Friday, March 30, 2007

Stifling Debate

The Channel 4 documentary, The Great Global Warming Swindle, has stirred up a measure of indignation from those who find it difficult to have scientific debate, no doubt because they are convinced they are absolutely right. Right wing commentator Walter Williams has written this measured piece that notes how the so called "heretics" have received death threats, have had funding reduced or limited and have therefore been denied access to the normal channels of scientific debate.

The reaction against the Channel 4 program has been swift and predictable. We are told that the program's scientists "have an axe to grind", "use out of date data" and "are not in the mainstream of opinion". Such statements are hypocritical, to say the least. They are the sort of invectives that are spouted when the speaker knows his/her own scientific foundations are built on sand.

To give an example, the awkward evidence that increased carbon dioxide concentrations lag higher levels of sunspot activity and therefore cannot be the cause of global warming, but rather a result of it, is "explained" by suggesting that the oceans initially absorb some carbon dioxide so the CO2 peak is delayed.

There may be some truth in this - I have not seen the full account of research into CO2 absorption by the oceans - but even so, this doesn't answer the question, it merely pours doubt on the original thesis. We still have the evidence that peaks in CO2 concentration are directly related to, and are always slightly later than, periods of high sunspot activity. There is, in other words, a strong correlation between the two that cannot be explained by coincidence. Therefore we should rightly invoke a "cause and effect" relationship and begin to test it for validity.

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