Letter: Climate change hasn't met scientific method

Climate change hasn't met scientific method

To the editor:

Clarence Fanto's column "Report backs climate change as real, relentless" of Jan. 24 appears not to recognize the difference between discrete localized weather events and global climate change. Even the most ardent proponents of climate change have discounted a linkage between current weather events and long-term climate change. Some have even discouraged citing events such as "Super Storm" Sandy as examples of extremes caused by global warming because it detracts from the intellectual argument in support of long-term climate change.

It is also important to make a distinction between a hypothesis and a scientific law in applying the scientific method to climate change. A hypothesis is a theory which attempts to explain an observed physical phenomenon. "Climate change" is such a hypothesis. For a hypothesis to become scientific law ("established science") it must demonstrate three qualities:

It must be predictable. It must be repeatable. It must be capable of being expressed in mathematical form that can be validated by the first two qualities. What the scientific method does not include is definition by consensus. Newton's theories did not become scientific laws by a survey of the scientific community.

The very fact that there are two opposing political factions declaring the absence or presence of anthropogenic effects on climate change is evidence that an indisputable scientific law defining long- term climate change does not exist. Scientific law is apolitical and immutable. The mechanisms which drive long-term changes in climate are not fully understood and have yet to be defined and validated.

If a proven "established science" model defining climate cycles existed, it could quickly put to rest the debate on the impact of CO2 on the earth's temperature. Since a valid mathematical model for functions of time must be able to accurately describe past cyclical events as well as predict future ones, past climate cycles (such as 18 year "pauses" or "slow-downs") could simply be shown as conforming to the output of the same model. Such a model does not exist.

While weather forecasts have become amazingly accurate in predicting near-term outcomes, they are notoriously inaccurate beyond a two or three week time frame. Models that deal in longer term phenomena such as hurricane season projections have conspicuously demonstrated their inability to accurately predict the numbers and severity of hurricanes months in advance.

So, before we set about defining a solution for a problem for which we do not fully understand the cause (or even if it exists), let's employ the scientific method a bit more rigorously, and de-emphasize the doomsday histrionics – especially when the impact of proposed "solutions" carry potentially disastrous economic consequences for all, including those least able to "weather the financial storm".

Robert L. Meyers, Pittsfield


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