Monday, December 7, 2009

Scientific Sanity

Despite my own contributions to global warming, I do, actually, care about the environment. I also care about the scientific method.

I was raised to question everyone and everything. I've always felt that having a robust, open discussion where all facts are available to all participants contributes to growing the overall knowledge of each of us. For some reason, though, there appears to be a strong desire to eliminate any critical thought process across many parts of our lives.

I think this is why people can get away with selling "snake oil" on television and why seemingly serious television shows about ghost hunting have large audiences.

I'm told, by our political leaders, that man-made global warming is settled science. If I question any of it I'm labeled an earth-hater or a right-wing, pro-oil, anti-people insensitive clod who is just unable to see what is plainly obvious to every other person on the planet.

This response to skepticism about global warming is anti-science and goes against the scientific method that has helped us progress as far as we have; though there are many who wish to end progress.

So here's a quick-and-dirty explanation of the climate change debate:
  • We are, by definition, still in an ice age that started about 2.6 million years ago.
  • We have been, for the last 11,000 or so years, warming up. We are in what's called an interglacial period that could last as long as 30,000 years.
  • There have been a number of things that have caused the earth to cool and warm over the past few billion years.
  • We are currently in a period of earth warming unrelated to the activity of people.
  • There is a current theory that man's industrial activity has contributed enough CO2 to accelerate the rate of warming of the earth.
  • There is a current theory that this accelerated warming is bad, or even that the naturally occurring warming cycle is bad - bad for the earth and bad for us.
Here's where I have a problem. No one wants to have a real scientific discussion about the last two theories. Our politicians want to end the debate and "fix" "global warming." Our politicians and most who follow them are idiots.

I believe that reducing green-house gas emissions, large-particle pollutants, smog, nasty water emissions and any other type of pollution is a good thing. Using pseudo-science to convince people to reduce pollution is dishonest.

The cooling and warming cycles of the earth span eons. Yet I hear good-meaning people claim that global warming is true based on, at best, multi-decade observations. I actually heard someone use as an example a lake near their house, "I used to ice-skate on that lake every year and it hasn't frozen over in the last 10 years. Of course global warming is true." I don't know whether to laugh or cry. How does someone make the leap of applying a 10-year observation to predict what happens over multi-million year cycles.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised at the ignorance of our politicians. I'm never disappointed at the capitalism demonstrated around fads - millions were made on pet rocks and Mr. Gore is expecting to make many multiples of that.

Let's get back to some facts and an open, honest scientific debate. Watching one more idiot politician create a movement based on nonsense is just too painful. Watching scientists attempt to stifle debate is dreadfully depressing.

It may be that we are accelerating, in a bad way, the current warming cycle. On the other hand, in earth history, we haven't been around for very long. It's hard for me to see the current hysteria as anything more than hyper-arrogance created from a sense that man is so important and powerful that we, in a span of 150 years, can destroy the natural earth cycles that have existed for billions of years. My gut tells me that even if we burned all the oil in existence we wouldn't be more than a tiny blip on the geological time-line of our planet. But then again, there are those who believe we humans are a lot more important than reality suggests.

1 comment:

Jamie Watson said...

Thank you. I appreciated this very much.