Burt Rutan - Is Climate Change caused by Mankind?

Burt Rutan, a famous engineer, has used his skills of data analysis to dispute the assertion that Global Warming Climate Change is caused by the activities of mankind. A PDF of his presentation is here.

It makes me want to check his data, 'cause if it’s right, he’s right.

Without watching, why would I listen to an engineer over a climatologist? An interesting argument that doesn’t degenerate into ad hominem attacks is always refreshing regardless of view, though.

He covers that in the first few slides.

Sorry about the hastiness, then. I’m just used to seeing “John Smith, exeprt apple farmer with a BA in political science, discusses global warming” and I put on my Skeptic Cap. Slide 15 seems a little misleading, (is that all of the greenhouse gases in the entire atmosphere? is the red dot all of the CO2 that has been or ever will be produced by humans? do all greenhouse gases have equal effect on the environment? what abuot methane?)

Is the data on Slide 17 precise enough to work with? I see long, straight lines. I was under the impression that precision was only available over the past 600,000 years or so.

I “know” Slide 21 is an accurate graph, but the data sample may be too small…

Slide 25. A good example of graph fraud. The most “famous” example of the ice core graph (The scissor lift in An Inconvenient Truth) featured no scale change, though…

Other than that, it’s a very interesting report and I’m probably being over analytical…

I found the article extremely interesting. My only complaint is that no bibliography was attached (I’m going to check the website for that.)

All in all though I think he made several very valid points. Excellent article.

Definitely not. Bear in mind that just like water vapor eventually comes down in the form of rain CO2 is constantly being used by plants for photosynthesis (and thus exchanged for oxygen).

Much to my dismay there are no bibliographies listed on his website. Shame…I was rather interested is several of his graphs.

Thanks for the link Don, very interesting! It finally all makes sense…

If even a small fraction of this is true (and I suspect it is) then I can’t see how we can claim to be causing global warming. Though the lack of a bibliography is odd.

Really the only thing to make a bibliography for would be the charts, but yeah I found that slightly irritating. I’m actually sending this to several of my friends (if yahoo mail can fit it :rolleyes: ) It might make them consider things slightly differently. He undeniably makes some good points.

I really like listening to Burt Rutan speak because he’s so straightforward. My favorite quote is definitely: “The last one; getting hit with very-fast Big Rocks, is the only real threat to make us extinct.”

Check out his TED talk as well. While it is not about climate change (it’s about Virgin Galactic) it his pretty informative and very watchable.

Rutan’s TED talk

We (the FIRST community) should reach out to Burt Rutan. I believe that he attended the FIRST Championships in 1992, serving as a judge. Can anyone else confirm this?

Andy B.

What I like most about Rutan’s presentation is that he calls out which group he belongs too and thus his own personal bias. This should be a requirement any time anyone is doing analysis that requires some interpretation. This highlights the dangers of confusing “independent” research with “neutral” or “un-biased” research/analysis.

Michael Crichton has a similar presentation about the use of fear as a political tool.

I agree with Andy on the reaching out to Rutan. The guy has achieved some amazing engineering feats especially in the field of experimental aircraft.

I also agree, but I wouldn’t know how to start. Suggestions anyone?

As for skepticism, MY read of the presentation is that we SHOULD be skeptical, even of Burt’s charts. Since it was a live powerpoint presentation, the lack of bibliography is not unusual, but I do hope there is one somewhere. As I originally wrote, “It makes me want to check his data”. That includes straight lines, etc.

Now, if we ASSUME he is 100% correct in stating that Man’s activities are not the cause of Global Climate Change (and that is not necessarily a valid assumption!), I just want to point out that conserving energy and saving the environment and all the other Green stuff that’s so popular is NOT necessarily a bad idea! We should be looking for alternative energy sources, ways of reducing pollution, and being kinder to our environment. We just need to avoid destroying the economy with unnecessary actions and mandates.

Try going through Scaled Composites, his company. I think they’re located in Mojave, CA. They sponsor a team, too, FRC 1641 of Mojave, CA, so that team should probably do some of the reaching.

My reading is this: If the data is correct, then we can’t do a whole lot about the carbon emissions, which are the main focus, even if we adopt economy-killers (and government-expanders). So why adopt those?

I also like that he actually states his bias. Everyone has one, but nobody has the guts to 1) admit that they have one and 2) tell you what it is. I may not agree with some of the data with respect to time (PM me for why, if you’re interested), but taking the data at face value, if it’s accurate, is a slap in the face for those that say global warming is caused by humans. (I’d also like to see some of his sources.)


I just consider it a shame that it seems to take a “crisis” (whether real or fabricated) to get people to actually care about such things. You’d think that the same result could have been achieved merely by promoting the positive benefits of doing the aforementioned actions, as opposed to shouting about the consequences of not doing them (anybody remember the old principle about a donkey, a carrot, and a stick?) A bit sad.

Actually, that alone made me more inclined to believe him.

The X Prize people may be able to help as well. Peter Diamandis the CEO of the X Prize Foundation has pictures from Atlanta last year on Picassa, so I assume he was there. Given the X Prize’s mission, I imagine he would be very receptive to the idea and probably has Burt’s number kicking around somewhere. Speaking of which, Dr. Diamandis is equally qualified to speak in Atlanta. You can follow him on Twitter.

[EDIT] A took a look at the X Prize board, and coincidentally Dean Kamen is a trustee. Actually, they’re all pretty interesting people…

You know your presentation is a complete worthless waste of electrons when your argument that “the Global Climate Change facts are wrong due to using biased materials, manipulating statistics, ad hominum attacks and timeline cropping” is supported by using debunked biased materials, manipulated statistics, ad hominum attacks and timeline manipulation.

He begins with citing “panics” that were “proved” to be false. Oh yeah? By whom? DDT in large doses is a known carcinogen and thins eggshells in avians. The only reason it’s being used in Africa now is because there, the benefits of LIMITED use by far greatly offsets the “mild” side effects.
Y2K, acid rain, and nuclear wars WERE serious issues at one time, and delegitimizing them as panics is shamefully ignoring the important lessons that were learned by preventing them. The fact that we’re STILL cleaning up Iron Mountain should also preclude that one from being on the list. By trying to inflate his “long” list of panics (without even explaining them), he calls into question the rest of his “facts.” He also shows his stripes by forgetting to mention the “OMG, Communism!!!” irrational panic of the 1950’s and the “OMG Socialism!!!” “OMG Muslims!!!” “OMG Gays!!!” panics of today.

I’ve never heard of a climatologist that didn’t have the guts to admit that they’re a climatologist. And Al Gore is certainly not afraid of admitting his biases on the subject.

I, for one, am in the “none of the above eight” category. My bias is “Those who are sick of a small minority of ‘those trying to profit from making the world a worse place to live in’ attacking ‘those trying to profit from making the world a better place to live in’ for trying to make a profit from making the world a better place to live in.” It’s pure projection.

I can do statistical data on stuff I have no idea what I’m talking about, and manage to prove whatever I want with it too. I can statistically prove that the amount of stuff Burt Rutan doesn’t know about the global climate perfectly correlates with the rising sea level over the last 50 years. I can prove it using tables from the crazy right-wing Heritage Foundation too!

And when he makes crazy claims such as that MSNBC, the Democratic party and the Republic party are all too Socialist?!?!?! You REALLY have to question where his head is. Because clearly it’s not too focused on reality. After all:

Burt needs to stick to his day job of being a world renowned excellent engineer and quit his crazy right winger night job.

The thing is, the Global Climate Change argument has done its job - it’s made people focus on the world around us and what (if anything) we can do with it. With the climate information we now are concentrating on, maybe now we can figure out how to bring rain back to California, now that the polar icecap melting (which Burt mentions nothing about) has drawn the North American jetstream North. And it’s already done it’s job when the “socialist” state of California forced industry in LA to be cleaner and the “socialist big bad government” forced the auto industry to make their cars cleaner, solving the “horrific” problem that Burt claims that “Technology solved”

Frankly, I also think that carbon credits and a lot of “solutions” are just people trying to make a buck. All I know is that I’d rather pay $10000 for a solar panel that lasts 10 years now then pay $10000 for 10 years worth of coal that cost 100 miners their lives. Burt Rutan would probably call that “socialist” too, but I doubt that he nor any other right wing Climate Change Denier actually understands what that term means.

Can we staple this statement to people’s foreheads worldwide? Using recycled paper and staples, and biodegradable ink, of course…

Just a gentle reminder, there are lots of different views out there/here (not just right and left). There are liberals, conservatives, liberatarians, communists, socialists, fascists, authoritarians, anarchists, … Political idealogies are a lot like going into an icecream shop. There are a lot of fans of chocolate and vanilla, but there are also tutti-frutti through Rocky Road. Plus you can mix and match. Point being there are a lot of different wingers (passionate people) in the world. Why there is even a group that think they can bring about social change by playing with robots. Silly people. Don’t they know that robots will someday take over the planet?

Just to say here, but climate change happens everyday. Its called weather. Climate change is basically weather changing. It’s now come into play as “global warming is ending” and now we are entering into “global cooling”. I heard the phrase first used at UNH’s commencement this spring and my brother’s graduating class started chuckling when the speaker said, “Hurricane katrina was the unfortunate result of climate change which we suv-driving humans caused.” So far “global warming” hasn’t been linked to the weather.

EDIT: After reading what Molten said, I just wanted to go on the record of saying that my post is not meant to be a I’m right and you are wrong. These are just what I have read and learned on this subject. Just wanted to say that at least one person would take it as a desire for an argument.

carry on.