Thursday, April 29, 2010

Rewriting Scientific "Truth"

I've had a problem with "global warming" since the early 1980s. I had bought a house on a flood plain sited below sea level and protected by dykes. So I worried about rising sea levels. So I closely monitored IPCC announcements. I soon became frustrated because their "science" had no integrity. They would announce expected sea level and change facts and predictions without any tracking of past "predictions" or any justification for the changing numbers. That's not science. That publicity, that's propaganda, that's fear mongering, but it isn't science.

Over the last couple of years I've watched another version of this story: predictions that the arctic ice will disappear. I'm seeing the same game of changing predictions. In this case, the argument is that "global warming" would show up in high altitudes first, so we could expect a melting of arctic ice. Predictions started appear about how quickly that would occur. In 2007 the ice hit a low and these predictions looked to be supported by the data. But now that the ice is recovering, suddenly the "predictions" are changing. That's not science.

With science a prediction can change if the theory changes or the measurements change. But when this occurs you explain what has changed and why that changes the prediction. With the "arctic ice will disappear" crowd, they don't hold themselves accountable to their predictions. They start hedging. They qualify. They change terms.

Here's a wonderful description of this situation in a posting by Anthony Watts on his WUWT blog. He gets pretty sarcastic at the end of his post:
With nature still not cooperating with “death spiral predictions”, what will be the press release ice meme this year? Color? Texture? Cracks per square kilometer? It will be interesting to watch.
Go read his post!


thomas said...

The bottom line is... We don't know. I don't go along with the doomsday crowd either, but I don't go along with the "lets keep polluting and destroying the earth till we see some evidence that supports the idea that maybe we are killing our planet and then maybe we should look into it" crowd either. I don't agree with economically devastating the world, but I do go along with looking at the whole picture, past and future and realizing that some conservation will be necessary to insure that future generations will have the means to live a better life. I grew up in the logging industry and I know that there is a responsible way to harvest timber and there is a greedy, lazy way to do it, too. I don't know for sure, but I think that there is the possibility that there is a better way to produce the things we need and do it with innovation that produces jobs naturally and a demand for technology naturally.

I watched a program on the history channel recently that focussed on Tesla. The main push of the established power (Edison) was DC, but Tesla saw a better way... AC. The establishment fought him, but the better way was anti-establishment. There are so many ways to "skin a cat" and we need to be open minded to the possibilities and the opportunities to do things that preserve our environment and do the work better and creates jobs or industries that create jobs. We need people who look at the world like Tesla did. I know he was crazy, but he had good ideas. Edison cheated him, but he won in the end and kept his soul. I think Edison lost his.. We in this day and age need to analyze the cost of doing things the way the established corporations and fat cats want to do it. Maybe there is a smarter way that preserves life and at the same time makes things better for all of us.

I don't trust either side of this debate if either side is not looking at things with an open mind and in a scientific way. If money is involved... the poor defenseless usually lose.

RYviewpoint said...

Thomas: I agree with you on conservation. I live very frugally but I don't go around demanding "green" this and "green" that. I find the ones who are most demanding about being "green" are the least green.

I average 220 Kwh of electricity per month. But a guy like Al Gore uses that much just to run floodlights on his monster homes.

From The Reference Frame:

Gore's average monthly electric bill topped USD 1359. Add USD 1080 per month for natural gas. In total, it makes more than USD 30,000 per 2006 for his house at 312 Lynnwood Blvd. in the City of Belle Meade, adjacent to Nashville, TN.

Meanwhile, Al Gore has just added to his collection of homes with a new villa costing $8,875,000 in Montecito, just on the Eastern side from Santa Barbara, California (for details, see The Reference Frame).

Similarly, the fine folks on Martha's Vineyard, a getaway island for the upper crust, are fighting a bitter battle to keep a wind farm from being built. It seems these people are big on "green" when it is built in the backyards of the "little people". But they would rather keep their view than reduce their carbon footprint.

I'm for conservation. But I'm not for the radical cry to cut economic growth. The rich have no problem with condemning the poor to blighted lives because they are ensconced in their bubble world. But I really get bothered when they are willing to sacrifice the hope for a better future for the bottom 3 billion people on this planet because of their exaggerated worries about "global warming".

If I believed there was real runaway global warming, I would be demanding action. But from what I can tell, this is mostly fanatics overselling an idea based on modeling that is suspect.

As for Nikola Tesla, I've always found him fascinating. A brilliant guy. I think his brittle personality and self-defeating life decisions came from him having a combination of severe OCD and Asperger's syndrome. Sadly he died in poverty with pigeons as his only friends. At least he got to build some of his ideas. Sadly there are many geniuses who never get a chance. I would love to see society make more room for these people so they could leave more gifts of their genius for the benefit of future generations.