Settled and Unsettled Science

President Obama declared “global warming” to be settled science. Or maybe he meant “climate change.” Or is it “climate disruption”? Whatever. It’s settled as fact. No more discussion or disagreement. This is based on the recently released National Climate Assessment. The NY Times calls this report “totally alarming.” The only thing alarming is that an American college professor wants anyone who disagrees with the premise of manmade global warming to be thrown in jail.

This report was prepared by the US Global Change Research Program. Funded with a huge annual budget of $2.5 billion, not much less than the budget of the state of Delaware, their vision is, “A Nation, globally engaged and guided by science, meeting the challenges of climate and global change.” Interesting statement. They are guided by science, where very little is actually settled, yet they too assume that climate change is a settled fact.

They define climate change as, “Changes in average weather conditions that persist over multiple decades or longer. Climate change encompasses both increases and decreases in temperature, as well as shifts in precipitation, changing risk of certain types of severe weather events, and changes to other features of the climate system.”

Well that just about covers all the weather patterns and cycles the Earth has experienced since T-Rex roamed the land. I suppose the numerous ice ages would fit the first part of the definition as ice ages persisted for centuries. But this would be an inconvenient truth for global warming proponents. As for the rest of the definition, it’s convenient that temperatures can increase or decrease. This happens on a daily basis and is called weather. Snowstorms are evidence of climate change. But so are heat waves, floods, crop failures, and other naturally occurring weather phenomena. The looser the definition, the more that can be lumped into it. Eventually climate change simply becomes weather.

The US Global Change Research Program also claims to be “guided by science.” Does this include the scientific method -- observation of natural events, an explanation of why they occur, and modification of explanations based on new observations and data? If so, then the science may not be so settled based on much contradictory information including harsh winters, thicker polar ice, and fewer intense hurricanes. Then again if changing temperatures and precipitation constitute “climate change” then climate change is as much a part of the world as sunrises and sunsets. Many cities around the world claim to offer “four seasons in one day” as their normal weather, further supporting the “everything fits” definition of climate change.

The crux of the Global Change Program is the fact that, “This warming has been driven primarily by human activity.” Not stated explicitly is the solution. This was revealed by the President’s Science Czar, John Holdren, who told the truth about the climate change movement; “Redistribution of wealth both within and among nations is absolutely essential.”

Another important area of “settled science” was unsettled recently. For decades the low fat diet was the panacea, not only for heart patients, but also for everybody. Never mind. The settled science on diet was turned upside down with prudent application of the scientific method, namely modification of hypotheses based on new knowledge. Turns out that saturated fat may not be the bogeyman we were told it was and that excessive carbohydrates instead are the problem. Perhaps in another decade, the latest beliefs on diet will modified once again, as they should if new information comes to light.

Also settled is the science of sun tanning. The FDA tells us, “There is no such thing as a safe tan.” The Skin Cancer Foundation warns of the dangers of skin cancer, potentially fatal, due to tanning. Yet a Swedish study just released, “Shows that women who avoid sunbathing during the summer are twice as likely to die than those who sunbathe every day.” Which is it? Who knows for sure, but obviously the science of sun tanning is not settled.

The lesson for dogmatic proponents of global warming, climate change, and/or climate disruption is that this science is not yet settled. Even among climate scientists, there are skeptics; “Many of these scientists frankly admit to each other that much of the science is weak and dependent on deliberate manipulation of facts and data.” A prudent scientist would acknowledge that his hypothesis of man-made global warming is flawed, contradicted by contrary data.  True scientists would rework their hypothesis to explain the contradictions, taking one step closer to the truth about our climate and how it is influenced. Cutting off discussion of these inconvenient truths by saying the issue is “settled” will leave climate change activists chasing windmills as their proclamations and actual reality drift further and further apart.

Brian C Joondeph, MD, MPS, a Denver based physician, is an advocate of smaller, more efficient government. Twitter @retinaldoctor.

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