I was reading the latest Greenhouse news report (earth hotter than it's been 400 years), and was all prepared to blog about that. Then, I discovered that my WordPress was down. So, I read around a bit more and discovered that The Anchoress has already said what I planned to say. So, here's the Anchoress on that subject:
Which begs the question…if we weren’t driving cars and flying planes and otherwise polluting the earth…why was the earth so freaking hot 400 years ago?
The stellar ladies at the Independent Women's Forum add their bit to this discussion:
But here are the actual findings by the scientists of the National Research Council:
"Their 155-page report said average global surface temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere rose about 1 degree F during the 20th century."
Kind of gives new meaning to the phrase "greenhouse gas."
What's interesting is that this report makes it appear, not just that the reporter was bringing his biases to the story, but that the scientists were too. How else to account for scientists making statements like this:
The National Academy of Sciences, after reconstructing global average surface temperatures for the past two millennia, said Thursday the data are "additional supporting evidence … that human activities are responsible for much of the recent warming."
Going back to the Anchoress' point, this sentence makes little sense given that temperatures have been as hot on planet earth before this time, despite the absence of any significant Greenhouse Gas emissions. And lest you doubt the Anchoress' logical conclusion, reading past articles inflammatory headline and first few paragraphs gets you to this little gem:
Combining that information gave the panel "a high level of confidence that the last few decades of the 20th century were warmer than any comparable period in the last 400 years," the panel wrote. It said the "recent warmth is unprecedented for at least the last 400 years and potentially the last several millennia," though it was relatively warm around the year 1000 followed by a "Little Ice Age" from about 1500 to 1850.
We're getting used to hysterical, misleading and, sometimes, out-and-out dishonest reporting from the MSM. The problem is that, lately, scientists seem to lead more and more with an agenda as well. I pointed this out the other day in connection with an article about "scientists" who set up a computer game to show that optimistic military leaders tend to attack for their own benefit when they have the opportunity. The report made it clear that the impetus for the study was the "scientist's" personal belief that the Iraq war is a "debacle." Unsurprisingly, they quickly reached the "scientific" conclusion that unreasonably optimistic leaders get their followers into military debacles. Armed with this "fact", it was a short step for these "scientists" to conclude that Bush's irrational behavior is leading us into a morass.
Reading the article carefully was instructive, because it never provided evidence that the optimistic subjects whom the "scientists" liked to Bush were more likely to lose through there attack strategy. (I'll admit that this evidence may have existed in the underlying report; it just never showed up in the shrill news article.) I'll add a dose of common sense here. Of course optimistic people are more likely to attack. It would be a fool of a leader who, believing himself outmanned and outgunned and without any capacity to win, nevertheless started a battle. You need to believe you have an advantage before you press it.
It's also likely that people playing with monopoly money (the study did, after all, involve a computer game) are going to take more risks than real people in the real world. I know that, when it comes to my own money, I'm the most risk averse person in the world. When I play computer blackjack, though, I'll cheerfully risk millions of dollars in the hopes of winning.
My point is that, as Arthur Conan Doyle and Dorothy Sayers have both noted, it's a dreadful mistake to theorize ahead of your data. It taints the data irreparably. Enough of this, and the whole scientific community is thrown into disrepute.
So, back to the global warming issue: I don't question that the earth's temperature has changed in the last decades and centuries. It is entirely possible that we're responsible for more recent aspects of that change. However, it's also possible that we're not — because this has happened before. I reserve judgment. The problem is that I don't feel that there is credible information out there to which I can look to educate myself on this issue. This is so because, lately, science seems so much less about data and conclusions, and so much more about agendas, agendas, agendas.