The public tends to trust “Science” to tell us the truth. Put a lab coat and a stethoscope on someone and we tend to trust them more than we normally would trust a stranger. Society respects the hard work that was required to earn that lab coat, whether a true scientist is wearing it or an actor who “plays one on T.V.” Looking the part and fulfilling the role are two different things.
Some “scientists” (better called pseudo-scientists) stick to their guns and defend bad theory long after reason and common sense dictate other actions are more rational for two reasons – peer pressure and funding. It’s tough to go against the flow of conventional wisdom and tell the world that global warming is a farce.
Bjorn Lomborg was an established and respected liberal scientist who believed completely in global warming and for that reason set out to disprove the theories of American economist Julian Simon. Simon claimed the world’s environment was improving and not getting worse.
Lomborg actually studied the data and concluded Simon had been right for the most part. He dared publish his research in his book The Skeptical Environmentalist, and overnight turned from a rising star of the scientific community to an intellectual leper shunned by his peers. The late great Michael Crichton described his treatment by the scientific community as “relentless ad-hominem attacks, which can only mean his conclusions were unobjectionable in any serious scientific way”.
Crichton himself would come to understand how Lomborg felt better than anyone his novel State of Fear was published. Critics in the scientific community howled. They complained the novel was fictional but said curiously little to refute the 31 pages of bibliographical sources of information Crichton provided at the end of his book. His brilliant speech at the National Press Club in 2005 used public data obtained from the UN that eviscerated the theory of global warming completely in 2005; too bad no one reported it.
The fact Crichton’s well established writing style had been fiction based on in depth research into cutting edge medical and scientific technology for his entire career was apparently lost on those critics. The same brilliant writing style developed from his extensive research and crafted in his creative yet scientifically-oriented mind helped Crichton become one of the most popular writers in recent memory suddenly appeared to be to Crichton’s detriment. The darling of the scientific community when he popularized science with Jurassic Park was excoriated for writing State of Fear.
Most pseudo-scientists rely heavily on computer models to form their theories. These models form the basis for their educated guesses. Computer models are fabulous for doing certain simulations and providing forecasts of future events as long as the limitations of the model are understood and factored into the simulation program, and the results are properly weighted. I am a former software developer with more than twenty years experience and I am quite familiar with computer models, having been considered something of an expert in my day. I understand the concept of GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out) all too well.
Simulation models are great for five day weather forecasts. Technology and satellite observations have refined the data fed into the five day forecast model, so it now predicts weather with reasonable accuracy, but only within that narrow range. Long term forecasts are much more volatile, to the point where predicting next year’s weather would be a laughable exercise.
A computer model might be able to forecast an event like an earthquake with sufficient and accurate seismic data, but global warming weather models are much less reliable and the results are just random guesses. There are so many variables that have to be factored that the models simply won’t work. Wind patterns, tides, and a host of factors determine our weather from day to day. Pollutants are just one of many factors that must be considered. Simulations might produce educated guesses, but they are still guesses at the end of the day.
The sum total of all humankind has come to know is a Bank of Knowledge. The Bank of Knowledge shapes the decisions we make on both a micro and a macro level and by extension the course of human civilization. Modern scientific discoveries are only made because modern scientists “stand on the shoulders of giants” like Newton, Galileo, and Einstein.
Science fiction is a popular genre of fantasy themed novels and movies that may potentially generate fabulous returns for the imaginative writer and creator. But fiction science is an abomination, a fairly recent cultural phenomenon where pure science is bastardized in search of the almighty (research funding) dollar. Fiction science is annoying, intrusive and downright dangerous contributor to that Bank of Knowledge created by a politically correct consensus developed by elitists with an agenda to gain power through fear.
For years all the computer models said a rogue wave as high as 100 feet was a freak of nature that could only happen once every 10,000 years. As recently as the early 1990s the computer models agreed, so it had to be true. Pseudo-scientists believed their computer models in spite of mounting anecdotal evidence suggesting they were wrong.
Statistical evidence such as the fact over a twenty five year span more than sixty super tankers sank as a result of unknown reasons was ignored. Until the 1990s, it was generally believed the largest waves that regularly occurred in ocean waters were no more than 60 feet tall. Then the European Space Agency sent a couple of high tech satellites named ERS I and ERS II into orbit. They began to provide feedback on ocean activity that painted a different picture. The satellites sent down detailed information about wave development and tracking from space. This more accurate, freshly obtained data showed well over 400 rogue waves over 70 feet tall occurred in one small patch of ocean within a period of several months.
The infamous sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald is now believed to have been caused by two rogue waves that struck the ship in rapid succession. The waves were sighted by a nearby ship moving in the direction of the Fitzgerald shortly before she sank. Navy divers photographed evidence showing the ship had literally snapped in half on the ocean surface. Most disturbingly, the sinking was not in open ocean waters, but on Lake Superior in the Great Lakes between Canada and the United States.
In 2001 cruise ships the Caledonian Star and the Bremen were struck by rogue waves off the coast of South America within 10 days of each other. Neither ship sank, but in both cases the waves destroyed the ship’s bridge more than 80 feet above the water line. Satellite data showed rogue waves between 90 to 105 feet tall were travelling in the area near where the ships were hit in the same timeframe.
Because of irrefutable evidence, scientists have revised their understanding of rogue waves and new theories are in development. But it took undisputed proof and eyewitness testimony to prompt the change the prevailing scientific opinion and to accept the fact rogue waves can easily reach heights greater than 100 feet.
If pseudo-scientists can’t simulate relatively simple “current” phenomena like a rogue wave accurately with their models without irrefutable hard satellite data to help correct their mistakes, how can they possibly be trusted to forecast future climate behavior on suspect “altered” data?
An Inconvenient Truth
Al Gore won an Academy Award and the Nobel Prize for his well-known movie about global warming. It is shown in public schools as a routine part of science classes.
There is only one problem with using the film as a documentary. It isn’t one; it’s an opinion piece. Gore himself admits there was a certain amount of exaggeration in the film which he deemed necessary to raise public awareness of the dangers of global warming. How much exaggeration?
Only several orders of magnitude. The movie depicted floods sweeping across Manhattan as New York City was swamped by a rise in sea levels of nineteen feet. Actual scientific estimates call for a worst case estimate rise in sea level of no more than nineteen inches. The difference in estimates between the claims in Gore’s movie and reality is about seventeen and a half feet, making Gore’s sea level estimate off approximately twelve hundred percent.
That is a “certain amount” of exaggeration.
Cap and trade legislation to address global warming is being considered, and emphasis is placed on the urgent need to act without having a clear plan of what to do or what might be accomplished by taking such action. Studies demonstrate the impact of “drastic” action to reduce carbon emissions like the Kyoto protocol would be negligible at best while the fiscal harm to the global economy would be significant. Sadly, that doesn’t stop politicians from attempting to pass these bills because legislation translates to an opportunity for additional taxation.
Why Not Give Science the Benefit of the Doubt?
Over the course of history, consensus scientific opinion said the earth was flat, a process called phlogiston explained corrosion and combustion resulting from oxidation, the earth was the geocentric center of the solar system, and every material on earth was composed from one of the four main elementals of earth, wind, fire or water.
Modern scientific theories have not been immune to the need for corrections, either. We were taught there were nine planets in our solar system in science class until very recently.
New information indicates there are either eight or ten planets, depending on your perspective. There is an object which was discovered to orbit around the sun that is roughly half the size of Pluto. “Eris definitely hurts the case for Pluto being a planet”, says Professor of Planetary Astronomy Mike Brown of Caltech. “There is no good scientific way to keep Pluto a planet without doing serious disservice to the remainder of the solar system.”
As a result, Pluto was demoted by vote of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) members at a conference in Prague. The solar system now only has eight planets. Sorry, Pluto, but you didn’t pass muster.
On the other hand, the periodic table had 109 elements until six new ones were discovered in the last quarter century, resulting in the reprinting of posters for science classrooms all over the world. Science gives, and it takes away.
The point is this: “Science” uncovers evidence and refines theory with additional facts. If the facts support the theory, it is bolstered and conversely the theory becomes weakened if the facts do not. Pseudo-scientists make exceptions for their pet theories, defending them long after logic and hard evidence have refuted them.
“To err is human, to forgive divine”. Alexander Pope wrote that in an essay on criticism.
We are human and therefore prone to mistake. I can forgive my scientist friends the honest error, provided the debate is honest and the facts fairly presented. Using “Mike’s Nature Trick” and black-balling honest men with competing opinions isn’t fair, honest, or scientific by nature. It is thuggish.
John Leonard is RightSideNews.com’s newest Contributing Author. Other articles by John may also be found on AmericanThinker.com. His first book, titled Hybrid Theory: Reconciling Creationism and Evolution Theory, is pending publication by epress-online.