February 8, 2010

The Full Monty Fisking of Climategate

Climategate—analysis by John P. Costella, Ph.D.

The key phrase here, from a scientific point of view, is that it is “unprecedented” warming. There is absolutely no doubt that mankind has liberated huge quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere over the past two centuries. But mankind did not “create” this carbon dioxide out of nothing. It was released by the burning of “fossil fuels”, created by the Earth over millions of years from the remains of plants and animals (who themselves ultimately obtained their nutrition from those plants). So where did those plants get their energy and carbon dioxide from? They absorbed the radiant energy of the Sun, and breathed in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, as plants continue to do today. In other words, when we burn fossil fuels, we are utilizing a small part of the solar energy that had been collected and stored by plants over millions of years, and in the process we are liberating into the atmosphere the carbon dioxide that those plants had absorbed from the atmosphere in the first place.

This may sound like a fairly benign sort of natural cycle, until you realize that a couple of hundred years is a mere blink of an eye compared to the millions of years it took for the planet to build up those resources. It is right for scientists to worry about whether that massive and almost instantaneous “kick” to the planet may throw the equilibrium of the biota into complete chaos. It is a valid question, of ultimate global importance—one that most people would have thought would have demanded the most careful, exacting, and rigorous scientific analyses that mankind could muster.

Climategate has shattered that myth. It gives us a peephole into the work of the scientists investigating possibly the most important issue ever to face mankind. Instead of seeing large collaborations of meticulous, careful, critical scientists, we instead see a small team of incompetent cowboys, abusing almost every aspect of the framework of science to build a fortress around their “old boys’ club”, to prevent real scientists from seeing the shambles of their “research”. Most people are aghast that this could have happened; and it is only because “climate science” exploded from a relatively tiny corner of academia into a hugely funded industry in a matter of mere years that the perpetrators were able to get away with it for so long.

But as wisely noted by both P. T. Barnum and Abraham Lincoln,

You may fool all the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time.

Posted by Vanderleun at February 8, 2010 1:44 AM
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