Tuesday , January 26 2021

David Suzuki: Criticism of the Ocean – research shows the benefits of the scientific method

Errors in a recent study of ocean warming illustrate the complexity of global warming. They also show the depth at which climate science deniers descend to evade or downplay evidence of anthropogenic climate change.

A study by researchers from the United States, China, France and Germany showed that "ocean warming is at a high level of previous estimates," and global warming can move faster than scientists thought. British researcher Nick Lewis, who has a mathematical and physical background, found discrepancies that he noted on the skeptic’s blog. Scientists have recognized the errors and proposed a correction to the study, published in Nature,

The controversy illustrates how the scientific method works. Studies often change or overturn as new information becomes available or indicate inconsistencies or errors.

Research co-author Ralph Keeling (Ralph Keeling), a professor of geophysics at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in California, said: “The general conclusion is that the oceans are taking more and more heated mirrors in other studies and are not inaccurate, originally thought. "

Some respondents who deny climate science took advantage of this error, suggesting that it discredits mountains of evidence of anthropogenic climate change accumulated by scientists from around the world for almost 200 years — evidence accepted by every legitimate scientific academy and institute, and every government except current US administration.

Those who understand science have not made such a hard line. Even Lewis, who is skeptical about climate patterns and predictions of warming, said that the research methodology is “new and certainly worthy of publication”, and that the errors were “serious (but certainly unintentional)”. He criticized Nature for not thorough study of the best and the media for a wide "unquestionable" coverage.

The media is not always properly versed in science. Journalists are not always well-versed in science and often do not have enough time to study problems with the depth they deserve. Communication of complex ideas and the diversion of entire research into attractive headlines and short stories can lead to misinformation and limited understanding.

Lack of scientific literacy is a problem in journalism and society as a whole. Science is a useful tool, but it is not perfect. With the study of the ocean, the method worked as it should. Scientists asked questions, developed hypotheses, conducted research and presented results. Then another expert found discrepancies. This has led to corrections and a deeper understanding of the methodology and its applications, as well as to the warming of the ocean.

Many people are not familiar with the exact definitions of scientific terms, and this can lead to misunderstandings. We see comments that anthropogenic climate change is just a “theory”, so we must question or reject it. But in science, theory is based on one or more proven hypotheses. When research and experiments confirm that hypotheses accurately describe and predict real events, a theory is developed. We have a theory of gravity and a theory of evolution. As science, understanding and technology evolve, theories are sometimes revised and sometimes refuted or discarded.

Theories of global warming are based on a wide range of research and knowledge, from the physics of the greenhouse effect to science in relation to ocean currents, the carbon cycle, wind diagrams and feedback loops. There may be some uncertainty regarding the pace and effects of warming, but there is no doubt that the world is heating up due to human activity — mainly due to burning fossil fuels and damaging or destroying carbon sinks such as forests and wetlands. , – and that the consequences are already serious and will worsen if we cannot act decisively.

We also know that our activities are already locked in a certain amount of insurmountable warming, so we do not have time to linger if we want a healthy future or a future — for our young people and those who have not yet been born.

Healthy skepticism is good. Criticism of ocean exploration has led to a deeper understanding and strengthening of methodology and analysis. But the rejection of a huge amount of evidence and even the legitimacy of science leaves us with what? Personal beliefs? Ignoring what is in front of us to maintain the status quo? Practice "business as usual"?

All this will put us on the path of disaster.

We must work together to support science, which we must help us learn to live within planetary boundaries.

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