I resumed reading David Schindler’s article, The Boiling Point, while waiting for a my turn to urinate in a small jar after having some of my blood sucked out of an artery in my arm.
“So that’s the bad news,” wrote the internationally renowned ecologist, after describing the dire threat climbing water temperatures pose to fish in Canada’s lakes and streams.
I read on eager for a sliver of hope.
“The good news is, we may still be able to stop the complete loss of our precious fisheries – if we can all agree on what needs to be done.”
Right, I reflected, come to a consensus on the urgency of the problem.
According to Schindler, the first thing we must do is stop debating whether man-made global warming is the cause. Science is a rigourous pursuit characterized by innovation and competition. Theologians claim there is a god and tell they have concluded this is so because they have faith that it is and, therefore, no further proof is required.
Such irrational certainty is not available to scientists whose hypotheses must be substantiated by evidence substantiated by carefully designed testing. The results of these tests must be published and reviewed by the other scientists in the same field of scientific endeavour who analyze that work with surgical precision, doing their utmost to cast doubt on the new thesis.
This self improving, intensely critical, methodology – in Schindler’s words, the greased pole all researchers must climb – drives science. Proof or its success abounds.
The skill, tools, and medicine that allow surgeons to operate on a heart or a brain through an artery is one stunning example; the ability to learn about this procedure, and view an example of it on your PC is another, and there are thousands of similar examples besides these.
Given the rigour of scientific inquiry, complete agreement is almost impossible and agreement by the majority of scientists, is extremely rare. Schindler – an environmental scientist for half a century, who knows most of the big names in atmospheric sciences, paleoclimatology, geochemistry, and oceanography – says that nearly complete consensus has been reached by scientists on climate warming and the human role in it. To underscore his point, he cites the literature review done by Science Historian, Naomi Oreskes, for the Institute of Scientific Investigation.
In 2004, Ms. Oreskes compiled the abstracts of all 928 papers done on climate change between 1993 and 2003. She found that 75% of those studies explicitly or implicitly supported the idea that human emissions of greenhouse gasses caused climate warming, while the remaining 25% dealt with the paleoclimate, therefore current climate trends were outside their scope.
This review and his examination of the scientific journals since it was done, led Schindler to conclude that their inability to withstand the scrutiny of their peers, is the reason that climate change deniers confine their output to weblogs.
“If any of [these skeptics] had a scientifically convincing argument that greenhouse gases are not causing climate warming, you can be sure it would have been published swiftly, followed closely by its being awarded a Nobel Prize,” writes Schindler.
In recent years the media has exposed many of these skeptical scientists, as hacks lavishly supported by giant oil corporations intent upon continuing to set records for the largest profits in history, something they will be able to do as oil prices increase in inverse proportion to supply.
Schindler then went on to succinctly demolish the main arguments put forward by the handful of climate change denying scientists (some of whom were familiar because they had argued that there was no credible proof that tobacco smoke was injurious to human health on behalf of the tobacco giants decades ago).
As for the the putative Climategate affair loudly trumpeted in the media last year, Schindler notes that the hacked e-mails that formed the basis of the whole ridiculous affair have since been examined by several independent scientific bodies with the result that the alleged conspirators have been cleared of all charges.
Today, Schindler writes, every National Academy and Scientific Society on the globe supports the call to control human greenhouse gas emissions. From this and such dramatic physical evidence as the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, retreating glaciers, the increasing ferocity of storms born of measurably warmer oceans, and alarming rises in sea level, we can’t help but conclude that the debate over climate change and our role in it is over.
Concluded next week…