Filed under: Climate Change, General Space Topic, Lunar Resources, National Space Policy, Off-Earth Resources, Space Pioneers
As far back through antiquity as Aristotle it was theorized that the physical world in which we live is made up of atoms. And though the ancients’ mastery of deductive reasoning led them to great leaps of enlightenment, it was not enough to accurately describe reality. “Close, but no cigar,” as they say. Complete atomic theories forged in the fires of rigorous scientific examination would have to wait more than two millennia.
The modern scientific method is, in simplest terms, a three-step process: observe; theorize; and test. It’s proven to be a very successful way of discovering nature’s secrets, but the process is far from finished when theories have passed this stage. They must withstand rigorous scientific debate and challenges, in which peers from throughout the discipline examine every aspect of the experiment from the data to the underlying mathematics and finally to the conclusions. Not until it has survived this intense scrutiny can we embrace a theory and allow it to be taken as a law.
Albert Einstein, whose theories of the macroscopic world have revolutionized our understanding of time and gravity and Werner Heisenberg, one of the founders of quantum mechanics, had some of the most heated debates in scientific history over their theories. Challenges – even angry and passionate – among piers in science form a necessary fixture in its discourse and one that we relax at our own peril.
Today the peer review process serves us well as an absolutely essential part of science. Because our understanding of the universe is built in layers, with one set of laws building upon earlier ones iteratively, imagine the consequences of discovering that something we’ve taken as a fundamental law is flawed, or worse, false. Such an event would be catastrophic, so the importance of remaining diligent with peer review cannot be over stated.
Yet as strong as this process tends to be, there are those rare times when it breaks down. After all, it is a human endeavor, and humans are fallible, so when a breakdown does occur, the wise man pauses to understand why and how. He endeavors to prevent it from ever happening again.
We see just such a break down occurring in recent history following the Apollo lunar flights of the late 1960s and early 1970s when samples of rocks were returned from the moon and examined by scores of scientists. When the lunar dust settled and the papers had all been published, the scientific world proclaimed that the moon was more arid than the driest desert on earth.
That’s the way things stood for four decades: a kind of lunar science dark ages in which notions of returning to the moon, of building upon those gains so hard won at the expense of much national treasure and three astronaut’s lives, would be bluntly dismissed. Aside from the fact that the political goals behind the missions – sadly, their biggest driver – had been achieved, it simply made no scientific sense to return. Mankind was beginning to cast an eye around the solar system for a place where he could explore and perhaps settle. Any serious consideration of where next to go would necessarily have to include the concept of ISRU, or in-situ resource utilization. It’s what early pioneers called living off the land, and the idea behind it is simple. Exploration must be carried out with attention to its costs, which are kept at a minimum when consumables and materiel can be found and used at your destination. Each pound carried with the expedition costs money, so the less you take with you, the smaller the cost and the more exploration can be accomplished and made sustainable. With water being one of the most important and costly resources of any expedition, and with the lunar surface having been found utterly devoid of it, the moon was unceremoniously written off. Our nearest neighbor in space, what many call the eighth content, was now considered a dead end.
Just as the dark ages on Earth were followed by the Renaissance, the lunar dark age has given way to a enlightenment. 2009 saw new, robotic missions sent to the moon. They carried state-of-the-art instruments and beamed down to Earth volumes of new data to be examined by a fresh eyes. Within months, those science teams were sending out an electrifying discoveries that would send shock waves across the world. Water! Water had been discovered trapped in the permanently shadowed craters of the lunar South pole! More analysis revealed that the entire moon is covered in a thin veneer of water deposited by the solar wind, making it a renewable source.
The really big shocker was yet to come. A Brown University freshman! by the name of Thomas Weinreich published a paper in a May, 2011 edition of the journal Science in which he announced the results of a study he had recently conducted on 40-year-old rock samples from the moon. And his findings? Water! It had been there all along.
Only five years before, Alberto Saal, a professor at Brown, and some collaborators had applied to NASA to look for water in Apollo rocks. Colleagues laughed at his obvious naiveté.
How is it that so many brilliant minds could have concluded with such certainty for so long that the moon was utterly arid? Two words: Group Think. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Group Think is “a pattern of thought characterized by self-deception, forced manufacture of consent, and conformity to group values and ethics.” This is precisely the reason behind our long-lived ignorance of water on the moon. Those early assertions that no water existed in lunar rock samples should have been challenged and would have had it not been for the very the arrogance that Dr. Saal encountered. It was Group Think that effectively shut down the peer-review process for decades.
As a new dawn arises on lunar science and we again look towards the moon as our next home away from Earth and source of natural resources and new opportunities, it’s important that we weigh and consider the aftermath of a certain pitfall in the human psyche. What it cost us was 40 years and an entire generation of would-be astronauts and pioneers left orphaned when Apollo was ended. We cannot allow this to happen again, so it behooves us to scan our horizons – and those hidden places right under our noses – for signs that scientific consent is being manufactured. Can you think of any? Perhaps a theory on how the Earth traps and releases energy? Could there be a theory out there in which it is proclaimed that the time for debate has passed on a science that is “settled”?
Think about it.
Former Senator Schmitt Accuses National Academy of Conflict of Interest in Study of Global Climate Change
Extraordinarily complex natural processes underlie changes in the Earth’s climate. They represent decadal to millennial to epochal variations in weather patterns as nature continuously attempts to compensate for solar heating imbalances in and between the atmosphere, oceans, and landmasses.
Nature’s attempts to restore heat balance at and near the Earth’s surface take place under many complicating influences. These include the rotating Earth’s seasonally variable orientation relative to the sun; periodic differences in Earth’s orbital positioning; movement and release of heat stored in the oceans; atmospheric circulation; the sun’s variable irradiance and magnetic fields; frequent and unpredictable volcanic eruptions; and geologically slow but exorable redistribution and reconfiguration of land, ocean, and ice masses.
In this context of natural reality, the recent report, “America’s Climate Choices,” released May 19, 2010, by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), illustrates how far that formerly illustrious Academy has strayed from the principles of “science.” Those principles are, simply: observe, hypothesize, test, analyze, retest, and repeat this cycle until plausible, objective conclusions appear to be warranted – conclusions that others or nature can replicate.
The Academy, in contrast, has become just another political arm of the governmental establishment, promoting a federal mandate of “major technological and behavioral change” based on flawed as well as selective science. The report’s conclusions that “climate change is occurring, caused largely by human activities…” and that “the U.S. should act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions” ignore contradictory tests of such hypotheses that come through objective observations.
Unfortunately, support for the Academy’s political statements also comes from Alan Leshner, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).1 The AAAS, in an Essay Review of books related to the climate change debate in its Science magazine,2 could not even bring itself to require consideration of books dissenting from the “consensus” that current climate change is human caused3.
In taking these political, non-scientific positions, the Academy has joined another political body, the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in attacking the heart of free institutions and economic prosperity. The Academy’s and British Royal Society’s Presidents and membership, in recent reactions to the public disclosure of fraud within the climate science political community, have exacerbated their loss of credibility rather than enhancing it.4 The Royal Society’s takes a particularly disappointing and ironic position as its founders’ motto 350 years ago was to “accept nothing on authority.”5 The National Academy now has embarrassed itself further by using a statistical analysis of publication records as “scientific” justification of the so-called “consensus” that humans cause climate change6.
Unfortunately, bias permeates both the reports and the published work reviewed in reports produced by the Academy and IPCC for the use of “policy makers.” This bias follows from the dependency on government funding of so many climate researchers and bureaucrats as well as from the extra-constitutional political leanings of most academics today7. If grant applications from the researchers involved do not propose to show the effects of humans on climate, their proposals risk not being funded. If their conclusions do not allege an effect by humans on climate, however tenuous that effect might be, their career-essential papers probably will not be published by politically committed journals. Not following liberal orthodoxy on climate change thus may create problems of tenure at home institutions.
If the recent climate science policy scandals show nothing else, they show the existence of political bias. Even the Academy’s study of “America’s Climate Choices” was funded by the leadership of the Congress and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), both of which have huge political and budgetary interests, respectively, in reaching the conclusion that humans cause modern climate change. 85% of the Academy’s future study funding8 depends on concluding what your political customers, the politicians and bureaucrats, want you to conclude.
On the other hand, Ralph J. Cicerone, President of the Academy, correctly states “that the state of climate change science is strong;” however, ironically, he refers to the wrong aspects of climate change science when he makes that statement. Recent international scientific conferences hosted by the Heartland Institute of Chicago, the broad compilation of information contained in “Climate Changed Reconsidered,”9 and an increasing body of published research shows that observational climate science is indeed strong.
The results of this observational scientific research and analysis show that natural processes dominate changes in Earth’s climate and it is that conclusion which should drive national policy. The last thing policy makers should rely on is guidance based on assumptions put into obviously flawed computer models. It is factually, professionally, and absolutely wrong for the former Chairman of the National Science Board to state in congressional testimony that there exist no “specifics, alternate hypotheses, and facts” contrary to the human-caused climate change hypothesis.10 As the NAS report confirms, a socialist political agenda drives government policy and that policy seeks control over all aspects of local as well as national economic activity, particularly energy production and use.
What do we actually know about climate variability over the part of Earth history most relevant to the present? Actually, we know a lot. Since the last Ice Age ended about 10,000 years ago11 (the glacial maximum lasting between 33,000 and 19,000 years ago12), geological and tree ring records for that interval document prolonged periods of warmth and cold, ranging from 3000 years to a few hundred years in duration.13 The Little Ice Age of 1400-1900,14 following the Medieval Warm Period of 600-1300, recorded the last significant period of global cooling during that 10,000 years, although decades-long cooling has occurred several times since.
By 1400, Artic ice pack had enclosed Iceland and Greenland and driven Viking settlers away from their farms on those islands.15 By the end of the 1600s, in response to the earlier climate cooling, glaciers had advanced over valley farmlands cultivated as those same glaciers receded during the Medieval Warm Period.16 Indeed, all of the consequences of warming prior to 1300 reversed during the next several hundred years of the Little Ice Age.
Since about 1660, the middle of the last 70 year-long phase of the Little Ice Age, global surface and near surface temperatures have risen an average of about about 0.9 degree Fahrenheit (half a degree Centigrade) each 100 years.17 In response, a general retreat of world glaciers has taken place over the last century or more, not just in the last decades of the 20th Century,18 repeating the documented pattern of the Medieval Warm Period.
The Artic Ocean ice pack has retreated northward since about 180019 and, as during the Medieval Warm Period, may have largely disappeared during some summers, depending on the high latitude atmospheric circulation.20 Similarly, though only on a decadal rather than a century scale, satellite observations since 1979 show that the decrease in the area of the Artic ice pack since 1996 appears to have reversed from its 2007 summer minimum.21 Antarctic sea ice also retreated from the extent reported by many explorers and whalers early in the 20th Century22. Antarctic sea ice, however, has been expanding northward for about two decades23 after indications of an additional gradual decline following the 1950s.24
Since the last vestiges of the most recent major Ice Age about -10,000 years ago (end of the Younger Dryas cold period25), decades-long periods of warming and cooling have been superposed on even longer cycles. The longest of these cycles repeats about every 1500 years and the shortest about every 55-60 years.26 These latter, short, multi-decade intervals of rapid warming and cooling27 have occurred during the current, 350-year long general warming trend. The most recent short-term variations have been cooling between 1935 and 1975, warming between 1975 and 1995, and now cooling again since 2000.
In short, nothing out of the ordinary natural climate variations have occurred since fossil fuel use accelerated in the last Century. General agreement exists among both climate change alarmists and climate change realists that most of the slow variations over the centuries before 1949 came from natural causes,28 with a general warming trend continuing the recovery from the extremes of the Little Ice Age. Then politics took over when definitive measurements of a steady increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide became available after 196029. Since then, “carbon dioxide,” an essential ingredient for life itself, has become a stalking-horse for increased government control of consumers, private business, industry, and the economy.
In the name of the impossible goal of climate control, Congress is preparing to vote on legislation that would seriously and unconstitutionally harm the American economy and employment dependent on the strength of that economy. The Environmental Protection Agency already has assumed unauthorized, unconstitutional, dictatorial powers to regulate carbon dioxide emissions.
These continue to be dangerous times for liberty and constitutional protection of that liberty. Election battle lines have formed for November 2010.
Harrison H. Schmitt is a former United States Senator from New Mexico as well as a geologist and former Apollo Astronaut. He currently is an aerospace and private enterprise consultant and a member of the new Committee of Correspondence.
1 AAAS Announcement to Members, email, June 29, 2010; News and Notes, 2010, On Capitol Hill, researchers offer data to answer climate skeptics, Science, 328, p. 1121.
2 Kitcher, P., 2010, The climate change debates, Science, 328, pp. 1230-1234.
3 Spencer, R. W., The Great Global Warming Blunder: How Mother Nature Fooled the World’s Top Scientists, Encounter Books, New York; Spencer, R. W., 2009, Climate Confusion, Encounter Books, New York ; Carter, B., 2010, Climate: The Counter- consensus – A Scientist Speaks, Stacey International, London; Solomon, L., 2008, The Deniers, Richard Vigilante Books, USA; Idso, C. D., and S. F. Singer, 2009, Climate Change Reconsidered, Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change; Paltridge, G. W., The Climate Caper, Taylor Trade, Plymouth; Plimer, I., 2009, Heaven and Earth: Global Warming, the Missing Science, Connor Court, Victoria, Australia; Singer, S. F., 1999, Hot Talk, Cold Science, Independent Institute; Horner, C. C., 2010, Power Grab: How Obama’s Green Policies Will Steal Your Freedom and Bankrupt America, Regnery, Washington; Booker, C., 2009, The Real Global Warming Disaster, Continuum International, New York; Singer, S. F., and D. T. Avery, 2007, Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years, Rowman & Littlefield, Plymouth; Klaus, V., 2008, Blue Planet in Green Shackles, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Washington.
4 See Lindzen, R. S., 2010, Global warming: How to approach the science (Climate models and the evidence?), Heartland Conference on Climate Change #4, Chicago, May 17, 2010; Rees, M., and R. J. Cicderone, 2010, What’s happening to the climate is unprecedented, Letters, FT.com, April 9, 2010; Gleick, P. H., et al, Climate change and the integrity of science, Letters, Science, 328, pp. 689-690; Nature, Climate of fear, Editorial, Nature, 464, p. 141.
5 Rees, M., 2010, The royal Society’s wider Role, editorial, Science, 328, p. 1611.
6 Kintisch, E, 2010, Critics are far less prominent than supporters, New of the Week, Science, 328, p. 1622.
7 Horowitz, D., and E. Lehrer, 2003, Political bias in the administrations and faculties of 32 elite colleges and universities, http://www.studentsforacademicfreedom.org/news/1898/lackdiversity.html.
9 Idso, C., and S.F. Singer, 2009, Climate Change Reconsidered, Heartland Institute, Chicago, pp. 112-128.
10 News and Notes, 2010, On Capitol Hill, researchers offer data to answer climate skeptics, Science, 328, p. 1121.
11 Steffensen, J. P., et al, Science, 321, pp. 680-.
12 Clark, P. U., et al, 2009, The last glacial maximum, Science, 325, pp. 710-714.
13 Dennis Avery, Heartland Conference on Climate Change #2, New York, March 9-10, 2009; McIntyre, S., and R. McKitrick, 2005, Hockey sticks, principal components, and spurious significance, Geophysical Research Letters, 32. No. 20; Luckman, B. H., Geoscience of climate and Energy 6. Tree rings as temperature proxies, Geoscience Canada, 37, 1, pp. 38-42; Hocker, L., 2010, The temperature rise has caused CO2 increase, not the other way around, .
14 Fagan, B., 2000, The Little Ice Age, Basic Books, New York, pp.10-15; Mann, M. E., et al, 2009, Global signatures and dynamical origins of the Little Ice Age and Medieval Climate Anomaly, Science, 326, pp. 1256-1259.
15 Goldberg, F., 2010, Some historical ice observations and future possible ice conditions in the Arctic, Heartland Conference on Climate Change #4, Chicago, May 17, 2010; Polyakov, I., Akasofu, S-I., et al, 2002. Trends and variations in Arctic climate system. EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union 83, p. 547-548; Seaver, K.A, 1996, The Frozen Echo: Greenland and the Exploration of North America ca. A.D. 1000-1500, Stanford University Press; Koch, L., 1945, The East Greenland Ice, Copenhagen; Fagan, B., 2000, The Little Ice Age, Basic Books, New York, pp.10-15.
16 Esper, J., E. R. cook, F. H. Schweingruber, 2002, Low-frequency signals in long tree- ring chronologies for reconstructing past temperature variability, Science, 295, pp. 2250- 2253; Trouet, V., et al, 2009, Persistent positive North Atlantic Oscillation mode dominated the Medieval Climate Anomaly, Science, 324, pp. 78-80; Akasofu, S-I, 2007, Is the Earth still recovering from the “Little Ice Age”?, International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks, abstract, May 7; Fagan, B., 2000, The Little Ice Age, Basic Books, New York, pp. 3-51; Cook, E.R., et al, 2004, Long-term aridity changes in the western United States, Science, 306, 1015-1018; see also Center for the Study of Carbon dioxide and Global Change, 2009, Medieval Warm Period <http://www.co2science.org/subject/m/subject_m.php>; Huss, M., 2010, et al, Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1029/2010GL042616(2010); Idso, C., and S.F. Singer, 2009, Climate Change Reconsidered, Heartland Institute, Chicago, pp. 72-98.
17 Syun Akasofu, Heartland Conference on Climate Change #2, New York, March 9-10, 2009; Roy Spencer, Heartland Conference on Climate Change #2, New York, March 9- 10, 2009; Michaels, P. J., 2010, Cap and trad regulation, legislation, and science, Heartland Conference on Climate Change #4, Chicago, May 17, 2010; Carter, R.M., 2007, The myth of human-caused climate change, in Australasian Institute of Mining & Metallurgy, New Leaders Conference, Brisbane, May 2-3 2007, Conference Proceedings pp. 61-74. http://members.iinet.net.au/~glrmc/2007%2005- 03%20AusIMM%20corrected.pdf.
18 Akasofu, S-I, 2007, Is the Earth still recovering from the “Little Ice Age”?, International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks, abstract, May 7.
19 Polyakov, I., Akasofu, S-I., et al, 2002. Trends and variations in Arctic climate system. EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union 83, p. 547-548.
20 Morison, J., et al, 2007, Recent trends in Arctic Ocean mass distribution revealed by GRACE, Geophysical. Research Letters, 34, L07602, doi:10.1029/2006GL029016.
21 Goldberg, F., 2010, Some historical ice observations and future possible ice conditions in the Arctic, Heartland Conference on Climate Change #4, Chicago, May 17, 2010; Chapman, W. 2008, The Cryosphere Today, Illionois Arctic Climate Research Center, http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/
22 Lansing, A., 1959, The Endurance, Carroll &Graf, New York.
23 Watkins, A.B., and I. Simmonds, 2000, Current trends in Antarctic sea ice: The 1990s impact on a short climatology, Journal of Climate, 13, pp. 4441-4451; Yuan, X. and D.G. Martinson, 2000, Antarctic sea ice extent variability and its global connectivity, Journal of Climate, 13, pp. 1697-1717.
24 Curran, M. A. J., et al, 2003, Ice core evidence for Antarctic sea ice decline since the 1950s, Science, 302, pp. 1203-1205.
25 Alley, R. B., 2000, The Younger Dryas cold interval as viewed from central Greenland, Quaternary Science Reviews, 19, pp. 213-226.
26 Dennis Avery, Heartland Conference on Climate Change #2, New York, March 9-10, 2009; Easterbrook, D., 2010, The looming threat of global cooling, Heartland Conference on Climate Change #4, Chicago, May 17, 2010; Sharp, G. D., L. Klyashtorin, and D. McLain, Projecting climate changes and ecological responses, Heartland Conference on Climate Change #4, Chicago, May 17, 2010; Patterson, T., A. Prokoph, G. Swindles, H. Roe, and A. Kumar, 2019, Gleissberg Solar Cycle: Pacemaker of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation?, Heartland Conference onf Climate Change #2, New York, March 9, 2010.
27 Steffensen, J.P., et al, 2008, Science, 321, pp. 680-; Fluckiger, J., 2008, Did you say “fast”?. Science, 321, pp. 650-651.
28 Karoly, D. J., et al, 2003, Detection of a human influence on North American climate, Science, 302, pp. 1200-1203.
29 Keeling, R.F., 2008, Recording Earth’s vital signs, Science, 319, pp. 1771-1772.