An essay by Talkeetna resident Bill Was,
from his blog at talkeetnatraces.com
In the wake of the UN sponsored meetings in Paris covering climate change once again the ‘news’ – and I use this term very loosely – is abuzz with the gamut of views from outright denial to fanatical following. I concur that the earth’s climate appears to be warming but I remain very unsure as to what part human beings have played in this scenario especially as versed with how much of this change stems from some naturally occurring geologic pattern or meteorologically based shifts.
And I remain uneasy about the massive programs so many countries want to undertake in an attempt to cut greenhouse gas production; my unease stems for the simple fact that regardless of what ‘science’ claims to know regarding the evolution of the earth we still have almost no understanding of long term climate cycles on our planet let alone the rhythms and influences of things like solar output cycles and shifts in the earth’s magnetic field. This entire topic remains one of the most hotly contested battlegrounds today and that is because this topic was among the first to have factual information distorted almost constantly by polar opposite ideologies and political influences. In this sense once more our lame-stream media has failed to do its job and has, indeed, done more to muddy the waters than offer any clear, concise perspectives into climate change concerns. More than anything else we need to get politics out of the scientific realm and allow science as done by scientists to continue to research this scenario.
I understand that one or two or even three years does not a trend establish and this is exceptionally true regarding weather patterns which require data from hundreds of years to even begin to substantiate a ‘trend’ yet I must admit to having seen a definite warming in the Alaskan conditions during my 30 months of living in semi-rural south central Alaska. While the increase in warmth has been observed across the calendar year it is most noticeable in our winters. A case in point was November of 2015; we started off the month with the ongoing slightly above normal temps but we soon began to see multiple snow events which dropped around 26” of snow before a brief albeit strong cold spell settled in. As it began to mitigate we saw another snow event which dropped around 12” of new snow in this area. But right on its heels came an unwanted warm up; we saw 78 consecutive hours during which we never dropped to 32.0°F and across one of those days I measured 1.19” of rain. This period decimated the 35.2” snow pack leaving just 21” of saturated snow which, with the return of more seasonable temps, turned to slippery, rock hard ice.
While I have no long term history in this area I have spent many hours perusing the data compiled by NWS and other agencies so I do have some feeling for what a ‘typical’ Talkeetna winter has involved across the last 60 to 75 years. In addition I’ve spoken at length to many locals who have spent decades if not their entire lives in this area. Without question the general consensus is the winters of 2013 to 2014 and 2014 to 2015 were extremely warm and fairly dry. This is borne out by NWS records showing the winter of 2014 to 2015 was the warmest on record for most of Alaska with the previous winter a very close second. In my mind there are two main contributors to these mild seasons; the long term increase in the water temperature of the northern Pacific Ocean which is currently 2°F above its normal temperature and the record sized El Nino off the coast of South America. It is not just the existence of these events but the effects they have on so many other factors like air density, moisture content, prevailing winds and the Jet Stream to name but a few. While many of these areas have been studied for quite a while we still lack a true understanding of why El Nino generally causes more winter moisture in California while decreasing the moisture in the Midwest. We infer these deductions by reviewing the data collected but any attempts to explain the mechanisms of these scenarios remain just theories.
And herein lies the real challenge to so many of the statements made by ‘learned’ men regarding the climate change situation; all are based on inference and/or logical positivism. While correlations drawn from reputable datum can be powerfully persuasive they remain just that: correlations or inferences which cannot be stated as completely factual without also understanding how and why they occur. Sadly, so it is with so much of what has been presented to the world in general and to the American public in particular. Yet somehow the very functions which should be recognizing these situations and delving more deeply into their basis and foundation – the so called ‘Fifth Estate’ or the news media – have instead anointed the climate change believers ‘those who understand’ while writing off anyone who has doubts as being deluded, living in denial or just stupid. Once again, this is what happens when politics are allowed to enter into the scientific realm. It doesn’t take a genius to understand so many researchers rely on outside funding to continue their work of which the federal government is prominent as are the large, multi-national corporations. Politics embody having an agenda and when this mingles with the funding from such major contributors the push to support said agenda cannot be denied. This, in turn, can and does lead to results which are not ‘acceptable’ being quashed in favor of those in agreement with the funding body’s agenda. And suddenly science is no longer ‘science’…
So once more I find myself railing against the intervention of politics into pure scientific research; it is fraught with powerful potential negatives and I cannot find one positive in so doing. Far too many of today’s pressing issues are of enough import we cannot allow the ongoing research to be influenced regardless of the results. But ‘we the People’ continue to allow this to happen as though it is the way it has always been which is not true. The United States should be taking the lead in pushing for independent means of financing research free from governmental bodies or the deep pockets of giant corporations. And the heretofore useless lame-stream media should be doing their job and questioning all results, not just those that do not agree with their agendas!
Scientific Truths vs. Political Agendas, by Bill Was