Sunday, January 22, 2006

Science, Lack Of

I knew scientific objectivity was an endangered species. But that's too optimistic: scientific scruples are a late parrot.

This paper in the November 2005 Nature says, "warming and precipitation trends due to anthropogenic climate change of the past 30 years already claim over 150,000 lives annually." Indur Goklany, of the U.S. Department of Interior, read the article and submitted a critical response, which Nature rejected for publication. The University of Colorado's Science Policy reprints Goklany's letter, which quotes the Nature paper's footnote support for the 150k estimate:
Empirical observation of the health consequences of long-term climate change, followed by formulation, testing and then modification of hypotheses would therefore require long time-series (probably several decades) of careful monitoring. While this process may accord with the canons of empirical science, it would not provide the timely information needed to inform current policy decisions on GHG emission abatement, so as to offset possible health consequences in the future. [Emphasis added.]
In short, the dog ate my homework, so I made it up. Remember, this passed peer review. See a similar atrocity in a recent Science magazine editorial--published, though easily refuted.

Speculation, yes. Sci-Fi, yes. Scare tactic in support of socialism, yes. The next Oliver Stone script, yes. Just don’t call global warming “science.”

(via The Corner)


Anonymous said...

Hence the so-called "scientific consensus"...

I don't really understand why global warming in particular attracted so much more attention than any of the other comparable scary stories. Maybe I'm just too young, but I don't recall there being the same mass self-hypnosis over global cooling, or Ehrlich's mineral shortages, etc.

OBloodyHell said...

Daniel, there was considerable attention granted the Club of Rome's predictions, these led to Ehrlich's population absurdities. See Soylent Green.

Those Doom and Gloom pronouncements led to much of the malaise of the 70s. Believe me, I remember.

It took the time-provided experience that these idiots had no idea what they were talking about to make people take such stuff with a hefty grain of salt -- now the next generation has forgotten all that, and listen to the latest horror show with equally ignorant ears, unfortunately attuned by Captain Planet sensibilities ("All problems are simple to solve! You just have to CARE!!!") and unfortunately armed with less rational skills than the average Gen-Xers had to work with.

@nooil4pacifists said...

Nick's right that Ehrlich and the Club of Rome were equally dour. But Daniel's got a point as well: unlike global warming hysteria, the feverish imagination of previous Malthusians mountebanks didn't become -- down to each jot and dot -- unfalsible holy writ in the Democratic party platform.