Science is not an exercise in politics and sarcasm. It's an exercise in logic and evidence. There are no ultimate authorities as in other human pursuits, and science is never determined by a popular vote.
As Albert Einstein said: "One man can prove me wrong."
The supremacy of logic and evidence was driven home to me as a graduate student. When I was examining sunspot numbers (the oldest scientific records kept by man dating from Galileo) versus a cosmic-ray index, I noticed that the galactic cosmic rays did not respond immediately to solar changes. The lag suggested that the solar wind carrying solar magnetic fields likely blew far beyond the farthest planets, breaking up only when it was too diffuse to push back the interstellar medium further.
Contrary to many, I argued that the "heliosphere" was enormous. Because scientific journals at the time tolerated renegade ideas, those who reviewed my work allowed it to be published. It met the logic of science and had some supporting evidence.
Two decades later NASA spacecraft reached the edge of the heliosphere far beyond Pluto and radioed the evidence 8 billion miles home. That provided the independent verification so important in science.
Anthropogenic global warming has become an entirely different pursuit, where too many scientists avoid hypotheses that are testable and refuse to venture beyond expressions of belief in public. That has allowed them to continue the charade that they are unquestionably correct. But anything that must be accepted on faith is religion or politics, certainly not science.
When physicist Richard Muller initially denounced the excesses of Al Gore only to support them in recent testimony to Congress, Paul Krugman, the noted economist and New York Times columnist, thought he had found a genuine convert to alarmism. When Krugman writes within his field of expertise, he's worth considering. But when he strays into science, as he did in a recent column published in The Oregonian, he loses his way ("The truth, it appears, remains just as inconvenient," April 5). A scientist's beliefs (or subterfuges) are not the issue. What matters are the logic and evidence he presents.
Muller's "preliminary analysis" was so weak as to even disappoint alarmists. Few doubt that the 20th century's global temperature rose slightly. Muller neglected the issue of relevancy and should have addressed data biases. Natural temperature variations are expected on a fluid planet that is never in complete equilibrium.
Over the last 18 months, events in climate science have clearly not gone the way that proponents of an apocalypse had hoped. "Climategate" was the turning point that Krugman minimized as "innocuous emails."
In reality, top scientists were caught working together to cook the books on temperature data and exclude colleagues who dared to disagree. Official climate science has become a racket, powered by government money. The head of the Climate Research Unit in Britain, Phil Jones, reportedly contemplated suicide in the wake of the Climategate scandal and admitted to a lack of warming since 1995. It was unclear whether his despondency was related to embarrassment or to the potential loss of $22 million in funding. But no matter, carefully selected committees, including one in the House of Commons, exonerated him.
Krugman is quiet about climate variations because they have not trended the politically convenient way, even though 2010 was another warm year statistically tied with 1998. The global temperature anomaly began an accelerating descent into cold La Nina conditions after the global sea surface temperature fell precipitously. Central England temperatures were the second-coldest in 350 years in December, and the global temperature sank below the average of the satellite era. Solar activity has fallen away dramatically from its so-called Grand Maximum at the end of the 20th century, supporting the prolonged cooling predicted by many.
The politics of global warming also took a steep plunge with the defeat of draconian carbon control legislation, the closing of the Chicago Climate Exchange, and the election of a much more Republican Congress. The new Democratic senator from West Virginia signaled that Democrats also are beginning to understand the scam by symbolically but literally putting a bullet hole through a copy of the "cap and trade" bill.
Perhaps Krugman will eventually comprehend the politics, even if he never understands the science.
Gordon J. Fulks lives in Corbett.