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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Flat Earth.

(This is a LTE, in response to this:

Individuals who enjoy a weekly megaphone should be sure that they don't needlessly spread demonstrably false information...unless that is their intention.

Climate Science is Complex. There's a lot of Variables to consider, many of which Science doesn't completely understand. Knowledge is Provisional, and Science is the never ending pursuit of better understanding. We will never Know.

However, Science has proved to be a remarkable tool in furthering our understanding of the Universe. It comes as a shock to some folks that a Scientific "Theory" is as close to "Fact" as Science can come. What most folks seem to think "Theory" means is more akin to "Hypothesis", literally "Placing Under"...a Supposition....a Foundation from which to Enquire.

A "Theory" is not an educated guess. It is the Temporary End Result of Testing one's Hypothesis. Much of this Testing in the area of Climatology, is done with computer Modeling....where the Inputs are the observed Climate Record...some of which is pieced together from Ice Cores and Tree Rings, and even Sedimentation...Strata at the bottom of lakes, and the like. Data from Buoys and Satellites and Balloons...about currents of wind and water, over time...are plugged in...

Some of the most powerful computers on Earth are pressed into service to "build" these Models....

And it works, rather well....and has passed the further Test of Falsifiability, as well as Prediction. (what the Models were predicting 20 years ago, has come to pass) The Overwhelming Consensus, among Climate Scientists, as well as the Scientific Community, as a whole, is that Global Warming is a Real Phenomenon...that it's Getting Worse...and that Human Activity, for the last Century, or so, is Responsible. We have entered the Anthropocene.

Denialists like to point to the so-called "Climate Gate" fiasco....which a cursory look at the Record indicates was created out of Whole Cloth by a few Right Wing Bloggers, then picked up by Fox. The original emails in question were taken out of context, by Nonscientists. Tempest in the Teapot, indeed.

Another favourite riposte is what, on the surface, looks like contradictory Data."How can there be Global Warming if it's Snowing?" or, "How can they be warning of an Ice Age, if the Planet's Warming?". The former is mistaking Weather for Climate.

The latter is a simple failure to appreciate the Complexity of Climate.

The warnings about an Ice Age, are referring to the effects of a whole lot of Fresh Water(which floats), from melting Ice Caps, entering the North Atlantic, and "shutting down" the Atlantic Conveyor....of which the Gulf Stream is a part. This would, indeed, cause dramatically Colder Temperatures in Europe(London is the same latitude as Nova Scotia), and the North East of North America...and then the "Positive Feedback Loops" could kick in, and the party really gets going.

The point is, I guess, that we need better Science Instruction in Schools. This wouldn't be such an issue if we all were on the same page, regarding things like "What's a Theory?"....Too, there is an enormous apparatus churning out those Tempests I referred to....and this Wurlitzer is funded by Interests who would like to keep things as they are...for Short Term fun and Profit. Mud in the Water.

The Problems we, as a Species, face are Huge...but they don't fit well on a bumper sticker. That does not make them any less serious.

Thanks, '

1 comment:

amfortas the hippie said...