Climate Science or Science Fiction?

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 23, 2004 | Go to article overview

Climate Science or Science Fiction?


Byline: H. Sterling Burnett, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Proponents of policies to control human-induced global warming cite science as the basis for their claims and proposals. There is only one problem - as much as they claim otherwise, there is no scientific consensus for their theories.

Here's a quick refresher. Science pursues knowledge through testing, observation and the systematization of facts, principles and methods. Progress is made when a hypothesis is proposed to explain or understand certain phenomena, and which is then tested against reality. A particular hypothesis is considered superior to others when, through testing, it is shown to have more explanatory power than competing theories and when other scientists can reproduce the results.

The theory humans are causing global warming does not work this way, however. No matter what the climate phenomenon, if it can in some way be presented as unusual by global warming alarmists, it is argued to be [thorn]further evidence of global warming," even if it contradicts earlier [thorn]evidence" pointed to by the same people.

Here is a recent example. In late January, newspapers in England reported a study indicating ongoing global warming may plunge the world into the next ice age. This is not the first study that has predicted a great freeze. Indeed, some scientists were warning of the coming ice age as early as the 1970s. The main difference is that those early predictions were based on supposed evidence the Earth was undergoing a significant cooling trend since the 1940s and that a naturally occurring ice age was overdue.

Will global warming cause a new ice age? I don't know, and neither does anyone else. Other than the fact the Earth has warmed about 1 degree Fahrenheit since the 1870s and that atmospheric concentrations of various naturally occurring and artificial greenhouse gasses are significantly higher now than in the recent past, there is very little consensus concerning causes of the Earth's current warming trend or the consequences if it continues.

This is the problem with trying to forge appropriate policy responses to possible threats posed by future climate change - for what scenario do we plan?

In the realm of climate change research, different models looking at the same phenomenon using the same principles of atmospheric physics often produce dramatically varied results. …

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