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Saturday, July 8, 2017

Why Must Rationality Be Refused?

Two thousand years ago, the average temperature of the earth was warmer than it is today.  Obviously, we don't have weather records from Roman times, but there are other indicators that scientists use to establish climate from two millennia ago.  Scientists examine tree rings, ice cores, and other items to determine what the average temperature back then was.  The location of certain types of agriculture, like vineyards, also discloses what the temperature was; grapes cannot be successfully cultivated if the climate is too cold.  We also know that the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere 2000 years ago was quite different than now.  Air bubbles trapped in ice that formed back then can be analyzed to get the composition of the atmosphere.  Finally, we know that there were no factories, cars or other activities producing carbon dioxide that might affect the global temperature two thousand years ago.  Put all this together and we find that the Earth was warmer back then but it clearly was not due to human activity.

That brings us to the next question.  If we know that Earth was warmer back then with no possibility that the higher temperature was due to human activity, how is it that we know that rising temperatures in the last fifty years are caused by human activity?  This is not a casual question.  The global warming supporters want to make drastic changes to the world economy, indeed to the very way that most people live in order to prevent global warming.  If we don't know for certain that human activity is causing a temperature rise, does it make sense to alter the behavior of billions of people to prevent something that may actually not be happening?

The answer of the climate change crowd basically boils down to two things:  First, they tell us that there is a scientific consensus which supports their view.  Second, they tell us that computer models show that human activity is causing global warming.

Let's look at the first reason, scientific consensus.  Simply put, that is no answer.  At various times in the past, there was a scientific consensus that 1) the Earth is flat; 2) the Earth is the center of the universe; 3) matter and energy were completely different and unrelated things; etc.  These are ideas which have turned out to be completely wrong.  Scientific ideas can often be disproven, and that frequently happens.  Think of it this way:  there was a consensus among political experts that Hillary Clinton would win easily in 2016.  That consensus lasted until Hillary lost.  The consensus, however, never proved anything.

The second argument about computer models is also fatally flawed.  The data of the last 20 years has shown that these models do not predict temperatures/climate correctly.  In fact, the actually data recorded over the last two decades is so different from the results predicted by the computer models that statistical analysis says that the computer models cannot be correct.

That leaves us with nothing to show that human activity is causing global warming.  A rational approach to the problem would be for the scientists to take a new look at the issue of climate change and to try to determine what, if anything, is modifying the climate.  Certainly, before the nations of the world upend their entire way of life it would make sense to get a more supportable basis for taking action on the climate change front.

Sadly, this rational approach is rejected by a great many people on the left.  The media treats those who call for rationality as "deniers' likened to Holocaust deniers.  Whole countries, like Germany, take the approach that there is no need for further information to decide what, if anything, is causing global warming.  It's a crazy move on their part.  Rationality is always the preferred course.

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