Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Mystery of Global Warming Solved! it is. The much anticipated reconciliation to the contradictory claims of global cooling and global warming. As recently as the 1970's, it was believed we humans were going to be responsible for a cataclysmic global cooling. Of course this never happened. Perhaps it has just not happened yet? Apparently, what they meant to say was that we would actually be the purveyors of a cataclysmic global warming. Oops.....

It is now claimed this error was due to lack of understanding and knowledge. For, you see, we have a much deeper understanding now than we did previously. But how much total understanding and knowledge do we actually have at this point or any other for that matter? Perhaps a mere .5% as opposed to .05%? Certainly this is a huge jump in understanding, by a magnitude of 10 in fact, but is this overall amount of understanding and knowledge anywhere near enough to inspire much confidence in concluding anything?

On the other hand, perhaps our level of understanding is now a much more impressive 90% versus only 10% back then? This would inspire much more confidence in any given conclusion. But how do we know what level of understanding we have at any given time? Furthermore, how do we know our increase in knowledge in any given time period brings us closer to the truth?

It seems oftentimes the greatest feats of knowledge and truth are attained only as a result of making the most egregious of errors! Might the theory of global warming, or any theory for that matter, ultimately be a huge mistake through which all or at least most of our greatest advancements in knowledge and truth stem?

In other words, it seems like the attainment of knowledge and truth is not analogous to a graph of a perfectly straight, ever increasing line. Rather, it is more like a typical stock's price changes over time. Over “long enough” time periods, the cumulative up and down movements in price will reflect a net increase, one sincerely hopes.

The problem with environmental concerns is, who is to say what a “long enough” time period is to assure that the “net price of truth” as it were is increasing? Stocks have been around for a relatively short amount of time. We can then reason fairly confidently that we have a pretty good idea of what “normal” is concerning stock price behavior. But the earth has been “doing its thing” for many billions of years! Who is to say that our increase in knowledge of the environment in the last thirty or fifty years has brought with it a corresponding “net increase in truth”? For the earth, thirty or fifty years is but a fart in the wind!

Maybe our increase in knowledge must meet a certain threshold before our level of truth starts to increase again? One might question that if we were right about global cooling, how did we know about it if we had much less knowledge than now? Serendipity perhaps? In other words, possibly we were right purely by luck or mere happenstance.

Many of the greatest scientific breakthroughs are found this way. For instance, serendipity more than anything else proved to be on Henri Becquerel's side when he discovered radioactivity. If you are interested in how he did this, consult Wikipedia.

Suffice it to say, this ever important and interesting property was happened across largely by sheer dumb luck! Such is the case with many things, perhaps even most.

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