No. of Recommendations: 58

This is probably too long, and I didn't want it to get buried in that lenghthy thread about global warming, so I'm starting a new post. First off, I'm a chemistry professor, and I was a little surprised to see a global warming thread take on such a life here at the RE boards. Since there were a LOT of misconceptions being tossed back and forth in several posts, and I want to help clear some of them up.

If there's one thing that irks me as a scientist, it's junk science!! Junk science thrives, lives and breeds on two things; ignorance and fear. As a professor, I have the pleasure of eliminating one of those two things in the students I teach. By learning, you crumble the barriers of ignorance.

I'm sure many of you took chemistry in school, and in some (many?) cases it was done so against your will. But chemistry (and science in general) is an absolutely wonderful subject, and what it teaches a student is that the world works in a simple, systematic and consistent way. Yes, there are arcane rules, vocabulary, equations, and other oddities that make chemistry sometimes difficult to master, but simply learning the basics allows people to make informed decisions on a wide variety of issues. Don't be afraid of chemistry!! It doesn't bite :-)

I'm sure that many of you have already heard about an underground movement to ban dihydrogen monoxide, the unregulated material that is fully or partially responsible for a variety of maladies. To wit.

extreme inhalation causes hundreds of deaths each year
primary component in acid rain
property damage runs in the billions of dollars each year
found in tumors and cancer cells
solvent of alcoholic beverages
carbonic acid mixtures are sold over the counter get the idea.

Anyway, this "unregulated material" is simply water. Dihydrogen (or two = "di" + hydrogen or.....H2, + one "mono" oxygen "oxide" or O = H2O). While everyone knows what H2O is, putting fancy words like dihydrogen monoxide stops people cold, they don't think about it. By the way...

rain IS water, acidic or otherwise
flooding and torrential rain
water is in EVERY living thing, not JUST tumors and cancer cells
solvent is a fancy way of saying the primary component

This is one of those "junk science" experiments that drive me crazy.

Please keep this in mind when you read the paper, a web site, listen to the news or overhear a conversation......those sources are not peer reviewed!! Peer review is perhaps the most important component to scientific research. WEB SITES ARE NOT PEER REVIEWED. I failed a student one semester because a paper written for the class was supported completely with web site references (failed the paper). This is NOT an appropriate medium for publication in the sciences (unless the site is administered by an appropriate scientific publishing firm). Only peer reviewed journal articles are appropriate for dissemination of scientific results.

The peer review process begins when a scientist wishes to publish research findings in a journal. That scientist documents the experiments run, conditions, trials, data, etc. and draws conclusions based on the evidence obtained. Once written, it is submitted to the appropriate journal, where the manuscript is sent to other experts in that field of science who are best able to judge the work. Those "peers" examine the material and judge whether or not the manuscript is worth publishing. The reviewer(s) can disagree with any part of the paper, including the conclusions. This is the greatest benefit of the peer review process; it catches mistakes BEFORE publication. Web sites, newspapers, TV news etc. have no such mechanism and are MUCH more likely to be "agenda oriented" than a peer reviewed journal publication

Also keep in mind that scientific results can be interpreted in more than one way. If there are two plausible conclusions that could be drawn from data, a reviewer might suggest additional experiments to eliminate one conclusion over another. The reviewer and author could agree to disagree. In the end, a peer reviewed article has withstood the scrutiny of the review process, and the results contained within are the most believable.

Remember, the best way to defeat those with an agenda is to understand when they are trying to pull the wool over your eyes. Be skeptical, ask yourself why is this one group saying one thing while another group is saying something else. BTW, the answer is usually money.

As for the issue of global warming...I think the jury is still out on this one. Temperature data for 100 years (which DOES indicate a warmer planet) is hardly a blip on the radar screen when you consider the earth has been around for 5 billion years. While ice samples and other geologic "time stamps" give some evidence of global condiditions as far back as perhaps 100,000 years, they aren't absolutely definitive, and 100,000 years on a geologic time scale is still only but a blip.

Has man had an impact on Earth? Absolutely. Can we say with a high degree of certainty precisely what that impact is, or more importantly, what that impact will be in the future? No.

Have a great day everybody.

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They lost me when some countries would be allowed "Greenhouse Gas Credits" to keep on doing what they are doing[clear cut burning, inefficient industries, coal burning, etc...]while the US freezes in the pitch dark, economy in shambles.

This topic is only relevant because of the potential for huge negative impact on your/our prospective 4.4% withdrawal rates.

When I do finally retire, I don't want to sweat in a dead hothouse like Charlton Heston in "Solyent Green", nor do I want to live in CroMagnon like conditions because Greenpeace says so.....

What scares me is the one-sidedness of the American Academic community. I do know something about Design of Experiments, critical thinking, etc and it seems that the Scientists who are hesitant to embrace the Global Warming Doctrine are branded as outcasts. So far the GW bunch have not proven their case to me.

Theo:"it's made outta PEEEEEE-PLE!!!!!!!!"
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So far the GW bunch have not proven their case to me.

Do you have an idea of how they could?
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Thanks for the thoughts. But I thought the "dihydrogen monoxide" web sites, etc. ("This is one of those "junk science" experiments that drive me crazy") were a joke, not junk science. Did I get a joke that wasn't there?

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<<So far the GW bunch have not proven their case to me.

Do you have an idea of how they could?

No --- it's an Act of Faith.

Seattle Pioneer
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It's a joke AND junk science. That's what bothers me so much. There's nothing technically wrong with any of the statements, but unless you "know the punchline", you fall for the junk science. It demonstrates how someone who DOES have an agenda can spin anything into a positive (or negative) light.
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I wish you'd been my chemistry professor-- you make sense.\

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