I kind of follow the political news. I try to stay on top of scientific news. I’m very confused when the two of those collide.
The biggest collision of politics and science in my mind is global warming. Governments all over the world, and of course the United Nations are trying to “solve” global warming. Jumping over any science that is actually happening. With this scientists on both sides of the debate are getting very political on their views. Me, I want to talk about the science and leave any political views out of the picture. Feel free to comment on either picture.
Global warming — is it really happening? The best answer science has right now is.. Wait for it….. Maybe! That’s right maybe! The past 20 years of weather data shows some warming, the past 10 years has been very stable. Hmmm. Global warming simulation programs show that the warming of the planet will be increasing in the next 20 to 40 years. These same simulations can not use past information to determine the global average temperature in past years… Hmmm again! There is a lot of science going on here and it all points to maybe. (at least for me)
Global warming — What causes it. Well until you actually determine that it is happening, you can’t really say what is causing it can you? This is where the politics really gets going, so I’m not going there. Just for the science background, most of the heat on earth comes from 1 source, the Sun. Yes, there is planetary heat (think radioactive decay and volcanoes), and heat produced by man (burning all sorts of stuff and other things from our mechanical world), but that is minimal. The thing to determine is how much heat comes from the sun, and how much is released back to space. If the heat in is more than the heat out, you have global warming. If you have more heat out then heat in, you have global cooling. If they are the same, well, you have steady temperatures. This will have to be measured for more than 10 – 15 years to determine if we are warming or cooling. As far as I know, nobody has these measurements. Big world, and it is hard to do, if not impossible with today’s technology. So the talk about carbon footprints and greenhouse effect has no bearing on actual science known.
Global Warming — What can we do? Nothing and everything. Most things people come up with to actually combat the global warming are good to do. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle is scientifically a very good choice. There are a limited amount of resources available to us. While this may have effect on global warming, the best thing is using less, wasting less, and getting better value. By carbon credits? Doesn’t do much except move your money to someone else. Not much science in that choice. Alternate fuels? That one is still up in the air as far as science goes. There are some good alt-fuels, some bad. We really need to check to see if the energy cost producing the fuel is less than the energy created. The science I see that may make the biggest impact in the next 10-20 years is algae. Another is the new Volt from GM
One final thought, remember when it comes to weather forecasting: This is one of the few jobs where you can be wrong 50% of the time and still have a job.