Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Global Warming: Cooking Up The Facts

I ran into a news story today that had it's genesis a few years back that is still pretty valid...at least in the minds of some people.

The scientists at the World Health Organization (WHO) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, did a study in 2003 on Global Warming and it's alleged impact on the health of children in developing nations. The two paragraphs below summarize their scientific findings.

"We estimate that climate change may already be causing in the region of 160,000 deaths...a year," Professor Andrew Haines of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine told a climate change conference in Moscow.

"The disease burden caused by climate change could almost double by 2020," he added, even taking account of factors like improvements in health care. He said the estimates had not been previously published.

Wow, pretty frightening conclusions, right? Yes, it's terrifying to me that scientists are just pulling these numbers out of the most rarefied of airs without any scientifically quantifiable evidence. These paragons of scientific reason went on to claim that...most deaths would be in developing nations in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia, which would be hardest hit by the spread of malnutrition, diarrhea and malaria in the wake of warmer temperatures, floods and droughts.

Did you get all that? It reads more like the Apocalypse of The Book of Revelations or the writings of Nostradamus than any scientific journal I've ever seen! In my high school science class my teacher taught me that in order for a thought or conjecture to take on the mantle of a scientific theory, it must be falsifiable. In other words, you have to provide me, the skeptic, with enough facts that you used to formulate your theory so that I have all the information I need to try to prove your theory wrong. It doesn't sound fair, but those are the rules. For instance, if you claim 160,000 children are already dying each year from diseases, malnutrition, hail storms, late night TV, meteorites etc., that are directly attributable to rising global temperatures, whether artificially caused or naturally occurring, you've got to provide me (and the world) with a pretty impressive amount of paperwork to back up such an extraordinary claim!

So, you may be wondering, just what proof did these men of science proffer to back up their 160,000 number. Nothing! Bupkiss! Zilch...well... you get it. You see these distinguished (or is it extinguished) men of learning say we can't wait for the facts to be properly compiled. We need to leap now into the void and do something before it's too late!

Funny, I tried the same sloppy approach when handing in my science lab report at the last minute as a teenage student. I just didn't have the time to do the experiment properly using a valid scientific method, but heck, I knew what the end result was supposed to be anyway! If I had waited to do the work the right way, the school might've already been closed and the lights out for the day. I had to act immediately, and scientific methods be damned!

I failed that lab report. I can still see the big red "F" on my paper, and the glowering look of disappointment and disgust on my science teacher, Mr. Arturo's face. He didn't accept my lazy approach to his class, and he gave me the poor grade I so richly deserved on the lab paper.

We should give the same treatment to these quacks as well!

I assure you, if Mr. Arturo had them in his class today they would be on the receiving end of some fearsome scowling!


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