15 May 2012

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Three Dumbest Theories About The Environment

Climate sceptics don’t actually mind that we mock, belittle and ignore them. It feeds into that narrative they have that they’re the brave Galileo standing up to the massive, dogmatic church accusing them of heresy for their daring new ideas. Of course, there’s a few problems with this metaphor. For starters, instead of a single, monolithic church opposing the climate sceptics, there’s that vast majority of scientists, who come from a diverse range of background and have all sorts of disagreements and conflicting interests and yet somehow, are pretty much all able to agree that mankind has been causing global warming, because that’s what the evidence says. While on the side of the small, maverick group telling truth to power, there’s Fox News, huge chunks of the Republican Party and the entire fossil fuels industry. Still, even among these crazy mavericks there are some theories that make you spit out your coffee and go “Huh?”


Climate sceptics don’t actually mind that we mock, belittle and ignore them. It feeds into that narrative they have that they’re the brave Galileo standing up to the massive, dogmatic church accusing them of heresy for their daring new ideas. Of course, there’s a few problems with this metaphor. For starters, instead of a single, monolithic church opposing the climate sceptics, there’s that vast majority of scientists, who come from a diverse range of background and have all sorts of disagreements and conflicting interests and yet somehow, are pretty much all able to agree that mankind has been causing global warming, because that’s what the evidence says. While on the side of the small, maverick group telling truth to power, there’s Fox News, huge chunks of the Republican Party and the entire fossil fuels industry.

Still, even among these crazy mavericks there are some theories that make you spit out your coffee and go “Huh?”

 Theories like:
 


The Real Reason Behind Global Warming: Sunspots!



It’s got to the point where it’s pretty hard to ignore the fact that the climate is getting hotter, icecaps are melting, and things that climate scientists expected to happen... are happening. So really the only argument you can make, if you don’t want to give up driving a monster truck on the school run every morning, is that it’s not people who are causing it.

So it must be something natural. It also helps if it’s something a bit mysterious that most non-scientists don’t understand.

Like sunspots!

The biggest endorsement of this idea came in 1991 when Eigil Friis-Christensen, the director of the Danish National Space Centre, put out a study that demonstrated a correlation between global warming and sunspot cycles. He followed this up in 1998 with another study, working with Henrik Svensmark, that said there was a link between global warming, sunspots and cosmic rays.

As happens with real science, other scientists have looked at Friis-Christensen’s study, found possible flaws in it, and attempted to reproduce his results without those flaws. Except it turns out that once the flaws in the studies were removed, so was the correlation between sunspots and global warming.

Finally! A Real Renewable Energy Source: Oil



One thing that even the most hardened climate nutboxes should be able to agree on is that oil exists in finite amounts. Surely this isn’t something we have to argue about?

It’s something we have to argue about.

Welcome to the theory of Abiotic Oil. This is the theory that Carbon Monoxide and Hydrogen Gas, rising up from the Earth’s core to react with zirconium-containing minerals, magically transforming into oil.

This is great because it means, A: Oil’s never going to run out! Whoopee! And B: Creationist Climate Change Deniers can finally ignore that whole difficult “Fossil” bit in “Fossil Fuels”.

Unfortunately oil companies haven’t been able to find a single oil well using the implications of this theory so... it might not be all that.

And One From The Environmentalists: Aliens Will Kill Us For Not Recycling



In the interests of journalistic balance, I believe it’s important to include at least one pro-green nutbox theory. And for everyone who read the sun spots theory and said “Ha! That whacky Danish space agency! You’d never get a real country’s space agency coming up with a theory like that!”- This one is from NASA.

Last April they released a study called “Would Contact with Extraterrestrials Benefit or Harm Humanity? A Scenario Analysis”.  In this “Analysis” scientists argued that aliens might launch a pre-emptive strike against the Earth to prevent us reaching a point where we’re too difficult to destroy. The aliens would be able to spot that we were becoming more advanced because “our expansion is changing the composition of Earth’s atmosphere (e.g. via greenhouse gas emissions), which therefore changes the spectral signature of Earth. While it is difficult to estimate the likelihood of this scenario, it should at a minimum give us pause as we evaluate our expansive tendencies.”

Unlike most scientific theories, which comes from observing phenomena and using those observations to deduce hypothesis which can be tested with further observation, or the scientific theories used by climate change deniers, which comes from wishing really hard, this theory comes from watching classic 1951 science fiction movie, The Day The Earth Stood Still.

And it’s still more likely than the idea that oil is a renewable resource.


About today's Guest Writer:
Chris Farnell is a freelance writer who writes about renewable energy jobs, business and entertainment.

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