Friday, December 18, 2009

Climate Change and Scale

One thing that always annoys me about the climate change argument is that proponents of human driven climate change tend to focuse on the last few hundred years or at most thousand of years. This stikes me as odd considering that there has been life on earth for hundreds of millions of years.

This is why I find the graph on this page very interesting.Firstly for most of the history of life on earth the atmosperic carbon level has been well over 1000 parts per million, and we are talking about levels between 400 -500 as dangerous irreversible climate change. The other thing that the graph seems to show is that the earths stable average temperature iis about 22 degrees.

SO on a geologival tiemscale the current averages of 16 degrees is markedly below average, it is then little wonder that the world is trying to get warmer. There is strong evidence that higher carbon levels lead cause photosynthesis and plant growth to accelerate.

Granted that our evolutionary history has occured during an ice age (while there are icecaps we are essentially in an ice age). So all in all while I support moves to reduce human pollution of the environment I remain strongly skeptical of the Climate change claims and associated agenda. Especially as this position is increasingly becoming a doctrine held by its proponent with religious zeel, this includes deliberate steps to sideline or suppress any and all contrary options.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Death of Science

The following article "Climategate: Science Is Dying" caught my eye recently. I hate to break it to Mr Henninger but the fact that scientists are human and that academia is rife with internal politics has been an open secret for many many years. At least for anyone involved in science or academia in any case. Seriously anyone who has gone to University and paid even a little bit of attention should be aware of this.

The whole topic was covered back in the Sixties by THomas Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. In a nutshell new ideas tend to get taken up by young scientists just getting started. To a large extent the peer review process favors older established theories, especially in highly specialized publications where reviewers are likely to have a conflict of interest against publishing things that will invalidate their own past works. So what you tend to get is generational change. The old theory only dies when most of its proponents have retired.

These days we as a society have far outgrown the romantic notion of Science as the great savior that can do no wrong. That is why research has to be screened through ethics committees. In Psychology many of the pivotal experiments conducted in the first half of the 20th century frequently involved inflicting potentially serious mental trauma on unsuspecting volunteers such as the Milgram study.

But then again Kuhn didn't really reach that wide of a general audience. So maybe Climategate will have an impact on the perception of science in the general community. Far from being a bad thing it will help the general public to see science for the man made institution that it is. And in my opinion this is a good thing as accepting anything blindly and absolutly is demonstrably a bad thing.