New black eyes for climate science (and science in general?)

With the missus out of the house for a while this evening, I am quite distracted by domestic duties (Can he successfully heat dinner in the oven? Will he burn the bread?), but these recent revelations in the news caught my eye and I thought them worth passing along.  It looks as though the science of climate change is getting some more black eyes.

James Taranto of the WSJ highlights them in his Best of the Web feature today (see the “The Continuing Global-Warmist Crack-Up” section).  It appears that in the Nobel Prize-winning 2007 report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a scientist included a claim that the Himalayan glaciers will have completely melted by 2035.  Trouble is that (1) the result was not peer-reviewed and (2) the scientist responsible, Dr. Murary Lal, admits that he included the statement purely for political purposes in an attempt to sway policymakers to take action.

Rajendra Pachauri, the IPCC’s head, also admits that the same section (presumably the chapter on Asia) may have additional errors and he is currently meditating on what actions to take about those mistakes.  Additionally, the claim in the IPCC’s report that increases in natural disasters, such as hurricanes and flooding, are due to global warming are now declared not to be based on peer-reviewed studies.  In fact, the claim were based on an unpublished report that was withdrawn by its own authors because they felt there was not enough evidence to support the claim.

This is horribly sad to me.  Global warming may be real and might even be human-caused.  But it may not be.  How is someone supposed to decide when the no one can tell when the science ends and the political advocating begins?  How can “scientific” pronouncements be trusted to be science when the traditional rules of scientific integrity are seen as inconveniences that can be ignored?

Personally, I really do believe that — whether they should or not — these revelations reflect not only on climate science, but on the practice of science in general.  Seeing scientists play so fast and loose in an area of such great concern and put personal desire over scientific integrity and the normal caution that serves the discipline so well is disheartening.

As usual, Taranto includes links in his piece to the news sources reporting on the matter (sorta fits the title “Best of the Web,” doesn’t it?).  I’ve blogged a bit on all of this, too, as I feel the increasingly messy affair is giving black eyes to more than just climate science.  Here are some of my comments in the past:

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3 thoughts on “New black eyes for climate science (and science in general?)

  1. Hi Mr. Smith,

    No one put his finger on the problem behind Climategate better than the late Herbert W. Armstrong, when he described Eve’s reaction to the “forbidden fruit” as being a combination of observation, experimentation and human reason with rejection of divine revelation. Testable scientific hypotheses have to come from somewhere, and if they don’t come from God’s revelation, then they must come from humanly devised articles of faith, which are sometimes held despite the weight of evidence to the contrary. Scientists and supporters of science often like to pretend otherwise, but as Albert Einstein put it, most scientists are poor philosophers. Mr. Armstrong might’ve added “and poor Bible students, too”.

    I have actually seen scientists and philosophers of science independently describe the scientific method as the systematic application of the first three elements of Eve’s reaction – elements (they note) that we all use every day of our lives. Application of all four is independently called “methodological naturalism” – which is really mistaking the philosophical stances of scientism (the scientific method is the only path to truth) and naturalism (nature is all there is) combined for “natural science”. Quite aside from any ethical lack of integrity on the part of scientists, science isn’t metaphysically neutral (indeed there is no such thing as metaphysical neutrality), and this world’s pretense that science can and should be so neutral is the biggest problem with this world’s science – including climate science. One is certain to come to wrong conclusions one way or another with that kind of thinking.

    From another angle, I have a politically conservative friend who sends me articles and videos skeptical of global warming on a regular basis. One of the most telling videos is by the meteorologist who founded The Weather Channel. The temperature curve of actual measurements and of that predicted by the GW computer model he cited have been diverging for the last ten years – overall the earth (he concludes) has been cooling, not warming. Much else I’ve seen leads me at least to conclude that solar flux, not man’s activities, is the chief driving force behind climate change, and that we could actually see global *cooling* in the not-too-distant future. This conclusion not only seems the simplest explanation of the facts, it acknowledges who is really sovereign over the situation.

    Interestingly, the Aramaic text of Luke’s version of the Olivet Prophecy (21:11) includes as one of the pre-Tribulation signs “and the winters will be severe”. While this is found in no Greek text I know of, certain other ancient versions have it too. Perhaps we should keep the saying in the backs of our minds?

  2. Too many people put too much trust in science, to the extent that science and the scientific method have become an idol in our society. It is as if the scientific method of experiment, observation, and rejection of God’s revelation have become the only valid ways of discovering knowledge. In our language, to call something “unscientific” implies it is false.

    But the flaws and intellectual dishonesty in scientific community and culture are becoming more public.

    Evolution and materialism have been Satan’s number one lie for the last several decades, I think. False religion has been his number two lie. But soon, false religion will receive a promotion. Atheism is about to take a back seat. When a false prophet starts working signs and wonders, it will be hard for materialists to deny the existence of the supernatural.

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