Ever since Al Gore has made science a political football with his not very scientific tome of pseudo science, we have seen claim after claim of unjustified conclusions about so many so called scientific crises. First global warming evidence was incontrovertible and absolutely correct. But if one weren’t in the habit of cherry picking the supporting data then one might see that the claims were not supported. One of the main opposing views is that the radiation from the sun has far more effect on global temperatures. There is still a great deal we do not know with certainty about solar radiation except that it can have an immediate effect on this earth through the mechanisms of sunspot activity. For example, the solar radiation is responsible for the appearance of the Aurora Borealis and for its intensity. That same radiation also can push the effect further from the north pole. And if the sunspot activity is great enough it can disrupt electrically communications that rely on air waves. But research suggests that solar radiation also have an effect on weather.
Unfortunately for the scientific community there was not so much debate as there was outright war between those climate scientists who had constructed computer models and fed into the programs the data so as to prove their models correct. Of course every model predicted that global warming would occur on schedule. A great number of the data collected was suspect. But that didn’t stop those whose views were akin to a holy vision from god and must be obeyed. Science is far from being altruistic and neutral as a human endeavor. It is filled with passionate emotions by the very reasons that guide human behavior. It is a winner take all game. Imagine if you were a leading physicist in 1910 and you had staked your career to the existence of phistigen. The idea that if light was a wave then it must have some liquid substance in which to propagate that wave. The other great idea you might have held was the the universe was just a mechanical being whose movements could be predicted through physical mechanics. Now along comes a young man who wrote a couple of earthshaking papers on physics and did not hold any prestigious chair at any prestigious university. Worst still, he had spent years as a clerk in a Swiss patent office. But you, you have thirty years of teaching and research at the best universities. You, who have written numerous papers well received by the prestigious science journals. You who have written books praised by other fellow physicists. And you, who have won many awards for your work. Now this young man has the temerity to tell everyone all your work is wrong, it is useless as science for it is wrong. Do you surrender meekly to this young and unproven man whose ideas are exceptionally difficult to comprehend? That young man was Albert Einstein and hundreds of old physicists were wrong, swept away like so much dust in the wind.
So the science wars continue. If you collect the temperatures of sea water within ten feet of its surface then you introduce error into your model for climate change. Why is that so? because the temperature of the sea water varies according to depth and there are several currents running at different depths and for different lengths of distance. there is some interactions of these currents with each other but not much is know because it is a very difficult area to study. And if your temperature model collects temperatures off the tops of highrise buildings then what is the gradient difference ground level and that heat sink of a building mass that may be affecting your temperature reading? We can produce heat mapping of cities, their adjoining suburbs, and the adjoining rural areas, but it is difficult to say just how the heat of a city affects weather. We can measure the difference in wind movements but how much do city generated shifts in wind and other air movements affect weather? That means that any computer model must be extremely complex and yet it must fall so very short of modeling all the various factors that create the current weather patterns.
The NASA scientists who released the report of 2014 being the hottest year on record were only 38 percent sure it was the hottest year on record. Well, yeah, they left that part out of their news release. But the GISS study used more than 3000 points of data collection. The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature uses over 30,000 collection points, so the Goddard team was using only ten percent of the data collected. Do you think that makes a difference? Then we find out that this new record was only 0.02% hotter than the data for 2010. Hardly earthshaking. Oh, and the margin of error in the temperature readings is admitted by these same Goddard scientists to be 0.10%. Wow, a factor of ten. Now the berkeley group analyzed the data and found that if there was a new record it would be by even less than that 0.02% reported by Goddard.
So why does all this matter? for one, Very little research in what we might call pure science is self funding. That is, there is no way to immediately profit from it and may never be. Therefore any research that is not aimed at applied science must be funded by those who can afford to be charitable with their money. Secondly, most of the pure science research is extremely excessively expensive. Few billionaires can afford to build their own personal thirty mile long colliders, let alone the power plants that provide the excessively large amounts on energy to do high energy particle research. The prize of this type of research is not the brass ring of business profit but that gold ring of immortality in the annuals of science. Some science writers as well as business writers love to keep Dr Feynman’s name in print and one of the preeminent physicists of the past century. But how many of them know what research won him a Nobel Prize in Physics. Everyone knows Einstein and his theory of relativity even if they don’t understand it. But Feynman? What did he do? Well, climate has the same effect, the world will know all about climate even if they don’t know anything about it and can’t do anything about the weather. Ah, to get your name linked to that, well, it’s worth cheating just a little.
The other point is that climate change fears generate stupidity in government laws and regulation. We have thousands and tens of thousands of well meaning people who will take inappropriate action, as they always do, to fix the situation. Count on it. We must reduce our pollution so the world will be safe. Except what little we do and its great cost to us makes so little difference to the world. China has an approximate land mass to the U.S. and yet that almost four times as many people. Consider stuffing 900 million more people in this country and what do you think would be the effect on general pollution? Go google pollution in China and see what you get. Yes, as a rule we should stop, when and where possible out pollution. Yes, shutting down coal and gas powered electric plants would be a good thing. Of course where and how will we replace those energy sources? Solar power? Yes, nice and clean, or is it? The chip manufacturers were seen as the great clean industry until their chemical wastes were found in the ground water supplies. Time to ship that industry off to a foreign shore or two. The lesson, learn to pollute for less somewhere where to local population may never catch on to the problems. It’s the moral thing to do according to Greenpeace. The NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies doesn’t do us any favors by making claims that have no basis in fact. The complexity of the world has no simple solutions outside of total extinction, and I, for one, am not ready to advocate that.