30 January 2007

Correlation & Causality

One thing that bothered me about Al Gore's movie was his assertion of a cause and effect relationship between CO2 and global temperatures. I was reading the Feb issue of Wired over lunch today, and a little article by John Hockenberry shone some light on the issue:

"Studies of ice and seabed cores reveal that temperature rise and fall is heavily correlated with changes in greenhouse-gas concentrations. But it's a chicken-and-egg problem. Are Co2 rises and falls a cause of climate change or an effect?"

Remember, correlation does not prove causality.

I'm not denying that increased levels of CO2 contribute to climate change, nor that we're pumping too much pollution into the atmosphere. I'm just objecting to the fact that the question of causality doesn't seem to be asked. It looks like we see correlation and assume causality. That's bad logic and bad science.

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