Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Geological-change deniers 1920s : "The unchangeability and predictability of the present is key to yesterday's pay cheque and tomorrow's pension"

thomas chamberlin
Wegener ain't stealin' me PENSION !
Would we be having a debate at all,  about whether it is even possible for the climate to ever change, if 1960s science hadn't finally accepted Alfred Wegener's theory that continental positions can and do change ?

A whole lot of powerful - tired - old men have spent a profitable lifetime defending the idea that while the weather is always changing, the climate never does.  Can't change, in fact.

It is the Rock of Stability upon which they have built their profitable claim that they can predict the limits in the change in weather , against the supposedly historically stable regional climates.

If climate change exists, these tired old men would have to throw away their old textbooks and their present day prestige, to re-learn 70 years of 'weatherman science'.

They are too tired, too old, to do that : but not too old to decry it all as a conspiracy to ruin their well-earned retirement , to call it "junk " science.

Yesterday's  orthodox science is today's "junk" science

Almost a century ago, "earth scientists" felt at least as threatened by new ideas as many of today's weather scientists do.

They raised a lot of false arguments against Alfred Wegener's idea of continental drift (aka Tectonic Plates) but made only one statement that told "The Truth, the Whole Truth and nothing but the Truth".

The tag team of Tom and Rollin Chamberlins , pa and junior , ganged up the hardest on Wegener ----- but then gave the whole show away:

"If we believe Wegener then we must throw away everything that has been learned for 70 years and start all over again !!!!!"

Actually not just the last 70 years of learning : the idea that geology (or any subject area of science) changes unpredictably threatens the attractive idea that scientific events are "predictable by professionals for profit".

Why fund the teaching of something called geology science - why fund its research - why hire and fund its graduates ?

Where does this tree sugar off ? Where, if not for the ultimate profit of big mining and petroleum companies ?

Wegener's ideas about a dynamically uncertain and changing geological crust threatened the ability of publicly-listed corporations to get money from skeptical investors by assuring them we have experts who can predict where the ore or oil field is.

Science professionalization was so new in the 1920s that most of the senior members of each scientific discipline were the first ever persons to be paid full time for performing that discipline.

Scientific pay, prestige, pensions were all still too new and too fragile to let mere (awkward) new scientific truths destroy it all for the old gang.

Martin Henry Dawson's changeable (transformable) bacteria, Harlen Bretz's Missoula floods or Alfred Wegener's continental drift, Paul Dirac's vacuum sea are just some of the new science of the 1920s that severely threatened a scientific world view that reality and nature were fundamentally  "simple, stable and profitably predictable".

All - and more like them - were true and rejected.

Still just as true (but finally accepted)  in the late 1960s : the science hadn't changed a bit, but society - and hence scientists - had.....


  1. "A whole lot of powerful - tired - old men have spent a profitable lifetime defending the idea that while the weather is always changing, the climate never does. Can't change, in fact."

    Wow, that's some strawman ya got there sonny.

    I know of almost no deniers who claim that the climate does not change. In fact deniers holler that the climate has always changed, it changes today and always will change. Its been one of the main denier talking points for decades now.

    So, if the deniers claim that climate always changes, doesn't that leave the alarmists on the 'claimte can't change' side?


  2. Dear Mr Klem :

    I think you will find - on calmer reflection - that all deniers agree that the weather changes constantly and thus the micro-climate changes constantly, but it does so in a *non-progressive* manner, oscillating in a cyclical process within a narrow band of values.

    Warmist argue ,by contrast, that currently the climate is changing, under the influence of humanity's fossil-fueled excesses, in a *progressive* manner towards a general increase in global temperatures.

    Thank you for your comments, I always look forward to them.

    I take it, perhaps from your name and your vocabulary ,that your first language is not English ?