1 Theories and relativity!

As I was gazing out of my window on a rather cold and windy day in mid June, I was left in little doubt that this day was not a typical English summer's day. Equally, the extended winter and late spring experienced this year was certainly unusual.

So, when I read about an IPCC report on climate change that had been sent to Governments around the world, I thought I would dip in to see what was being said.

At first I thought it odd that the Independent Police Complaints Commission should be worrying itself over this topic, and was somewhat relieved to find the acronym actually stood for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. At least our streets will remain safe, even if it rains a lot!

Now, I'm not a scientist - I got thrown out of chemistry for setting fire to one of the wooden test benches with a bunsen burner - but I do understand English. Here is an excerpt from the report on the report:

"Governments around the world have just received one of the most important scientific reports ever written. It provides the starkest assessment yet of how the earth's climate is responding to rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and creating risks for billions of people from extreme weather events and rising sea levels.

A confidential draft of the new report on the causes and consequences of global warming was sent to governments to review on June 7, ahead of the publication of the final version this autumn. Compiled for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change by 255 scientific experts from universities and research institutes in 38 countries, the report provides an up-to-date overview of the findings of thousands of recent peer-reviewed research papers.

Most important, the latest IPCC report - part of its fifth comprehensive assessment in its 25-year history - includes an analysis of new computer projections of how global warming might develop by the end of the century. The initial results show that, at current rates of emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, average global temperature could be at least three degrees centigrade higher by the end of this century than it was before the onset of the Industrial Revolution and widespread burning of fossil fuels."

All heady stuff, I'm sure you'll agree, but what concerns me is the use of words such as 'assessment', 'might' and 'could'. Surely that makes the report nothing more than conjecture. Spurs 'might' win the Champions League one day. Well, that's my assessment anyway!
Some of those opposing the report commented:

"The grandiosity of the declaration that this is one of the most important scientific reports ever written immediately makes it dubious. No bona fide scientific work presents itself this way. Science is calmly measured data and conclusions. This computer modelling is an extrapolation which reflects the inherent bias of the modeller. It is not possible in today's realm of politically funded scientific research for any impartial analysis of global warming to emerge from a government-funded research institution. Why? Because no rebutal is permitted. No alternate view is allowed to be presented. This is not science. Science is about vigorous debate and multiple working hypotheses." Mike Nelson.

"No one gets money to study climate change if they don't believe in climate change. There is a severe selection bias, fuelled by scientists who (perhaps unawares) want to get $ from world governments to promote their careers." Mark Pitts.

I'm never going to be opposed to scientific fact, but conjecture 'could' be considered as little more than scaremongering, and I'm sure that's not the intention.

Scientists expounding The Big Bang theory as the prevailing cosmological model that describes the early development of the Universe agree that the event occurred 'approximately' 13.798 billion years ago. That is, until March of this year when it was discovered that our Universe is actually 100 million years older than first thought!

Maybe those scientists working at the Large Hadron Collider [is there a small one somewhere?] will eventually crack the theory, but I can't help wondering if the Higgs Boson might just turn out to be an old man with a long white beard who will exclaim; "Why hast thou done this, for this is my job?"

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