Saturday, 12 December 2009

Global warming - it's science, not opinion, stupid.

I'm getting very tired of hearing 'arguments' for or against the fact that our planet is getting warmer; it's not the subject that bothers me, it's the method in which these arguments often are presented.

When we're dealing in subjects that count on sources and knowledge beyond our individual empirical reach, it is normal that we depend upon the research and accumulation of knowledge of others more informed than we. Yet I, the ignorant, could have a hard time discerning what source of "knowledge" to accept over others; no matter the decibel volume of the source, one thing that can't be masked or exaggerated in any findings is the method through which they were found.

Science is an observation process that contains as little human emotion or identity as possible. A researcher's previous findings, and conclusions thereof, can only point him in a new direction of research. What separates a true scientist from the rest is his method of treating all evidence from that point onward: a true scientist will not attempt to make any conclusion until he has accumulated as much information as possible from as many sources as are available to him. Do you see the direction of logic here? The evidence points to the answer, not the other way around.

Introducing "identity" into the scientific process corrupts and discredits it. Whether the motivation for the "identity factor" be because of personal gain or just pure stubbornness, any person who conducts his research to "prove" preconceived ideas is not scientific. In all my years of following scientific research, very few of the "conclusions" I have seen that go against general scientific consensus are of any scientific value, as most turn out to have been generated by those working for the very special interests whose activities would be impeded by any action taken on the real scientific data available to us.

Of course, in the past, new scientific discoveries have debunked old ones. This is normal, and very scientific, but we are no longer in an era where science replaces human ignorance; we are in an era that is the result of several layers and several generations of scientific research. Whereas we had nothing concrete on which to base our findings before, science has managed to build a rudimentary model of undeniable truths upon which to observe our universe, thanks to our discoveries of the workings of atoms, gravity and the like. We are no longer in the time of Copernic where the only alternative to science was the status quo that was religion then.

Yet I do see parallels to that era in the world today. The status quo may no longer be religion, but it has adopted a form that is almost identical to religion, an almost blind faith in all things that preserve "our way of life". If we prefer to shut our eyes to the fact and science to favour our own comfort (or what we perceive to be comfort), we are just as condemnable as 16th-century religion, yet this time around, through our heightened means of communication, we are doing all the disillusionment work ourselves. Again, as in most every cycle in history, the status quo will hold strong until it begins to be perceived as a source of suffering - and in this age where it is the status quo-dependant upper eschelons of society whose voice is heard the most, I don't see this happening any time soon.