EDITOR: | September 28th, 2013 | 2 Comments

Storks, Viagra, provide in-sight to global warming debate

| September 28, 2013 | 2 Comments
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climate-change_1509200cIn 2004, scientists reported that there is a correlation between the birth rate of children and the number of nesting pairs of storks (Hofer et al. 2004; Pediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology 2004, 18, 88–92) which created further confusion between the widely accepted theory that children are generated through sexual reproduction and the alternative theory that deliveries are mediated by storks (Figure 1).

Last week a new report was published by the International Panel on Climate Change about global warming: is the planet warming up or not? Well we scientists are not perfect but the trend is there. The debate has grown so politicized that it influences the outcome of elections or destroys reputations with leaked emails that are no more than whispered innuendos.

Yes, it is important to know if the planet is warming up or not. But it is a phenomenally complicated issue for scientists to figure out and I submit respectfully that the debate stretches the limits of experimental science—granted that many of the great minds of this era are spending massive amount of time studying global warming.

Storks-Climate-Change-DuchesneFor science to prove something without a doubt it needs to conduct experimentation to isolate the putative effect of a given variable. Remember the correlation with storks? Well…so far the dataset proving global warming is of correlative nature—stork like. It does not mean it is wrong, but it means we have to think differently to understand the issue.

Global warming research needs hard evidence from replicated experimentation.

Speaking of hard evidence there are 53 patents filed with US patent office dealing with “erectile dysfunction.” The scientific process for testing a new Viagra-like molecule is fairly simple. To know if a pill does what it is supposed to do, the experimenter must test the pill on two groups of subjects: a group that will take a placebo and a group that will take the real thing. In the best of worlds, none of the subjects know if they’re taking a placebo or the real McCoy. Easy! But with global warming there is no way to really dig into it—Viagra-like. So we are stuck with correlative analyses: incidence of atmospheric carbon dioxide versus polar ice caps in summer… It is so confusing that only a handful of people on earth who can actually understand global warming and explain it to the extent that it does not sound like the storks are promoting Viagra to increase nesting.

If scientists wanted to warn humankind that we are misusing the planet, they have missed the boat with the global warming issue. They should have branded their findings on something simpler, easier to understand. Something that is so close to home that is impossible to ignore, even for an ostrich in the Sahara desert.

Over the last year, millions people have been displaced because of flooding from extreme rainfall events across the world. These would hard pressed to disagree that our climate is changing for the worst.

I am of the opinion together with insurance companies, that climate change may be the most significant event of our age, generating an increased number of extreme weather events like all the normal rainfall of the month of September crashing on you in one single rainfall event as opposed to the normal gloomy day after day rainfall. This has and will continue to have significant effect on our infrastructure, crop productivity, and our homes. In short we have to rebuild everything.

As rule people don’t worry about the nesting habits of storks or Viagra when there is 6 feet of raw sewage in their basement.


Dr. Luc Duchesne

Editor:

Dr. Luc C. Duchesne is a Speaker and Author with a PhD in Biochemistry. With three decades of scientific and business experience, he has published ... <Read more about Dr. Luc Duchesne>


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Comments

  • Tracy Weslosky

    I just called Luc to confirm that indeed he has worked on climate change related issues as a scientist…and to help me translate this piece as my coffee hadn’t kicked in yet.

    His answer was quite intriguing and simple…it’s about the way we think.

    Luc was saying that most people get overwhelmed with the complexities of a sizable challenge such as climate change. This I agree with. In making something as complex as climate change comprehend-able, he recommends that the trick is to identify that this is a substantial and complex multi-tiered issue that unless we think differently, cannot be dealt with.

    The metaphor in this pieces is that in thinking different, we must identify a ‘nugget’ that we relate to and then build an understanding around this. Apparently, many of us instinctively want to understand all of the nuggets, then get overwhelmed – and shut down, ignore or walk away from an issue like…climate change.

    Clearly we cannot.

    September 28, 2013 - 11:32 AM

  • hackenzac

    Meta analysis makes the “correlation” irrefutable. Anthropogenic climate change is at least as strongly correlated as lung cancer is with tobacco and nobody argues against that. Perhaps we should think of the problem in terms of volatility and not temperature with extreme weather serving as better proof positive of increasing volatility. Unfortunately, by the time the densest of us come around to the severity of the issue, the tipping point will be well past. Sequestered arctic and deep ocean methane releasing en masse in the coming years ought to teach us all a lesson in denying evidence.

    September 28, 2013 - 10:05 PM

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