A Parable

October 30, 2011


From the comment by danielsangeo at MediaMatters:

I see it this way.

A man eats McDonald’s for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day for years and piles on the salt and drinks massive amounts of soda pop while sitting around all day watching TV, barely moving. He starts to get chest pains one day and he goes to the doctor. The doctor tells him that if he doesn’t start eating healthy, he could die of a heart attack.

The man calls the doctor a “fear monger”. The doctor says that the science is out there and many people have died due to a poor diet and sedentary lifestyle.

The man asks the doctor the precise number of burgers he can eat before he has a heart attack. “Is it 50 more burgers? 100 more? 500 more?” The doctor says that he can’t put a precise figure on it but if he cuts down on the bad eating habits and begin exercising, he will be able to avoid a heart attack caused by his lifestyle.

The man says, “You’re just a fear monger and you can’t even give me precise information as to when this ‘heart attack’ will happen. I’m going back to McDonald’s.”

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23 Responses to “A Parable”


  1. So has anybody published a paper showing for example a significant increase of climate-related disasters not attributable by simply there being more people and richer?

    The man in the parable had chest pain long before going to McDonald’s, and that’s all the climate disasters of centuries past.

    • BlueRock Says:

      Why are you constantly demanding others produce evidence for you? Don’t you know how to use Google?

      [15 seconds later]:

      * “We show that anthropogenic forcing has had a detectable influence on observed changes in average precipitation within latitudinal bands, and that these changes cannot be explained by internal climate variability or natural forcing. We estimate that anthropogenic forcing contributed significantly to observed increases in precipitation in the Northern Hemisphere mid-latitudes, drying in the Northern Hemisphere subtropics and tropics, and moistening in the Southern Hemisphere subtropics and deep tropics. The observed changes, which are larger than estimated from model simulations, may have already had significant effects on ecosystems, agriculture and human health in regions that are sensitive to changes in precipitation, such as the Sahel.” http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v448/n7152/full/nature06025.html

      omnologos? omnoblockhead!

      P.S. Does everyone know what ‘omno’ and ‘logos’ mean in Latin? ‘Advanced’ ‘Prank’. A self-labelled troll in other words, although clearly not very ‘advanced’….

      • sinchiroca Says:

        Hey, c’mon, let’s leave the mudslinging out of it. He’s wrong. You’ve shown that he’s wrong. That’s all that’s needed. This isn’t a football game and we don’t need cheerleaders.

        Besides, logos is a Greek word meaning ‘word’ or ‘concept’ or ‘idea’, as in climato-log-y. ‘Omno’ might be a rendition of ‘omni’, meaning ‘all’.

        • BlueRock Says:

          …and then there are tone trolls.

          • sinchiroca Says:

            Um, there’s a certain irony in your accusation: I could have called your original comment ‘trollery’ with some justification, but that kind of talk is unworthy of fine minds. Let’s just focus on the issues, shall we?

          • BlueRock Says:

            You lost all claim to moral superiority after your intellectually dishonest, trolling performance in this thread: http://climatecrocks.com/2011/09/19/major-german-firm-abandons-nuclear-power/

            Changing your name (from ‘Chris Crawford’) and avatar doesn’t absolve you.

            > Let’s just focus on the issues, shall we?

            What’s your ‘contribution’ to this thread? Exactly.

          • sinchiroca Says:

            BlueRock, let’s just focus on the issues, OK? My contribution to this thread is a little further down. If you have any comments on that, I’d love to hear them.

          • BlueRock Says:

            So you have no response to the evidence that exposes your intellectual dishonesty? I’ll take that as admission.

            I’ll now respond to your latest ignorance / disinformation in the other comment.


  2. I’m tired of hearing all this nonsense about how humans cause forest fires. We know for certain there were big forest fires long before humans were around.

    So has anybody published a paper showing for example a significant increase of forest fires not attributable by simply there being more people and richer?

    [/tongue-in-cheek]

    • greenman3610 Says:

      “I’m tired of hearing all this nonsense about how humans cause forest fires. ”
      right.

      what the heck was smoky smokin’ anyway?

  3. adelady Says:

    I like the bull in a china shop analogy – very much like this hamburger one. If you can’t predict precisely which pieces of crockery will be broken nor the order in which they cascade to the floor, then there’s no problem.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Richard-Milne-separates-skepticism-from-denial.html

    (Sorry. I thought I’d remembered the point at which he uses the bull-in-china-shop, but I hadn’t. I know it’s an hour, but it’s worth saving and going back to a few times to get the whole thing. The last 20 mins are Q&A session.)


  4. BlueRock – no need to get agitated. Simply answer my exact question, not your fantasy’s.

    • BlueRock Says:

      Thanks for further proving my point.

    • sinchiroca Says:

      Maurizio, there was a paper showing that the rate of new temperature records is increasing. That’s a solid indicator of the increase in extreme weather. No, there is no answer to your exact question, because your exact question is so narrowly phrased as to be useless. We can’t use climatology to predict the temperature on the corner of Main and 1st in Platte, Nebraska, at 1:23 PM on May 17th, 2033; that doesn’t tell us anything about the correctness of climatology.

      Let’s not forget that an increase in extreme weather is predicted by theory. Put simply, weather is driven by heat energy; increase the amount of heat, and you get more active weather. Theory is vastly more complex than this, but that’s the basic concept.

      The fact that we cannot yet prove that extreme weather events are increasing in number doesn’t mean much; we already have indications that extreme weather events are increasing in number, we know that temperatures are increasing, and climatology shows that increasing temperatures will lead to extreme weather. For policy-making purposes, that’s certainly good enough.

      • BlueRock Says:

        > …we cannot yet prove that extreme weather events are increasing in number…

        Wrong. You just need to read the Nature paper I linked to in this thread – or any of a number of posts from this blog to know that.

        =========

        Peter, are you able to check IP of users? Maybe take a look to see if ‘omnologos’ and ‘sinchiroca’ are the same? ;)

        • sinchiroca Says:

          BlueRock, the Nature article to which you link does not support your assertion that it proves that extreme weather events are increasing in number. Here is the relevant quote from the abstract:

          ” We estimate that anthropogenic forcing contributed significantly to observed increases in precipitation in the Northern Hemisphere mid-latitudes, drying in the Northern Hemisphere subtropics and tropics, and moistening in the Southern Hemisphere subtropics and deep tropics. The observed changes, which are larger than estimated from model simulations, may have already had significant effects on ecosystems, agriculture and human health in regions that are sensitive to changes in precipitation, such as the Sahel.”

          They’re talking about increases in precipitation, not extreme weather events. Some of those increases in precipitation, such as the Pakistani floods and the Thai floods, are definitely due to dramatic increases in precipitation, but there are lots of other extreme weather events that having nothing to do with increases in precipitation, such as the European heat wave of a few years back and the Russian heat wave more recently. Thus, the paper does not directly support your contention. I suggest that you consult this article in Real Climate:

          http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/02/going-to-extremes/


  5. I don’t disagree with your final conclusion sinchiroca (and thank you for being civil). However policy decisions need to include the fact that we don’t know if the “chest pain” is anything new. A matter of insurance rather than getting immediately onto open heart surgery.

    • sinchiroca Says:

      I think you’re trying too hard to interpret the parable with legal precision. It’s a parable, not a logical derivation. The basic point is clear: people who ignore scientific evidence of impending troubles will pay a steep price for their folly. Certainly the rapid rise in global temperatures constitutes a new development that justifies a response. The weather extremes that we’re experiencing constitute a predictable — but not yet firmly demonstrated — consequence of that increase in temperature.


  6. BlueRock – calm down, relax, get a life. I’ve had previous exchanges with sinchiroca who might understand now via you what’s wrong with some alarmists.

  7. sinchiroca Says:

    BlueRock writes, referring to my suggestion that he read a piece in RealClimate.org:

    “Old troll trick. Link to an article that does not prove what the troll claims nor disprove what I claim.”

    This is the opening sentence of the article to which I link:

    “There are two new papers in Nature this week that go right to the heart of the conversation about extreme events and their potential relationship to climate change.”

    IPCC AR4 WG1 Chapter 3 has a long section on extreme weather events (3.8). It documents an increase in the number and severity of extreme events; it does not declare a causal linkage between ACC and that severity. Thus, there is certainly a correlation between increasing temperatures and increases in number and severity of extreme weather events — but, as always, we must be careful not to conclude causation from correlation. I myself believe that there is causation at work here, but as a matter of scientific integrity I must confess that the causation has not been directly demonstrated. It may never be possible to directly demonstrate such causation, because causal linkages between climate and specific weather events are extremely difficult to establish.


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