Two Science Myths that still show up in Science Fiction
by, June 15th, 2010 at 05:46 PM (450 Views)
Just the other day I was reading a science fiction story that had recently been published that used a disproven theory as a plot point. Science fiction readers tend to be smarter than the average reader, so I was a little surprised to see this. Most likely the author believed the theory, because he listened to the news instead of examining the science behind the issues for himself.
Here are just a few simple observations anyone can make:
First it was called Global Cooling and scientists warned we were headed for a new ice age. Then it was called Global Warming and scientists warned we were headed for melting ice caps and rising ocean levels. Now it’s called Climate Change because no one is sure which way the temperature is going and to try and distance it from the its previously debunked iterations.
Aside from finding out about the “value added” numbers (ie. totally made up data) and the inconsistencies from its proponents (Al Gore buying a new home in the same spot he claims will soon be flooded, hmmm), historians have pointed out how much warmer the Earth was 1000 ago, and life continued forward just fine.
The book [I]SuperFreakonomics[/I] examines the claims and shows how simple and cheap it is to reverse Global Warming; a volcano undid a century’s worth of warming with one eruption. They also point out that more carbon in the atmosphere leads to increased plant growth with less water, which most people would be considered good.
And in his book, [I]State of Fear[/I], Michael Crichton examines the arguments on both sides and compares Climate Change to Eugenics in the 30s and 40s. He points out both rely on pseudo science, and both seem to be ploys by one group to gain power over another.
This was debunked in the 80s by economists in a stunt known as “The Bet”. Basically, they created a list of minerals in the Earth. If overpopulation were true, then we would run out of these resources, and the price would go up. After ten years, the prices of all items were compared in 1987 dollars, and in EVERY CASE the price in had gone DOWN.
Supporters point to starving people and crowded large cities, but forget to mention how much food is either destroyed (dumping milk in the sewers in Chicago in the late 60s) or unproduced (the government calculates how many oranges will be needed in Florida to meet demand to maintain a given price, and orange growers are given their quotas). Starvation doesn’t occur because food can’t be produced; it occurs because there is money to be had or power to be gained from restricting it.
Supporters also point to the global population growth but forget to mention current estimates say the world population will stop growing well under 10 billion people, a number the Earth can handle with no problem.
[B]What’s the harm?[/B]
Is is bad that these science myths are used to craft interesting stories? No. Most science fiction is based on things that will never happen such as robots taking over the Earth (Terminator) or someone building a time machine in their basement (countless stories).
Really, the only damage comes from people actually believing this. Believing Eugenics led to the Holocaust in Germany and the extermination of 8 million “undesirables”. Climate change could lead to Cap and Trade and Carbon Taxes, all would create economic havoc and do nothing to improve environmental conditions. And overpopulation fears leads to preventing children from being born. Unfortunately, there are people that believe anything they read or see.