Friday, November 23, 2007

Global Warming

The Scientific Method does not suggest that we take up a new scientific theory unless the old one has been contradicted by the evidence. In fact, when the new theory is more complicated than the old one, this is nearly required; Occam's Razor, which tells us that of all competing theories, the simplest one that explains all the data is the most likely to be true, is a widely-used rule of thumb in developing hypotheses.

We have had a fairly simple and reasonable explanation for changes in global temperature already. The Sun warms the Earth; clouds cool it. Clouds form around space dust that the Earth sweeps up as it moves. The more Solar radiation there is (indicated primarily by sunspots), the more space dust is blown out of the Earth's path, resulting in fewer clouds and a warmer Earth. When there is less Solar radiation, the Earth moves through a higher density of space dust, resulting in more clouds and a cooler earth. Because the oceans are a huge heat sink, there is a delay of 200 to 800 years between cause and effect. As far as I know, there is no evidence that contradicts this theory. If there is, I would really like for somebody to tell me about it.

The new hypothesis is at times contradicted by the evidence. It claims that global temperatures are controlled the level of atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane. The hypothesis goes on to claim that changes in these concentrations brought about by human activity are the most significant. The problem with that is the scale of human activity, compared to that of geological activity. It's like claiming you can do more to make your car faster by emptying your pockets than by removing 200kg of concrete that you've put into the trunk and back seat.

The most reasonable explanation I've yet heard for the adoption of the new hypothesis is that Margaret Thatcher thought it would help convince the British to use more nuclear power and less coal. Then the developing world realized what a powerful inducement this would be for the US and the rest of the Western world to cripple itself, economically. And it serves to indict combustion as mala in se, since you can hardly burn ANYTHING without releasing carbon dioxide, and it's MUCH harder to produce anything when you are forbidden to burn nearly everything.

It comes down to another attack on human life. We humans cope with our environment by making stuff. Those who tout the anthrogenic theory of global warming want to severely restrict our ability to do so.

1 comment:

Shakespeare's Cobbler said...

And then they go and say if you don't ignore Okham's Razor you're assaulting reason!