01.31.2010 0

Global Warming: Having it Both Ways

  • On: 02/26/2010 09:39:57
  • In: Energy Crisis, Global Warming Fraud, and the Environment
  • By Victor Morawski

    As people around the world watched the Winter Olympics this week, they were treated not only to images of the world’s greatest Winter athletes performing superbly in the sports at which they excel but they were also given a behind-the-scenes window into the frustrations dealt with by the games’ Canadian hosts.

    From bare mountain slopes to rain delays that turned what little snow there was into slush to scenes of dump trucks hauling snow up to peaks that should already be white at this time of year, an unusual warm spell in Vancouver has posed problems for the games this time around.

    Not surprisingly, Global Warming advocates have pointed to the abnormally warm weather in Vancouver this year, as supporting evidence for their theory. As also did Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., last year, when he published a piece reminiscing about the snowier winters he experienced in the Washington area as a child and bemoaning the relative lack of snow in recent Washington Winters.

    Of course, that was before this winter’s record snows in the nation’s capital. Now, critics of Global Warming have understandably mocked Kennedy for his remarks, as they slogged through nearly fifty combined inches of Global Warming in one short week.

    Undaunted by such skeptics, defenders of the theory have countered “that the ferocious storms are consistent with forecasts that a heating planet will produce more frequent and more intense weather events,” as reported recently in the New York Times and Time magazine.

    What a strong theory then is Global Warming, some may think, that supporting evidence can be found for it in such diverse, seemingly opposite, and apparently unrelated events.

    But some well-established insights from the Philosophy of Science would quickly disabuse someone of this notion. For, as famously pointed out by giant-in-the-field Karl Popper, it is not a strength of a theory that nearly any observation can be taken as confirming it but this may actually mark it out as a bit of pseudo-science, immune to falsification and held tenaciously by its defenders as an article of faith.

    The problem, Popper emphasized in his monumental Conjectures and Refutations, is not one of being able to find confirmatory evidence for a theory, for proponents of pseudo-scientific theories find confirmatory evidence for their theories around every corner.

    If you held such a theory, he notes, “you saw confirmed instances everywhere: the world was full of verifications of the theory. Whatever happened always confirmed it. Thus its truth appeared manifest; and unbelievers were clearly people who did not want to see the manifest truth…”

    What Popper admired most in a theory, and what he thought separated one out as scientific, was that it took risks by making predictions which, if not borne out by observational evidence, would actually disconfirm or falsify it.

    And perhaps this is a good time to ask the proponents of Global Warming if there is any possible observation that they would take as disconfirming their theory.

    To be fair, it did happen once.

    Last year, Stephan Faris of the UN’s IPCC predicted that “if global warming continues at its current rate, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates, the glaciers could be mostly gone from the mountains by 2035.”

    Citing inaccuracy in the data on which it was based: “it [the IPCC] plucked the date for the glaciers’ disappearance from a 2005 report by the environmental advocacy group WWF, which in turn had taken the figure from a 1999 magazine article attributing the claim to an Indian glacier expert, who now denies he ever said such a thing.”

    This move, while saving the theory from falsification, hardly engenders confidence in the IPCC and shows that scientists can make similar critical mistakes causing misguided government intervention.

    Victor Morawski, professor at Coppin State University, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer for Americans for Limited Government.

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