This press release reporting research by scientists at Ohio State, headed by David Bromwich, is a telling study in the relationship between theory and evidence in the global warming debate. Ideally, evidence should be able to count for or against a theory. But when dealing with an intellectual orthodoxy like human-induced, catastrophic global warming, evidence is treated quite differently. The theory functions as an interpretive grid: confirming evidence gets through, disconfirming evidence is explained away.
The report begins: “A new report on climate over the world’s southernmost continent shows that temperatures during the late 20th century did not climb as had been predicted by many global climate models.” This adds to the evidence that Dennis Avery and Fred Singer report in their new book Unstoppable Global Warming. In contrast, there is evidence of warming on the Antarctic Peninsula, which is farther north than most of Antarctica.
So there’s evidence against warming over the largest part of the continent, and there’s evidence for warming over the small, northerly part. The uninitiated might take this to mean that there is still an open debate on the subject of warming in Antarctica. But instead of stating this obvious point, the press release labors to fit the data into the theory. The scientists speculate that the ozone hole and strong winds might make the evidence for global warming more complicated down south. In any case, the theory itself isn’t in dispute:
“Bromwich said the disagreement between climate model predictions and the snowfall and temperature records doesn’t necessarily mean that the models are wrong.
“‘It isn’t surprising that these models are not doing as well in these remote parts of the world. These are global models and shouldn’t be expected to be equally exact for all locations,’ he said.”
It’s hard to have an honest debate about a theory when contradictory evidence is treated not as contradicting the theory, but as justification to look harder for evidence for the theory.