Although there are still a few scientists who think the planet will be cooling soon, there's a huge and growing body of evidence that the temperature is headed in the opposite direction: up. If it is, the next questions are, in this order:
• Why is the globe warming?
• What should we do about it?
My interest in science doesn’t mean I’m an expert in climate science, so I have to rely on the evidence and arguments of others before I can draw any informed conclusions. I do believe that our technological capabilities will be a big factor in the solution, as I mentioned in this energy article—but before we can commit to a solution path, it would be a big help to know why the globe is warming, wouldn’t it?
A large number of people already have their minds made up; not only are they convinced they know “why,” but they also know “what we should do about it”: we humans are causing it, and the solution is centrally planned and enforced controls on the human activity and technologies that cause it. That message is getting such wide coverage, I wouldn’t be surprised if a majority of the general public agreed with it.
But if there is a majority, it doesn’t include me yet. Reason: I’m not so sure the “Why” question is settled. In fact, in the mainstream media, I think I’m detecting something Thomas Jefferson warned about:
The moment a person forms a theory, his imagination sees in every object only the traits which favor that theory.
The famous physicist and Nobel laureate Richard P. Feynman gave us a similar admonishment:
For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.
Scientific truths are not determined by popular vote or opinion polls. They are determined by testing theories against observations. The book depicted at the top of this article has an interesting title, and an even more interesting subtitle: Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years , by S. Fred Singer and Dennis T. Avery. I’m only partway through it, but wanted to get this posted in case you wanted to see a plausible alternative to the “greenhouse” theory for explaining why the planet is warming: the 1,500-year climate cycle, discovered recently by three European scientists (Willi Dansgaard, Hans Oeschger, and Claude Lorius). Here’s the opening paragraph:
The earth is warming, but physical evidence from around the world tells us that human-emitted CO2 (carbon dioxide) has played only a minor role in it. Instead, the mild warming seems to be part of a natural 1,500-year climate cycle (plus or minus 500 years) that goes back at least one million years.
I’m going to withhold judgment on the “Why” question; I need to see the rest of the evidence and arguments in this book. Until we know why the globe is warming, we won’t know what to do about it. (Example of an unanswered question: Is increased CO2 causing the globe to warm, or is the naturally warming globe causing CO2 levels to rise?) When I see new evidence and theories like the one this book lays out, I become a bit more skeptical about the “greenhouse” theory to which so many others have already committed. As the authors say, if it’s really the 1,500-year cycle that’s causing the warming . . .
. . . then public policy must focus instead on adaptations—such as efficient air conditioning and building dikes around low-lying areas like Bangladesh.
Seems to me the 1500-year cycle theory should be getting more exposure and debate time from those truly interested in “settling the science.” Maybe this new book will help liven up the discussion.