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Sep 09, 2005

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will spotts

Good post.

It's not always easy to discern the sources of funding and bias in scientific inquiry, but it is clear that it exists.

Global Warming as a result of increasing greenhouse effect was first introduced to the world in the early 70's(?) at a time when, accoding to the National Geographic, most scientists agreed that the earth was getting cooler.

Interestingly enough, my first exposure to this concept was in the movie Soylent Green, made from the book Room, Make Room. (While obviously the population concerns were fashionable, no one at the time was talking about global warming as part of this equation).

I mention this only to say that I find it interesting that popular fiction seems to determine the direction of scientific research funding.

A similar debate would be the one over the role of protein in the diet -- i.e. whether, as people on one side of the spectrum argue, people ought to eat all carbs, and very little protein, no meat. Or, on the opposite end, an all protein diet. Our government produced the food pyramid which was based on the first model. However, in the 70's it was common knowledge that that this did not work for "weight loss".

I have trouble understanding how these items catch on -- i.e. I grasp that funding determines what research people are even willing to attempt doing -- no one, for example, is going to do research that does not conform to a desired paradigm (and program of public action). However, I'm a little at a loss to be able to determine this on a cui bono basis.

Michael W. Kruse

Patrick Michaels has a great quote from NASA scientist James Hansen who is credited with bringing the idea of greenhouse gasses to the public's attention. The UN published a compendium in 2001 that estimates an increase of .6 degrees Celsius per decade over the next 50 years based on Hansen’s research dating back to 1988. In 2001, Hansen published a report that put the estimate .15 degrees. Why the discrepancy?

“Emphasis on extreme scenarios may have been appropriate at one, time, when the public and decision-makers were relatively unaware of the global warming issue. Now, however, the need is for demonstrably objective climate … scenarios consistent with what is realistic under current conditions.” (Meltdown, p. 19)

In other words, scare people to death in order to grant funding requests to “fight the war” on global warming by using the worst (and most unlikely) case scenario. Then, once we get the money, we can bring some realism back into the view.

The fact is that according the UN’s own straight-line projections over the next 100 years, based on the passed thirty years of data, the total temperature will increase less than 2 degrees. (This is a very tolerable increase.) It is also important to realize that the data goes back thirty years. Why? Because the mid-1970s marked the end of a thirty year cooling trend which was in turn preceded by another thirty year warming trend. The world was actually warming at a faster rate from about 1910-1940 than it was from 1973-2003.

I know what you mean about the low-carb diets and all the other “scientific” fads that catch on. I think it happens because the media likes to report sensational news. They often overstate and misrepresent scientific findings. Meanwhile, some scientific institutions welcome the hysteria because it creates a better environment for generating funding. IMO, the global warming industry is the grand-daddy of them all.

I should also point out that this is not a liberal/conservative issue. Global warming happens to be one that lines up with the liberal end of the spectrum but conservatives can be just as adept at alarmist tactics to support their causes. I agree it is difficult to sort out the vested interests at times but it is a must before we embrace radical social and economic agendas.

will spotts

"it is difficult to sort out the vested intrests at times but it is a must before we embrace radical social and economic agendas."

Amen to that.

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