Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Global warming vs. oiled dolphins

Jerry Stratton, July 10, 2015

Fire Wizard: Fire Wizard on The ancient wizard

Global warming scientist punishes dissenters.

It seems as though every year since I started paying attention, we discover that even though the current year’s numbers don’t show a warming trend—and haven’t since 1998—the current year really was hotter because someone has discovered that temperatures from previous years need to be adjusted colder. The pause, hiatus, or whatever you want to call—but whatever you call it has to imply that it is temporary—does not really exist.

Reading the latest Science News, I discover that that seventeen-year warming plateau has been acknowledged—so that it can be explained away by readjusting the numbers all through this and the previous century.

I have only been receiving Science News for about a month, and it is normally a great magazine. Part of what makes it great is that it presents a lot of information concisely. Global warming ‘hiatus’ just an artifact, study finds is one page, and on the facing page is a paleoanthropology summary, Fossils suggest another hominid species lived near Lucy.

A partial upper jaw and two partial lower jaws, one recovered in two pieces, belonged to Australopithecus deyiremeda, says a team led by Yohannes Haile-Selassie, a paleoanthropologist at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. These finds support the view that two or more hominid species coexisted in East Africa before the dawn of the Homo genus, the researchers report in the May 28 Nature.

These two discoveries have a lot in common. Both potentially change the conversation in their respective fields. Both are about a lot of interpretation of raw numbers. It is hard to interpret global climate based on the incomplete and inconsistent measurements of the past century, and it is hard to identify separate species based on a handful of incomplete and broken bones.

Most importantly, both are about variation. How do you measure it in a theoretically and experimentally useful way? There is a minor controversy in paleoanthropology today, whether they have been making up new species for what is observed as normal variation in humans and other species today.

So what’s different? One article presents a contrary view, one does not.

Some investigators see the new fossils as representatives of Lucy’s kind, not a separate species. Paleoanthropologist Time White of the University of California says that A. deyiremeda, K. platyops and A. bahrelghazali show only minor differences from the skeletal pattern observed in nearly 400 A. afarensis fossils discovered over the last 40 years. “Lucy’s species just got a few more new fossils,” he says.

If current loose standards for defining hominid species were applied at the San Diego Zoo, “each mammal species would need five more cages,” White says.

This give and take is what pushes a discipline forward. Scientific theories are a lot like kites: without some force to oppose them, they just fall to the ground. Every theory needs someone questioning it, or it will never evolve into the truth.

This principle is so important to science that even the article about dying Gulf dolphins a few pages later had to present an opposing view, even though they had to go to a British Petroleum senior vice president to get it. The opposing view is that important.

And, unlike the effect of too much oil on dolphins, it isn’t hard to find good opposing views when it comes to temperature measurements. Not just on how they are measured but where the measurements come from. For example, some scientists think that climate science could have precise figures that don’t need massaging every year. They come from satellite readings, but the numbers run so far against the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming theory that NASA itself tends to oppose using space satellites to provide better numbers.

Which means that the industry sticks with numbers only haphazardly acquired that require constant massaging. That end up being re-massaged every year to show that the current year is a hot one even when winter lasted into May.

But it’s even worse that science-oriented news outlets are isolating catastrophic anthropogenic global warming scientists from competing theories and criticism, as if such were even worse than dolphin-killing oil execs. It’s a guarantee of bad science.

In response to I believe in Global Warming (and other conversion stories): Conversion stories aren’t meant to convert skeptics; they’re a bonding tale for the converted, a sign of a religion; science needs theories that make predictions about what happens when they’re right and how to falsify them if they’re wrong. Proof for human-caused global warming is always whatever happened last month or last year, never tomorrow. No application of the scientific method can ever disprove it because hindsight is 20/20.

  1. <- 329th consecutive month
  2. Climate compromises ->