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Bruce Seelig, Published August 15 2013

Letter: Climate science debate lacks the practical view

Regarding articles and letters about climate change: My perspective provides a more practical view of the subject than what is usually displayed for public consumption.

First, this is a complicated scientific theory that has become a political issue. Describing evidence for climate change as “irrefutable” is a good indication of the political nature of the issue. Nothing in science is irrefutable. The scientific method provides information in a format to determine the most probable way to view the world, not an “irrefutable” way.

Science is based on proposing hypotheses and testing those hypotheses with theoretical computations and experimentation. Statistical analyses of test data allows us to determine how probable the hypothesis describes the data gathered. Howard Scott, the father of Technocracy, describes the scientific method succinctly as: “the methodology of the determination of the most probable.”

PC ‘opinion’

Science does not necessarily follow consensus of opinion, but political correctness always does. Depending on whose political team you may play on determines whether your opinions on climate change are refutable. The Democrats promote the issue so they appear to be the party that saves Mother Earth. Is there a better position to help them gain and retain political power? The Republicans denigrate the issue so they can help the rich and powerful retain their current status in human affairs.

The world of science is supposedly purely objective with little influence from political correctness. How can scientific research remain objective when so much of the funding is determined by individuals and organizations with political goals? Although most scientists and the organizations that represent them try to separate themselves from politics, in the end their salary and status depend on outside funding. Political influence will nudge you no matter who you are or what you do.

Accountability

It seems there is no accountability built into climate change policies of either political side. Whether we apply massive emission controls or do nothing, it will be left to future generations to determine the efficacy of those policies. This is the perfect scenario for those who wish to fly under the radar of accountability. Proponents of these policies will be long gone after society is able to measure cost-effectiveness.

We need environmental policy that checks self-serving opinions generated by the inevitable politicization of the issue. The real solutions to observed environmental problems often remain intractable. Under these circumstances, policies that attempt to reverse Mother Nature are foolish. However, it would be worthwhile to promote policies designed to help society cope with impacts even though we don’t necessarily understand what causes impacts.

It’s real, but …

Is climate change real? Absolutely, and it has been since the beginning of time. Anthropological research in recent years suggests climatic stress on early members of our species helped us become what we are today – human. We’ve known for a long time that a correlation exists between climate and ocean currents. Evidence from recent research suggests there may be some unknown mechanism that can bring about sudden disruption of ocean currents, which leads to rapid and drastic climatic change. Do we dare tinker too much with this system, via extreme environmental policies, without knowing what the consequences may be?

A slightly warmer global climate poses much less of a threat to human society than an ice age. Whether that is correct or not, one can rest assured that the climate will change. We need to be prepared to adapt to the inevitable. Actions to cope are likely to be significantly different and more successful than misguided attempts to control Mother Nature’s tempestuous personality.

Seelig, Ph.D., is with Earth Resources Analytic, LLC, Fargo. He is a registered professional soil scientist/soil classifier.