I have to shake my head in wonder when I hear this kind of proclamation…especially when it comes from Obama:
But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact.
Climate change is a fact? No shit Sherlock.
No one disputes that. No one. In fact that is what those of who do not believe in man-made global warming argue, the planet’s climate has been changing for millions of years, long before we were here.
Anthony Watts has a great graph up depicting this very thing:
Now if someone wants to say “man-made climate change is a fact” then they will be called to the carpet because it is nothing of the sort.
Another doozy in that inane muttering of Obama?
“The debate is settled”
Once again Watts schools him with some history:
Lord Kelvin In 1898, Kelvin predicted that only 400 years of oxygen supply remained on the planet, due to the rate of burning combustibles. In his calculation, Kelvin assumed that photosynthesis was the only source of free oxygen; he did not know all of the components of the oxygen cycle. He could not even have known all of the sources of photosynthesis: for example the cyanobacterium Prochlorococcus—which accounts for more than half of marine photosynthesis—was not discovered until 1986.
Kelvin’s pronouncement, which he believed to be true at the time based on the facts he had at hand, were later disproved by new science and obviously discarded. But, imagine if there were a panic movement then to conserve oxygen, with “oxygen taxes” applied, massive government funded research implemented, and reams of NGO’s feeding on the frenzy demanding a host of new laws and changes in human behavior to avert the crisis.
They’d look pretty stupid to us in the context of science knowledge today, wouldn’t they?
About as stupid as our President does when he utters:
“The debate is settled”
The debate is NEVER settled in science. Good science is all about hypothesizing, discovery, testing, and repeatability. It’s all about debating on new and old ideas with an understanding that there is no certainty in science because we are always learning more, discovering new things, and changing the theories to reflect the new evidence.
The undeniable strength of science as a domain of human thought is that it embeds skepticism and contingency at the very root of its self-justification. Science is not science if it does not consist of theorems and hypotheses which are only—always and forever more—taken as potentially true until they are proven otherwise. And science itself declares its ambition to constantly test and retest its theories and assumptions for completeness, accuracy, and truth, even if this happens more often in theory than in fact. This is a highly admirable thing.
and Stephen Hawking:
Any physical theory is always provisional, in the sense that it is only a hypothesis: you can never prove it. No matter how many times the results of experiments agree with some theory, you can never be sure that the next time the result will not contradict the theory. On the other hand, you can disprove a theory by finding even a single observation that disagrees with the predictions of the theory.
So please, enough with the “debate is settled” crap.
– Galileo Galilei