Correlation does not imply causation. It is a principle of sound science (physics, in particular) to indicate that correlation between two variables does not necessarily imply there is a specific cause-and-effect relationship between the two. Moreover, it is often a logical fallacy to draw such a distinction. When two events A and B, that occur together (even precisely correlated), are claimed to have a direct cause-and-effect relationship it remains to be seen whether or not A was the primary mover of B. Especially so if the overall system in which the B effect is observed is complex; the greater the complexity of the system the more opportunity there is for other factors, C and D, to be involved which are at least as causal in the the effect B than A, perhaps even more so… In fact, A’s contribution to effect B may prove, after reflecting upon actual and verifiable data, to be merely a free-rider or a temporary / coincidental actor. Or, in the case of Al Gore’s incredibly assinine movie, B could be the direct cause of A… Uh hmmmm, which (for all of you Gore-ale drinkers out there) would mean that temperature drives the release of CO2 and not the other way round. What science does tell us plainly is that if two variables are perfectly, or near perfectly, correlated the probability of them haveing a cause and effect relationship is very high – either between themselves or with a third party.
The use of computer modeling in lieu of actual data observation only increases the likelyhood of error and magnifies the probability of other factors (C and D) not being considered greatly, or completely missed and excluded. Computer modeling in simple systems may yield verifiable results but such modeling in highly complex systems (such as the global atmosphere, or the middle eastern mind) must always be compared to actual data sets with verified and undisputed actual results.
While it may be intellectually intoxicating to jump to a conclusion based upon a relatively sophisticated computer model, it nevertheless must be tempered with plain common sense before such results are accepted and public policy or political actions are taken.
Transcript of Hannity and Colmes with Dennis Avery and Fred Singer
Tuesday January 30, 2007
HANNITY: Scientists from the United Nations’ climate panel are gathering in Paris to determine the effects of global warming. Their conclusions will be released later this week. But is the growing panic over global warming based on fact or fiction?
Joining us now from the Hudson Institute, environmental economist Dennis Avery and physicist and professor from the University of Virginia, Fred Singer is with us.
Guys, thank you both for being with us. Are we being told the truth about global warming, Dr. Singer?
FRED SINGER, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Well, the climate is warming. That’s what the temperature indicators show or the thermometers show this. But the cause of warming, that’s another story. It could either be natural, as we think it is, or it could be manmade. And we find that there is really no evidence to support the manmade hypothesis.
HANNITY: Dennis Avery, is that your conclusion?
DENNIS AVERY, “UNSTOPPABLE GLOBAL WARMING”: We’ve got an interesting historic perspective. The Romans wrote in the 1st century about growing wine grapes in Britain. Then, during the Dark Ages, it was too cold. During the medieval period, the Britons themselves wrote about growing wine grapes in Britain. And then, for 650 years, during the little ice age, it was too cold.
After 1950, they started trying to grow wine grapes again in Britain. They’re now up to two years out of 10, with a little help from some tricky hybrids. So this tells us, a, there’s a cycle and, b, the temperatures today aren’t yet as warm as they were 650 years ago or 2,000 years ago.
HANNITY: Professor Singer, I know they’re claiming on the left, and Al Gore leading the way, that the polar ice caps and glaciers will melt and sea levels will rise, et cetera, et cetera. They claim that parts of that is actually true, but there are also other ice caps, as I understand it, and scientists are saying, that are actually thickening here.
Has human activity ever been the cause of global warming? Because it’s now seemingly, in the political world, becoming conventional wisdom.
SINGER: There has never been a case of human activity causing a global warming. And, of course, sea levels have been rising since the end of the last ice age. In fact, sea levels have been rising about 400 feet, since about 18,000 years ago.
HANNITY: Can I ask a question? You’ve heard Vice President Al Gore. I don’t know if you’ve taken the time to go see his movie.
SINGER: Of course.
HANNITY: Is he lying to the American people? Is he politicizing this topic for some type of political agenda?
SINGER: I don’t think he thinks he’s lying, but I don’t think he understands the problem really well. For example, when he talks about glaciers melting, of course they’re melting. You would expect them to melt when the climate is warming. But that doesn’t tell you why the climate is warming.
COLMES: Hey, Dennis Avery, in terms of politicizing — yes, go ahead.
SINGER: He’s confusing consequences and the cause. He’s making a logical error.
COLMES: Let me go to Mr. Avery if I can. According to this new U.N. report that is being criticized by you and others, it does say that, before the industrial revolution, levels of CO-2 were 280 parts per million. Today there are 380 parts per million, an increase of CO-2 in the atmosphere, which they specifically put on the industrial revolution, with those numbers to prove it. Is that not incontrovertible proof that the behaviors man has led to what we’re talking about here?
AVERY: Not at all. In the 1980s, we dug up long ice cores from both Greenland and the Antarctic. They showed a moderate, natural, 1,500-year cycle. We’ve had 600 warmings in the last million years. And the ice cores and the sea bed sediment show this. And none of the past has found CO-2 coinciding with temperature change.
In fact, Mr. Gore, in his Antarctic scenario, says temperature and CO- 2 have moved radically and together through the last four ice ages, and that’s true. What he doesn’t tell us is that the temperatures changed 800 years before the CO-2 levels.
COLMES: Professor Singer, we are seeing the CO-2 levels, though, rise in conjunction with the industrial revolution. How you can you discount the amount of pollution that’s gone into the atmosphere since around 1900, in conjunction with manufacturing and what we have done to the environment? How you can discount that?
SINGER: Well, CO-2, of course, is not a pollutant. It is a naturally occurring gas in the atmosphere. In fact, it’s essential to life. It’s what all plants use in order to grow. Without CO-2, there would be no life on Earth. So let’s get that very clear: It is not a pollutant. It has increased. And it is undoubtedly the case that the human activities have led to the increase. But that doesn’t prove it’s the cause of warming. You see, it’s just a correlation. And, for example, during much of the last century, the climate was cooling, while CO-2 was rising, so how do you explain that?
HANNITY: Professor Singer, we appreciate your wisdom. Thank you for being with us. Dennis Avery, thank you for being with us. I hope Al Gore is watching.