The Myth of Galileo: A Story With a (Mostly) Valuable Lesson for Today
Thursday, September 8, 2011, 12:36 PM
In the Republican presidential debate last night, Rick Perry responded to John Huntsman’s appeal to science on climate change by saying:
The science is not settled on this. The idea that we would put Americans’ economy at jeopardy based on scientific theory that’s not settled yet to me is just nonsense . . . Just because you have a group of scientists who stood up and said here is the fact. Galileo got outvoted for a spell.
This has lead to numerous pundits to scoff at Perry’s analogy. Political scientist Steven Taylor provides a typical example:
. . . Perry presented this analogy as if Galileo was caught up in a scientific battle with other scientists when, in fact, he was the scientist battling non-scientists. As such, governor, that analogy does not mean what you think it means (or, to. paraphrase a debate line from many years ago: you, governor, are no Galileo).
Steven Taylor is a very smart guy. But he is (mostly) wrong about Galileo.
Here is the real story about Galileo Galilei. It’s not the story about an enlightened scientist being persecuted by a narrow-minded Catholic Church because that story is (mostly) a myth. It’s not a story about a great scientific genius either, though he was that (mainly). It’s also not a story about someone being reincarnated with the soul of the old astronomer like the song by the Indigo Girls that, for a few weeks in ’92, I thought was (almost) profound. (And I should point out that it not an original story but one that cribbed together from other sources.)
But like all good stories this one provides a (mostly) valuable lesson.
In Galileo’s day, the predominant view in astronomy was a model first espoused by Aristotle and developed by Claudius Ptolemy in which the sun and planets revolved around the earth. The Ptolemic system had been the reigning paradigm for over 1400 years when a Polish Canon named Nicholas Copernicus published his seminal work, On the Revolution of the Celestial Orbs.
Now Copernicus’ heliocentric theory wasn’t exactly new nor was it based on purely empirical observation. While it had a huge impact on the history of science, his theory was more of a revival of Pythagorean mysticism than of a new paradigm. Like many great discoveries, he merely took an old idea and gave it a new spin.
Although Copernicus’ fellow churchmen encouraged him to publish his work, he delayed the publication of On the Revolution for several years for fear of being mocked by the scientific community. At the time, the academy belonged to Aristotelians who weren’t about to let such nonsense slip through the “peer review” process.
Then came Galileo, the prototypical Renaissance man a brilliant scientist, mathematician, and musician. But while he as intelligent, charming, and witty, the Italian was also argumentative, mocking, and vain. He was, as we would say, complex. When his fellow astronomer Johann Kepler wrote to tell him that he had converted to Copernicus’ theory, Galileo shot back that he had too — and had been so for years (though all evidence shows that it wasn’t true). His ego wouldn’t allow him to be upstaged by men who weren’t as smart as he was. And for Galileo, that included just about everybody.
In 1610, Galileo used his telescope to make some surprising discoveries that disputed Aristotelian cosmology. Though his findings didn’t exactly overthrow the reigning view of the day, they were warmly received by the Vatican and by Pope Paul V. Rather than continuing his scientific studies and building on his theories, though, Galileo began a campaign to discredit the Aristotelian view of astronomy. (His efforts would be akin to a modern biologist trying to dethrone Darwin.) Galileo knew he was right and wanted to ensure that everyone else knew that the Aristotelians were wrong.
In his efforts to cram Copernicanism down the throats of his fellow scientists, Galileo managed only to squander the goodwill he had established within the Church. He was attempting to force them to accept a theory that, at the time, was still unproven. The Church graciously offered to consider Copernicanism a reasonable hypothesis, albeit a superior one to the Ptolemaic system, until further proof could be gathered. Galileo, however, never came up with more evidence to support the theory. Instead, he continued to pick fights with his fellow scientists even though many of his conclusions were being proven wrong (i.e., that the planets orbit the sun in perfect circles).
Galileo’s primary mistake was to move the fight out of the realm of science and into the field of biblical interpretation. In a fit of hubris, he wrote the Letter to Castelli in order to explain how his theory was not incompatible with proper biblical exegesis. With the Protestant Reformation still fresh on their minds, the Church authorities were in no mood to put up with another troublemaker trying to interpret Scripture on his own.
But, to their credit, they didn’t overreact. The Letter to Castelli was twice presented to the Inquisition as an example of the astronomer’s heresy and twice the charges were dismissed. Galileo, however, wasn’t satisfied and continued his efforts to force the Church to concede that the Copernican system was an issue of irrefutable truth.
In 1615, Cardinal Robert Bellarmine politely presented Galileo with an option: Put up or Shut up. Since there was no proof that the earth revolved around the sun, there was no reason for Galileo to go around trying to change the accepted reading of Holy Scripture. But if he had proof, the Church was willing to reconsider their position. Galileo’s response was to produce his theory that the ocean tides were caused by the earth’s rotation. The idea was not only scientifically inaccurate but so silly it was even rejected by his supporters.
Fed up with being dismissed, Galileo returned to Rome to bring his case before the Pope. The Pontiff, however, merely passed it along to the Holy Office who issued the opinion that the Copernican doctrine is “foolish and absurd, philosophically and formally heretical inasmuch as it expressly contradicts the doctrine of Holy Scripture in many passages…” The verdict was quickly overruled by other Cardinals in the Church.
Galileo wasn’t about to let up, though, and to everyone’s exasperation, pressed the issue yet again. The Holy Office politely but firmly told him to shut up about the whole Copernican thing and forbid him from espousing the unproven theory. This, of course, was more than he was willing to do.
When his friend took over the Papal throne, Galileo thought he would finally find a sympathetic ear. He discussed the issue with Pope Urban VIII, a man knowledgeable in matters of math and science, and tried to use his theory of the tides to convince him of the validity of his theory. Pope Urban was unconvinced and even gave an answer (though not a sound one) that refuted the notion.
Galileo then wrote A Dialogue About the Two Chief World Systems in which he would present the views of both Copernicus and Ptolemy. Three characters would be involved: Salviati, the Copernican; Sagredo, the undecided; and Simplicio, the Ptolemian (the name Simplicio implying “simple-minded”). And here is where we find our hero making his biggest blunder: he took the words that Pope Urban had used to refute his theory of the tides and put them in the mouths of Simplicio.
The Pope was not amused.
Galileo, who was now old and sickly, was once again called before the Inquisition. Unlike most suspected heretics, though, he was treated surprisingly well. While waiting for his trial, Galileo was housed in a luxurious apartment overlooking the Vatican gardens and provided with a personal valet.
In his defense, Galileo tried a peculiar tactic. He attempted to convince the judges that he had never maintained nor defended the opinion that the earth moves and that the sun is stationary and that he had, in fact, demonstrated the opposite by showing how the Copernican hypothesis was in error. The Holy Office, who knew they were being played for fools, condemned him as being “vehemently suspected of heresy”, a patently unjust ruling considering that Copernicanism had never been declared heretical.
Galileo’s sentence was to renounce his theory and to live out the rest of his days in a pleasant country house near Florence. Obviously the exile did him good because it was there, under the care of his daughter, that he continued his experiments and published his best scientific work, Discourses on Two New Sciences. He died quietly in 1642 at the ripe old age of 77.
As the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead wrote, “In a generation which saw the Thirty Years’ War and remembered Alva in the Netherlands, the worst that happened to men of science was that Galileo suffered an honorable detention and a mild reproof, before dying peacefully in his bed.”
As Paul Harvey would say, now we know the rest of the story. So what can we learn from this tale? I think it provides different lessons for different groups of people.
For scientists it shows that if you are in agreement with most of your colleagues, you will most likely be forgotten while history remembers some crank. For advocates of non-consensus positions (e.g., AGW skeptics, Intelligent Design theorists) it teaches that claiming your theory is correct is no substitute for backing it up with experiments and data (even if you are right). For aggressively self-confident people the lesson is that sometimes being persistent and believing in yourself will just get you into trouble. For Catholics it provides an example of why you shouldn’t insult the Pope (at least when there is an Inquisition going on).
I suspect that there are many more lessons that can be gleaned from this story. But I find that the real moral is not so much in the story itself but in the fact that the story even needs to be told in the first place. While I first heard the story of Galileo in elementary school, it wasn’t until long, long after I had graduated from college that I finally learned the truth. No doubt some people are just now hearing about it for the first time. How is that possible?
I suspect it may have something to do with the fact that for centuries people like Bertrand Russell, George Bernard Shaw, Carl Sagan, Bertolt Brecht, and the Indigo Girls have been passing on the myth. I don’t think any of them were intentionally lying. In fact, I doubt any of them ever bothered to examine the facts themselves. They didn’t need to. The story fit what they already believed—that science and religion were natural enemies—and that was all they needed to know.
It would be easy to mock such gullibility and intellectual laziness. But the truth is that I’m probably guilty of doing the same thing quite often. Perhaps it’s because I am a journalist (sort of) and am more apt to believe whatever version of a story I find more interesting. As a newspaper editor I often favored David over Goliath, even when the powerful Philistine was more credible than the person slinging the stones. “Boy Shepherd Slays Powerful Giant” always makes for a better headline.
As a Christian, though, I don’t have the option of favoring the position that will sell more newspapers. Instead, my duty is to side with the truth. When I hear a story that fits my agenda I should examine all the relevant facts before accepting it as Gospel. I may not always be absolutely certain which side of the line the truth lays. But I do know on thing for sure. That is the side that God will be on.
As one might expect, the Galileo affair is a much more complex matter than is presented in caricatures today. Galileo was right about some things, and wrong about others. Just like the Church.
On reflection, I think that the Church, contrary to the fables in currency today, was the more judicious of the interlocutors. Much of the debate was less about religion than it was about prudence and respect for evidence. Galileo was arrogant and wrong on important aspects of the science, and the Church appropriately challenged him on his claims. His support of the Copernican view was mostly right, but he misrepresented the state of the evidence.
Galileo was a great scientist, and like most great scientists, he had an enormous ego and made many mistakes. His unique contributions were largely eclipsed by his successors.
But he has lived on as metaphor, in the pantheon of those who hate the Church.
Michael Brooks, a quantum physicist and contributor to 'New Statesman', has had published this year a book 'Free Radicals', which is a case study of the often chaotic nature of scientific progress. I strongly recommend it.ReplyDelete
He starts off with reexamining the case of Gallileo, noting that Gallileo was right about heliocentrism, but for the wrong reasons.
At the time of Gallileo, the Catholic Church had actually abandoned Ptolemy's model, accepting Tycho Brahe's model, with the Earth stationary, the Moon and the Sun orbiting the Earth and the other planets orbiting the Sun. Geometrically, it's almost equivalent to a heliocentric model.
The Copernican model, with its circular orbits to the planets, was almost as inaccurate as Ptolemy's model, also requiring epicycles.
Kepler's laws based on Tycho Brahe's detailed naked-eye observations of the planets, which included elliptical planetary orbits, made the assumption of circular orbits unnecessary.
And Newton, who was born the same, or perhaps the subsequent, year Galileo died, proved mathematically that planets have elliptical orbits.
The point that consensus opinions of scientists are often proven to be wrong is a bogus one. You need to also consider all the times that a scientist comes up with a radical new theory that is at odds with the scientific consensus, and which is shown to be completely wrong.
'Cold fusion' is one that springs immediately to mind. Unless you include wrong theories rejected by the consensus along with right theories rejected by the consensus, all you are doing is engaging in confirmation bias.
Egnor: In 1615, Cardinal Robert Bellarmine politely presented Galileo with an option: Put up or Shut up.ReplyDelete
In the words of another Italian, they made him an offer he could not refuse. Wise guys.
Since there was no proof that the earth revolved around the sun, there was no reason for Galileo to go around trying to change the accepted reading of Holy Scripture. But if he had proof, the Church was willing to reconsider their position.
Since you mentioned Kepler in the post, you ought to know that by 1609 he had already formulated the first two of hisempirical laws. Thus scientists already had a more accurate picture of the solar system then did either Ptolemy or Copernicus.
In 1687, Newton showed how Kepler's laws result from gravitational attraction. It was known that the Sun is much more massive than Jupiter, which in turn is much more massive than the Earth. Thus it was the planets that orbited around the Sun, to the lowest approximation. And Newton also pointed out at the time that the Sun was slightly perturbed by the pull of the planets and moved itself a little. He had an even more accurate picture than Ptolemy, Copernicus, and even Kepler.
If the Church was willing to listen, she should have. She wouldn't until a hundred years later.
Hah! Beaten to the punch by bachfiend.ReplyDelete
I think Steven Taylor is right; Perry got the analogy totally backwards. I believe Perry meant that anthropomorphic climate change deniers are the modern day Galileo, while scientists are the modern day orthodoxy. Clearly it’s the climate change deniers that represent the status quo, while the climate scientists are the ones challenging the powers that be.ReplyDelete
Suggesting that Perry’s comments reflect some deep understanding that his critics lack is silly. Obfuscation of Perry’s stupid comments doesn’t make them any less stupid.
[Clearly it’s the climate change deniers that represent the status quo, while the climate scientists are the ones challenging the powers that be.]
You're kidding, right? Climate alarmism is orthodoxy in science. Obviously. In fact, climate alarmists make exactly that case-- '99% of scientists agree that global warming is happening...' Your assertion is bizarre.
[I believe Perry meant that anthropomorphic climate change deniers are the modern day Galileo, while scientists are the modern day orthodoxy]
The whole Galileo issue is a red herring. Galileo was right and wrong, and the Church was right and wrong. It was complex, and both made mistakes.
Perry is right about AGW hysteria being a hoax. A lot of people are figuring that out.
"Perry is right about AGW hysteria being a hoax."ReplyDelete
I do not have enough faith to be a conspiracy theorist.
It is notable how people who have shunned the myths have instead created new ones.ReplyDelete
No serious historian buys that nonsense about Galileo the champion etc, save the diminishing adherents of Scientism.
I found a very interesting take on this famous Atheist revisionism in the form of a dialogue. This rather obscure, but excellent little book called Galileo's Mistake.
Many folks I know have found it an excellent introduction to this rather dubious realm of scientistic mythology. If you have not had the chance, you may enjoy the read.
Climate alarmism is orthodoxy in science.ReplyDelete
And climate change deniers are primarily politicians, people who have no relevant expertise, and buffoons like Monckton. Sort of like theologians opining on the structure of the solar system.
Owen Gingerich, emeritus professor of astronomy and of history of science at Harvard University, had a brief note on the subject in Physics Today. Church celebrates Galileo anniversary. He mentions Newtonian mechanics among things that convinced serious scientists in the correctness of heliocentrism. There was no excuse to insist on geocentrism after 1687.ReplyDelete
Perry is right about AGW hysteria being a hoax.”ReplyDelete
Texas is burning despite Rick Perry’s prayers for rain, and sea ice is at the second lowest extent ever recorded. It’s remarkable how cooperative nature is being with this grand conspiracy / hoax. How many “once in a hundred years” weather events do you need in one year before you start to wake up?
At least the deniers now have to put “anthropomorphic” in front of global warming to have any credibility whatsoever.
The heat trapping property of CO2 is so well known that demonstrating it has become a popular science fair project. Every gallon of gas we burn puts 19.4lbs of CO2 into the air. It’s up to AGW deniers to come up with one or more theories that not only explain global warming, but also explain why the billions of tons of greenhouse gasses we pump into the atmosphere don’t contribute to the warming.
But, but, KW, the Good Lord would never allow climate change to have a negative effect on His Creation. Therefore those book-larned scientists are all wrong. QED.ReplyDelete
Or so ideologues like Egnor would like us to believe. No matter that they haven't studied the data or know anything about statistical techniques. The conclusion comes first, the data be damned. And Egnor is supposed to be a "research professor". Bwahaha.
The conclusion comes first, the data be damned.ReplyDelete
That's very Darwinian! Let's have a look at some Darwinian facts:
Life arose from a warm little pond.
Life is the result of random events.
Random events are naturally selected.
Ergo, Man comes from apes.
Now don’t confuse the issue with facts! Irreducible complexity are just two meaningless words, and that’s a fact!
Poor Darwinian atheists… they are a couple short of a six pack!
The heat trapping property of CO2 is so well known...ReplyDelete
It is also well known that bovine flatulence (a.k.a. cow farts) contribute the most to GW. Think about this while eating your filet-mignon to-nite.
...some Darwinian facts should read some Darwinian conclusion...ReplyDelete
Darn spell checker!
[Or so ideologues like Egnor would like us to believe. No matter that they haven't studied the data or know anything about statistical techniques. The conclusion comes first, the data be damned. And Egnor is supposed to be a "research professor". Bwahaha.]
I know that scientists who would rather delete data than comply with FOIA requests and who hide declines and who fight release of e-mails about publicly-funded research in court and who privately can't figure out why the warming isn't happening and who use data massaging tricks to make medieval warm periods disappear and hockey sticks appear and who conspire to rig peer review and who compare people who question their scientific theories to Holocaust deniers and who threaten journalists with 'the silent treatment' if they don't write exactly what scientists tell them to write and who announce a new apocalypse more frequently than bible-belt preachers and who demand that they and their political allies (funding sources) be given authority to control major aspects of world economy and governance aren't doing honest science.
I've been doing science for 30 years, and I know fraud when I see it.
Does Cow Flatulence Accelerate Global Warming?ReplyDelete
Help the planet, become a vegetarian.
I've been doing science for 30 years, and I know fraud when I see it.ReplyDelete
You are so right, Dr. Egnor!
I wish your deniers would have a look at this.
Peer review is an exercise in counting, not in reading!
Galileo is being criticized for being loud and obnoxious in promoting heliocentrism. Actually, scientists if they're proposing a new theory (which Galileo wasn't, though he was going against the accepted orthodoxy) have to publicize their work, otherwise it will be ignored.ReplyDelete
One of the scientists who won the the 1946 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for showing that the hereditary molecule is protein, had in his very own laboratory a researcher by the name of Avery who showed in 1944 that DNA was actually the hereditary molecule, published, not publicized and ignored, even by the Nobel Prize committee. Fortunately, Nobel Prizes for erroneous work don't have to be returned.
Scientists don't really bother themselves with the original 'classic' papers proposing now accepted theories. If they want to read about General Relativity, they read the latest literature, not Einstein's original papers. If they want to read about evolutionary biology, they read the latest literature (which has a lot more data, evidence) and not Darwin's 1959 'On the Origin of Species'.
Philosophers love reading the original sources. Scientists not so, unless personally interested in finding out what the original proponents got right or wrong.
The original proponents are usually setting out an argument as to why the previously accepted theory is wrong. Galileo was setting forth a flawed argument why Ptolemy was wrong. Scientists would just say that Ptolemy was wrong. Galileo was also wrong, but less so. But anyone who says that Ptolemy and Galileo are equally wrong is more wrong than either.
Regarding AGW. The scientific consensus is that increasing CO2 levels will cause global warming, sea level rises, ocean acidification. This is as certain as virtually anything in science. It's a simple matter of the physics and chemistry of CO2.
The uncertainty lies in the magnitude of the rise, its rate, and the speed at which the icecaps melt, the sea level rises, whether the Gulf Stream fails plunging Northern Europe into another glaciation, the regional variations in weather, whether rainfall is going to increase or decrease in certain areas, whether there's going to be other factors reducing or increasing the global warming, ... the uncertainties are many and vigorously debated.
Climate scientists can only present the science and the predicted effects. It's up to us, through our politicians, to decide what action to take.
I accept the science consensus. I find the arguments of the denialists unconvincing, so personally I have made the decision to reduce my carbon footprint and I support any political party that advocates action.
That's my right in a democracy.
As a 'denialist' I've read your link to the article on 'Evolution News'.
First of all, peer review isn't the be all and end all of publication. All it means is that the paper's reviewers didn't find any obvious flame in the paper. A paper's significance depends on the notice it receives, the number of times it's cited.
Peer review is a recent phenomenon. Einstein submitted a paper to a journal which was rejected because a reviewer noticed a mathematical error. He was offended, so he submitted it to another journal, which accepted it immediately (it was Einstein, after all ...). The original reviewer was correct, and Einstein did make an error.
Spencer's paper in 'Remote Imaging' was a review paper published in a journal which didn't have reviewers with knowledge of the atea Spencer was reviewing. They also didn't realize that Spencer didn't address the objections to the science he was presenting.
I've read Meyer's review article in 'Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington' (it's easily available). I found it incredibly lame and extremely dishonest for a review article. In one section he falsely summarizes the work of a Japanese geneticist as to which genes would be necessary in all Cambrian animal species, and would therefore be present in preCambrian species, and then gave the correct summary in an endnote many, many pages later.
That's unacceptable in a review article.
Sternberg wasn't hounded out of his job as editor. His term was due to finish with the next issue anyway. The publishers' retraction of Meyer's paper was appropriate too, even without it being seriously flawed. 'Proceedings' is a taxonomy journal, with reviewers suited to that field.
Agh ... Spell check!ReplyDelete
[Regarding AGW. The scientific consensus is that increasing CO2 levels will cause global warming, sea level rises, ocean acidification. This is as certain as virtually anything in science. It's a simple matter of the physics and chemistry of CO2.]
It's not the least bit simple, and I couldn't care less about 'scientific consensus'. 'Consensus' is a political concept, and has nothing whatsoever to do with science. I am not personally a climate scientist (obviously), and I don't give a damn about consensus (it is very often wrong), so how do I decide who to believe?
It's relatively simple. I look for markers of credibility-- open-mindedness, candor about data and evidence against one's pet theory, civility, modesty, consistent integrity. I did cancer research in college, and my mentor, molecular biologist Bob Pollack (who went on to be the Dean of Columbia College), was a wonderful philosopher as well as a world-class scientist. He told me that the most important characteristic of a good scientist is that he is the most stringent critic of his own work. He always doubts his own conclusions, always asks questions about his data and methods. If a scientist is trying to sell you his work, he's not to be trusted.
Climate science has all of the hallmarks of bad science. In fact, it has all of the hallmarks of fraud. Deleted data, evasions of FOIA requests, chicken-little hysteria and end-of-world-if-you -don't-fund-our-research-lavishly-and-do-everything-we-say stuff.
I don't believe climate scientists because I smell fraud. Big time.
[The uncertainty lies in the magnitude of the rise, its rate, and the speed at which the icecaps melt, the sea level rises, whether the Gulf Stream fails plunging Northern Europe into another glaciation, the regional variations in weather, whether rainfall is going to increase or decrease in certain areas, whether there's going to be other factors reducing or increasing the global warming, ... the uncertainties are many and vigorously debated.]
Apocalyptic crap. Eugenics, DDT, Population control, global cooling, heterosexual aids, ad nauseam. I've heard it before, over and over. "We're scientists, the world is ending, and you have to give us power and money or else"
[Climate scientists can only present the science and the predicted effects. It's up to us, through our politicians, to decide what action to take.]
Climate scientists are intimately involved with the politics. Read the CRU emails.
[I accept the science consensus. I find the arguments of the denialists unconvincing, so personally I have made the decision to reduce my carbon footprint and I support any political party that advocates action.]
Fine. That's your right. I'm fighting this fraud with every bit of my strength. I'm winning.
'Global warming' apocalyptic pseudo-science will fade, and in a decade or two everyone will deny having anything to do with it. Just like eugenics. Then there will be a new fraud-- "The oceans are getting to acidic" or whatever.
There will always be frauds, and each generation will have to fight them. You're on the wrong side of this.
[Sternberg wasn't hounded out of his job as editor. His term was due to finish with the next issue anyway. The publishers' retraction of Meyer's paper was appropriate too, even without it being seriously flawed. 'Proceedings' is a taxonomy journal, with reviewers suited to that field.]
The Office of Special Counsel did a very careful review of Sternberg's treatment at the Smithsonian. It was a very disturbing report 9http://www.rsternberg.net/OSC_ltr.html) that basically substantiated Sternberg's claims. The investigation was closed for technical reasons, but the OSC acknowledged the basic veracity of Sternberg's claims.
You obviously know this. Why did you misrepresent it in your comment?
Any of you learned scientific commenters ready to address the bovine flatulence crisis?ReplyDelete
"'Global warming' apocalyptic pseudo-science will fade, and in a decade or two everyone will deny having anything to do with it."ReplyDelete
Yeah, just like creationists have been saying "evolution is a theory in crisis" for 150 years.
“It is also well known that bovine flatulence (a.k.a. cow farts) contribute the most to GW. Think about this while eating your filet-mignon to-nite.”ReplyDelete
95% of the methane from cows is from burping, not flatulence.
In the U.S., natural gas systems, and decomposition of garbage in landfills, both contribute more to anthropomorphic methane emissions than cows, followed closely by coal mining. Cows are responsible for less than 1/3 the anthropomorphic methane emissions, and about 1/6 of total methane emissions.
I’m not sure of the exact numbers, but it stands to reason that the methane produced by domesticated bovines is roughly equivalent to the methane produced by grazers before the elimination of much of the world’s mega fauna. In a sense, we’ve eliminated a natural source of methane, and replaced it with a man-made source. We don’t “own” the effect of animal gut bacteria the way we do landfills, coal mining, and fossil fuel use.
Methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, but its atmospheric lifetime is only a fraction of CO2’s lifetime, so while it traps more heat, it does so for a much shorter period of time. Methane doesn’t have nearly the cumulative effect of CO2, and we produce ten times more CO2 than methane.
Action is needed to curb anthropomorphic CO2 and methane emissions in order to avoid the release of methane from melting permafrost in Canada and Siberia. This methane would cause warming that would accelerate the release of more methane. This potentially nasty positive feedback could dramatically accelerate the rate of global warming.
Hmm…I think I’ll have Chicken tonight
I agree with the bovine flatulence hypothesis. OK? Methane gets turned into CO2 anyway.
There's no fraud with AGW. Almost all the national science associations have put out position statements agreeing with the fact that AGW is occurring (the one exception is the American Association of Petroleum Geologists which has a neutral statement).
The science associations represent all scientists, not just climate scientists. Public funding of climate science reduces the available money for other science research. Do you think that non-climate scientists are going to stand for a scam if the science of AGW wasn't robust?
Don't bring up Professor Lewis, an 87 year old physicist, who hasn't sought funding for years (PS I've just noticed that he died in May, did anyone hear of this at the time?).
The physics and chemistry of AGW are settled. The magnitude of its effects aren't. As a world, we have to decide what action, if any, to take. Global warming, whatever its magnitude, is going to affect all, there's not going to be just Chinese global warming or American global warming.
You're still very good at trotting out unsupported statements.
The congressional report on Sternberg was pushed by a Republican d**gb*t. It doesn't have much credence. The Republicans today are a far cry from the Republicans of Lincoln's day.
[Yeah, just like creationists have been saying "evolution is a theory in crisis" for 150 years.]
Darwinism has longer staying power than other science hoaxes, because tautologies are hard to disprove.
[The physics and chemistry of AGW are settled.]
Then let's stop funding it.
[The congressional report on Sternberg was pushed by a Republican d**gb*t. It doesn't have much credence.]
Right. Republicans made up all those emails, just like they made up the CRU emails.
“Right. Republicans made up all those emails,”ReplyDelete
No they obtained due to the diligent and illegal work of the Russian secret service or mob and their well healed patrons as part of a concentrated effort to hack, steal, stymie, and discredit climate science. The Russian balance of trade depends on it.
At least 3 comprehensive investigations have cleared the climategate scientists of any wrong doing. The entire affair stinks to hi heaven, from the illegal hack originating in a major oil exporting nation, to the selective use of out of context quotes by the right-wing media.
Anyone who still believes that climategate has anything to say about the veracity of global warming science has been duped by a sophisticated and well financed illegal operation and a media sympathetic to its goals.
Darwinism has longer staying power than other science hoaxes, because tautologies are hard to disprove.ReplyDelete
Tautologies are impossible to disprove, as they are necessarily true. This is inherent in the definition of "tautology". Your own words defeat your own argument.
No they obtained due to the diligent and illegal work of the Russian secret service or mob and their well healed patrons as part of a concentrated effort to hack, steal, stymie, and discredit climate science.ReplyDelete
KW holds here in his hands a list of Communists in the State Department...
I said the physics and chemistry of AGW are settled. I also said that its effects aren't settled, and that needs further research and funding. The magnitude of the temperature, sea level rise, ocean acidification, etc and their rates are all uncertain. Dismissing all of AGW just because of uncertainties is nonsense.
Also Meyer's review article in 'Proceedings' was absolute rubbish. It shouldn't have been published in a taxonomy journal too. Stern berg states that he had it reviewed by 4 referees with a total of 5 PhDs. We don't know who they were or whether they had any knowledge of the Cambrian radiation. Presumably Sternberg with his 2 PhDs was on of the reviewers.
You'd love Michael Brook's 'Free Radicals'. He has a lot of nice things to say about religious scientists. Why don't you do us a favor and take a week off from your blog and read it. He also has a lot to say about how science and scientists work.
I accept that there is anthropogenic climate change and I fail to see much of a downside in curbing our emissions and transitioning away from fossil fuels, as long as it is done in such a way as not to hobble our ability to compete with China, India, and other "emerging markets," of which I am sure we are capable.ReplyDelete
I'm surprised. I actually agree with you. America will never be able to compete with China, India, or any of the developing countries, if it tries to do it on price. America has to work smarter and that means more money spent on education and training.