Read a great article this morning on the dangers of scientific consensus. The Royal Navy had established in the 18th century that lemon juice cured scurvy. But in the second half of the 19th century, when steamships’ fast travel times had mostly eliminated the danger of scurvy, scientists enamoured of the new germ theory of disease hypothesized that scurvy was in fact caused by bacteria.
Over the course of fifty years, scurvy would return to torment not just Polar explorers, but thousands of infants born into wealthy European and American homes.
On Scott’s Antarctic expidition they made sure to boil all their fresh food extra long (in the process destroying all its vitamin C), and immediately began getting scurvy. They switched to freshly-killed seal while they stayed on the Antarctic coast, which cured them, but on their final push into the interior had to make do with processed food, with fatal results.
If you don’t think giving hundreds of millions of dollars to an unelected, unaccountable bureaucracy with absolute power over the majority of the world’s economies is an inevitable recipe for corruption and tyranny, consider this:
I’m sure there are some who regard this as just a good start.
For some perspective on the mild uptick in temperature at the end of the twentieth century, watch this video:
Update: James Randi, the world’s foremost debunker of pseudoscience of all kinds, weighs in:
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — a group of thousands of scientists in 194 countries around the world, and recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize — has issued several comprehensive reports in which they indicate that they have become convinced that “global warming” is and will be seriously destructive to life as we know it, and that Man is the chief cause of it. They say that there is a consensus of scientists who believe we are headed for disaster if we do not stop burning fossil fuels, but a growing number of prominent scientists disagree. Meanwhile, some 32,000 scientists, 9,000 of them PhDs, have signed The Petition Project statement proclaiming that Man is not necessarily the chief cause of warming, that the phenomenon may not exist at all, and that, in any case, warming would not be disastrous.
Happily, science does not depend on consensus. Conclusions are either reached or not, but only after an analysis of evidence as found in nature. It’s often been said that once a conclusion is reached, proper scientists set about trying to prove themselves wrong.
It’s easy enough to believe that drought, floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes are signs of a coming catastrophe from global warming, but these are normal variations of any climate that we — and other forms of life — have survived. Earth has undergone many serious changes in climate, from the Ice Ages to periods of heavily increased plant growth from their high levels of CO2, yet the biosphere has survived.
People with more time on their hands than me have been poring over the source code in the leaked CRU files. Here is a snippet of IDL code that produces a graph showing temperature data for the twentieth century (osborn-tree6/briffa_sep98_d.pro):
; Apply a VERY ARTIFICAL correction for decline!!
valadj=1*0.75 ; fudge factor
if n_elements(yrloc) ne n_elements(valadj) then message,’Oooops!’
That long string of numbers with some negative values in the middle and positive values at the end? Those numbers are multiplied by the real temperatures to hide a warm period in the 1940s, and exaggerate the temperatures at the end of the century.