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Global Warming: Part Duh

Posted by The Curmudgeon on February 18, 2010

As Obama might say: “Let me be clear.”

I was asked a few questions in conjunction with comments attached to the preceding posting. The first was whether I was “saying there is no man-made global warming dooming this planet?”…the second speculated as to whether I believed that “global warming was just a ruse?”…and the third solicited my opinion of Al Gore’s role in the climate change controversy.

I’ll take a shot at them all with this new posting.

There’s more than enough irrefutable evidence that global warming — and cooling — have occurred at various times over a period of millions of years. Some changes appear to be attributable to specific events (e.g., volcanic eruptions and asteroid impacts that caused occlusive dust and ash clouds dense enough to block the sun’s rays), while others have yet to be explained—although a number of theories have been advanced, and some appear to be plausible.

As to whether we’re currently experiencing a warming trend…well, that’s another matter. Over a period of several years, I came to essentially accept — with some reservations, owing to persistent indications to the contrary — that we were; however, recent revelations have prompted me (and many others) to question that position. With the discovery of previously unknown climatological data, doubt has been cast. I consider it an unsettled issue—and very much open to debate.

The question then arises: Notwithstanding volcanoes and asteroids, is all other climate change caused by humans?

Hmmm. Another interesting proposition. Not long ago, there was broad support for the theory that global warming is actually caused by flatulent cattle releasing huge volumes of methane gas into the atmosphere, producing a greenhouse effect. (The last I heard, the jury’s still out on that one; if saving the world requires sacrificing methane-bloated cows, however, I insist that we start with the current Speaker of the House. Absent a prodigious bovine population, she’ll no longer have access to a ready source of Botox, anyway.) There’s yet another theory that there is indeed a warming trend—but that theory likewise excludes humans as the cause. Unless we’re also causing global warming on Mars—which seems to be inconveniently warming at a surprising rate, as well. (Actually, speculation as to the cause of Mars’ warming trend is focused mostly on two suspected causes—one of which may also be related to climate change on Earth http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/02/070228-mars-warming.html and http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/04/070404-mars-warming.html .)

However, I suspect that the primary thrust of my initial posting was overlooked, anyway. I shall now endeavor to clarify.

We look to science for answers—but we also expect science to do the single most important thing that science is supposed to do: to question. And science is expected to react as Ayn Rand advised: “Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are faced with a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.” (Which is why I cited Velikovsky—who reacted in this fashion to apparent contradictions. Though his work was highly controversial, he must be credited with having the integrity to discard his original postulates when faced with clear evidence of their inaccuracy.)

Indications of global warming are troubling—but no more troubling than the behavior of many prominent scientists. When presented with credible climatological data calling into question their growing acceptance of claims related to climate change (read: “apparent contradictions”), such data deserved their careful scrutiny; instead, they responded with a concerted effort to stifle dissenting voices and dismiss out-of-hand even the mere suggestion that their precious theories just might be wrong. Their only lament? That the revelation of such contradictions might lead to a loss of credibility among the general public (thus far the only claim that’s been proven correct), as revealed in the University of East Anglia e-mail scandal.

This is good science?

I’ve not suggested that assertions of climate change are without merit; to the contrary, I consider it a serious matter that warrants careful examination and research—examination and research that won’t be accomplished if a substantial percentage of the scientific community (that’s the folks who should be doing the examining and researching) insist on wearing blinders and smothering valid skepticism of as-yet unproven claims. Yes, some glaciers are melting—but they’ve also melted in the past. Yes, ocean current temperatures suggest external causes—but no definitive evidence has yet been presented. No, I don’t consider the snow on my driveway (in Alabama) an indication that we’re actually experiencing global cooling; some computer models developed to support claims of global warming actually predict such phenomena—and it’s snowed here before, anyway. Yes, I believe that we experience global warming…and cooling—but I remain unconvinced that such conditions aren’t cyclic; it follows, then, that I’d be uncertain whether mankind causes such fluctuations, either—a healthy skepticism shared by scientists and researchers who are a hell of a lot more qualified than I am to voice dissent.

Do I believe that “global warming was just a ruse?” Not necessarily. As I indicated, there’s sufficient evidence to warrant further study; the true gravity of the situation, however, I consider debatable. One must consider the stakes involved. Might a researcher be inclined to accentuate one finding over another in an effort to obtain (or hang onto) a lucrative research grant? Might a financier with extensive investments in “green” technology apply pressure to privately-funded research groups in an effort to produce findings favorable to those investments? Is it conceivable that a political figure might beat the drum for “green” legislation knowing the power that will be vested in the overseers of such changes?

Vast (and I mean really vast) sums of money and almost unimaginable power and influence hang in the balance. For the foreseeable future, he who controls the “green” agenda stands to hold sway over areas as diverse as government, manufacturing, finance, commerce,—… The list goes on and on—both domestically and (even more so) on the global stage.

Al Gore? An opportunist—and a very hypocritical one, at that (he wants me to lighten my “carbon footprint?” Take a look at his.). He’s shown that he’s not as knowledgeable as he’d have us believe. And he’s reputed to have accumulated an almost embarrassing level of wealth during his little crusade. Still, it’s possible that he’s sincere in what he espouses—though I’m much more inclined to view him as simply a well-compensated mouthpiece…and maybe even a mere stooge.

In summary, there’s surprisingly little about climate change or its suspected causes that we know for certain. I’ll reiterate my contention that responsibility for the lack of reliable information rests with the scientists who have allowed extraneous influences to get in the way of good science.

________

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One Response to “Global Warming: Part Duh”

  1. GrannyLin said

    Thank you, I am honored you spent so much time to help me. And I loved the Ayn Rand quote! So to get back on track to the main point of your post, some scientists do not follow their own scientific methods; they claimed conclusions they had no right to claim. How terrifying. After decades of fighting the skeptics and the industrialists, environmental scientists cleaned out enough pollution in Detroit we can now see sky over River Rouge (it used to be a permanent yellow grey fog). But that was 20 years ago. What are they doing for me today? And will I again trust a profession that has been shown to be wracked with carelessness and possible greed?

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