A couple of weeks ago I had a post on how the right wing “determines” the truth based upon political ideology as opposed to an objective search for knowledge. At the time there was a news account reporting a claim that “that cosmic rays from outer space play a far greater role in changing the Earth’s climate than global warming experts previously thought.” Conservatives jumped on this as a way to “refute” established scientific views on global warming. Now there’s an article from National Geographic reporting one Russian scientist’s view that global warming is caused by the sun as opposed to human activity.
Not surprisingly, within a short time after being posted at Memeorandum there are already two conservative blogs (here and here) quoting this article as evidence against the established scientific viewpoint. National Geographic notes that this belief is not accepted by other scientists and provides a long discussion of the flaws in this idea:
Abdussamatov’s work, however, has not been well received by other climate scientists.
“His views are completely at odds with the mainstream scientific opinion,” said Colin Wilson, a planetary physicist at England’s Oxford University. “And they contradict the extensive evidence presented in the most recent IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report.” (Related: “Global Warming ‘Very Likely’ Caused by Humans, World Climate Experts Say” [February 2, 2007].)
Amato Evan, a climate scientist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, added that “the idea just isn’t supported by the theory or by the observations.”
The conventional theory is that climate changes on Mars can be explained primarily by small alterations in the planet’s orbit and tilt, not by changes in the sun.
“Wobbles in the orbit of Mars are the main cause of its climate change in the current era,” Oxford’s Wilson explained. (Related: “Don’t Blame Sun for Global Warming, Study Says” [September 13, 2006].)
All planets experience a few wobbles as they make their journey around the sun. Earth’s wobbles are known as Milankovitch cycles and occur on time scales of between 20,000 and 100,000 years.
These fluctuations change the tilt of Earth’s axis and its distance from the sun and are thought to be responsible for the waxing and waning of ice ages on Earth.
Mars and Earth wobble in different ways, and most scientists think it is pure coincidence that both planets are between ice ages right now.
“Mars has no moon, which makes its wobbles much larger, and hence the swings in climate are greater too,” Wilson said.
Perhaps the biggest stumbling block in Abdussamatov’s theory is his dismissal of the greenhouse effect, in which atmospheric gases such as carbon dioxide help keep heat trapped near the planet’s surface.
He claims that carbon dioxide has only a small influence on Earth’s climate and virtually no influence on Mars.
But “without the greenhouse effect there would be very little, if any, life on Earth, since our planet would pretty much be a big ball of ice,” said Evan, of the University of Wisconsin.
Most scientists now fear that the massive amount of carbon dioxide humans are pumping into the air will lead to a catastrophic rise in Earth’s temperatures, dramatically raising sea levels as glaciers melt and leading to extreme weather worldwide.
The anti-scientific conservatives come to a conclusion first, and then seek out whatever evidence they can to try to prove it. Real science works the other way. You review the facts first and then reach a conclusion. Science is also determined by works in peer-reviewed journals, including discussion by experts in a field as to the validity of a controversial idea. Grabbing a flawed and easily disputed idea from the internet is not the way to make a scientific point.
The influence of human activity on climate change is the consensus scientific viewpoint, This won’t change regardless of how much conservatives search out a rare theory to the contrary, how much they pretend that there is a controversy over this, or how much they smear Al Gore. There will always be people who claim that human activity isn’t responsible for climate change, that evolution isn’t the accepted explanation for the development of complex organisms, or even that the earth is flat. None of their claims changes reality. As long as ignoring reality and opposing science remains a hallmark of conservative ideology they have little chance of regaining power, especially as this same denial of reality was commonly seen in their political policies.