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Charles Krauthammer: The myth of 'settled science' is hapless and dangerous

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  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 23, 2014 1:58 a.m.

    The IPCC actually claims no link between global warming and any sort of increased frequency in tornadoes anyway. In fact, one might expect fewer tornadoes in a warming climate since the poles warm more than the tropics reducing the temperature gradient.

    That's an example of the problem that people who consider climate change a serious issue have... a decent number of them make claims that aren't backed up by the science they claim to be proclaiming.

  • AggieScientist Logan, UT
    Feb. 23, 2014 6:57 a.m.

    When is science settled? In Krauthammer's estimation, and I would agree, almost never. But at some point, the preponderance of evidence supports a given result beyond reasonable criticism. I believe this to be the President's position as well as that of leading climate scientists.

    A corollary is smoking and cancer. There is no experimental evidence that smoking causes long cancer (except in rats). It's all correlational, yet there little doubt that this is the case (although the tobacco industries have tried mightily to cast doubt on these findings, much like those who have a vested interest in denying global warming).

  • higv Dietrich, ID
    Feb. 23, 2014 7:06 a.m.

    Another one never to be questioned was population explosion. Which has been failed prophecy many times over. Way to control people.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    Feb. 23, 2014 7:22 a.m.

    Great article Dr. Krauthammer! Science is always so fleeting! Everything we think we know in any science will eventually be proven to be either completely wrong or at least very incomplete. One things we all need to understand; any "scientist" that claims to have the final word on anything, including climate change, is no scientist! As our grandparent's science is to us, so will our science be to our grandchildren and it is utter foolishness and dangerous to mix a lot of politics with a little bit of science and call it fact!

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    Feb. 23, 2014 8:07 a.m.

    Krauthammer, does have a point about the rhetoric, however what is not settled is what will happen, and not so much what has happened.

    Even Freemn Dyson concedes co2 is accumulating at an alarming rate in the atmosphere and that it is caused by human activity. He simply disagrees with what that means.

    Dyson is a good example however. Dyson is a world class physicist with broad interests and a passion for and an expert in the scientific method. Thus his debate with climate research. The fact is however that climate research compared to other scientific subjects is new and the community is searching around for facts. Dyson is simply saying I'll give you that but what about..and the vast community is saying we're getting there, and we believe the arrow still is pointing in this direction.

    Dyson also did research into evolution and came up with the idea of a double beginning which would change the "settled" science of evolution but doesn't change the fact of "evolution" at all.

    So Charles rock on with your semantic war, but be careful with where you aim your skepticism.

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    Feb. 23, 2014 8:52 a.m.

    Spoken like a paid, Fox New correspondent with little to no background in the subject. Straddling the fence let's him gather his pay check while not damanging his "Dr." mantle. No sir, the facts are facts. CO2 trapped in our atmosphere casuses climate change. Now it you don't want to do anything and pass that problem on to our children and grandchildren than so be it.

  • higv Dietrich, ID
    Feb. 23, 2014 10:49 a.m.

    There have been some pretty cold winters including one recently. How does global warming account for that? Gravity is settled science. Global warming isn't. When the doomsdayer population explosion people were wrong they just tried to cover it up. Electricity gas gives us longer life spans and makes life more comfortable. Need to keep things clean water and air and businesses do a good job of it. No proof human activity necessary for survival does anything to change the climate.

  • RG Buena Vista, VA
    Feb. 23, 2014 11:42 a.m.

    to FT: please address Krauthammer's specific claims, which are also made by many others, that the earth has not warmed in 15 years, and that we have fewer hurricanes, and that the models have all been way wrong. Also, contrary to Gore's predictions, the Arctic ice is still there, plus the Antarctic ice has been growing to the point it trapped a ship full of climate scientists out to prove global warming. Now, if the earth does ever warm, this has been predicted by others to be a net benefit. Sure, it will hurt some, but fewer people will die of cold weather problems, for example.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Feb. 23, 2014 12:18 p.m.

    It must nice to be able to pick and choose that some concepts need only circumstantial evidence and some need evidence beyond a shred of doubt. Convenient, too.

  • Blue Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 23, 2014 12:50 p.m.

    Is global warming a complex issue? Of course it is. Will climate models require refining as new data are obtained? Sure, that's how science works.

    What is _not_ subject to debate are these simple, well-established facts:

    CO2 is a greenhouse gas.

    Atmospheric CO2 levels are higher now than in the past several hundred thousand years, and climbing rapidly.

    The CO2 that's being loaded into the atmosphere has been traced to the combustion of fossil fuels.

    Globally, our climate is changing, and changing rapidly - tremendously faster than natural climate change. Arctic ices are shrinking rapidly and getting thinner. Worldwide, glaciers are in high-speed retreat.

    Globally, January 2014 was the hottest January since 2007 and the fourth highest average temperature for January since formal temperature records began in 1880. January 2014 was also the 38th consecutive January and 347th consecutive month (almost 29 years) with a global temperature above the 20th century average.

    Australia is in the middle of a severe heat wave. Much of the western US in in a condition of severe drought.

    Krauthammer's article is akin to saying that because cancer is complex and some findings about cancer detection are now being questioned, that therefore cancer doesn't exist.

  • casual observer Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 23, 2014 3:18 p.m.

    Immutability and scientific concepts are antithetical. Science is living, changing and hopefully improving. Jimmy Carter said during his presidency that the world would run out of fossil fuels very soon, perhaps a decade. Leave science, uninfluenced by political pressure and the love of money, to find its own way.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 23, 2014 4:44 p.m.

    @higv
    "There have been some pretty cold winters including one recently. How does global warming account for that?"

    Weather patterns (okay I realize that this is going to result in "oh sure you all only say that for cold events" comments so I'll explain now).

    Think of it this way. Let's pretend there's no warming at all for 100 years. Same global temperature average every year. Weather patterns will lead to say the Eastern US having a cold winter one year, and Western Europe having a warm winter that same year (so that everything is balanced globally). Maybe another winter Western US is warm and Russia is cold, etc. etc.

    We should expect the same thing with weather patterns (some colder some warmer) in a warming climate too, but the overall average should be going up. So let's take this past January which was a top ten coldest January in some Eastern states. Globally it was 1.17C above average, the 4th warmest January on record. That +1.17C is the climate change/global warming signal. The variation from one place to another is the influence of the weather patterns that occurred during the month.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    Feb. 23, 2014 6:30 p.m.

    " Gravity is settled science. Global warming isn't." Really? Care to tell us just what gravity is? There is a whole community of physicists who would be enthralled if you could tell them what it was.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Feb. 23, 2014 7:28 p.m.

    No, science is never fully settled. The models are approximations only (because they are models, not reality). We will only EVER know how accurate or inaccurate they are until after-the-fact. And models (all scientific models) are fully accurate only by a bit of chance.

    Models cannot predict exact outcomes (again, except by chance) but rather general trends. And the general trends are clear. We can argue whether we are 20 degrees to the left or 20 degrees to the right, but the general direction is still clear.

    Time to stop the word games and hiding behind definitions that do not really define anything.

    Science is a building process over time. But we have enough data to make reasonable decisions now.

    Waiting for perfect knowledge mean we have waited so long that we no longer have the ability to change course. Not a wise move.

  • liberate Sandy, UT
    Feb. 23, 2014 7:32 p.m.

    Yes, science is ever-changing. So we should never accept any of its conclusions and always assume we can live as we always have without any consequences. Mr. Krauthammer, I accept your position and agree we should be skeptical. But you have demonstrated exactly what is wrong with the non-science community through this article by ignoring the preponderance of successful diagnoses based on science and selecting only those example that fit your agenda of suggesting science leads to false conclusions. The vast majority of science-based conclusions lead us forward. Occasionally (and maybe even often) we have examples such as the mammogram. But those are the exceptions, not the rule.

  • Kings Court Alpine, UT
    Feb. 23, 2014 8:15 p.m.

    "Settled Religion" has proven to be far more dangerous in the historical record.

  • Sven Morgan, UT
    Feb. 23, 2014 10:40 p.m.

    Excellent article by Dr. Krauthammer.

    Dr. Krauthammer said: "If climate science is settled, why do its predictions keep changing?" This statement goes to the heart of the issue.

    Consider:

    1) The arctic ice sheet has grown by nearly 60% in 2013, 2) Leaked documents from Fifth Assessment Report of the UN IPCC have overestimated warming on their climate models, and have shown NO WARMING for the past 16 years, 3) The monster storms and hurricanes that we were warned about never came to fruition, 4) The arctic ice that the AGW crowd said would be gone by 2013 has grown (See No. 1), 5) Top AGW "scientists" were shown to have manipulated their data supposedly confirming AGW was taking place, 6) Scientists are now concerned the lack of sun spot activity means we're going to a cooling phase, and 7) The Polar Vortex hitting our nation.

    As Dr. Krauthammer said: "So much for settledness..."

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    Feb. 24, 2014 5:10 a.m.

    When I find out that I getting bad information, trust in lost. Belief is only something I can count on or depend on.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Feb. 24, 2014 6:09 a.m.

    Science is fleeting. I can agree that science changes over time. That is how science is designed.

    "Utter foolishness and dangerous to mix a lot of politics with a little bit of science and call it fact!"

    Yes many people want to mix a lot of Religion into politics and be completely at ease.

    I can assure you that throughout the world, there is much more disagreement by "religious experts" concerning Religion, than there are Scientific experts concerning Climate change.

    Could we all agree with Dr K when he says

    "I've long believed that it cannot be good for humanity to be spewing tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere."

    So, then the question becomes, "What should we do about that?"

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Feb. 24, 2014 6:28 a.m.

    Kings Court
    Alpine, UT

    Agreed....

    Nations and Terrorists are killing each other to "Settle Religion",
    Science? Not so much so...

    Because -- Science deals with Facts and Data, not feelings or opinions...

    BTW -- I am very Religious, and very Scientific.
    I can be done,
    I use feelings and the Spirit help me understand God,
    I use facts and Data to help me understand His Creations.

  • Darrel Eagle Mountain, UT
    Feb. 24, 2014 6:37 a.m.

    For Science to ever be settled, we ourselves would have to claim omniscience. We are far from it, but as we learn more, and gain more evidence, our theories are allowed to expand, grow, and even change, the same way we as people do. With each iteration of ideas being more refined and perfected than those before.

    Newtons laws of motion were thought to be absolute until the mid twentieth century when Einstein came along and found they tend to break apart at a sub-atomic level. Was Newton wrong? No, however with increased knowledge we were able to refine and better apply his ideas.

    Science, by its very nature demands change. This doesn't necessarily discredit older science.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Feb. 24, 2014 7:10 a.m.

    We don't know what causes cancer - so we shouldn't do anything about it.
    We don't know what causes eathquakes - so we shouldn't do anything about it.
    We don't know what causes tsunamis - so we shouldn't do anything about it.
    We don't know what causes Flash Flooding - so we shouldn't do anything about it.
    We don't know what causes traffic accidents - so we shouldn't do anything about it.

    Stupid logic.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    Feb. 24, 2014 9:25 a.m.

    @ No, what is stupid is doing things that will not have any effect. Like blood letting to "cure" illnesses.

  • RFLASH Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 24, 2014 9:43 a.m.

    It doesn't take a lot of brains for a person to realize that human beings are polluting our land, air and water! If you don't believe in global warming, then that is fine, but playing dumb isn't very wise!Are You going to tell me that pollution has not effected the air we breath in this state? Oh, I guess Utah Lake is suppose to bee all mucky and dirty. When the piomeers first settled here, you could see to the bottom of it! I don't even have to argue about global warming! With or without global warming, we are polluting our planet to the point where it is going to cost us! If you don't see that, you have to be an idiot! Sorry, but it is true, we would be stupid not to do something about it! There are serious problems everywhere and all people care about is how much money can be made! How much they can tear up! It is sickening! There are a lot odf stupid greedy people in this world!

  • Darrel Eagle Mountain, UT
    Feb. 24, 2014 10:22 a.m.

    @Mountanman

    Blood letting, for the time was "medical science" through the centuries we have thankfully progressed beyond that. Science has moved from "authority" to "observations". Up until the 15th century or so, the mere fact that "Aristotle thought this" was enough to be unquestionable, but it wasn't until people like Galileo, or Newton started experimenting gravity that scientists started to be "ruled" by observations, repeatable experiments and data.

    This process is still very much alive today. A true scientist will seek to find the truth, regardless of a preconceived notion, thought, money or funder. To discredit a theory, or refine a theory, it must also be shown how existing data seemed to fit the older idea, and why this refinement is closer to the truth.

    The interesting notion with Climate Change science is that where one seems to believe is one of the best predictors of what party or ideology they subscribe too. Science, and by extension truth, by their very nature should be apolitical. Why climate change seems to break the mold is both sides are convinced the other side is making a money grab.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 24, 2014 10:41 a.m.

    I'm good with the science part, but not the political part.

    When was the last time we had scientists and global politicians colluding to prove a theory to justify their political agenda?

    The political agenda that goes along with this is obvious.

    I don't think we should mix science and politics. They are two very different things, and their agenda's should not be mixed.

    If the political agenda weren't there.... I would have no problem with it.

    I do everything I can to conserve. But I still don't support government regulations forcing even measures I have adopted for my own family... on someone else.

    It's the political agenda, using the government to force others to adopt your standards, that I disagree with.

    Individuals should be able to decide how radical they will be about environmentalism. The State should not legislate everyone adopt YOUR level of environmentalism. The Nation should not legislate your level of environmentalism into law. There should be no cabal of unelected global politicians and scientists who govern what each nation can do.

    I say NO to George Soros and Al Gore's New World Order.

  • jsf Centerville, UT
    Feb. 24, 2014 10:41 a.m.

    Quoting a recent article, "Scientists have provided a number of explanations in recent years as to why the apparent global warming “pause” came about, including natural climate variability to failures in accurate surface temperature measurement." AGW claiming the earth has increased are the actual deniers in the discussion.

    I love the claim, Australia is experiencing a heat wave as evidence of global warming, but fails to allow the cold in the US and Europe as evidence of none global warming.

    With the increase in CO2 the earth has greened by at least 11%, that's an increase in plant coverage on the earth. But we see over the weekend, Al has screamed again panic about the new and upcoming mid-west dust bowl if we don't rush to act on his propagandist policies. Right the last dust bowl was caused by SUV's and carbon emissions, and ended as a result of cutting down on carbon emissions. Because we all know we stopped using coal and oil during the thirties to end the dust bowl.

  • jsf Centerville, UT
    Feb. 24, 2014 10:47 a.m.

    "I guess Utah Lake is suppose to be all mucky and dirty." Another alarmist statement. Utah Lake is not mucky and dirty because of pollution. It is mucky and dirty because of an imported non-native fish. The Carp. The carp eat the bottom vegetation, and because of the shallow depth of the lake, and lake of vegetation to hold the silts, surface winds stir up the bottom silts leaving the silts suspended in the water. You want to clear the lake then help remove the carp.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 24, 2014 12:22 p.m.

    @jsf
    "Australia is experiencing a heat wave as evidence of global warming, but fails to allow the cold in the US and Europe as evidence of none global warming. "

    Look up the 'NOAA State of the Climate January 2014' and consult the temperature anomaly and percentile maps. You'd see a map that has a lot more red than blue on it (and no grid boxes had their record coldest, but a couple dozen were record warmest) because...

    "The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for January was the warmest since 2007 and the fourth warmest on record at 12.7°C (54.8°F), or 0.65°C (1.17°F) above the 20th century average of 12.0°C (53.6°F). The margin of error associated with this temperature is ± 0.08°C (± 0.14°F)."

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Feb. 24, 2014 1:04 p.m.

    True... there never is "settled science".... but at the same time there is such thing as preponderance of evidence. At some time you need to act on something. Using the bar set here, we would be in a constant state of paralysis, which is perhaps exactly what is wanted.

    What is funny about Charles is he has been begging us to go to war with Iran over beliefs of whet might be, at the cost of perhaps tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of lives... with out any settled "proof" of anything, and yet when it comes to climate or something like that, we should sit on our hands and just wait it out.

    It is interesting to see how transient "proof" requirements can be depending on the subject.

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    Feb. 24, 2014 1:35 p.m.

    @JSF
    Actually, Utah Lake was mucky long before the carp were introduced. The carp thrived because of the muck. When the Mormon pioneers first came to the valley, Utah Lake was pristine and clear. Farming, ranching and industrialization of the valley poured sediment into the lake, resulting in the increase of CO2 thriving vegation. The carp thrived when the white man altered the ecosystem.

  • jsf Centerville, UT
    Feb. 24, 2014 2:22 p.m.

    Report by the Utah Division of Water Quality "The turbidity which limits algal productions is the source of the public perception that the lake is polluted. The lake's relative shallowness and flocculent calcite bottom sediments, couples with climatic conditions producing frequent wave action, allows for the continual resuspension of bottom sediments into the water column. These resuspended calcium carbonate calcite crystals and algae account for the gray-green turbidity associated with the lake. Merritt and Word reported that water in the bay areas and near tributaries is relatively clear. It was estimated that about 50 percent of the total sediments and 65 percent of the calcite appear to be originating in the lake itself via mineral precipitation."

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Feb. 24, 2014 2:35 p.m.

    "I don't think we should mix science and politics. They are two very different things, and their agenda's should not be mixed."

    Well, maybe the same can be said about business. I see business paying dearly to affect politics to comply with their agenda.

  • Mickey Kovars Tampa, FL
    Feb. 24, 2014 8:25 p.m.

    If the global warming/climate change advocates were confident in their position, they would feel no need to call their opponents "deniers" and try to shut them up. Obviously they are very nervous about their position and are simply trying to drown out any opposition. The use of the term "denier" is especially despicable, as if to say that global warming is as obvious and undeniable as the mass murder of Europe's Jews by the Nazis. If there were referees, this would be a personal foul of the highest order.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Feb. 25, 2014 6:42 a.m.

    2 bits
    Cottonwood Heights, UT

    I don't think we should mix science and politics. They are two very different things, and their agenda's should not be mixed.

    I say NO to George Soros and Al Gore's New World Order.

    10:41 a.m. Feb. 24, 2014

    =========

    and
    I don't think we should mix RELIGION and politics.
    I don't not want to live under a Theocracy.

    BTW -- Your buddy George H.W. Bush gave his "New World Order" speech on Sept. 11th, 1990 --
    "Out of these troubled times, our fifth objective -- a New World Order -- can emerge: a new era -- "

    Is it any wonder that Osama Bin Laden set the attack on America for Sept. 11th, 2001?
    And hit the World Trade Center, the icon of Global Capitalism and exploitation?

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Feb. 25, 2014 8:31 a.m.

    "If the global warming/climate change advocates were confident in their position, they would feel no need to call their opponents "deniers" and try to shut them up. "

    How in the world is debating a point "trying to shut them up". The is the constant cry, that if someone disagrees with you, they are trying to shut you up. NO. They are disagreeing with your point of view. Get a thicker skin. Like you say, if you are so confident in your position, the fact that someone disagrees with you should not be interpreted as that person is trying to shut you up.

    Neither side is all right, and nether side is side is all wrong. It is through the exchange of ideas and beliefs that we all gain a better understand.

  • Coach Biff Lehi, UT
    Feb. 27, 2014 3:07 p.m.

    When I was in grade school we were warned about Global Cooling (or don't any of you Global Warming advocates remember that?) We were warned that over population was going to bring on a number of maladies of biblical proportion. We have given in to that which is popular, namely blaming any and all disasters on mankind. The fact of the matter is that CO2 is an extremely beneficial gas necessary for life on this planet. Or did you guys skip that part of your Biology courses?

  • MrPlate Lindon, UT
    Feb. 28, 2014 4:08 p.m.

    @UtahBlueDevil - there is a tremendous difference between honest debate of legitimate ideas, and calling the other side "deniers." To call those with whom you disagree "deniers" is to claim that your side has all truth and the other side is not worthy of debate because they deny known and settled facts. It is most definitely an attempt to shut down debate by minimizing and mocking the points of your opponent as unworthy of consideration. It is the SOP of global warming alarmists, and of the Obama administration regarding every kind of challenge to their governing philosophy. Mock and ridicule your opponents as foolish flat-earthers, and hopefully shut down the debate. Straight out of his Saul Alinsky playbook.