Monthly Archives: February 2020

The doctor’s analogy, skeptic style

This post will build on previous post. I ended that post saying that trust is key. It is not possible to comprehend the complete climate change picture, so in the end we will all have to trust, skeptics and alarmists alike. That trust is (mis)used in the doctor analogy. It goes like this:

Premise 1: You trust your doctor on health issues
Premise 2: Climate scientists are the doctors of the climate
Conclusion: You should trust climate scientists on climate issues

There are several problems with this analogy as I explained in some previous posts on this topic. The two sciences are actually not comparable, nor quantitatively, nor qualitatively. The doctor’s analogy therefor gives a false sense of certainty. In those posts, I focused on premise 2, making the case that both can’t be compared and therefor the analogy doesn’t fly in reality.

This time I will focus on premise 1, by looking at climate change communication by the experts and exploring whether this would warrant the same trust as we have in doctors. I will do this by invoking the doctor’s analogy myself, but this time in skeptic style…

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All gone by the year 2020: what does it matter anyway?

This is part 7 in the series on the prediction that glaciers in Glacier National Park will be gone by 2020. You might want to see to part 1, part2, part 3, part 4, part 5 and part 6 if you haven’t already.

The last six posts were about the prediction that the glaciers in Glacier National Park would be gone by 2020. I also delved deeper in the relation of this prediction with a similar prediction that the glaciers would be gone by 2030, making the case that the 2020 prediction was an update of the 2030 prediction (contrary to how it is reported in most media).

Now you could object that this looks like nit-picking. Glaciers are shrinking anyway, that is also clear from previous post, so what does it matter whether someone made a wrong prediction of how long the remaining glaciers would last. The discussion whether the glaciers in Glacier National Park would be gone by 2020 or 2030 seems small change compared to the big picture that they will be gone in the future.

I could somewhat understand such objection, but I think there is much more to it than that.

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All gone by the year 2020: is observed glacier melt the basis for the prediction?

This is part 6 in the series on the prediction that glaciers in Glacier National Park will be gone by 2020. You might want to see to part 1, part2, part 3, part 4 and part 5 if you haven’t already.

In a previous post, I walked down memory lane to the time I was about 19 years old. In this post, I will go back to the more tender age of 14 and my first trip abroad. It was a trip to Switzerland on the health insurance plan of my parents. Its intention was to give the working class youth the opportunity to breathe in the pure mountain air of Switzerland. We were a bunch of kids of the same age and, as you would expect, there were a lot of outdoor activities like sports that we could chose from.

Not being that much into sports and a more nature-minded boy, I often joined the hiking group that did nature walks in the vicinity of the center were we stayed over. At one point, there was the opportunity to see a glacier. I had learned about glaciers in school and was eager to see one. It was not that close by and after a stiff walk we arrived at the glacier. Boy, was I disappointed. We saw some melting ice chunks and a small patch of ice stretching along the mountain. Although it was nice to see some ice in that time of the year, it was a real anti-climax.

One of the guides then said that a lot of glaciers were shrinking and that this glacier was no exception. This was in the mid 1970s.

I was reminded of this scene from my youth when reading this paragraph in the Hall & Fagre paper “Modeled Climate-Induced Glacier Change in Glacier National Park, 1850–2100” (my emphasis):

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