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PARADIGM SHIFT IN CLIMATE SCIENCE

Like understanding in other fields of science, climate has had phases, punctuated by crises of individual scientists’ faith, with breakdown and replacement, referred to as ‘paradigm shifts’*.

PARADIGM 1 Until 1945

Our understanding of climate was of regular procession of the seasons. Extreme events were divinely caused. Conditions and climates would continue favourably by prayer, diligent duty and sacrifice. 

PARADIGM 2 1946 – 1987

With scientific understanding, the behaviour of the atmosphere, oceans and earth became predictable causes of weather but variations in climate statistics were understood only superficially. Another ice age was possible. Weather forecasts were uncertain within days and speculative further ahead. Energy supply was managed by laissez-faire economic supply and demand. Scientific theories were tested by experiment. There was no possibility of changing climates, although there were experiments to increase rainfall by cloud seeding.

PARADIGM 3 1988 – ?

Pollutant gases seemed linked to climate after a ‘hole’ in the ozone layer was claimed to have been repaired by limiting accidental release of chlorofluorocarbons, having a catalytic effect on ozone. When there seemed to be polar ice melting, glacier retreat and higher sea levels, global warming was attributed to greenhouse gases, especially by the increase in carbon dioxide from fossil fuels combustion. When science theories could not be tested, credible assertion and modelling that explained adjusted data was accepted. Energy supply became controlled by governments. Worldwide restructuring of energy supply without fossil fuels turned to renewable energy, especially from solar and wind. Reduction of energy consumption was not considered.

PARADIGM 4 2021 – ?

The link between global warming and fossil fuel combustion is realized tenuous. Increasing carbon dioxide in air has other possible explanations and in any case its effect is non-catalytic, benign and its warming effect is unsubstantiated. Warming by other combustion products, heat and water vapour, can no longer be ignored. Carbon dioxide is recognised to be benign. Renewable energy is realised to cause warming equal to or greater than fossil fuels. To prevent global warming, energy use should be scaled back if possible in industry and all other human activities, especially in high energy-using countries such as Australia; Canada; USA; Europe.

*The term ‘paradigm shift’ is explained in Godfrey-Smith, Theory and Realist, An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science, 2003. My coming novel ‘Animal Farm 2’ explains these views https://martinknox.com

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