Why our glaciers are melting

by Dr. Ed Berry

This chart shows how glaciers have been melting at a constant rate since about 1820. They began melting long before human carbon dioxide emissions became significant starting in about 1950.

This raises these questions:

  1. How can we blame our carbon dioxide emissions for glacier melting when the glacier melting began about 130 years before we began emitting carbon dioxide?
  2. If our carbon dioxide emissions were causing glacier melting then how come glacier melting has not increased after 1950?
  3. If we go on a rampage and stop all human carbon dioxide emissions, on what basis can we expect this would stop the melting of glaciers?

The answer to the first question is that it is illogical to conclude that our carbon dioxide emissions cause glacier melting. Something else is causing glaciers to melt.

The answer to the second question is that this proves our carbon dioxide emissions are not responsible for glacier melting. If there were a cause-effect relationship then the rate of glacier melting would have increased as we emitted more carbon dioxide.

The answer to the third question is we do not have any basis to conclude that stopping our carbon dioxide emissions totally would have any effect on glaciers.

A mini-science lesson is in order here. We humans have a natural tendency to blame an effect on the wrong cause. Go back to events in history. Why did people burn poor innocent ladies at the stake for witchcraft when this was a popular illusion? This shows the power of mass hysteria in influencing our popular thought.

This illogical tendency of human nature is the reason we need to use science properly. I have just taken you through a simple science lesson. Before this mini-science lesson, many of you thought our carbon dioxide emissions were causing our glaciers to melt. Now you can see this was an illogical conclusion.

Something, indeed, is causing our glaciers to melt but it is not carbon dioxide. I have not suggested an answer to why our glaciers are melting. I have only shown that our carbon dioxide is not the cause.

I do this to illustrate to you a very important principle of science. You can negate a hypothesis even though you may not be expert enough to develop the hypothesis. Neither do you need to develop an alternative hypothesis in order to falsify a hypothesis.

For example, I am not qualified in the medical profession. However, I and you are qualified to realize a medical hypothesis is wrong if a claimed cure for a disease regularly kills the patient. Nor do we need to develop an alternative “cure” in order to negate the hypothesis.

For the second part of this mini-science lesson, note how the scientific method works.

Here are the steps:

  1. The hypothesis was human produced carbon dioxide causes glaciers to melt.
  2. The prediction of this hypothesis is that glacier melting should be related to our emissions of carbon dioxide, increasing as we emit more carbon dioxide.
  3. The test is to look at data to see if this prediction is true.
  4. The data shows the prediction is false.
  5. Therefore, the hypothesis has been falsified.

If our ancestors applied the scientific method before they burned “witches” they would have saved many innocent ladies.

Today, we need to save ourselves. We need to understand a little about how our atmosphere works. This will show us that our emissions of carbon dioxide have nothing to do with global warming.

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