Monday, March 29, 2010
"The Day After Tomorrow" -- Not!
Remember the movie "The Day After Tomorrow" about catastrophic cooling of the earth caused by global warming? There were a rash of media stories about a scientific paper published five years ago that purported to show that just such a scenario was possible.
Thanks to the invaluable Bishop Hill Blog, we learn that ocean current which the original paper said was slowing (thus leading to potential cooling) not only isn't slowing but may be speeding up a little. The original paper had an arithmetic error. That's fine, these things happen in science, but here is the kicker: We are just now learning about this because when the error was discovered in 2007, Nature wouldn't publish the corrected information "because it would be of no great interest to Nature readers"!
Lest you think this is an isolated case, lets take a look at a story in the current Time magazine web site, about cows and meat eating contributing much less (if at all) to 'global warming' than originally thought. Turns out the methodology for determining that eating meat was a major contributor to global warming was flawed. But here is kicker #2: They knew the methodology was wrong when they issued the report!
Pierre Gerber, livestock officer at the FAO and one of the 2006 report's authors, admits that the comparison was flawed. "It's a weakness that we were aware of the issue when we used it," he says. "But it's not the point of the report.
"Not the point of the report"? What was the "point of the report" if they knowingly published flawed information?
One would think that Time would have gone on to quote someone regarding the questions of scientific ethics that this incident raises. Unfortunately, they quote Steve Schneider, one of the most ardent global warming alarmists who rationalizes this and other incidents of bad science in the global warming literature.
In order for science to have a positive effect on our society, we as scientists must be able be trusted to adhere to the scientific method. Sadly, since Climategate broke in November, we have learned that there are far too many incidents of scientists willing to compromise those principles.
UPDATE: The WSJ also noticed the Time article.