Not So Apologetic!
Welcome to the apologetics part of my site where I discuss some of my own opinions concerning scientific issues of interest to the public. This site is focussed on using empiricism to stay informed because an uninformed choice is meagrely the illusion of choice. This is how any form of propaganda constitutes a clear and present danger to individual liberty and subverts democracy. Although democracy may often depend on science for the informedness of choice, science is empirical and neither democratic nor authoritarian. Material evidence is the only arbiter of science, and whatsoever does not defer to material evidence is not science. Thus interpretation, by its arbitrary nature, is unscientific - and the claim that interpretation is part of the scientific process denies the empirical nature of science. A hypothesis meagrely extends beyond the known facts a question of what might yet be discovered. Moreover, if scientific, it will specify the physical observation of material phenomena that will resolve the hypothetical question. This is the furtherest an idea may venture from the evidence, and remain scientific. Anything more is pseudoscience.
A common theme running through most of the topics covered at http://geologist-1011.net it that of catastrophism. It would seem that in most examples of pseudo-science, a catastrophe is invoked for the purpose of escaping scrutiny. More than being a powerful motivator, fear is a potent decoy and in this sense a powerful method of hiding contradictory evidence and the faults in the logic. Some notable exceptions to the usual examples of catastrophic pseudo-theory, are the expanding earth theory and the the idea that the next magnetic reversal will end computerised civilisation as we know it. The Expanding Earth Theory was originally invoked to challenge the Plate Tectonics hypotheses at a time when it lacked evidence of subduction. The idea that a magnetic reversal may end computerised civilisation as we know it, is quite possibly wishful thinking on the part of its proponents.
A surprising amount of modern pseudoscience is coming out of the environmental sector. Perhaps it should not be so surprising given that environmentalism is political rather than scientific. However, time and again, we hear the argument that we must act before the science is researched just in case the hypothesis is correct and catastrophe is about to strike. Often enough, the research concerning many of the claims has already been done, and shows that such imaginary catastrophes are little more than sensationalised science fiction. Yet, whenever such objections are brought to bear, the evidence is deftly sidestepped by attacks on the person's character or dubious claims that experts know more. Such ad homenim arguments are inherently dishonest because, by its very design, ad homenim sidesteps and censors the facts by focussing the argument on the person. The only reason to avoid discussing the facts in debate is if the facts are clearly inconvenient. In the case of the so-called "environmentalists", this ultimately leads to the denial of a great many verifiable facts. Such denials occur so often in field of geology that I think the term geology denier is most apt. Assertions of the geology deniers include the claims that:
- Temperatures of the twentieth centrury are unprecedented
[contrary to the Phanerozoic record]
- Carbon dioxide levels of the twentieth century are unprecedented
[contrary to the Phanerozoic record]
- Carbon dioxide inhibits plant growth
[numerous studies show otherwise]
- Global warming causes mass extinctions
[which actually correlate with cooling]
- Global warming causes desertification
[so why is aridity a feature of ice ages instead?]
- Tuvalu's putative inundation is due to rising sea levels
[as opposed to volcanic subsidence]
- Kilimanjaro's ice is melting due to global warming
[as opposed to ablation due to regional deforestation]
- Fourier fathered the greenhouse effect, likening the atmosphere to the glass of a greenhouse
[when Fourier actually argued the contrary]
- Tyndall measured thermal absorption in gases, thereby proving the "Greenhouse Effect"
[when Tyndall actually measured opacity]
- The "Greenhouse Effect" is a valid concept of Physics wih experimental confirmation
[so why is it missing from physics textbooks?]
- The atmospheric impact of volcanic carbon dioxide can be isotopically distinguished from fossil fuel carbon dioxide
[when we don't even have a statistically significant average volcanic carbon isotope ratio]
- Estimates of volcanic contributions to atmospheric carbon dioxide include measurements of submarine volcano emissions
[when the source literature explicitly admits a lack of such measurements]
- There are no natural CFCs
[when volcanic and biological CFC production is well documented]
In all cases, the above statements (in italics) are obvious fictions that even a superficial review of the scientific literature can overturn. Yet they continue to be propagated by self proclaimed "environmentalists" despite the fact that they have long been refuted by scientific research. The articles presented here on this site review the science that refutes these claims, but this is only the tip of the iceberg, and one must ask how competant scientists could possibly dream up such obvious fiction. The modern "environmentally" motivated "science" of anthropogenic global warming is either based on incompetance and charlatanism or lies and dishonesty. I will endeavour to leave the interpretation to you. However, suffice it to say that such a pitiful excuse for science as we see in modern "environmentalism" compells us to ask for the material evidence every single time an assertion is claimed to be scientific. We may yet ponder how a single lobby outperforms and outclasses all other pseudosciences put together for sheer diversity and volume of brazen disinformation. Yet the most profound consequence of subverting empirical science with political propaganda is the denial of scientific fact, and the deprecation of the very empiricism of scientific endeavour, without which technological progress is impossible.
How Deforestation Represents the Largest Anthropogenic CO2 Contribution
This article is a product of my investigation into the media hysteria surrounding global warming. Here, I show how deforestation dwarfs all other anthropogenic contributions to atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations combined. This raises questions as to why we have a single-minded media obsession with fossil fuel combustion to the exclusion of what is by far, the biggest anthropogenic contribution to atmospheric carbon dioxide levels? Let's face it, the Amazon basin is now becoming far more accessible to seismic trucks and land drilling rigs than ever before as a direct result of deforestation.
Climate Change Catastrophism: Intellectual Fascism for Science Pretenders.
As a petroleum geologist specialising in sedimentology, I've a a keen fascination with past environments, and palaeoclimate as indicated by aspects of the geological record is a substantial part of that fascination. It was with considerable interest that I observed the debate over global warming as it evolved. Initially, I thought I'd be fortunate enough to witness the first ever scientific assimilation of compound recursive analysis in the pursuit of understanding complex feedback systems such as climate and climate change mechanisms. I was to be bitterly disappointed. Like their Nineteenth Century counterparts, modern Catastrophists are all too keen to ignore the lessons of history. Moreover, the sheer number of factual errors that continue to be propagated in spite of widely known corrections from the scientific community is astounding. In this article, I explore the media claims of doom and gloom in light of the scientific evidence.
"Greenhouse Effect": a Legacy of Misunderstanding, Misattribution, Error, Obfuscation and Fake Science.
A cornerstone of modern climatology is the "Greenhouse Effect", which was defined by Svante Arrhenius more than a century ago as the transformation of light into heat and subsequent entrapment of that heat by a thermally impervious bounding medium, such as the atmosphere. This proved to be an obfuscation of a radiation recycling mechanism in which backradiation was claimed to cause surface warming. Arrhenius clung to the aether hypothesis well into the twentieth century. Arrhenius' belief in aether lead him to confuse conductive and kinetic heat transfer, via Tyndall's theory of aethereal heat propagation. This lent itself to his duplication of the radiative component of conductive heat transfer. Arrhenius attempted to justify this obvious energy creation mechanism by arguing that selective obstruction of outgoing radiation raises temperature. However, this argument, based on Tyndall's confusion of opacity and absorption, neglects the fact that inasmuch as absorption increases heat, emission looses an equal amount of heat - a fact even Tyndall recognised. Nevertheless, Arrhenius stood fast in the face of emerging quantum mechanics that offered a much better explanation of heat transfer. Compatible, rather than conflicting, with the respective applications of Fourier's Law and Boltzmann's Law, this new understanding provided a subatomic model that could show how both kinetic and radiative transfer modes coexist as vectors of thermal conduction. This dictates that thermal conductivity, not absorptivity, governs thermal gradients between materials in thermal contact (such as the surface of the earth and the atmosphere). However, the respective thermal conductivities of air and carbon dioxide do not support any measureable effect on mean surface temperature sufficient to be empirically attributed to carbon dioxide. Moreover, the Stefan Boltzmann Law not only confirms the optimum temperature of a greenhouse, but shows how the "Greenhouse Effect" fell prey to the Wood Experiment by quantifying exactly how much of a temperature difference would be made under the conditions of the experiment, if Arrhenius' "backradiation" really did play a role distinct from that of thermal conduction. By correctly calculating the mean temperature of the earth's absorbing mass, using only the Stefan-Boltzmann Law, we can show that the "Greenhouse Effect" is an entirely unnecessary complication to a satisfactory explanation of climate by Stefan-Boltzmann's Law and Fourier's Law. The "Greenhouse Effect" thus shattered, leaves no rational reason to assert that global warming is anthropogenic.
Volcanic CO2: The Hole in the Carbon Budget.
Volcanogenic sources of CO2 quite possibly outpace human industry; producing, by extrapolation, 24 GtCpa, which is easily three times the industrial emission of CO2. Given the existence of more than three million submarine volcanoes, this comes as no surprise especially considering the fact that carbon dioxide is the second most erupted gas on the planet, next to water vapour. Such extrapolations are meagre guesswork in the face of the immense number of unmonitored volcanic emissions throughout the world. Due to the collossal lack of necessary data, the best empirical work can, so far, only address minimum volcanic emission. To date, there is no viable empirical method by which we may establish a maximum limit to volcanic emission. Moreover, there is no magic fingerprint to identify industrial CO2 because volcanic CO2 lacks sufficient isotopic measurement to be isotopically distinguishable from fossil fuel CO2. This renders the Suess Effect inapplicable and the diversity of natural oxidation renders the molar ratio of O2 consumed to CO2 produced irrelevant. Moreover, the geographic distribution of recent volcanic activity also explains the more intense Polar Spring melts this decade. It is not unreasonable to hypothesise that the balance between photosynthesis and emission of volcanic carbon dioxide may play the dominant part in determining atmospheric CO2 levels.
Volcanic CFCs: A Matter of Denial.
It is widely accepted that CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) are not volcanic, CFCs are not naturally occuring, and that CFCs are not natural in any way. This popular perception has lead to endeavours as serious as the underpinning of methodology and accusations of error. Yet as it turns out, experimental data and direct scientific measurement have shown on many occasions that CFCs and other halocarbons are not only of human origin but halocarbons and CFCs are naturally occuring as well. Such unfounded and false assumptions raise serious questions about the science behind the Montreal Protocol
The Expanding Earth Alternative to Plate Tectonics Theory
Plate Tectonics is a grand unifying theory setting the framework in which geological activity occurs and defining the specific geological setting from which we may accurately make broad predictions about volcanic geochemistry and behaviour. According to plate tectonics, the crust of the earth is made up of a number of mobile plates, floating on a relatively fluid mantle. These plates are pushed out and away from rift zones where new crust is extruded, and according to plate tectonics, where plates collide, the denser plate generally is forced beneath the lighter plate in a process called subduction. Mountains typically occur along convergent plate boundaries. This plate motion was believed to be caused by mantle convection whereby heat from the earth's core is transferred to the earth's surface. In the formative years of plate tectonics, Professor Carey identified a key weakness in the idea. At the time, there was little if any evidence of subduction occurring as a modern process and Carey suggested that an equally viable idea was that the earth was expanding. Although Carey's mechanisms of earth expansion were equally ephemeral to that of mantle convection, scientific evidence for both convective and subductive processes has since emerged in the results of cosmogenic isotope studies and direct GPS measurement of subduction rates.
Magnetic Reversals: Prognosis for the Biological and Technological Impacts
Several times every million years, the magnetic poles swap places. We know this from the alternation of magnetic particles in strata and bands of rifting crust. Although some have made dire predictions about the biological effect of magnetic reversals, mass extinctions are not correlated with this phenomena. Professor Ian R. Plimer has suggested the possibility that a future magnetic reversal may lead to the end of technology as we know it. However, by calculating the flux from the most rapid magnetic reversal in the geological record and comparing this with more common magnetic phenomena such as solar storms, we can determine that a magnetic reversal poses no risk to computers and electronic equipment.
Matters Beyond Faith: What is Science Anyway?
Science is not the monopoly of the "intelligentsia". We all conduct scientific experiments every day. Science is repeatable, independently verifiable, and as Professor Ian R. Plimer is so fond of saying, science is wed to evidence. What is so hard about that? Yet we have an army of journalists and organisations obsessed with "scientific consensus", a veritable "non-turbulent turbidite" that can only be described as an oxymoron. In fact I'd go as far as saying that the inference that consensus is relevant at all to science is fraudulent in the extreme because it redefines the last standing evidence-based discipline as a meagre political philosophy.
Some Beliefs and Opinions of a Geoscientist
The existence of an all powerful God is a matter of belief which, ironically depends on you. I believe in the human conscience, and recognise no higher authority than that sense of empathy; commonly expressed as the idea that "God is love". See? I do believe in God, I just don't believe in the Assyrian storm god, King Henry VIII, or for that matter the Prime Minister! My politics are centred on equitable individualism; that idea that the only legitimate function of society is equitable safeguarding of individual life and expression; to safeguard such rights & expression as does not relatively disadvantage any individual or group.
The Most Misquoted & Misrepresented Science Papers in the Public Domain
A number of authors, including Fourier, Tyndall, and Gerlach are chronically misrepresented and misquoted in pseudoscientific and pseudo-academic literature. If you read Fourier's articles for yourself, you will discover that Fourier had more to do with the urban heat island effect and the first and second laws of thermodynamics than any stretch of Arrhenius' "Greenhouse Effect". If you read Tyndall's work, you will discover that Tyndall did not conceive of the difference between opacity and absorption. Moreover, Tyndall's differential transmission theory, the precursor to the "Greenhouse Effect", was heavily underpinned by Tyndall's aethereal heat transfer idea, which misrepresents the role of radiative transfer in the conduction of heat through a material. If you read Gerlach's 1991 paper for yourself, you will discover that this paper includes no volcanic carbon dioxide emission estimates for submarine volcanoes, contrary to the popular claims espoused by Tony Jones, George Monbiot and the USGS.