Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Who Killed Scientific Evidence?

Talk about the death of evidence.

A few hundred scientists, organized by the Council of Canadians, gathered yesterday in Ottawa to accuse Prime Minister Stephen Harper of having an anti-environment, anti-science agenda.

The message is clear: they seem to think that, at a time of fiscal austerity, they should be immune. Artists almost certainly feel the same way. But I digress.

It's worth noting that, in the research of many of the scientists present at this partisan protest, research was already grievously ailing, if not already dead. Did Prime Minister Harper kill evidence? Perhaps, at best, his government is simply shovelling dirt on the grave.

Coming via Mike Soron of Steady City, take the case of Arne Mooers. Mooers was at the protest yesterday. He had some interesting comments about 'state propaganda.'

"Evidence is the way that adults navigate reality," he insisted. "To deny evidence is to live in a fairy tale world. When countries engage in fantasy it's called state propaganda."

As Soron points out, one of Mooers' past pieces of work was a study projecting a global planetary collapse, one that will effectively end human civilization as we know it. Or altogether. Of course, when you take a look at what Mooers used for his "evidence," his study becomes altogether unconvincing. Essentially, the whole thing is a scientific whitewash. The best evidence Mooers uses in his study is paleontological. Other than that, the study relies on scientific theory and toy ecosystem modelling. So in reality, the study never advances beyond theory.

"The last tipping point in Earth's history occurred about 12,000 years ago when the planet went from being in the age of glaciers, which previously lasted 100,000 years, to being in its current intergalacial state," Mooers explained. "Once that tipping point was reached, the most extreme biological changes leading to our current state occurred within only 1,000 years. That's like going from a baby to an adult state in less than a year. Importantly, the planet is changing even faster now."

Or not.

Recent ice core studies have cast some serious doubt on the conclusions drawn by some climate alarmists -- presuming, of course, that you take actual science seriously enough to allow there to be any doubts.

"The odds are very high that the next global state change will be extremely disruptive to our civilizations," he continued. "Remember, we went from being hunter-gatherers to being moon-walkers during one of the most stable and benign periods in all of Earth's history."

Of course, that would be a massive historical mistake -- one repeated over and over again in the apocalyptic ravings of scientists aligned with the climate change alarmists. This forgets the global state-changes that have happened during humanity's advance form hunter-gatherer societies to moon-walking. The one most popularly omitted is the medieval warming period. The omission, by the way, is quite deliberate.

If judged by such things as the state of glaciers, the medieval warming period was much closer to the global collapse that Mooers refers to in his study. Yet the planet eventually returned to its previous state.

Why is this important? I'm glad you asked.

“Once a threshold-induced planetary state shift occurs, there’s no going back," Mooers insisted. "So, if a system switches to a new state because you’ve added lots of energy, even if you take out the new energy, it won’t revert back to the old system. The planet doesn’t have any memory of the old state.”

The paper is also strongly rooted in a Malthusian ideology. Malthusians have been forecasting doom and gloom for nearly 200 years, and time and time again it's failed to come to pass.Think of the Malthusians as being the Jehovas Witnesses of science.

The most remarkable thing about the study is that, as there has never been a human-induced planetary collapse, Mooers' study cannot have determined such a threshold based on evidence. They claim that humanity has already reached 43% of the threshhold that would induce such a global collapse. If humanity exceeds 50%, it's all over. But without any evidence on which to base it -- and there is none -- that threshold is entirely arbitrary.

Simply put, it's impossible for a study like Mooers' to be anything but grey science. Which would make it a very bad idea for any government to base policy on it.

So who really killed evidence? Was it Prime Minister Stephen Harper with what are actually some very small cuts to scientific funding (which are the first of his time as Prime Minister)? Or was it Arne Mooers?

You be the judge.

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