Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Climate Change Scientific Method

"Luckily We're Not Climate Scientists"

Artist's conception of diamond planet orbiting a pulsar
 ~ The scientific method is the same irrespective of the field of science to which the method is applied. This point is made engagingly by Matthew Bailes, in a brief article contrasting the different reception by politicians, the press and public to scientific discoveries in climate science versus in other fields. Bailes and his colleagues discovered the diamond planet and received "amazing attention" and great favor:
Our host institutions were thrilled with the publicity and most of us enjoyed our 15 minutes of fame. The attention we received was 100% positive, but how different that could have been.

How so? Well, we could have been climate scientists.
Imagine for a minute that, instead of discovering a diamond planet, we’d made a breakthrough in global temperature projections.

Let’s say we studied computer models of the influence of excessive greenhouse gases, verified them through observations, then had them peer-reviewed and published in Science.

Instead of sitting back and basking in the glory, I suspect we’d find a lot of commentators, many with no scientific qualifications, pouring scorn on our findings.

People on the fringe of science would be quoted as opponents of our work, arguing that it was nothing more than a theory yet to be conclusively proven.

There would be doubt cast on the interpretation of our data and conjecture about whether we were “buddies” with the journal referees.

If our opponents dug really deep they might even find that I’d once written a paper on a similar topic that had to be retracted.

Before long our credibility and findings would be under serious question.
It's another inconvenient truth—the discovery of the diamond planet is no different in method and structure than any other scientific discovery.
But on occasion those from the fringe of the scientific community will push a position that is simply not credible against the weight of evidence.

This occurs within any discipline. But it seems it’s only in the field of climate science that such people are given airtime and column inches to espouse their views.

Those who want to ignore what’s happening to Earth feel they need to be able to quote “alternative studies”, regardless of the scientific merit of those studies.


Sadly, the same media commentators who celebrate diamond planets without question are all too quick to dismiss the latest peer-reviewed evidence that suggests man-made activities are responsible for changes in concentrations of CO2 in our atmosphere.

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