Tuesday, February 14, 2006

We're All Ignorant

I had a Professor once who enjoyed pointing out that anytime people make a "best guess" or average line, it means that they're just ignorant, and don't really know what the hell they're talking about; or rather, don't know all the variables in the system they are dealing with.

Nowhere is that more evident than in Climate study, where even when we think we know stuff we're usually wrong.

Take, for example, this story. See, in the 1980s it was found the CFCs (the stuff that used to be in hair spray and refridgerators) were really, really bad for ozone, and that our ozone layer was being destoryed. So the whole world stoppped using CFCs. Amazing, right? Well, recently the ozone layer has picked back up slightly, and most people concluded that this proves the dramatic effect humans can have on the environment. But wait!
The model indicates that the apparent slowdown of ozone loss during the late 1990's most likely resulted from a maximum in solar intensity rather than from the ban on CFCs, the team reported 8 February in Geophysical Research Letters.

Yes folks, it turns out that it probably wasn't humans causing a hole in the ozone, just the sun going through its normal cycles.

Like I said, we're all just ignorant.

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