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Vail Valley Voices: Critical thinking needed

Predictions of global climate catastrophe are predicated upon models, and models depend upon assumptions. But those who claim the matter of global warming is “settled” overlook the fact that climate is based upon complex systems whose inter-relationships are not fully understood.

While science continues to make progress in its study of climate, to date there has been no accepted scientific correlation of the prime determiners of earth’s climate, i.e., the earth’s cycle of precession, its ocean currents, cloud formations, tectonic activity, and of course sunspots.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize it’s not very good to pump pollutants into the atmosphere, but to say one knows with certainty that man is causing global warming is speculative at best.

In their assertion that man is the culprit, the eco-pessimists cite the 3,000 scientists (hundreds of whom have no background whatsoever in the physical sciences) who signed on to the U.N.’s 2007 Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change.

This is a classic case of cherry picking information because while the true believers endorse the findings of 3,000 scientists, they choose to ignore the 31,000-plus scientists who signed the Global Warming Petition Project, whose official position is “There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.”

On March 4 in Mumbai, India, Dr. Madhav Khandekar, one of the original reviewers of the IPCC, challenged the U.N.’s position and declared, “Global warming is not a threat to humanity.” Dr. Khandekar went on to say ” … human activity is impacting climate change at a very micro level and that the claim that human activities are causing the temperatures to increase is politically driven.”

Critics will argue anyone can find a prominent scientist or two to agree with their position, which is true, but that begs the question of why an growing number of formerly committed scientists are changing their positions as more information becomes available.

I’ll receive the customary lambasting from the usual suspects both online and in the Vail Daily’s editorial pages in response to this commentary. Some will cite this study or that while others reference anecdotal pieces of “evidence.” But none of their criticisms will answer the following questions:

If human activity is responsible for increasing temperatures on earth …

• What explains the temperature increases on Mars and Neptune where there are no automobiles or industrial plants?

• Why did the earth’s temperature increase during the 400 year warm period between 900-1300, which was prior to the invention of the internal combustion engine?

• What accounts for the Ordovician Period (about 450 million years ago) when CO2 levels on earth were 15 times higher than they are today?

• Why did global temperatures increase during the early 20th century (before the explosion of carbon emissions) and then decrease from 1940 to 1970, during the period of exponentially increasing carbon emissions?

• Since 97 percent of all greenhouse gases are naturally occurring, how will reducing man-made carbon emissions have any meaningful impact on the earth’s temperature?

These are just a few of the science-based questions eco-pessimists are incapable of answering for the simple reason that “man-made global warming theories” remain in the realm of conjecture.

I salute the teachers, parents and other influencers who encourage our young people to discuss this topical subject in the classroom, the home and elsewhere. But what should disturb all of us is the intransigence some display in insisting that the matter is settled, which it is not, and the ideology-based “science” these well-meaning folks are foisting upon our children.

Perhaps the true believers should reflect upon the following: Science is based on evidence, and every theory or conclusion must be supported by observation, experimentation and analysis. If a theory is contradicted by even a single piece of evidence, that theory or conclusion must either be subjected to further scrutiny or abandoned.

That statement is unequivocal; yet rather than adhere to the scientific method, a procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, the eco-pessimists continue to dig in their heels. For reasons of their own, man-made global warming adherents refuse to accept the fact that in order for a scientific theory to be true, there can be no verifiable contradictory evidence. And the notion of man-made global warming is contradicted by literally reams of scientifically documented data.

I don’t know if man is causing global warming, and neither does anyone else. Unfortunately, in today’s environment, we’re dealing with competing theories, conflicting information and agenda-driven politicians rendering the expression “We don’t know, what we don’t know,” a more appropriate approach to the issue.

Rather than obduracy and indoctrination, what’s really needed in this matter is critical thinking, especially when impressionable young minds are involved.

Quote of the day: “An unstated premise of eco-pessimism is that environmental conditions are, or recently were, optimal.” – George Will

Butch Mazzuca is an Edwards

resident.


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