NC Media Watch

A quest for reason and accuracy in letters to the editor, guest editorials and other issues of interest to the citizens of Western Nevada County.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

GW Update: correlation is not causation

Four US Senators went to Alaska, talked to the natives and now they are climate experts. So Investor’s has some questions for the Senators, do they know the difference between correlation and causation? Do you?
We'd like to know, of all the warming periods throughout Earth's history, why is the current warming the only one due to man's actions? Is it because man is putting more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere than ever before?

If that's the basis for all the shrieking about forcing us to cut greenhouse gas emissions, then someone needs to explain the difference between correlation and causation to those who should, and likely do, know better.

Correlating data, such as a warming pattern that coincides with increased industrial activity and the growth of automobile travel, might imply causation. But as any scientist will tell you, correlation is not causation.

More (here.)

Click here for a private e-mail comment. For public comment select comments below.


Blogger Frederic Christie said...

Yes, correlation does not prove causation, but it does point to the direction. If that was all the evidence that scientists had, this response would be right. The mountains of evidence ranging from precise correlations with anthropogenic activity and warming (especially taking into account the fact that the period is historically unique and only during the human era), scientific models that no one (not even the most ardent rightists) rebuts, monitoring loss of ice caps..

Of course, let's say some as-yet unnamed causal muddling influence was found. Whatever it is, we need to deal with. One thing we can do is not contribute known greenhouse gasses. Another is to use carbon sinks. So in fact your argument is self-defeating.

Not to mention that rightists will essentially concede the game and mutter something about warming cycles or increased agricultural activity when the game is pressed.

Wed Aug 24, 11:57:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Russ Steele said...

“scientific models that no one (not even the most ardent rightists) rebuts”


Here is some proof these models are being questioned, by many knowledgeable climate change scientist and modeling experts.

Our analysis, as well as independent research by Canadian scientists Mr. Steven McIntyre and Dr. Ross McKitrick, highlights many statistical flaws present in Mann's 'hockey stick' reconstruction, which is why it is being challenged on scientific grounds by a number of serious scientists. We must take a closer look at the science of the "hockey stick" and, in this case, ask the question, "How much of the warming of the 20th Century was 'man-induced' and how much of it is 'Mann-induced'?"

More proof at these web sites

Wed Aug 24, 05:42:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Frederic Christie said...

By "scientific models", I mean things like the observation that CO2 and methane are greenhouse gasses and, if pumped into the atmosphere, will increase global temperature. But yes, serious questions about models abound: Will clouds generated by global warming increase Earth's reflectivity and thus be a cooling force? What about sulfur emissions? And so on. The general picture, though, as seen by the NOAA and independent scientists all over (not least at my alma mater, UC Davis, filled with scientists who see global warming very clearly) says that global warming is a reality. Especially given the extensive confirmation evidence that has been documented for decades now all over the planet, converting many skeptics to advocates.

Not to mention that you did not rebut the vital argument that investment into dealing with whatever warming may be there would be independently good even without warming or if the warming is non-anthropogenic.

Rebuttal resources:

The Pentagon report, discussed here and elsewhere:,6903,1153513,00.html

Thu Aug 25, 05:07:00 PM PDT  

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