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View Diary: Global warming counteroffensive: send out the skeptics (19 comments)

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  •  I don't appreciate... (0+ / 0-)

    The standard assault on a professor's likely funding agencies.  
    Using this argument, it is easy for laypeople to dismiss almost all scientists in physical fields as corporate shills, not just this one guy.  Virtually all of us get money from gov't and industrial sources.  So this invalid argument basically lets people dismiss any source of scientific information.  It is no different from the wingnut notion that anything in the press is dismissable just because it's in the press.
    I have seen a lot of this tactic arguing with conspiracy theorists, who discount reports by the NRC, NAS, NAE, NIST, etc, because hey, this guy used to work at Alcoa, and that other guy had a million dollar grant from the DoE.  In this rarefied atmosphere, every source of scientific data is refuted by funding association.
    Another pet peeve of mine is that the more qualified someone is, the more impeachable he becomes because of association.  Example:  the fact that this guy specializes in combustion makes him more qualified than any old schmuck (but still, less qualified than an atmospheric scientist, and less likely to be right than the entire scientific consensus.)  But in this diary, I get the impression that his work on combustion is some kind of point against him.  Why?
    Finally:  ratemyprofessors dot com does not say squat about how good a scientist someone is.  The best scientists I know personally are fair-to-middling teachers, and some of them are royal dicks to their students.  So what?
    If you want to refute the guy, do it on the basis of his claims (or, just cite the large consensus on global warming.)  Don't try to dig up details of his career and pretend it's some sort of disqualification.

    •  Could also mention that Mechanical Engineering... (0+ / 0-)

      ...has little relevance to climate issues.  He's no more qualified to comment than any other interested non-professional.  His opinions don't doint in the "scientific" consensus on climate, any more than would those of a plastic surgeon (who also receives an education in science after all), or, say, someone who designs sewage treatment plants for a living.  All socially useful professions (to some degree or other), but none providing special insight into this topic.

      So, an appropriate "demand" might be to ask for a speaker who's professional expertise lies in this field.  And that this guy should stick to designing bridges, or whatever the heck he is an expert at.

      •  Combustion. (0+ / 0-)

        The guy specializes in combustion, e.g. the effects of burning fuel, emissions etc.
        In grad school I knew a few other people who studied combustion, and they were Mechanical Engineers as well.  I guess it's just a subject that traditionally falls under ME.  
        So on the one hand I'd say this doesn't make him an expert on climate change, and people in more relevant fields are the people I'd listen to; on the other hand, I think it's an exaggeration to say that he is no more qualified than a plastic surgeon---his field is at least relevant to matters of industrial pollution.

      •  Correct (0+ / 0-)

        Only the overly credulous would assume that someone who studies the combustion of coal would have any relation to global climate issues, i.e., general "effects of burning fuel." Check the CV--in peer-reviewed papers he studies the the burning of coal in reactors and furnaces--not concerned global or climate effects. For example: "Applicability of Furnace Analysis in Determination of the Performance Characteristics of a Hot-Wall Furnace Fired with Sorbent-Loaded Coal-Water Fuel," Energy and Fuel, 8, 179-187, 1994 (with J. J. Obloza and, T. K. Hammond).

    •  Baloney (0+ / 0-)

      You are speaking in broad generalities. This is just any old corporate connection--it is a direct connection to the coal industry which is the main promoter of global warming disinformation.

      Essenhigh's career as a total specialist in the industrial uses of coal is extremely relevant, and it is misleading to leave it out of any account, let alone call him a "professor of energy conservation." This deliberate elision is indicative of the sham science behind the global warming skeptics. How in the world you think his career of studying coal combustion in power conversion technology is NOT a point against him disqualifies you.

      •  Baloney to you (0+ / 0-)

        Show me this "direct connection" to the coal industry.  Give me an actual, objective, real, concrete link that impeaches him.  Your claim, back it up.
        Not even the article above cites any direct connection to the industry---the author merely muses about what his funding sources might well be.
        And don't just tell me that he studies coal combustion and say that this alone is an impeachable connection to the coal industry.  If that were true then nobody studying combustion could be cited as an expert on anything.  
        Like I said, I know folks who study combustion.  They're all progressives, BTW, but to hear outsiders you'd think they were in the pocket of industry.  Because that's what they study, and they get DoE money.  
        Look, this guy is probably a nut, but when you dismiss him on the basis of funding or CV I think:  who is on really the side of scientists?  I can think of lots of people who are opposed to science, creationists, flat-earthers, people who deny the consensus viewpoint on warming.  Sure we have enemies.  But on the other side, is anyone our friends?  People side with us temporarily for reasons of political expedience, but the truth is they are all poised to paint us as shills for circumstantial reasons.
        I think the truth is, anyone who strongly adopts any political ideology is going to be careful around science, and only support it with one hand on the sword.

        •  Suggestion (0+ / 0-)

          Maybe you could look to coal mining interests for your guidance on global warming--after all, by your logic they should be eminently qualified to give us the straight dope on global warming--being so familiar with the main source of CO2 pollution (and profits therefrom)--and no one should cast aspersion on the source. Oh no, that would be unscientific. But welcome to the real world.

          As for progressives, this issue cuts in unexpected ways. Alexander Cockburn of The Nation (a useful fellow for always being on the wrong side of an issue) promotes Essenhigh in a column Hot Air is Bad for Us, where he refers to Essenhigh's " particularly elegant paper published in May in Chemical Innovation." But this was not a "paper" in the peer-reviewed sense. It was an editorial, published under the Viewpoint section.
          Also in the progressive apostasy department, the local outfit promoting the two Columbus events where the anti-science side is given undue weight is the Unitarian Universalist Church, which is very progressive. The subtext of the blurbs above indicates that the UU organizer sides with the skeptics.

          This shouldn't really be a political issue, on the left/right lines anyway--more split along the fossil energy industry line. So oil-connected politicians like Bush and Cheney can be expected to toe the line for oil producers. Ted Strickland, Democratic candidate for governor in Ohio, can be expected to promote coal-burning as he comes from a coal-mining region. And no, it isn't unfair to point these connections out for politicians, and certainly scientists don't get a free pass either.

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