Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Climate Corner: Myth-tery Science Theater 2008

One of the major myths of the climate change saga comes in for some major debunking at a session Wednesday of the 20th Conference on Climate Variability and Change, which is meeting in conjunction with the 88th Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) this week in New Orleans. It didn't make the top-10 list of a major global warming skeptic, but a favorite theme of climate science fiction, both literary and political, is that the same people who predicted an ice age in the 1970s are now the ones promoting the global warming story. This argument is even favored by some meteorologists.

The cooling myth turns out to be wrong on multiple levels. First of all, even if the premise were true, it would be perfectly consistent with the scientific method:
  • Make an hypothesis: The earth is cooling.
  • Collect and analyze data: It's not.
  • Refine the hypothesis: The earth is warming.
  • Repeat until done.
Stephen H. Schneider, a veteran climate scientist (also the apparent coiner of the term "mediarology"), was interviewed last year on this subject on The Weather Channel's Forecast Earth series. I'm quoting from memory, so this hasn't been subjected to the usual rigorous fact-checking of the Googling monkeys here in the Climate Corner, but the gist of what he said was, "We were wrong. We thought there could be a cooling, but we did some more analysis and found out that was not the case. That's how science works."

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