Monday, February 16, 2009

Former astronaut Harrison Schmitt, who walked on the moon and once served New Mexico in the U.S. Senate, doesn’t believe that humans are causing global warming.
Wow, how does a guy with those credentials not believe to be true what is plainly obvious?

"I don’t think the human effect is significant compared to the natural effect," said Schmitt, who contends that scientists "are being intimidated" if they disagree with the idea that burning fossil fuels has increased carbon dioxide levels, temperatures and sea levels. "They’ve seen too many of their colleagues lose grant funding when they haven’t gone along with the so-called political consensus that we’re in a human-caused global warming," Schmitt said.

And that, folks, is the reasoning, as we have discussed before at the Junto. If you are a professional scientist, your job is to confirm the beliefs of those empowered to give grant money. Otherwise, you will not be a professional scientist much longer. If you fall in line with the mainstream anthropocentric view of the universe, then your research will confirm it. If you don't, then you will either be marginalized by lack of funding or you will move on to some other line of research. Either way, you will never be recognized as an expert in the field of climate change. If you are known for other more honorable accomplishments, then you at least reserve the opportunity to be strutted about as a skeptic whenever the mainstream wishes to feign balance at a seminar.

Schmitt, the 74-year-old geologist argued that the "global warming scare is being used as a political tool to increase government control over American lives, incomes and decision making. Not that the planet hasn’t warmed. We know it has or we’d all still be in the Ice Age," he said. "But it has not reached a crisis proportion and, even among us skeptics, there’s disagreement about how much man has been responsible for that warming."

Schmitt said historical documents indicate average temperatures have risen by 1 degree per century since around 1400 AD, and the rise in carbon dioxide is because of the temperature rise. Schmitt also said geological evidence indicates changes in sea level have been going on for thousands of years. He said smaller changes are related to changes in the elevation of land masses — for example, the Great Lakes are rising because the earth’s crust is rebounding from being depressed by glaciers.

But cars, factories and Republicans! They weren't around thousands of years ago so how can any of this be relevant? Is it really good science to study time on geologic scales rather than stick strictly to the past 200 years which better fits the model of man-made climate change?

500 years ago, when science was in its infancy, it was ballsy to stick your neck out by disagreeing with the establishment. Back then, dissidents were burned alive whereas today they are merely laughed at. I guess that's progress. 500 years from now, we will be studied and deemed ignorant as a culture, but those descendants will be less superstitious thanks to men like Harrison Schmitt who remained devoted to truth through trying times when truth was determined by empires rather than empirical evidence.


E said...

Even if causative global warming were true, it would still not follow that the US should take the lead on stalling it. Bush was right when he rejected Kyoto on the grounds that responding to global warming makes a lot more economic sense than trying to prevent it.

Many Americans now believe (as Europeans have for some time) that there is no such thing as absolute truth. (I am not one of them. Majorities can be wrong and frequently are.)

Again I recommend DISCIPLINED MINDS: A Critical Look at Salaried Professionals and the Soul-Battering System That Shapes Their Lives, a super book which explains the phenomenon you describe. The author was of course fired from his editorship at Physics Today magazine upon publication.

An amazon reviewer says:
Disciplined Minds is probably not the first book to note that academia serves monied interests, that monied interests need a steady stream of technically competent and ideologically unquestioning souls, and that graduate and professional school seem much more brutal than they need to be, but perhaps it is the first book to line up these facts in such a way that the linkage among them is so clear.

All the while the book manages to treat these grim subjects with good humor and, ultimately, with hope -- as it concludes that those entering graduate or professional school *can* protect themselves against ideological indoctrination, using techniques borrowed from an Army manual on how to resist brainwashing by enemy captors! The analogy may seem a bit melodramatic -- much more so, though, if you've never been in grad school yourself.

Tom said...

If the global warming nonsense is discredited, and it seems to be moving in that direction, how many of the alarmists will be held accountable?

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