A story hit the wire this week that shattered the conventional wisdom scientists had been peddling for years, about a dramatic climatic event that allegedly led to the extinction of the dominant species on the planet. This version of events had become common knowledge, from the most dedicated scientists to Hollywood to children. And now, it seems, it could all be wrong:
The demise of the dinosaurs probably occurred 300,000 years after a giant meteor struck what is now Mexico, scientists said, casting doubt on a popular theory that the impact triggered a mass extinction.
What?! As a child, I was (to state it lightly) obsessed with dinosaurs, to the point where the first word I ever read was "Brontosaurus." And for as long as I can remember, the devastating impact of that Mexican meteor was the generally accepted reason for the dinosaur's extinction. But now, thanks to advances in science, we're learning more about the natural processes that led to the extinction.
And you know what? The authors of this study aren't being ostracized, bullied and called "deniers." Pro-meteor groups aren't demanding the scientists lose their funding and be regarded as the lunatic fringe. They are simply using the best tools at their disposal to discover the scientific truth of the situation.
There was another recently released report which this time cast some doubt on the impacts of global warming - specifically whether or not the historically low water levels in the Great Lakes were caused by human activities. Green Groups frequently cited the lower levels as a result of human activity and a portent of things to come. Henry Payne at Planet Gore offers an assortment of news stories that claim just this:
April, 2003, Detroit News: "A group of scientists predicted that global warming will wreak havoc on the Great Lakes region . . . the largest single concentration of fresh water in the world."
October, 2003, Detroit Free Press: "The idea that warming has benefits may be a particularly tough sell to Michiganders already disturbed by what happens when the Great Lakes drop near historic lows."
April, 2007, Detroit News: "Data from a new United Nations report on climate change . . . strengthens scientific opinion that Michigan will see other dramatic effects in the coming decades: lower Great Lakes water levels, a dramatically receding Lake St. Clair. . . . "
May, 2008, Detroit News: "A report released by an environmental group warns that unless Congress acts to curb global warming, Great Lakes water levels will drop up to 3 feet; beaches will close more often, and fish and animal populations will decline."
It turns out these warnings and reports were almost entirely wrong:
A steady drop in water levels in Lake Michigan/Huron over the first half of this decade resulted from natural causes, not man-made ones, according to U.S. and Canadian researchers, noting that the past 18 months of rising waters could be an indication the lakes are headed back to normal levels.
Researchers working for the International Joint Commission this week released the findings of a two-year study on the St. Clair River and the amount of water running through it out of Lake Michigan/Huron. The study was launched to answer questions by lake shore residents who had watched the steady drop of water levels in recent years.
The study found that Mother Nature has been behind the changes under way in the last eight years. "It's not ongoing; it has definitely stabilized," said Ted Yuzyk, the Canadian co-chair of the study board, who added the changes have reversed in the last 18 to 24 months. "And it's not human driven. This is more natural."
This was a two-year, comprehensive study (you can read the PDF here) with no political bias except to find the truth. Sadly, and predictably, green groups were up in arms over it.
The commission is not calling for any corrective action in the Lake Huron-St. Clair River now. And that's not sitting well with members of the Canadian environmental group GBA Foundation, which funded its own study in 2004 which put the blame on human activity.
"The fact that (the report) completely dismisses such an enormous increase in outflow and recommends that nothing be done about it is very disturbing," said Roy Schatz, GBA's founding president, in a press release.
The report does not completely dismiss the enormous increase in outflow - it attributes it to a natural cause, using scientific evidence. It is no different than the new report on the dinosaur extinction, except that more people were more certain for a longer time that the dinosaurs were, in fact, killed by that meteor and the effects of its impact than have ever been certain about man made global warming.
For science to work properly, it needs to be allowed to be wrong, so that scientists can learn from their mistakes. The problem with the Radical Green Movement is that it can't ever allow for the possibility that it could be wrong. The whole movement is based on the necessity of immediate action. That leaves them little choice but to attack and belittle deniers; which is as unscientific a response as there is.
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The Reader's Corner:
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Margaret S. in CA: Just thought it worth mentioning that two weeks ago there were two cold temperature records broken at March Air Base in Riverside, CA. Last week, interestingly, there was one high temperature record broken. And this week there has been another cold record broken.
I've lived around the Inland Empire area in Southern California most of the time since 1942. Through the 40s and 50s the summer temperatures were almost always higher than they are in more recent years since the massive development has raised the normal summer daytime humidity from a typical 9 percent in the late 40s to about 20 percent now. The number of days with temperature readings above 100 are very few compared to the earlier decades.
I remember the folks coming back to work after lunch on June 14, 1959 in San Bernardino telling us that the temperature was 114. That never happens any more.
Something suspicious that's happening during the past year or two is that the official daytime summer temperature in Banning, where I live, has stopped being a few degrees under the readings of my outdoor thermometers and started being a few degrees higher. They used to report what my mother called "chamber of commerce" temperatures---that moderated undesirable extremes. Now they're apparently on the Gore bandwagon and inflating them.
Cy H, PA: I have read historical books regarding global climate. Earth has been in warming/cooling cycles since man has recorded. Why are we so alarmed now when history tells us it is just a cycle. Alarmists are trying to have us waste funds to accomplish something that does not need done.
Al Gore started this latest round of "Global Warming" talk and he needs to read history books.
Regarding last week's featured story, Alida L. writes: I want to know how it's possible/legal/moral to disallow someone a chance to speak. Mr. Gore must be so proud.
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Most Egregious Claim of the Week:
The most egregious claim this week isn't a claim at all, but rather an egregious judicial action that will hurt farms and farm workers throughout California. A judge ruled that water pumps in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta be shut off due to a US Fish and Wildlife Service report which declared the delta smelt a threatened species of fish.
The problem here is that nobody knows if turning off the pumps will have any effect at all on the delta smelt population. What they do know is that shutting off the pumps will have a dramatic impact on the agricultural business. Less food will be produced and farm workers will lose their jobs.
And this, in a nutshell, is the core of our problem with the Radical Green Movement. Al Gore and the Goracles want us to make dramatic sacrifices to our economic well-being in order to maybe counteract a possibly man-made phenomenon that may or may not actually be happening. And they don't care who they hurt in the process.