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Thread: BAUT Global Warming Discussion Policy

  1. #1
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    BAUT Global Warming Discussion Policy

    This was what was agreed upon after considerable discussion amongst the moderators:

    1. Global warming is occurring and is mainstream; anti-GW belongs in ATM.
    2. Human activities (AGW) are a major contributor to GW; the specific contributors and their level of contribution may be discussed, but anti-AGW belongs in ATM.
    3. There are other contributors besides AGW; these may be discussed.
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    This is going to be interesting.

    Do we get free popcorn?

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    I think this is a very good decision. (Although to be fair, if I didn't agree with it I probably wouldn't think it was a very good decision.)

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    It's still within mainstream then to contend that although mankind contributes to global warming, mankind being part of nature, does not make it unnatural or necessarily anything to be concerned about?

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    Nice acrobatics! You may have just given them a bunch more headaches.

    Call the lawyers.

    I think they're mainly against excluding the A from AGW. Is that basically the stance BAUT has taken? Whether you call it nature or not (though it clearly is nature) humans are to blame?

    ETA: I'm not so sure they care whether you or I care about the issue, so long as we respect their definition of the cause.

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    I hope it doesn't cause them headaches, I would just prefer to avoid a slight one myself, heading off the possibility of taking a bullet later on if I decide to stick my nose into such a debate. I can see some of the angst the issue has created for those managing this board, and many other forums.
    Last edited by Canis Lupus; 2010-May-04 at 07:45 AM.

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    Whether the human part of global warming is natural or not isn't really relevant, it's that that is the part we can influence, hence that's the part where the moral onus is on us for the consequences.

    Since this really boils down to a moral stance only partially informed by science, evangelists on both sides considered lies and misinformation to be acceptable tools to get everyone else to follow their lead. This spilled over to this place, to the point where there were threads I couldn't read because they made me nauseous and want to hunt someone down to beat him.

    I really wish the moderators all the best with trying to keep that behavior in check this time, I think we failed miserably back when I was one.
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    Yes, I understand, Henrik. Of course, I don't wish to initiate a debate within this thread, merely seeking some clarity from the team.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ToSeek View Post
    This was what was agreed upon after considerable discussion amongst the moderators:

    1. Global warming is occurring and is mainstream; anti-GW belongs in ATM.
    2. Human activities (AGW) are a major contributor to GW; the specific contributors and their level of contribution may be discussed, but anti-AGW belongs in ATM.
    3. There are other contributors besides AGW; these may be discussed.

    I have a question regarding 2 and 3. Would a comparison between naturaly produced GW gasses and human produced gasses be ATM if the intent is to show how little humans contribute in comparison to natural production, or how variable natural production is WRT human contributions? For example would an utterly pedantic comparison of naturaly produced water vapor and its variability compared to human contributed water vapor be required to prove, according to BAUT's undefined standards, that naturaly produced water vapor is greater than human produced or that natural production of water vapor is variable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Canis Lupus View Post
    It's still within mainstream then to contend that although mankind contributes to global warming, mankind being part of nature, does not make it unnatural or necessarily anything to be concerned about?
    I assume that is two separate points? You are not suggesting that if it can be argued that it is natural then it is nothing to worry about. For example: war, nuclear power, opera and plastic are all equally "natural"; whether they are things we should seek to limit is a separate argument.

    This does highlight a gap in the new rules: is it ATM or mainstream to argue that [A]GW is Not a Bad Thing (or even, as some do, that it is a Good Thing)?

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    It's already becoming obvious that this is going to be a hard one to moderate, or at least adjust the rules to avoid the loopholes.
    My personal feeling is that if a point is to be shown then fine. But if it is to show another point, or form an opinion, then it must be in context of the big picture.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    This does highlight a gap in the new rules: is it ATM or mainstream to argue that [A]GW is Not a Bad Thing (or even, as some do, that it is a Good Thing)?
    Quote Originally Posted by Canis Lupus View Post
    It's still within mainstream then to contend that although mankind contributes to global warming, mankind being part of nature, does not make it unnatural or necessarily anything to be concerned about?
    Yes, that would be within mainstream. You are free to be concerned, or not.

    But (and this is a big but), since the doing (or not doing) anything about it is generally a political decision, not a scientific one, the discussion about doing or not doing something is still going to face our normal restrictions on politcs.
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    Quote Originally Posted by aastrotech View Post
    I have a question regarding 2 and 3. Would a comparison between naturaly produced GW gasses and human produced gasses be ATM if the intent is to show how little humans contribute in comparison to natural production, or how variable natural production is WRT human contributions? For example would an utterly pedantic comparison of naturaly produced water vapor and its variability compared to human contributed water vapor be required to prove, according to BAUT's undefined standards, that naturaly produced water vapor is greater than human produced or that natural production of water vapor is variable.
    In my judgment, that would be against the new policy, since it would be arguing that human activities are not a major contributor to GW, and such an argument would be ATM.
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    This is my opinion (and a humble one at that) as a person who is a moderator, and not an official BAUT position (no purple).

    I am happy that people are trying to understand the new policy. But I am also more than a little concerned that a couple of people seem to be as quickly as possible trying to push the limit of it, so as to try to get around its intent.

    I will tell you now that this was an extremely hard policy for us to create; the last push took a couple of months, and this after years literally of talking about it on and off. We tried to take into consideration the opinions of the board's owners, the complexity of the issue, to keep it fair and open to discussion, but to also keep it within mainstream science.

    There was another choice we had, which was to add it to the list of forbidden topics on BAUT, and there were some strong arguments to do exactly that. I will tell people now that, IMHO, if in spite of these new rules, if people make it impossible to enforce this in a civil manner, that making it a forbidden topic will be the fall back position.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    .... I am also more than a little concerned that a couple of people seem to be as quickly as possible trying to push the limit of it, so as to try to get around its intent...
    If this is a reference to my question, I am sorry it is being perceived that way. Maybe it's my legal training to immediately look for a ruling such as I have. Upon reading the policy, the question immediately came to mind. Having seen these debates rage on other forums, I must say, I'm a little tired of the issue, although I do have fairly strong views on the subject, and can't rule myself out of being sucked into any vortex which might arise with the re-introduction of the subject. I would however simply like a better understanding of the ruling when there is no passion flowing, and the question I posed does reflect some of my thinking about the matter rather than any desire to circumnavigate any rules ie. it seemed natural to ask, given I am fairly new to the board, were not involved in previous debates on the subject here with this board's existing rules applying, and it represents my thinking to some degree, not out of any desire to stretch the rules. I don't care too much what the rules are here on the subject, but I do care if I don't understand them, and later fall foul of them because of that misunderstanding. I've enjoyed the board without the subject and I'm not chomping at the bit to be involved in any debate on the subject.

    I take it also that, those arguing urban heat sink effecting mainstream conclusions, will only be able to do so in ATM, and that the data suggesting global warming, according to the rules here, is beyond normal questioning outside of ATM. For example, views such as Dr. John R. Christy, which attributes some proportion, if not all, of ground temperature increases to urban heat sink, can only be discussed in ATM?

    Alternatively, I can just sit back and observe how it ebb and flows, get a feel of that way, rather than ask any questions which may get misinterpreted as ill-intent. Either way, I am not fussed.
    Last edited by Canis Lupus; 2010-May-04 at 03:31 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Canis Lupus View Post
    If this is a reference to my question, I am sorry it is being perceived that way.
    It was not specifically your question, nor any specific question. It was the gestalt of the questions, as if people were immediately trying to probe for loopholes.

    I take it also that, those arguing urban heat sink effecting mainstream conclusions, will only be able to do so in ATM, and that the data suggesting global warming, according to the rules here, is beyond normal questioning outside of ATM. For example, views such as Dr. John R. Christy, which attributes some proportion, if not all, of ground temperature increases to urban heat sink, can only be discussed in ATM?
    I think points 2 and 3 of the rules answers these questions, whether the other contributors are heat island effects, water vapor, solar variation, or anything else. If they acknowledge that human contributions are a major effect, fine. If they try to show that human contributions are a minor factor, or are not a factor at all, then they are ATM. And yes, arguments that there is no global warming at all (for example, that it is a measurement error due to the heat-island effect) are ATM.

    And no, we are not going to get to the hair-splitting level that if Factor X (non-human) is 49.999% it is OK, but if it is 50.001% it is ATM. Quite frankly, I think it will be fairly obvious if people are trying to circumvent the rules and if they are not.

    And yes, like everything else around here, it will be the gray, slippery slope of moderator interpretation. If people are not comfortable with that, find a forum with a set of rules that outline in immense detail all possible scenarios.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    But (and this is a big but), since the doing (or not doing) anything about it is generally a political decision, not a scientific one, the discussion about doing or not doing something is still going to face our normal restrictions on politcs.
    I agree with 1, 2, and 3. But, Swift's comment should be #4. I always felt that some of the strident advocacy for AGW was to promote a political agenda and had no business here.

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    A very sensible decision. It´s going to be instructive to hear the AGW denialists arguments on the ATM forum.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    In my judgment, that would be against the new policy, since it would be arguing that human activities are not a major contributor to GW, and such an argument would be ATM.
    So a person would have to prove that naturaly produced water vapor is far greater than human produced water vapor if such proof was demanded in ATM? That's kind of like demanding proof that the sun shines.

    Is the intent of this policy to make disputes of human caused warming unpleasant for the disputer regardless of the scientific reason he has for a dispute? If so I'd say make AGW forbidden. I'd say that if it is the intent of ATM policy to make disputes unpleasant for a disputer of BAUT opinions Then forbid all ATM.

    Of course if this is the intent of the policy then loopholes are to be desired as the policy itself is a loophole to avoid reasoned disputes of BAUT moderator opinions on GW and other scientific issues.

    It's too bad you all spent so much time on this only to come to this intent.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aastrotech View Post
    Is the intent of this policy to make disputes of human caused warming unpleasant for the disputer regardless of the scientific reason he has for a dispute?
    The intent of the policy, like Rule 13, like the recent changes to LiS, is to require people who make substantive claims about climate change to support these claims with substantive evidence. Many have been abusing S&T's status as being outside of Rule 13's explicit jurisdiction as a loophole so they can make unsupported claims. The ATM forum is better able to regulate this situation than S&T.

    The exceptions listed in the policy are BAUT's recognition as to the consensus of mainstream science on GW and AGW. BAUT considers these statements sufficiently supported by science as to no longer require explicit support through evidence. As such, these discussions aren't appropriate for ATM. S&T remains the better choice.


    I've no doubt that a certain vocal minority will continue to do everything in their power to burrow around the evidence requirement. I've no doubt that we'll eventually be forced to again tighten the rules to address that abuse. Some things never change.
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    Quote Originally Posted by aastrotech View Post
    So a person would have to prove that naturaly produced water vapor is far greater than human produced water vapor if such proof was demanded in ATM?
    No. The idea that naturally-produced water vapor is a far greater cause of climate change than what humans are doing is ATM. Cherry picking one place where nature outstrips humans without looking at the bigger picture, in other words.
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    You need to rewrite the last line in Section 13 of the Rules:
    As with the other sections of the forum, we ask you to keep your topics about space and astronomy. We will close down any thread which doesn't have anything to do with space and astronomy immediately.

    Also, Item 2 only cracks down on people that lean to the skeptic side. One of the problems with the Global Warming thread are the people that say it is certain that GW is caused by humans. Reading what you’ve written in item 2, shouldn’t people advocating this view also be routed to ATM? As long as people can take the view of 100% certainty, there can be no civil discussion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jlhredshift View Post
    I agree with 1, 2, and 3. But, Swift's comment should be #4. I always felt that some of the strident advocacy for AGW was to promote a political agenda and had no business here.
    Two things. First, I don't see a need for a literal # 4. Our no politics rule lists only a very few exceptions, and none of those are changed by this, and so our current rules still cover this.

    Second, let me clarify something about the "doing/not doing something" question. The should we do something question is political, IMO. However, technical/scientific discussions about doing something are allowed.

    I'll use space exploration as an example of the distinction. The "how" of space exploration (rockets, technology) is clearly an allowed topic. The "should we spend money on space exploration" gets into politics. Now, this is one of the few exceptions allowed to our no-politics rule.

    Similarly, technical discussions about global warming, such as alternative energy sources or climate-engineering proposals are allowed (and we have had such discussion in S&T). But the no-politics rule has not been lifted for GW and so there can be no discussion on whether we should do such things.
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    Quote Originally Posted by orionjim View Post
    You need to rewrite the last line in Section 13 of the Rules:
    As with the other sections of the forum, we ask you to keep your topics about space and astronomy. We will close down any thread which doesn't have anything to do with space and astronomy immediately.
    We have generally had a broad definition of "space and astronomy", since we allow a lot of physics threads in ATM, but we should take a formal rewording of that under advisement.

    Also, Item 2 only cracks down on people that lean to the skeptic side. One of the problems with the Global Warming thread are the people that say it is certain that GW is caused by humans. Reading what you’ve written in item 2, shouldn’t people advocating this view also be routed to ATM? As long as people can take the view of 100% certainty, there can be no civil discussion.
    I would not use the term "the skeptic side". But yes, it does crack down on people who do not believe in Global Warming (GW) or who not believe humans are largely responsible for it (AGW). GW and AGW are the mainstream scientific positions. Just like other areas of science, those who advocate positions opposed to mainstream science must present their ideas in ATM.

    And whether something is presented in S&T (Science & Technology) or ATM, it will always be kept civil on BAUT.
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    Quote Originally Posted by orionjim View Post
    Reading what you’ve written in item 2, shouldn’t people advocating this view also be routed to ATM?
    To repeat myself: The exceptions listed in the policy are BAUT's recognition as to the consensus of mainstream science on GW and AGW. BAUT considers these statements sufficiently supported by science as to no longer require explicit support through evidence.
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    Toseek said:
    Human activities (AGW) are a major contributor to GW
    Swift said:
    who not believe humans are largely responsible for it (AGW).
    My Bold

    Which statement is the official position of BAUT? They do not have the same connotation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jlhredshift View Post
    Which statement is the official position of BAUT? They do not have the same connotation.
    It is in post 1
    1. Global warming is occurring and is mainstream; anti-GW belongs in ATM.
    2. Human activities (AGW) are a major contributor to GW; the specific contributors and their level of contribution may be discussed, but anti-AGW belongs in ATM.
    3. There are other contributors besides AGW; these may be discussed.
    Quite frankly, I do not see a significant difference, and no, please don't explain it to me.
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    Even someone as unintelligent as me can see the difference.
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    And it's the degeneration of discussions into this type of hairsplitting that quite frankly disgusts me.

    This is an area of immense grey areas and trying to derail the thread into a discussion about differences between the words "major contributor" and "largely responsible" is a waste of space, time energy and is the most disgusting habit commonly shown by BAUTians.
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