Killer salt and other ‘scientific’ disasters

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Climate change is going to kill your grandkids? You might want to take that “science” with a grain of salt — literally.

Some of you probably missed it, but the Centers for Disease Control announced earlier this month that consuming reasonable amounts of salt is not dangerous at all, despite decades of “science” claiming that salting up your steak and potatoes was tantamount to a death sentence.

That doesn’t mean you can now mainline Diamond Crystal. Just like anything — even water — if you put way too much of it in the human body, it’s going to be bad for you. But Uncle Joe can stop worrying about being rushed to the ER whenever he gets the urge to be decadent and eat SALTED popcorn!

In fact, the CDC has concluded that everyone ought to be eating between 1 1/2 and 3 teaspoons of salt per day. If you have been eating less than a teaspoon of salt a day, you may in fact be harming yourself.

Does this mean we are going to be seeing a spate of malpractice lawsuits filed against doctors who have been putting their patients on low-salt diets with as little as half a teaspoon of sodium per day?

Um, probably not, but it ought to at least teach us that “accepted science” is unbelievably fluid. What science tells us is incontrovertible fact today may well be an old wives’ tale by tomorrow.

Which brings us back to global warming, also known as climate change. Every day there is some story about how horrible life on Earth is now that the average temperature has edged up a half degree since 1980. Any bad weather events since then are used to buttress the argument that CO2 and other atmospheric gases created by industrialization have mucked up our planet and turned it into a Syfy Channel disaster-movie of the week.

Meanwhile, any evidence of normalization or positive effects on the climate is dismissed as anecdotal or irrelevant. For instance, in the 12 years since 2001, the global mean temperature over land and ocean has, well... (get ready for it)... remained steady. Hard to see the disaster in that.

It’s also hard to explain how industrialization is to blame for rising temperatures when you look at the long picture since 1880. In the early decades of the Industrial Revolution, as those smokestacks started to belch black carbon into the atmosphere, global temperatures actually declined until about 1910. Then, sure enough, they did increase from 1910 to 1940. But from 1940 to 1980 in the post-war era of global industrial expansion, temperatures remained more or less steady, actually declining slightly. You don’t have to believe me, you can believe the people who are warning you about how horrible global warming is. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a convenient chart for you to study here: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/service/global/global-land-ocean-mntp-anom/201201-201212.png (I’ll link it to the online version of this story at www.dailyinterlake.com.)

Now, no one is going to deny that global temperatures increased from 1980 to 2000, but if it was due to CO2 and industrialization, then why did the temperature rise stop at the turn of the century? After all, there is more carbon than ever shooting skyward since China and other less regulated countries have taken over the lion’s share of manufacturing from the pollution-conscious Western nations.

So isn’t it possible that we are in the midst of cyclical fluctuations that are largely a result of natural forces over which mankind has little or no control? At the very least, isn’t it possible that climate scientists have over-reached when proclaiming certainty about global warming just as their cousins the medical scientists did when declaring salt to be a deadly sin?

The argument that the earth is dangerously warming is, of course, nothing new. But perhaps a level of humility should be called for. Consider, for instance, this familiar plaintive  cry from a newspaper in Indiana:

“That unusual and unaccounted for influences are at work to bring about a change of climatic conditions in various parts of the world, there is scientific proof. Even in Indiana..., remarkably unwinterish conditions have prevailed for sometime, and even the oldest inhabitants admit that the conditions are something remarkable. To show that the whole world is passing through a possible adjustment or readjustment of the climate is clearly described in a report that is sent out from Washington, D.C. The report says that the Arctic regions seem to be warming up in certain portions and growing colder in others, and as conditions there affect weather all over the earth, experts at the United States Weather Bureau are endeavoring to solve the mystery.”

All well and good, except for the fact that this “mystery” had been launched in 1923 when the editorial writer for the Logansport Pharos-Tribune issued his warning. Kind of spooky how even then, global warming was conflated with “climate change” that allowed for the world to worry about both increased cold and increased warm temperatures.

In Bridgeport, Conn., that same year, a news story ran that worried about the “North Pole Melting” and told of disappearing ice caps and difficult changes for various fishes, seals, polar bears and even Eskimos.

“This state of affairs is a cause of much surprise and even astonishment to scientists, who wonder whether the change is merely temporary or the beginning of a great alteration of climatlc conditions in the Arctic with consequent melting of the polar ice sheet,” the news story in the Bridgeport Telegram pondered.

Fortunately for us, we don’t have to wonder. The change was TEMPORARY. In fact, it was so temporary that 30 years later, in 1952, Dr. R.A. Dightman of the U.S. Weather Bureau and M.E. Beatty, chief naturalist in Glacier National Park were warning that we might be entering a new Ice Age. Why? Because Grinnell Glacier had exhibited a remarkable growth of 25 feet in 1951.

You and I can easily dismiss the importance of that one-shot change in one glacier, but at the time, the story was headlined “Next Ice Age May Already Be Started.”

With the benefit of hindsight and a properly skeptical outlook, it should probably have said, “Scientists go out on limb — again — and limb breaks — again.”

Yes, it is entirely possible that the earth is growing warmer. Back in 1941, George Gamow, the famous professor of theoretical physics, wrote a book called “Biography of the Earth” in which he predicted that  our planet is indeed in a warming period — one that will last until the year 20,000 A.D.! But this had nothing to do with smokestacks or industrialization. It was just the long wait for the next Ice Age, which Gamow thought would kick in about 50,000 A.D. entirely due to natural forces.

I appreciate the good intentions of all those scientists who think they can prevent global warming by shutting down our civilization, but if Gamow was correct, then the road to the next Ice Age is going to be paved with 48,000 years of scientists’ good intentions. And it’s going to be a cold day in hell before they ever admit they were wrong.

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