The whole purpose of science is to prove causation

This is a fairly-written editorial about global warming except for one statement I would like to expound upon: namely that proving causation in science is difficult.  Actually, you do not have any scientific explanation for things until you can, indeed, show cause and effect because science is all about explaining how and why things happen.  This is why the carbon dioxide scam is so easy to detect.

Ever since industrial man began creating carbon dioxide as a result of his activities, notably the burning of fossil fuels in mind-boggling quantities, anthropogenic carbon dioxide additions to the atmosphere have gone nowhere but up.  Drake drilled the world’s first oil well in 1859, although, of course, people had been burning coal prior to that time and even a bit of oil from natural seeps.  Today 7 billion people consume nearly 90 billion barrels of petroleum EVERY SINGLE DAMN DAY!

Now, I submit to you for calm consideration, that’s a huge increase since 1859 in both population and consumption . . . and I haven’t even included all of the world’s coal-fired power plants created since then, with just China alone said to be building one new plant every week.  But have global temperatures gone nowhere but up since 1859 as a result?  Clearly they have not.

In fact, the evidence of only the last decade, just to pick the most recent period of human activity with the best scientific instruments yet devised, has been that no significant warming has even occurred, and, in fact, there might even be a small cooling effect taking place.

Now you might expect that this would make a lot of frightened people very happy, since it is very, very obvious that neither the world’s population nor petroleum consumption are going to decline in any conceivable near future. Heck, those numbers are not even going to stay on a flat line.  So if the planet actually was going to become uninhabitable because of anthropogenic carbon dioxide creation then there’s absolutely nothing meaningful that can be done about it, therefore we ought to be very happy with this news that it’s not going to happen.

But some people have elected not to even use their own brains, relying on others to do their thinking for them.  I used to be more amazed about this, but then I realized that I can read every day about successful scams pulled off by telemarketers and quick-talking salesmen, Investors are regularly being fleeced in some dubious venture somewhere or other, and a large number of those investors were people smart enough to make a great deal of money to begin with. As we say in Costa Rica, the best way to come here and see your bank account total one million dollars is to have brought two million dollars down with you when you came.

Look at all of the very bright people fooled by The Brothers, Madoff and Ken Lay and Solyndra, and the list goes on and on, even though there is also clear evidence that other bright people were actually warning investors about each of these scams, but to no effect.  And there are also well-meaning people who perhaps unthinkingly say things like “proving causation in science is difficult” — perhaps because they’ve heard it from someone else with an unknown less-pure motive and are merely repeating it — without stopping to think: “Wait a second, isn’t the whole point of the discipline known as the ‘scientific method’ all about proving cause and effect?  Why, of course it is!”

Whenever that turns out to be too difficult to do after careful study, then the scientific conclusion is that you are looking at the wrong cause for producing the effect you are observing.  Even if you do not possess the credentials to be “a scientist” but are looking for the cause of cyclical events, glaciations and warm periods which alternate, coming and going on a semi-regular basis, trying to attribute them to a cause which moves only in an ever-increasing direction ought to be enough to tip you off to the fact that some part of your logic must be wrong.

Gregg Calkins
La Fortuna

This entry was posted in Reader Opinion. Bookmark the permalink.