'Settled science' and sprites

The New York Times unintentionally provided evidence for climate skeptics in a fascinating Sunday article titled, “On the Hunt for a Sprite on a Midsummer’s Night.” The piece by Sandra Blakeslee features the work of  Thomas Ashcraft, “[o]ne of a growing corps of citizens who advance the scientific process in every field from astronomy to zoology. Ashcraft has been documenting a recently-discovered atmospheric phenomenon called “sprites,” described as “majestic emanations of light that flash for an instant high above the thunderheads.”

Here is one of Ashcraft’s photos, reproduced in the Times:

Sprites were not documented until 1989, because they last a fraction of a second, and are perceived by the naked eye as flashes of light. It wasn’t until videotape captured them, and a frame-by-frame analysis revealed their shapes, that they came to be identified and named.

So far, atmospheric scientists have no explanation:

 “They are spectacular and kind of amazing.” But how — or even if — they affect the physics and chemistry of the atmosphere remains an open question.

Ponder this for moment. Atmospheric scientists do not understand a natural mechanism in their subject matter – and weren’t even aware of the existence of this phenomenon until 25 years ago.

And yet we are expected to believe that the science of the atmosphere is so settled that we can take as certainty that the climate a hundred years from now will be changed by an increase in a tiny component of the atmosphere, CO2.

This is hubris on steroids. Anyone using the expression “settled science” in a field that can’t account for a natural phenomenon is guilty of overstatement at least, and maybe even fraud.

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