Eight Glasses of Water and the Climate Change Bullies

Never mind.

A surprising new report announces that the well-established health standard that we should all drink at least eight glasses a day is a myth, with no data to support it.  Moreover, the report says, drinking so much water may actually be harmful.  Meanwhile, widespread acceptance of water and hydration as a health benefit has led directly to the explosion in the use of bottled water, wasting money and creating an environmental crisis with so many discarded plastic containers.

I would hope that such news, and we get these kind of sudden “never mind!” stories with fair regularity, might convince some of the more insulting critics of global warming skeptics to temper their contempt.
The ideologues and conspiracy theorists who refuse to accept that the world is warming—though nobody really knows how much or how long—and that the effect is likely caused by mankind—though nobody can say with certainty that mankind can reverse or stop it—are rightly derided, up to a point. But those who question the astonishing certainty with which some climate change scientists, Al Gore, and a passel of pundits, columnists and bloggers who barely passed high school chemistry claim to know what the effects of global warming will be, even though doing so requires extensive estimates, extrapolations and assumptions, are being no more than prudent, considering how frequently far simpler scientific conclusions have proven to be flawed, exaggerated, or as may be in the case of  the eight glasses of water, just plain wrong. Prudence is especially appropriate when speculative science transmuted into doctrine calls for huge expenditures of scarce resources and the re-ordering of national priorities, effecting nations, commerce, businesses and lives.

Despite its obvious unfairness, I still hear and read the term “denier” applied to the skeptical and prudent by the climate change bullies, which produces in me the almost irresistible urge to conclude that such critics are as ignorant or more so than those they attack. The term “climate change denier,” with its obvious, intentional and offensive evocation of Holocaust denial, is either disgracefully unfair or astoundingly stupid. Denying that a major historical event occurred is madness inflamed by bias. Questioning whether scientific projections are sufficiently certain to justify massive expense and epic policy initiatives is not remotely the same or even similar, and insinuating otherwise is indefensible.

If researchers can be wrong about something as seemingly straightforward as the health effects of drinking water, it is neither unreasonable nor proof of an anti-scientific bent to withhold complete acceptance of projections in the infinitely more complex field of climate change. Scientists have been wrong before, and experience tells us that they will be again. Simply applying that fact to any policy deliberations based on research isn’t proof of foolishness and intellectual dishonesty.

Not doing so, however, is.

21 thoughts on “Eight Glasses of Water and the Climate Change Bullies

  1. Hey, a post where I can light into you.

    “Despite its obvious unfairness, I still hear and read the term “denier” applied to the skeptical and prudent by the climate change bullies, ”

    No, the deniers are not being prudent, and no, most proponents of our best available science are not bullies. How do you make this so? By claiming that the so-called deniers simply “[Question] whether scientific projections are sufficiently certain to justify massive expense and epic policy initiatives.”

    You redefined deniers to be non-deniers. The deniers label IS accurate for a multitude of politicians. A couple quick hits of favored whipping girls:

    Bachmann: “The science indicates that human activity is not the cause of all this global warming.”

    Palin: “bunch of snake oil science”

    Your last paragraph is also pure trash:

    If researchers can be wrong about something as seemingly straightforward as the health effects of drinking water, it is neither unreasonable nor proof of an anti-scientific bent to withhold complete acceptance of projections in the infinitely more complex field of climate change. Scientists have been wrong before, and experience tells us that they will be again. Simply applying that fact to any policy deliberations based on research isn’t proof of foolishness and intellectual dishonesty.

    By your logic, no hard choices should ever be made:
    – It looks like this volcano is about to erupt, but that’s only science that says it, and it would inconvenience 10,000 people if we evacuated, so we’re going to do nothing.

    • Also, you complete misrepresent what science has actually said about the amount of water you are supposed to drink each day. The “well-established health standard” was never based on science. It was based on horrible science reporting

      I just google searched for: “how much water should you drink a day” prior to July 1, 2010. Here are some first page results:
      2007: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070811225126.htm
      2008: http://planetgreen.discovery.com/food-health/drinking-water.html
      2008: http://www.realage.com/eat-smart/food-and-nutrition/how-much-water-do-you-really-need

      Bad interpretations by laypeople do not bad science make.

      • “Bad interpretations by laypeople” also accurately describes virtually the entire climate change debate, including the contribution of the most vociferous “Climate change denier” accusers. (I’m off on a long plane trip—I promise I won’t be ignoring you, just delayed.)

        • That also describes the entire political evolution/creationism debate. Therefore, we shouldn’t teach evolution. The science is there and it should be followed.

          This entire post was based on a counterfactual (that science had supported a position that turns out to be wrong). The ethical thing to do would be to retract the comparison and apologize for the incorrect information. Once your support is gone, the conclusion cannot remain…well, unless you were just rationalizing your existing position.

          • No, and I don’t think I was that unclear. The point is that projections are notoriously fallible., in science, in health, in medicine.Evolution science measures what has happened and explains it. I wouldn’t bet much on scientific theories about where evolution is going, either. The extinction predictions appear to be way off, according to recent studies. What does this tell you? The water bit is just an example, probably not the best, of popular consensus that was less than reliable. Predictions involving large, complex systems are always unreliable. Ask Malthus.The only reason why someone intelligent wouldn’t admit that in relation to global warming models is bias, political agendas, or stubbornness. Or maybe I’m missing one.

            I’ve read enough interviews with honest and respected climate scientists who admit, “Well, we really don’t have the data and methods to make accurate predictions” to know the advocates of completely speculative fixes that cost billions are certifiable. I honestly can’t understand why you would fall in this camp. It is illogical, immodest and ahistorical.

            • Your first paragraph is rationalization. You leapt on this event (8 glasses of water is inaccurate) to support your preexisting position. It’s been shown that you completely misinterpretted this event.

              Now, if you want to write a separate post attacking global warming advocates, by all means, but this post is junk, and you should admit it.

              • I don’t see where you get that at all. The conventional wisdom as it is being conveyed regarding global warming effects and consequences, and the benefits of radical reduction in CO2, are exactly as reliable as the cant we received about drinking water. It was accepted as “consensus”–facts didn’t matter. The issue was much more complicated, and now we are hearing—from the media, which apparently thought it was news—that 8 glasses was a distortion. And the hydration mantra became a matter of faith in the meantime. I honestly see no difference from the way global warming bullies have pushed the idea that humanity is doomed without radical restrictions on CO2 emissions and that anyone expressing any doubts about either the phenomenon or the best way to handle it is a “denier.”

                I’ve written about the substance of global warming claims. Since many of the advocates, even from the scientific community, have argued that over-stating the certainty of the data is critical because the public “can’t handle the truth” and need to be frightened with exaggerations, i don’t think they need to be attacked—they have no credibility with me. Arguments now turn into link wars. The bottom line is that “do something” is a ridiculous argument for spending billions of dollars we don’t have, and forfeiting thousands of jobs when there are too may people out of work already, and manufacturing certainty (conventional wisdom, as in “drink 8 glasses of H2O) when it doesn’t exist is no solution.

                • You’ve switched from “science” to “nonscientific conventional wisdom.” Instead of talking about the science being wrong, you are justifying this post by saying the conventional wisdom was wrong. It looks to me like you just admitted that you lied when you were talking about scientific conclusions related to global warming. You really meant they were conventional wisdoms.

                  What you are doing is anti-science. You set up a comparison (X is like Y because they both have character Z) and then showed the result of Y, and likened X to have the same result. Once you learned that Y didn’t ever have character Z, you kept your entire argument, but now said you were talking about character Q. That’s bad science.

    • If “denier” was used as narrowly as you suggest, I would agree. Inhofe, for example; Mark Levin. But objecting to Gore-style demands for crippling the US economy whlie third world nations continue on their merry CO producing way is routinely called “denial” by the likes of Maureen Dowd and Ed Schultz. I know there are racists, too, but criticizing the President doesn’t make one.

      I like making hard decisions. I’m opposed to making rash and foolish decisions out of panic and fear without sufficient hard data. Luckil, those actual deniers have their uses..

    • If I had as shallow an intellectual capacity as those who are content to use the term “climate change denier” rather than investigate the subject enough to know that there are thousands of nuances, I would probably coin and promulgate the term “climate change catastrophist.” Sure, let’s see who can shout the epithets loudest rather than do some real thinking, studying and evaluating the matter.

  2. The water finding is not a “surprising new report”; mainstream science had already debunked the “eight glasses of water a day” myth at least twenty years ago. (The references in this Snopes debunking of the myth are from the early 1990s, for example.)

    I’m not aware of any evidence that there has ever been a scientific consensus that we should all be drinking eight glasses of water a day. In contrast, the consensus among experts about global climate change is incredibly strong. There’s really no comparison.

    But objecting to Gore-style demands for crippling the US economy whlie third world nations continue on their merry CO producing way is routinely called “denial” by the likes of Maureen Dowd and Ed Schultz.

    This seems like a fantastically unlikely claim about what Gore has said. Could you please link to a direct, in-context quote of Al Gore demanding that the US economy be crippled?

    I like making hard decisions. I’m opposed to making rash and foolish decisions out of panic and fear without sufficient hard data.

    How do you know that the decision to maintain the status quo isn’t a “rash and foolish” decision?

    What amount of data do you consider “sufficient”?

    There is a virtually complete consensus among experts in the relevant science that global climate change is real. The only issue is how bad it will be — and no responsible scientist that I’m aware of denies that catastrophic consequences are a real possibility (although not a certainty, of course). In that context, the decision to do nothing seems rash and foolish.

    • Please explain how evidence of farmland activity found under the ice sheets of Greenland, and history of climate sufficient for vineyard cultivation in England is not relevant in the earth’s temperature history.

    • 1) My mother was told every doctor’s visit of her life to drink 8 glasses of water a day. Those debunking it as a myth had about as much traction as those questioning your climate change faith.
      2) Be serious. Gore doesn’t advocate economic destruction, just radical regulation that would have that effect. He has called for the immediate reduction of CO2 production in the US to an unsustainable level. What do you call it?
      3) I’m not debating this with someone so clearly without perspective, Barry. I’ve heard all the “consensus” garbage. There isn’t consensus on projections or remedies, and that’s what matters.
      4) I consider no data involving long-term projections of matters as inherently unpredictable as climate sufficient for the kind of expensive and radical industrial and societal changes being insisted upon by the climate change bullies. The more rational and ethical scientists admit that there is much less certainty than the political agitators admit. Yes—catastrophic changes are a real possibility. It is not rational to cripple you nation to avoid a “possibility.” That seems obvious to me. The fact that it isn’t obvious to you is why I don’t care to debate it. Yours is an irrational position, based on ideology.

      • 1) Popular belief is not science. You’re essential arguing that science did not support evolution because of the scopes monkey trial.
        2) By the same logic, Cantor and Paul Ryan have advocated for crippling the U.S. Economy. Hell, the entire republican congress can be similarly accused. Unless you actually retract and apologize, you have to support everyone that claims such.
        3) There is consensus that current levels are unsustainable and they have to come down. Doing nothing IS against the science. The only question is how much needs to be done.
        4) I guess you’re against all military spending then. You’re confusing ethics with politics and are poisoning the well.

        • There is consensus that current levels are unsustainable and they have to come down. Doing nothing IS against the science. The only question is how much needs to be done.

          How are these levels unsustainable?

          In that context, the decision to do nothing seems rash and foolish.

          I cite Svante Arrhenius.

          [B]ythe influence of the increasing percentage of carbonic acid in the atmosphere, we may hope to enjoy ages with more equable and better climates,”

          And the climatemongers have been proven wrong over and over again .

          Miami Herald – July 5, 1989 – 2E SCIENCE

          GREENHOUSE WARMING NATIONS MAY VANISH, U.N. SAYS
          A senior U.N. environmental official says entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000. Coastal flooding and crop failures would create an exodus of “eco-refugees,” threatening political chaos, said Noel Brown, director of the New York office of the United Nations U.N. Environment Program, or UNEP. He said governments have a 10-year window of opportunity to solve the..(emphasis added)
          Link

          The UNEP didn’t mention [the prediction that global warming would create 50 million climate refugees by 2010.], and of course the global warming-hyping media didn’t mention it, and the web page content was quietly removed without comment. Embarrassingly enough, an intrepid reporter and climate change skeptic named Anthony Watts found the deleted pages on Google Cache.

          And guess what? The UNEP, having failed to erase the history of its bad prediction, neatly reissued the same projection, pushing it ahead to 2020! Then, the media dutifully publicized this frightening “scientific prediction,” never mentioning that the previous identical projection was a bust….because, you see, that would make us less likely to be properly alarmed.

          • “Do something” is never rational unless “something” is a reasonable response that passes cost benefit analysis and has a greater chance of success than not. There are a lot of possibilities, and from what I read, nobody can say with sufficient precision which is more likely:
            1. We do nothing. The seas rise, the environment kills us all.
            2. We do nothing. New technologies naturally emerge that allow us to minimize the problem abd consequnces.
            3. We do nothing. The models are wrong. Nothing untoward occurs,
            4. We do nothing. Unforeseen developments in the environment render the models obsolete..
            5. We spend billions upon billions to address the problem, costing jobs and crippling the economy. It does no good.
            6.We spend billions upon billions to address the problem, costing jobs and crippling the economy. It has an effect, but not enough. We are doomed.
            7.We spend billions upon billions to address the problem, costing jobs and crippling the economy. It seems to have an effect. In fact, the same thing would have happened if we did nothing.
            8.We spend billions upon billions to address the problem, costing jobs and crippling the economy. It does no good, because other countries take advantage of the opportunity and pollute like crazy while taking over the world economy. a) The world burns up or b) it doesn’t.
            9.We spend billions upon billions to address the problem, costing jobs and crippling the economy. We put off global warmin catastrophe, but are so weak that the world goes to hell anyway.
            10. We wait until we have better information. By the time we find out, it is too late.
            11. We wait until we have better information. By the time we find out, we also have better technology, which solves the problem at much less cost.
            12. Etc.

            “Do something” is not a plan. Michael.

            • “Do something” is not a plan. Michael.
              I have a plan.

              It involves detonating a lot of nuclear weapons at test sites, using the dust from the mushroom clouds to block out sunlight, once we have measured the effects of climate change and determine that this is better than the status quo.

              It will cost a few billion dollars, but the advantage is that we could wait until we actually measure the harm already done by climate change before taking this action. By contrast, the climatemongers’ plan demands that we take action now , before we have measured the results of climate change.

  3. “Consensus” is not science. “Consensus” is politics. Anytime you see the word “consensus” used in science, you can pretty safely conclude that it is politics and NOT science going on.

    When I have a scientific theory, “Who else agrees with you?” is NOT the first thing you ask me. The first thing you ask is “What is your evidence?” (followed closely by “How do I reproduce that evidence for myself?”).

    Hundreds of the smartest people in the world once had consensus that the universe revolves around the Earth. One man with a telescope said otherwise. Who was right?

    Millions of scientists agreed for thousands of years on two things so clear and repeatable that they called it a “scientific law”. One man said they were both wrong and described why with a mere 5 characters: “E=mc2”. Who was right?

    A coalition of politicians can and regularly do come to an agreement that determines what the law will be.

    A coalition of scientists can never come to an agreement to change the value of pi.

    Science is not a democracy. Science is an apathetic dictatorship. The dictator in question is the Universe.

    –Dwayne

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