

  3. @Sakshi: You are welcome.

    Well, sensationalizing news is her job as a talking-head; but it is almost insulting how she expects we fall for it with Lomborg! I mean really….

    BongoP'o'ndit

    October 21, 2009 at 12:57 pm

  4. She copied it from freakonomics people. They have been trashed by Krugman and other bloggers.

    amar

    October 21, 2009 at 3:23 pm

  5. Is CO2 bad for us? Why not just put a plastic bag over your head and find out?

    Overlord

    October 21, 2009 at 3:37 pm

  6. @gawker: you said it.

    @amar: I wish I could credit her with the intelligence of following the Freakonomics guys, who at least acknowledge AGW and have an innovative (if error-ridden and ill-conceived) idea to solve it. She’s fallen into the no GW at all trap from eons ago.

    @Overlord: Lets gather some volunteers for the experiment.

    BongoP'o'ndit

    October 21, 2009 at 3:40 pm

  7. Bongo, it is the Fox News effect. Increased TRPs, sensationalism, higher profits all drive the news business these days. It is not abour reporting but instigating debate where consensus exists. I knew that MSNBC and CNN were influenced by the Fox business model but it didn’t take long for India’s news channel to catch on. Especially with successful experiments in terrorism pron

    Patrix

    October 21, 2009 at 3:45 pm

  8. Lets get rich first and then go green! Haha..not even a clown would state something so stupid!

    Jayadevan

    October 22, 2009 at 3:24 am

  9. I think its sheer stupidity to watch her show “Face the nation”. Just listen her questions and u can laugh over them. It seems she never uses her brain and just speaks whatever she wants.
    A crap news channel and its crappiest show face the nation. Warning: Never watch this show or u will switch the channel in 5 min or u will die of the enormity of host’s enormity.

    Amit

    October 22, 2009 at 6:28 am

  10. stupidity.

    Amit

    October 22, 2009 at 6:30 am

  11. I think its sheer stupidity to watch her show “Face the nation”. Just listen her questions and u can laugh over them. It seems she never uses her brain and just speaks whatever she wants.
    A crap news channel and its crappiest show face the nation. Warning: Never watch this show or u will switch the channel in 5 min or u will die of the enormity of host’s stupidity.

    Amit

    October 22, 2009 at 6:31 am

  12. […] October 22, 2009 · Leave a Comment Update: I am not the only complaining. See Shoddy journalism by Sagarika Ghose on Global Warming. […]

  13. […] October 22, 2009 · Leave a Comment Update: I am not the only complaining. See Shoddy journalism by Sagarika Ghose on Global Warming. […]

  14. mmm, so school science text books can find a new market among journalists of her type.
    I should ask her,why someone dies if he/she falls into an unused well. No,I leave her brains.
    -Nikhil

    Nikhil Narayanan

    October 23, 2009 at 6:41 am

  15. I have read Bjorn Lomborg, and I think you are misrepresenting him in the blog. Bjorn actually acknowledges the fact that climate change is real, and humans are a major cause of it. His main arguments are with regards to Cost-Benefit Analysis of fighting climatic change. He argues that money spent on tackling climate change would have been better used if it was spent on fighting diseases like Malaria/AIDS, or tackling the problem of malnutrition. He argues that the world would be a better place if we don’t get emotional about climate change, and focus on things that will improve the human standard of living, giving the best return on money spent. He does mention quite a few places where he thinks that scientists have misled people in blowing over climate change, and he may be wrong on them. But to concentrate on these issues (on which he himself admits he is not an expert) would be to miss the whole point he is trying to make.

    Ambuj Saxena

    October 23, 2009 at 10:04 am

  16. @Ambuj: I don’t mention or misinterpret Lomborg’s stance here at all. Ghose was invoking Lomborg in response to her question of whether climate change is real or not. I have pointed out sources where Lomborg’s stance has been discredited.

    How to tackle climate change and how much responsibility west has versus developing nations is a different debate, and I haven’t taken a side on that in this post. I was merely pointing out the laziness of Ghose in reducing a complicated topic into a soundbyte.

    BongoP'o'ndit

    October 23, 2009 at 10:25 am

  17. His main arguments are with regards to Cost-Benefit Analysis of fighting climatic change….. He argues that the world would be a better place if we don’t get emotional about climate change, and focus on things that will improve the human standard of living, giving the best return on money spent.

    This is one of the stupidest thing I have heard in defense of this shoddy book.

    Improve quality of life while the earth’s temperature is expected to rise by 1 -6 degrees (From the Climate Change For Policy Makers – a summary). Awesome. Lets not worry about the melting glaciers, rising sea levels, increased temperature, decreased wild life, increased diseases, increased climate calamities -floods, droughts, etc – lets cure Cancer. Because, you know, even if we all die – we will be cancer free.

    A non-scientist (Lomborg) writes about fixing the problem of global warming, gets discredited by climatologists, is tried for data misrepresentation, found guilty – but you are saying that oh, lets just focus on what he has to say about improving quality of life? Really?

    Sakshi

    October 23, 2009 at 9:45 pm

  18. @Ambuj: Ok – now you have an even better answer – see Sakshi’s comment !

    BongoP'o'ndit

    October 24, 2009 at 11:18 am

  19. @BoP, Okay, I will concentrate on Sakshi’s arguments.

    @Sakshi, What you said is exactly what Bjorn Lomborg is warning against. You are getting emotional on the topic. If I were given a choice between rising of world temperature by 6 degrees (the worst case you are imagining) and cure for cancer, I will happily choose the cure for cancer. Because honestly speaking, we can easily do something about higher temperatures (like use A/Cs, hydrate ourselves more often, etc), but cancer is a painful, painful death. Reading by your excessive interest in all things he himself claims not to be an expert in, I gather that you have not read any of his works.

    Allow me to quote a paragraph from Wikipedia regarding his stance: “Lomborg campaigns for an unconventional position on climate change: he opposes the Kyoto Protocol and other measures to cut carbon emissions in the short-term, and argues that we should instead adapt to short-term temperature rises as they are inevitable, and spend money on research and development for longer-term environmental solutions, and on other important world problems such as AIDS, malaria and malnutrition.”

    Did you notice he mentions spending money on “longer-term environmental solutions”. I thinking you are also having a cognitive dissonance as they did on Bill Maher’s show. Scott Adams summarizes it in his blog: “The Danish economist’s argument doesn’t fall into the established views about global warming. He wasn’t denying it is happening, or denying humans are a major cause. But he also wasn’t saying we should drive hybrid cars, since he thinks it won’t be enough to help. He thinks we need to make solar (or other alternatives) more economical. That’s the magic bullet. His views don’t map to either popular camp on this issue, and it created a fascinating cognitive dissonance in Bill Maher (a fan of hybrid cars) and his panelists.”

    I would suggest you read up the Scott Adams’ article I linked above as a minimum, and get less emotional where there are human lives at stake. But frankly speaking, if you choose glaciers and biodiversity over cure for Malaria, AIDS and cancer, there is little I can say in a constructive argument. Please ignore all I have written above and accept my apologies for wasting your time.

    Ambuj Saxena

    October 26, 2009 at 10:57 pm

  20. @Ambuj:

    “we can easily do something about higher temperatures (like use A/Cs, hydrate ourselves more often, etc), but cancer is a painful, painful death.”

    Please read that again, and confirm that this is indeed your seriously-held, well-considered view. Because, first of all, billions of people would disagree about being able to hydrate themselves adequately even now, then there is an even larger category of people who can either not afford to buy an AC, or to pay for the electricity charges (or indeed, both).

    And this is without even talking about the fact that the Global Warming issue has pretty much nothing to with how hot you might “feel”, but about Climate Change and how that is going to impact billions of people.

    I am not so sure about the impact of Climate Change, or the impact our corrective actions can have, but I don’t go around citing a cartoonist about Climate Change (no offense to him, I enjoy his writings). Seriously, why would anyone do that?

    PS: Why not divert the anti-cancer funds to anti-malnutrition campaigns? The difference in scale of deaths/suffering caused by these two is huge.

    PPS: I am not looking for an answer to the above question. Thinking about it might illuminate the issue for you though.

    Overlord

    October 26, 2009 at 11:51 pm

  21. Ambuj,
    Your position left me speechless. Yes I do care about glaciers and ecosystem – let me see if I can show you why they are indeed important :

    Glaciars melt –> no water for most of rivers. No more drinking water. Increased sea level.

    Increased sealevel -> most of the coastal regions of the world submerged under water. More tsunamis. More storms.

    Increased temperatures –> more droughts.Less crops. Less water to drink.

    Increased temperatures –> mass extinctions.

    Does that explain why people dont think global warming should be taken lightly?

    This is not at the expense of cancer research. Or AIDS research. Or most epidemics that trouble us. You are building up false analogy – climate research at the expense of cancer. And that is simply not the case.

    And frankly, if you dont care about glaciers and biodiversity – mankind’s days are numbered – we need the ecosystem balanced to survive – last I checked we cant make water and food out of nothing. And dying of thirst and starvation is a much horrid death than cancer – ask any person in Somalia.

    Secondly, I dont care what Scott Adams says, he is a cartoonist and not an expert (on climate or biology). When it comes to science, I tend to go with what the experts in the field say – just like I dont go to the butcher to take my appendix out.

    Experts in the subject have thoroughly discredited Lomborg’s point of view, pointed his methodology as flawed and showed how his views can not be sustained. I have read both Lomborg’s book and the Danish scientists paper on why and where he is wrong. What he did was what we call in science as “cherry picking and misrepresentation of data.” I would suggest you look those terms up and then go and re-read his book along with what some credible people had to say about his work (Read these for starters)

    I hope that helps because your blase answer about using A/C leads me to believe that you have no idea about implications of global warming. I dont think you realize that Earth’s temperature rising by two degrees is not the same as two degree rise in your locality.

    Let me put it in perspective – the last time a six degree rise in Earth’s temperature happened was at the end of the Permian period – guess what else happened then? Mass extinction of 90% of earth species.
    Even two degree rise in EARTH’s temperature will melt greenland’s ice caps, increasing sea level and submerging all coastal masses on earth. Three degree is end of water in India. Is this where you think being cancer free will help us? (that was a rhetorical question)

    Ponder on this. The thought about living without water and food on a hostile earth deserves some serious consideration, right?

    Sakshi

    October 27, 2009 at 12:35 pm

  22. @Ambuj: I did not want to get into a big debate about climate policy, but what the hell. I don’t have time for a longer comment right away, so perhaps will come back later to address a few points (the Overlord and Sakshi have both covered most of your so-called arguments).

    Firstly, let’s get this out of the way: we are not arguing here about the effectiveness of the Kyoto Protocol (not sure how effective its implementation will be), hollow efforts such as Earth Hour etc.

    However, that does not make Lomborg’s position any right.

    Now, since you suggested the Scott Adams article, I read it (all the while trying to figure out what a cartoonist with an MBA degree can illuminate us on science and economics). I had to pause on reaching this:
    When considering the problems that global warming will cause, we shouldn’t ignore the benefits of global warming, such as fewer deaths from cold.

    Do you realize this is based only on stats from European countries. No word on how many more deaths from abnormally high temperatures in places like India (where unfortunately, most people can’t just flip on an AC, or drink water). Also, Lomborg’s information comes from deaths causes by seasonal variations, not necessarily “cold weather”-related deaths.

    ———-

    I will give you this: Maher can often be an ass – his recent tirade on H1N1 vaccines is an example. So I would not hold him as a guiding light on environmental concerns.

    (Btw, since when did Lomborg become a ‘Economist’ ? He’s a political scientist who dabbles in statistics. )

    Finally (for now), for your sake and for the sake of your understanding of what ‘cognitive dissonance’ implies, I hope you are reading actual scientific articles that shed light on the GW issue. Picking up the latest issue of Nature could be a good start.

    BongoP'o'ndit

    October 27, 2009 at 1:28 pm

  23. @All, First thanks for reading my replies are bit. The responses are far less emotional than before🙂

    Now specifically addressing replies:

    @Overlord,
    When I was talking about “easy”, it was in a comparative sense. If a person is not hydrated enough, it is easier to satiate his/her thirst as compared to a person who is writhing in pain from cancer. Perhaps my quoting on A/Cs left a bad taste (may have made you all see me as elitist, which I can assure I am not). I did not quote Scott Adams as a climate change expert, but rather a person who opined how cognitive dissonance prevents people from seeing the other side of the argument. He has a Bachelor in Economics (which puts thing into context). Not to say it matters. We should take arguments at face value, rather than ponder who it comes from (Ad Hominem). If you really think the person who is making the argument matters while judging the merits of the argument, you shouldn’t be even commenting here. After all, Sagarika Ghose is NOT an expert on Global Warming. Why take her seriously? Regarding your “PS”, if it were left to me, I would indeed put the lion’s share of money towards fighting malnutrition. Even Copenhagen Consenses (which Lomborg is associated with) recommends fighting malnutrition as humankind’s top priority. Do I take it that we both are on the same side now?

    @Sakshi,
    Whoaaa…I never said Glaciers and biodiversity are not important. They are, and AFAIK, even Lomborg agrees with it. It is the comparative assessment that I was talking about. You wasted a lot of metaphorical ink arguing where there was no difference of opinion. Yes, Global Warming is serious, very much real, and man-made. We all agree on it. But I digress on your argument that it is not at the expense of other things like cancer and AIDS research. We do not have infinite amount of money. We can only choose where and how to spend it. I care for biodiversity. Please re-read the previous argument of mine again. I also agree that malnutrition is even more serious problem. Even Lomborg agrees to that.

    Saying the same thing I told Overlord, if you don’t care what Scott Adams thinks, then why do you care what Sagarika thinks (she’s no expert)? Or what I think (the long reply proves you take me seriously)? The last time I checked, I had a degree in Mechanical Engineering and I never claimed otherwise. We comment here because we all believe in XKCD. Again, Scott talked about Lomborg’s arguments, but that was besides the point. The center of his blog piece was Cognitive Dissonance. BTW, have you read God’s Debris by Scott Adams. It is one of my favorite books, and it is neither comics nor economics.

    I am no expert of Geology either, but as far as I know, we have had at least three glacial periods since then, with global temperatures varying over 10 degrees in each. A 2 degree rise will melt a lot of ice caps, but are you implying that it will melt all of it where the mean maximum temperature rarely exceeds -50 degrees? Also, a 3 degree rise will not mean end of water in India. What makes you believe people will not do anything about it? What about the excess precipitation due to Global Warming? We would need all the people we have to engineer solution to world problems. So yes, being cancer-free will help (This was a rhetorical answer). Yes, I have pondered long and hard. It deserves serious consideration (I never claimed otherwise). But there is a reality I know: We do not have infinite resources. If stopping the Global Warming required sacrificing a tenth of world population, is this an option you would consider? I wouldn’t.

    @BoP,
    Thanks for understanding my so-called arguments. Even I agree that Kyoto Protocol and Earth Hour are gimmicks that don’t guarantee any substantial benefits. It doesn’t make Lomborg right. No one ever claimed this is how the argument went. Again, I know the statistics you quoted is region-specific, but does that invalidate the argument?

    And yes, Lomborg is not an Economist. The reason Scott made that mistake is because he was introduced as an Economist in the show. Scott has later pointed out the error in one of his later blogs.

    BTW, Cognitive Dissonance is a psychological condition, an “uncomfortable feeling caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously”, and has nothing to do with the specific issue at hand. But yes, I do keep myself updated with issue of GW. And again, I know it is real, humans caused it, what we are doing is not enough to make a dent and we need to do something more seriously about it. This is a stance I have always had, and will continue to have unless you convince me otherwise.

    Ambuj Saxena

    October 27, 2009 at 7:33 pm

  24. @Ambuj: I don’t think that the problem of delivering potable water to everyone is easy. Despite a few thousand years of us being “civilized”, a majority of the world’s population still does not have access to clean drinking water. Add other issues like basic sanitation, malnutrition.. it’s a long list. And you have any number of items that are “easy”, but not really. Millions of kids around the world die before the age of 5 from “easily” preventable causes. How f**ked up is that? There is really nothing “easy” about things that you and I might take for granted.

    That’s why I wondered whether you really thought what you wrote earlier.

    It is all well to say “ad hominem”, but I did not attack you personally in any way (unlike your first response to Sakshi, wherein you wrote that she was “getting emotional” – that, Sir, was ad hominem). I merely pointed out that your “argument from authority” (or just a quote/pointer to someone on a certain issue) has a rather weak authority behind it. Whether it is Climate Change or Cognitive Dissonance, he is not an expert in either. You could’ve talked about cognitive dissonance without taking the trouble to quote someone who is not even an authority figure. And yes, when it comes to technical/complex matters, the expertise of the authority matters. If we started arguing seriously about the views expressed by everyone on an issue, we’d never get anything done (XKCD is funny, but not that accurate – we don’t really correct everyone who is wrong on the internet).

    So, why am I posting on this thread even though Sagarika Ghose is no more an expert than Scott Adams? For the simple reason that Sagarika Ghose is a journalist/TV-anchor. Her ignorance today threatens to make ignorants out of hundreds of thousands of people tomorrow (plus, she is annoying as heck, and it is fun, and I have commented on this blog for a while). Scott Adams writes a blog primarily read by fans of his comic strip/books (God’s Debris was a good one, sure). He writes it with his tongue-firmly-in-cheek while taking pains to point out in every other post that he should generally not be taken seriously on complex issues.

    Overlord

    October 27, 2009 at 9:40 pm

  25. Ambuj,
    You said –

    If I were given a choice between rising of world temperature by 6 degrees (the worst case you are imagining) and cure for cancer, I will happily choose the cure for cancer.

    But frankly speaking, if you choose glaciers and biodiversity over cure for Malaria, AIDS and cancer, there is little I can say in a constructive argument.

    It was to these statements that I wrote the long response to. Your statements sound as if given a choice, you would pick cancer over biodiversity.

    You still dont see why your A/C comment was in error? It was not elitist but just flawed understanding of the difference between rise in Earth’s temperature Vs. Local climate effect.

    I left out your cognitive dissonance statement because I thought you did not get the meaning. Well since you assure us that you do let me tackle it –
    You say its better to find a cure for cancer (and no one is stopping that research at all) because it is more painful. How many people die of cancer every year on the globe? A million? more?
    Now compare that to entire species getting extinct – including us. That is billions and billions of creatures. Dying miserable deaths.
    Who is suffering from cognitive dissonance here? Not me at all.

    You know about the past glacial periods – then you know that these ages are mostly coupled with mass extinction. This is not just about biodiversity but about our very survival. Mammals are not going to come out of the next one with flying colors.

    And you keep quoting Lomborg believes in this too – I gave you a link where people have shown what underhanded means Lomborg uses. It is because people like him get traction that seriousness of GW needs to be told each time to a non-believer – its waste of time and energy – the exact reason why Sagarika Ghose had to be called out this time. Better nip it in the bud.

    Now, to the final part -let me recap the effect of each degree of rise in temperature –
    1 deg = Ice on Kilimanjaro melts.
    2 deg = Greenland ice caps will tip into IRREVERSIBLE melt.
    3 deg = Amazon ecosystem killed, Himalayan glaciers retract.
    4 deg = All glaciers in Alps disappear
    5 deg =Earth will be hotter than it has been in ~50 million years and methane hydrate is released from underneath the ocean bed resulting in gigantic tsunamis.
    6 deg =Massive extinction of species, volcanoes – and likely death of human kind.

    Again this is going to happen under current conditions – there is scientific consensus on it.
    Yes, a 2 degree rise in EARTH’s temperature will result in irreversible meltdown of glaciers. If you are current on GW, you should have come across these figures. There are multiple papers that cite something similar (I gave the bare minimum summary).

    You assure me of course man kind is going to stop this.
    Tell me if you dont want money to be spent to do exactly that, how the heck are we supposed to solve the problem? If we have finite resources and since the current problem is going to affect all of us at a very fundamental level (survival)- where should the money go?

    You are not ready to sacrifice 10% of world’s population – we are losing more than that in terms of Earth’s population every day due to change in climate. Or dont you consider non-humans in that number?
    Just look up the state of the now famous face of glacier melt – polar bears.

    PS -And btw, Lomborg has done some seriously wrong math on extinction – wrong enough that several biologist called him out on it – publicly in reputed journals. I have yet to see him defend that one. Just like he has yet to defend most of his criticism. His main response is to say “my critics are emotionally charged and so….nothing.. no substance to defend his stance.” Do you see why people who do understand some of this get upset when he is bought up? Infact, I notice that you dont say anything about why his critics are wrong either except to say Lomborg is not an expert on these matters. But he is not an economist either. So why agree to his economic stand?

    And PPS – I have not read Scott Adams’ book. Will look into it.

    Sakshi

    October 27, 2009 at 9:54 pm

  26. @Overlord,
    Looks like you understood most of what I meant by “easy”. True there is nothing “easy” as we understand the word. It is all relative. Things are easier wrt something else. Anyway, I never implied you attacked me (apologies if you felt that way). I said you put the qualifications of the person (Scott Adams in this case) before his arguments, which I think is wrong because it shouldn’t matter who makes the argument as long as the argument itself is sound. Now, the reason I brought up the issue of getting emotional is because it was related to the point Lomborg made. I never shrugged away from arguments saying “You are emotional. I won’t reply anything you are saying”. I didn’t even quote Scott as an expert of Cognitive Dissonance. Read again…I wrote “[…] a person who opined […]”. I don’t need to quote authorities when the argument is sound. The whole point of being authority on a subject is having broad (and deep knowledge) so that it enables the person to make sound argument most of the time. This is the reason when we are not sure about something, we go to authorities (being the easiest thing to do, when possible). But this doesn’t mean that those who are not authorities can’t make compelling, rational arguments on the case. If the argument is rational and compelling, it really shouldn’t matter who it is coming from. I agree with what you said about listening to the experts first, but when time is not an issue (as in the case of this comment thread), why should one leave out an argument just because it is not from an expert. Afterall, you are still replying to me even after I have publicly admitted I am not an expert. PS: I can’t believe you took the comic so seriously.

    @Sakshi,
    Let me start by a nit-pick, lest it comes back to haunt me. I would pick “cure for cancer” over biodiversity (not “cancer”). Let’s move on. You think human race would get extinct because of the current GW, I think not. And I doubt if any serious model claims it. Can you please quote the source of your degree-by-degree analysis of GW. I would want to know better before I reason on it. Specifically I am interested in the physics used in the research. I don’t see how a six (or even ten) degree rise can melt the glaciers that are -50 deg now. I believe that you are referring to “irreversible melting” in immediate temporal sense, because if the history of earth has taught anything, nothing is permanent. One thing we all agree upon is that the money we have is finite and we have to decide what is the best way to invest it. But it so happens that most of us are so immune to the stories of malnutrition deaths, that we don’t even take it as a tragedy anymore (irrespective of its importance for human welfare). On the next point, there is a fundamental difference in the way we think. I put human welfare before any other species. You do not. This being a subjective issue, there is nothing I can say that can convince you otherwise, and probably nothing you can say that will convince me otherwise. So I am not even going to tread on it. I thought my silence on this issue would be sufficient, but looks like you want me to say it. Very well. I do believe that Lomborg went wrong on many of this issues and the experts corrected him. But I still stand by his other argument on human welfare from cost-benefit analysis point of view, because I agree with his analysis and reasoning (on cost-benefit analysis). I didn’t require him to be an expert on an issue to see that it makes sense, and I also don’t go with assumption that if someone’s one argument is wrong, it means all his arguments are wrong. PPS: Do read the book. It is aside all topics we are discussing here and is really fun to read and unputdownable.

    Ambuj Saxena

    November 5, 2009 at 8:23 pm

  27. @Ambuj – You continue to fail to understand the difference between a local climate change and a change in Earth’s temperature. The best source for any scientific claims is Pubmed, use it and refer to science articles published in the last month for a start – dont rely on me to pick an article for you (least that will be seen as nitpicking things that support my case). But if you dont have access to these articles, here’s something to start with –
    Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis
    You can download it from the IPCC site – http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/ar4-wg1.htm
    Detailed explanation of the science of Global warming and a pretty lucid (though long) book.

    Also, I would suggest you take up some reading on evolution – extinction is commonly associated with global climate changes. And if current scenario is not fixed and the temperature rises to 3 degree, humans are going to be extinct. Almost all models that predict the global climate changes predict that. Also, you are ignoring the fact that humans can survive only if we have a earth that provides for us – we need water, crops, animals that graze etc. In other words, we need other species for our survival – both plant and animal life. If you cant get that – there is nothing I can say other than read up on biology – particularly ecology and conservation. Then you just might get why it is important to consider the Earth as a whole and not just about humans.

    And lastly, if Lomborg made mistakes on climate science and biology – why the heck would one take his word about economics? He is not an economist and in matters that I dont know about, I do rely on EXPERTS in the field. But that is just how I function.

    PS -I would suggest that before you comment, you do actually read the report. Because you keep bringing up points that are flawed and make me suspect your understanding of Global Warming.

    Sakshi

    November 7, 2009 at 4:11 pm

  28. Hi Bongopondit,

    My first comment on your blog.

    I feel our visual media has played a stellar role in dumbing down issues for the public. The over-confidence emanating from successful public trials in a couple of cases (Jessica Lal et al) has given them a sense of missplaced competency. I fail to name even one media commentator who can initiate intelligent discourse and not tell us something we already know.

    With the people on Times Now modelling themselves on Bill OReilly and Keith Olberman and the NDTV/CNNIBN folks appointing themselves the guradians of public sentiment, TV news channels have become an irritating experience. At least India TV is wildly entertaining and bereft of any psuedo-intellectual pretensions or news for that matter.

    Sayan

    February 1, 2010 at 1:50 am

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