has change over the years. It began as pastime for the wealthy.
Early research scientists had no economic pressure and simply
searched for the truth.
Today, research is done in schools, and private and government
labs: a subtle but significant change. This research requires
external funding. External funding comes with a price. If
the researchers’ conclusions do not agree with the funding
party’s ideological or political views, no further funding
will be provided. For example, the Paired Watershed Study
was cancelled because the early results of the study did not
agree with the fund provider’s beliefs on improving
the salmon runs. Without funding a research organization ceases
to exist. Money Talks.
While this makes good economic and political sense, it does
not make good science. To avoid these problems, NPR has adopted
a policy of refusing external funding. This allows a return
to the original principles of early research.
most of our work is independent reviews of the research performed
people only look at the conclusions of a scientific paper. That
is certainly a quick way to read a report, but assumes that
the person doing the research has made correct assumptions,
used a procedure which accounts for all variables, controls
all variables, makes no errors in gathering the data, or the
analysis, reaches conclusion that are correct and logical, and
considers all alternate conclusions.
In the present research environment, this is a little naïve.
To correctly judge the veracity of the research, it is necessary
to look beyond the conclusions to satisfy oneself that good
science was used and that the conclusions are factual. That
is difficult for the average citizen to do.
warming is receiving a lot of press and being championed by politicians,
activist groups and the press. This is not conducive to good science
or correctly solving the problem. Science is not a political issue
that can be solved by democratic principals. In science, the correct
answer is found by using the scientific method. Something that is
difficult to do in biology.
The figures to the right show temperature data from one of these
papers and a satellite image of greenhouse gas concentrations from
another. Examination of temperature data shows a temperature variation
over the last 400 K years of about 10° C and a carbon dioxide
variation of about 100 ppm or about 0.01%. This curve also shows
very definitely that three times during the last 350 K years, when
the carbon dioxide content reached 300 ppm the global temperature
plummeted 8 degrees. It is also shows that the temperature change
was not instantaneous but lagged the CO2 increase by ±3000
years. About 10 K years ago, this relationship suddenly changed.
The temperature curve ceased climbing and began to oscillate. What
caused this change? Ignoring history can be dangerous.
Recent evidence shows that all green plants produce large amounts of methane. The major producers are tropical forests an wetlands. Methane is 23 times more potent as a green house gas than CO2, and produces over twice the pollution effects of world industry.
Can we afford to ignore methane’s contribution on global climate? Do we know enough to mess with complex environmental systems?
The second figure shows that four of the large concentrations of
greenhouse gas, (dark red areas), are indeed located over the Amazon, African,
Indian and Indonesian rain forests. This validates the conclusions
of the methane paper referenced above and indicates that the major
producers of green house gas are the large heavily forested areas.