Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Junk science?

So, according to the scientist quoted in this article, "The debate over whether or not there is a global warming signal is now over, at least for rational people."


Granted, Reuters is not a scientific journal, so I don't expect them to show their proof for the ideas pushed by the scientists in the article. Still, there is much debate in the scientific community as to whether or not "global warming" as it is known is in fact caused by people. Let's not forget that the Earth has gone through plenty of climate changes on its own (Example: the Ice Age). Also, there is evidence that the climate was warmer during the Middle Ages. How could that be if the industrial revolution had not yet occurred? Another point to consider is that a certain valley in Antarctica has typically been used as a standard of "climate change." However, temperatures there have fallen in the last several years.

The scientists purport that the place to look is not the atmosphere temperatures, but the ocean temperatures (not that air temperature has always been the exact measure). They do not mention, however, why ocean temperature is a better measure. From what I gather from the article, warmer air temperatures melt the glacial ice, which feeds into the oceans. As the oceans warm from this runoff, they are a better measure. So, wouldn't you still be able to detect a temperature change in the atmosphere this way? It would have to be present!

Another proof they offer is computer models. I don't know anything about the computer models, but all computer models are flawed in that they cannot replace having a real system to study with real data. Computer models are only as accurate or biased as the person creating it. In other words, GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out). If you put bad premises and assumptions into the model, of course you will see the outcome you anticipated. But is it correct?

The bottom line on all of this is that the verdict is far from finished, as some of these folks would like to say. Science by consensus is not always the best method of doing science. Additionally, these people are playing a good PR game, but that is not what science is about or how it should work. What other scientists run to the media everytime they make some tiny little progress? Science is not about popular opinion.

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