Friday, February 20, 2009

Hard Science?

Over the last five years, the temperature here in our little Ozark paradise has varied from -10º to 102º. It is normally a very livable, moderate climate with occasional rises in humidity and a near constant breeze. We have, in our married life, experienced some extremes in the temperature range by virtue of living in both Wisconsin (-30º) and Nevada (115º) and reasonably anticipated both as not usual but not rare. Since we had foreknowledge of these events, we arranged our life style around them.

A prime example is our current water supply. We have a private well, and the head, pressure tank, and plumbing are housed in a concrete block structure with a competent shingled roof and extremely well sealed. Within the building is a single 100w incandescent light bulb which burns constantly from October to the end of April. If, and that has not always been the case, the electricity is functional, we have every confidence that the system will operate even at -10º. In that confined space, that single bulb furnishes enough heat to overcome a disparity of 42º (!) and allow the water to flow. At 7¢ per kilowatt hour, the cost of that insurance is 16.8¢ per day and worth every penny. As a result of the loss of our power (2007-for 11 days!) we are now equipped to use temporary propane devices to heat the well house and protect the plumbing during an emergency.

The point of this illustration is to emphasize how normal people realize how critical minor sources of heat can be in maintaining acceptable levels of temperature in common situations. We have no special skills, other than common sense, and are certainly not unique in our neighborhood. Every neighbor we have (except the Amish) has used this technique as a matter of standard procedure since electricity has become common currency. No string of lettered academic honors behind their names certifies their understanding of this basic knowledge. One bout of writing a $150 check to replace plumbing ruptured during a hard freeze is a sufficient lesson for our simple neighbors and also your host.

Amid threats of disappearing sea ice, a navigable sea at the North Pole, and rising sea levels which would turn Wall Street into a beach front, we find a look at information gathering facilities which give insight into verification of these predictions. The various weather services maintain stations throughout the nation and, for that matter, the world, to accumulate data to feed the computers which calculate these projections. They were designed, operated by, positioned, and read by the persons mentioned above with the alphabetic honorifics. I invite you to share some photos which appear on this web site to see their genius in action. Some are located near (less than 10’) from A/C exhausts, steel structures, outdoor grills, parking lots, concrete pads, light bulbs within the housing, and in one picture, an incinerator. Now, what could possibly go wrong there?

The question is simply this: if a bunch of Missouri hick farmers clearly understand the relationship of heat sources to resultant recorded temperatures why is it not clearly known in the scientific community? It is possible that through their constant association with their herds of contented critters awaiting the milking parlor that they have a capacity for the recognition of bovine excrement that is lacking amidst the ivy covered walls of our universities.

One of the first lessons I learned in 1992 when I got my first computer is as valuable today as it was 17 years ago: “garbage in—garbage out!” No amount of technological advancement has invalidated that axiom. If you insist on using corrupt data, you shall enjoy an equivalent result. Computer modeling of anticipated events probably has a place in the world of science but, and it’s a big “but", that modeling needs to be directed by input of hard, verifiable, non-corrupt information and not a political agenda. All too often, it is the latter. It boils down to an issue of honesty. I find it hard to believe that the perpetrators of these hoaxes have no awareness of these falsities. I’m sorry, but that is just too much to swallow.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

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