What is science? “Knowledge ascertained by observation and experiment, critically tested, systematized, and brought under general principles,” according to the dictionary. There is also the scientific method process to come to a scientific conclusion. Lets look at the method, and try to apply it to human-caused climate change.
The first step is observation — it seems warmer this year than last year.
Then we pose a question: Why is the planet getting warmer?
The next step in the process is to come up with a hypothesis — Man is the cause of the warming of the planet.
Step 4 — formulate an experiment to test the hypothesis.
But how do we ‘control’ all other possible influences? Increases in plant life? Forestation or deforestation from natural causes all over the planet? How about solar activity? What about volcanic eruptions? Or forest fires?
Collecting and analyzing data is the next step. But we cannot cherry pick our data, we must use all of it, or our test is invalid. We cannot delete data that does not fit the desired outcome.
This bring up another problem: How accurate is our instrumentation?
Consider an incident from Tucson where we used to live. Suddenly, the average daily temperatures from the National Weather Service were 10 degrees cooler! Had there been localized ’global cooling’? What could cause this precipitous drop? Was it a result of ‘human activity’? Sort of.
Back when the Tucson International Airport was opened, the Weather Service installed a weather station on the grounds. At some point, a aircraft taxiway was built near the weather station. Of course the pavement was heated by the sun, and radiated that heat at night.
In the late 1980s, the airport was modernized — and the weather instruments were moved away from the taxiway. Viola, Tucson became cooler! See how easy that was?
Finally, the conclusion — part of the scientific method is peer review. You publish your observation, question, hypothesis, experiment, all of your data and your method of analysis for all to see. Your answer is correct when others come to the same conclusion. And this means all others, not a select few. Exactly the same conclusion — not “almost” the same conclusion. When this does not happen, your original premise, experiment, and conclusions are not science, they are not a source of knowledge, they are an opinion. And just like noses, everyone has an opinion.
Almost all human activity could be controlled in the guise of saving the planet — who does not want to save the planet? Think everyone should avoid eating meat? Outlaw raising cattle because of the gases they release! You could even argue that pregnancies should be controlled, perhaps licensed, to limit the expansion of the number of humans and save the planet.
I am not saying we should ignore pollution, but we must use science to identify and define the problem, before we start controlling every human endeavor, in the name of saving the planet.
To make demands without true scientific facts may do more harm than any good. How many people may die of infection if we outlaw all plastics in the medical industry? Is that reusable cloth grocery bag contaminated by leakage of fluids not in plastic, becoming a host for bacteria that will kill your family? Scientific research for facts can prevent unintended consequences. And science is not consensus! It is provable FACTS.
Seth Nadel is a retired U.S. Customs Agent and firearms instructor.