Global warming is not settled science:
This appeared in The Oregonian, on July 13, 2014:
Guest columnist D.W.Nebert, MD
Daniel Nebert, MD, is professor emeritus at the Cincinnati College of Medicine and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
The 2013 report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that “global warming is unequivocal and human influence has been the dominant cause since the mid-20th century”. During his State of the Union speech (January 2014), Obama declared “the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact.” As a physician-scientist who has carried out basic research for more than 50 years, I agree that we should not pollute the planet unnecessarily; however, I find these statements far beyond credulity!
Estimates of numbers of scientists who “believe” in global warming range between 5 per cent and more than 99 per cent. Those in disagreement have been called “skeptics”, “deniers”, and “nonbelievers”. However, “believing” and “denying” are terms used in “consensus science”, not in “basic science”.
What’s the difference? Basic science is defined as “knowledge about, or study of, the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observations”. A theory (hypothesis) is tested by performing experiments and interpreting results either to prove or disprove the hypothesis in a way to minimize uncertainty. It’s best if those doing the experiments are “blinded”, i.e. samples are coded so that those doing the experiments are not biased toward any expected outcome. These experiments must also be repeated by other groups to confirm the original findings. Only after data have been properly collected, vetted, and thoroughly corroborated, do we have a conclusion––with the least amount of uncertainty needed to establish a scientific fact.
In contrast, consensus science is “what the majority in a particular field of study agree upon might be true”. The consensus may or may not turn out to be confirmed by further research; for example, 15 years ago simulation models predicted that all Arctic ice would disappear by September 2013. In fact, Arctic ice thickness doubled between summer of 2012 and summer of 2013. Other forecasts 15 years ago included substantial melting of Antarctic ice, warming of global temperatures, and rising sea levels. Although CO2 levels have risen during the past 15 years, the Antarctic ice shelf has become thicker, there’s been no increase in global temperatures, and (if anything) global sea levels have slightly decreased. Thus, these simulation models included much uncertainty and, to date, all have been proven to be invalid.
There are many instances in which “established science” has been overturned by further experiments. In other words, science is never completely irrefutable.
For example, “mad cow disease and the human equivalent Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease––were degenerative brain diseases of unknown cause. After ten years of experiments, neurologist Stanley Prusiner reported in 1982 that these diseases were caused by a virus-like protein which he named “prion” (derived from “protein” and “infectious”). Almost every scientist laughed, because “viruses had been well known to always be made of DNA or RNA”. Prusiner persisted, however, because he was convinced the consensus was wrong. He proved to be correct and was awarded the 1997 Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology for his novel discovery. Prions are now realized to affect tissues other than brain and, in fact, are found even in lower organisms such as yeast.
For decades, peptic ulcer was believed to be caused by “mental stress” and excess stomach acid. Following many years of experiments, physicians Barry Marshall and Robin Warren reported in 1985 that peptic ulcer was caused by Heliobacter pylori. This finding forever changed the field of ulcer research: instead of treating ulcers with antacid medications and/or surgery, antibiotics could now kill the bacteria and cure the disease! Marshall and Warren were awarded the 2005 Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology for this breakthrough.
It is a fact that Earth’s climate has been changing for 4.5 billion years. Indeed, fossil records in the Americas over the past 16,000 years have confirmed countless serious droughts lasting many decades, sometimes hundreds of years. Climate is measured in centuries; today’s global warming “scientists” are talking about weather (measured in months or years). Is it reasonable––when U.S. debt is increasing at a rate of $3.7 billion each day––for any taxpayer money to be spent on consensus science speculation?
This appeared the next day, in response to Dr. Nebert’s article:
Thank you Professor Nebert.
You correctly point out that science is forever changing, just like our climate. If science is to continue making the remarkable progress it has over the last four centuries, it must never be allowed to fall into a look-alike that amounts to no more than tall tales, politics, and sugar pills. The original scientists who formed the first scientific society, the British Royal Society, understood this and adopted the motto “Take no one’s word for it” to express their determination to avoid the domination of authority. They were resolved to keep the political and religious spheres from telling them what to believe, as had occurred with Galileo decades earlier.
Unfortunately, science, like all human activities, is subject to the encroachment of corruption. When vast sums of money hang in the balance, as for instance in drug trials, there is the ever-present danger of deliberate cheating or just inadvertent skewing of the data toward a positive result. A recent study of journal articles by Dr. Patrick Michaels of the Cato Institute showed a tremendous skewing of published articles toward positive results likely to further careers. The medical community has been very wise to use double blind studies to nearly eliminate such bias. In other fields, such an approach is largely impractical.
How, then, is science audited? In many cases today, it is not. Papers that produce the results that scientific journal editors support get only ‘pal-review’ while papers that run contrary to a consensus are relegated to the rubbish bin. This is especially true of journals like Nature and Science.
Real science MUST be audited by a free and open discussion of the issues. When we are working on the frontiers of science, there are and should be sharp differences of opinion that get a full airing. At the just-concluded 9th International Conference on Climate Change in Las Vegas, speakers and their colleagues differed sharply over terrestrial versus extraterrestrial origins for the climate variations we have observed recently. Astrophysicist Dr. Habibullo Abdussamatov from St Petersburg, Russia argued for a strong solar component while Professor William Gray from Colorado State argued the case for an ocean origin. Many others took varying positions in these two camps.
No one argued the case for Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming, although many thought that there might be a small anthropogenic component from man-made carbon dioxide.
Why was the fanatical warming crowd absent, although invited?
Because they know that their arguments cannot stand up to free and open discussion. And if they were to try and lose, they would face severe retribution from the government’s contract monitors who enforce the ‘settle science’ demands of the Obama Administration. Losing in front of some 55 journalists from around the world would have been a financial disaster for them.
Again, THANK YOU, Professor Nebert for recognizing the similarities between medical and climate science.
Gordon J. Fulks, PhD
(Physics) Corbett, Oregon USA
COMMENT: Send ’em on, Pal.I’ve become addicted to your thinking.Best regards,Rip, HPMcI
“The evil, that one endures patiently because it seems inevitable, becomes unbearable the moment its elimination becomes conceivable.” Alexis de Tocqueville
COMMENT: R -Holy smokes. If you published THAT article from July 2014 (almost 6 years ago), then I’ve got a number of other intriguing articles you could also put out there. 😊
For the past 3-4 years, as you know, I have subscribed to this blog by “Rip McIntosh” — who screens essays from prominent people around the world (especially Victor Davis Hanseon [‘VDH’] at Stanford’s Hoover Institute) and sends hundreds of subscribers probably 5-10 articles per week. Often the sheer number of emails gets overwhelming, but I am always impressed by the depth of knowledge that most authors exhibit and how well the articles are written.
Well, last week I sent him that report about the CO2 Coalition requesting the EPA to overturn their 2009 Declaration that “our environment is endangered by increasing levels of CO2” (because massive amounts of scientific data over the past 11 years have proven the EPA’s policy is baseless); and Rip published that article, online, immediately. That exchange started an email chat between the two of us, and I sent him my article from July 2014, which he also immediately posted online. Now [see below] he is requesting me to send other articles. I am humbly flattered to be (now) “among his chosen authors”. 😊