Friday, November 04, 2005

Iron Maiden Can Teach Us Nothing About Conditions in the Pleistocene or Cretaceous Epochs

In a time when dinosaurs walked the earth
When the land was swamp and caves were home
In an age when prize possession was fire
To search for landscapes men would roam. - Iron Maiden

Yeah, well, they're not perfect.

Though the the Irons should be given the benefit of the doubt, since this song was based on the bestselling book Quest for Fire, which was later made into a a godawful movie. I have thankfully experienced neither the book or the movie, so I can't tell you whether or not the anachronistic juxtaposition of humans roaming the earth at the same time as dinosaurs was imported directly from the book, or if Steven Harris just had a brain fart.

Ah. But therein lies the lesson.

Yes, this is another post about global warming bullshit.

Actually, Atomizer attacked the junk science aspect quite nicely here (as a condition of KAR being included on "Atomizer's A-List," we are required to occasionally link to his posts. And - hey - someone's got to do it). His required-reading piece concludes thus:

Prince Charles said yesterday that climate change is the "greatest challenge to face man". I fear that the greatest challenge to face man may actually be those who brandish embellished and contrived weather statistics.

And I would add, right before "weather statistics," "woefully incomplete."

Because you see, in the context of a planet that is somewhere around 4 billion years old, the fact that the average temperature of our orb has ticked up one degree centigrade in the past 130 years is of little scientific significance. And there are few tools at our disposal that can be used to determine climate conditions hundreds of years ago - let alone thousands. [RUN-ON SENTENCE ALERT] The best of these methods being ice cores, of which test results amount to little more than highly-localized atmospheric gas ratios that don't tell us a whole lot about average global temperatures over a period of years, since they can only be done in a place where ice has existed for a long period.

So, to take us back to Iron Maiden's lyrical gaffe: let's say I wanted to determine whether or not the obvious anachronism in that song came from the book, or from the lyricist who adapted it. Let's further posit that all copies of Quest for Fire, in both its book and film form, have long ceased to exist. And everyone involved with making that song is dead.

How would I go about answering my question? How can I discover something that has happened in the long (or even recent) past, if the event I am trying to explore has left so little residue?

The global warming people would have you believe it was Steve Harris' fault, and insist you leave it at that.

And then they would insist you respect them, because they're "scientists".

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