BEAR with me on this one, but the more I think about climate change, the more it reminds me of UFOs. And regular readers might know I love my UFOs.
So, with the usual January roll-call of climate statistics pouring in, what better time to dust off an idea that’s been brewing in the back-blocks of my brain for some time.
With UFOs, you have a mainstream body of science that says they don’t exist, and a bunch of governments either staying silent or saying ‘‘move along, nothing to see here’’, especially in that area of UFOlogy that involves classified or ‘‘black’’ military technology.
Any evidence for UFOs is sketchy at best. Most of it is personal testimony – very ‘‘low level’’ evidence in scientific terms – and an internet full of dodgy photos, documents and videos at a time when faking such ‘‘evidence’’ has never been easier. Despite the obvious logical barriers – interstellar travel times for one – millions of people still desperately want to believe that aliens are among us.
Over at Climate Change Central, we have a similar situation, but with many of the characteristics in reverse.
The vast bulk of mainstream science backs the conventional theories of global warming, with one level of government – the United Nations – doing everything it can to promote the importance of climate change, and to implore governments and individuals alike to change their behaviour as a result.
Not all governments are convinced; the federal Coalition government is a case in point. And a substantial minority of the population – probably about one in three, the same proportion that believes in UFOs – has serious doubts about the UN model of human-induced climate change.
In both cases, the cheer squads in each corner are trying to ascertain the existence of something that by its nature is hard, if not impossible to prove; barring that is, ‘‘UFO lands on the White House lawn’’ moment for aliens, and the advent of a really serious global event – the melting of the world’s glaciers, or Greenland – for climate change.
Otherwise, the sceptics in both worlds are generally able to come up with a plausible rebuttal of the headline issue of the day, and while the mainstream camps hate to admit it, their fall-back positions are sometimes influenced by the findings of the sceptics or outsiders.
A good example of this concerns the various supersonic stealth planes, officially denied for years despite regular photos by plane-spotters of strange triangular craft that were sometimes interpreted as alien technology.
They had various names. Look up TR3B and Aurora on Google for pictures and information. Then, last year, the UK government confirmed its eight-tonne stealth drone, Taranis (named after a god of thunder), which was reportedly test-flown at South Australia’s Woomera range. So, regardless of what the Yanks and Russians might have, we know at least one exists despite years of official silence, if not disinformation.
In climate change, the definitive dust-up came with the ‘‘hockey stick’’ graph that showed centuries of stable temperature ending with a dramatic lift in our time – the head of the hockey stick. The original paper, published in 1998, quickly grabbed world attention but was just as quickly the subject of a controversy that is still running today. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change still stands by its general conclusions but most estimates of global temperature rises would appear to be lower, now, than they were a decade or so ago, and persistent questioning by disbelievers may well have reined in some of the more catastrophic predictions made for climate change.
In a new controversy, doubts have emerged about one of the pillars of climate change, the ‘‘acidification’’ of the world’s oceans. The authors of an influential 2004 research paper on the subject have been accused of fudging their work by using computer modelling – rather than historical ocean pH measurements – to set their ocean pH baseline. Put the real figures in and the ‘‘ocean’s pH is falling’’ measurements reportedly disappear.
As always, claim and counter claim, but as someone once said, there is no consensus in science, only measurements, arguments and ideas.