Guest Post by Caleb Shaw
Preface: Climate Scientists and School Girls – A humorous description of a layman trying to investigate the little bubbles in ice cores, involving both the actual science, and a layman’s amazement over the politics.
My last layman’s paper generated a wonderful and polite peer-review from WUWT readers, teaching me a great deal, not the least of which was that I should avoid using the word “pneumatic” when I mean “hydraulic.” It is in the hopes of receiving a similar polite response that I will venture to ask some questions about a Climate Gospel, even though it is a Climate Gospel that earns most questioners a severe pummeling.
I will attempt to be cheerfully naïve, however in some situations that is not enough. A Texan can be cheerful and naïve all he wants, but, when he is making cheeseburgers out of a Holy Cow in a Hindu village, he is liable to find he has a riot on his hands. There are some things Thou Shall Not Do. Sometimes Thou Shall Not Even Question.
My questions involve those little bubbles in ice cores. It may seem a harmless subject, but those little bubbles are a basement upon which a great many papers have been written, and upon which a great many grants depend. Dare you question the little bubbles, and all sorts of hell breaks lose.
In fact if you poke around the subject of those little bubbles your don’t-go-there alarm will start to go off, along with your I-don’t-have-time-for-this alarm, (if you have one.) However sometimes a man’s got to do what he least wants to do.
As anyone who has raised teenaged daughters understands, there are times when you have “to go there,” despite the fact your don’t-go-there alarm is blaring, and times you have to make time, even though your I-don’t-have-time-for-this alarm is howling.
Daughters teach a man that, despite all efforts to ban bullying and legislate spirituality, ostracism remains mysteriously crucial to schoolgirl adolescence, and the same daughter who was sobbing about being ostracized on Monday may be gleaming with glee over a nemesis being ostracized on Tuesday. Fathers often have to make sense of this emotional and blatant hypocrisy, even if it means turning off the TV just before the big game.
You may be wondering what this has to do with little bubbles in ice caps. I don’t blame you, but bear with me.
Please notice that, in the above example, it is the daughters doing the teaching. They are teaching their fathers about wild swings of emotion involved with having a non-scientific and supposedly irrational thing called “a heart.”
Scientists don’t like being compared with schoolgirls, because, in humanity’s constant battle to balance the heart and head, Science represents the purified essence of the head. However just because Science focuses on the head does not mean Scientists have no hearts. “If you prick them, do they not bleed?”
The only thing a scientist is suppose to be passionate about is being dispassionate, however in their quieter moments most will confess there have been times they’ve failed to be totally objective, and have slapped themselves on the forehead because they were blind to some obvious truth staring them in the face. However even this humbleness underscores an egotism they have about being more objective than most people. Also, if anyone is going to slap their forehead, they prefer it to be themselves. They don’t like it one bit when you compare them with schoolgirls. They get all emotional if you accuse them of being emotional.
Nothing makes people angry faster than accusing them of being angry when they’re not. A calm, peaceful soul can be reduced to frothing and to spitting snakes, because no one likes being falsely accused. You can get them even madder if , after you have angered them by accusing them of being angry when they weren’t, you look smug and say, “See? I told you that you were angry.”
Scientists are no different, and if you tweak them in the right way, then they, who are so focused on the head, will lose their heads and demonstrate they have tremendous hearts. Sometimes the revealed heart is tremendously good, but sometimes it is tremendously otherwise.
Scientists do not like being tweaked in this manner, because that is not what science is all about. Raving is beneath the dignity of science. However, when politics enters the hallowed halls of science, scientists get tweaked plenty, for study is no longer funded for its intrinsic value. A scientist may abruptly be defunded due to an election. Men are jarred awake in their Ivory Towers, as they are confronted by a mentality befitting thirteen-year-old schoolgirls: It matters who is “in” and who is “out.”
Therefore, despite all my shortcoming concerning Physics classes I never took, (or preferred to spend dreaming out the window during,) I do have an understanding others lack, as I approach the delicate subject of little bubbles in an icecap’s ice, because I have been the father of schoolgirls, and know the politics of ostracization and marginalization, and what such things do to the human heart and to human tempers.
One can study both the little bubbles, and also the path to marginalization, by taking a hard look at the travails of Zbigniew Jaworowski.
And also looking at a paper he wrote:
A quick perusal of Jaworoski’s paper taught me that all sorts of complex chemistry may (or may not) being going on in those innocent little bubbles, but most of the chemistry was over my head. Not that I couldn’t understand, if I put my mind to it, but I actually had some simple questions, and, until I got those simple questions answered, it seemed I’d be getting ahead of myself if I tackled the complex chemistry.
Therefore I headed to Wikipedia. Not that I trust it as a source, but it often has links to truer sources, and one hopes Wikipedia gets the most basic facts right.
However even in terms of the most basic facts I seemed to be getting a wide variety of answers. For example, how long does it take fluffy snow to be compacted to ice with little bubbles in it? The answers I got ranged from sixty to five-thousand years.
Likely this variance occurred due to the fact Antarctica includes some areas of very dry desert, where snow accumulates very slowly, whereas Greenland is subject to Atlantic gales, and snow can accumulate very quickly. However it was unclear which data-set was being referred to, and that made things rough for a layman like myself. I had to keep switching back and forth from source to source, and then, when I went back to find an important link at the Wikipedia source, “Greenland ice cores,” just a week ago, I found it had vanished, and instead there was this message:
06, 12 September 2011 Timothy’s Cannes (talk | contrib.) deleted “Greenland ice cores” (Mass deletion of pages created by Marshallsumter: questionable creation by now-indeffed editor: see
As a scientific researcher, my conclusion at this point was, “Oh, Drat.”
Unless you are the sort who rushes in where angels fear to tread, do not, I repeat, DO NOT go to that Wikipedia message board. I only went because I wanted to see what ice core data “Mashallsumter” got wrong. As far as I could tell from the morass I waded out into, the reason “Greenland ice cores” was deleted had nothing to do with the data on that page, but rather had to do with some strange beliefs “Mashallsumter” was expressing, and strange research he was involved with, elsewhere in the Wiki-world.
I didn’t much want to know about the fellow’s beliefs and activities, as it seemed to have very little to do with little bubbles in ice, but I couldn’t help notice the marvelous effort that was made to throw “Mashallsumter” from the hallowed halls of Wiki. He was found guilty of both the crime of being original, and the crime of copying. (What is the third alternative?) In any case, “Greenland ice cores” was history, and was history in a hurry, and was deleted history, which hardly counts as history because you can’t find it.
At this point I almost gave up my research, because it occurred to me that something about the study of little bubbles in ice cores makes people weird. I did not want to become weird. However my wife reassured me I had nothing to fear, because I already am weird, and that gave me the courage to forge onwards.
part two tomorrow…