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When Judaism Meets Science

 

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Posts Tagged ‘uncertainties’

When Judaism Meets Global Warming (Parts 1-3/4)

Monday, July 12, 2021 @ 11:07 AM
posted by Roger Price
Image Credit: NASA Glenn Research Center

PART I — CLIMATE SCIENCE IS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE. IT IS MUCH HARDER.

Science is a process. At its best, it observes, inquires, hypothesizes, predicts, tests, measures, evaluates, and explains the reality in which we appear to live. But science is uneven. It deals with some phenomena better than others.

For instance, with exceptional accuracy, physics can determine the daily rotation of our home planet, the Earth, and its yearly orbit around our host star, the Sun. It can tell us when constellations will appear in the sky each year and when and where less frequent eclipses, both solar and lunar, will become visible and then fade from view.

Through chemistry we understand the natural elements that make up our world and the reaction of one element with one or more other elements under defined pressures and temperatures. Through chemistry we can make the steel and concrete that help us build structures for housing, education, and entertainment, and for manufacturing, distribution, and acquisition, that is, the structures that enable and define modern life.  

The world of biology is more challenging in that life forms do not operate with the regularity of planetary rotations or orbits or the interaction of chemicals under specified conditions. We can trace the past evolution of species, but we cannot predict with any certainty how they will develop in the future. We can test newly developed drugs in controlled double blind experiments involving humans in order to determine the general safety and efficacy of those drugs, but we cannot predict with certitude what, if any, adverse reactions will affect a particular individual or when.  

Compared to physics, chemistry, and biology, climate science is a relatively new science. Even at its most basic level, it deals with complex phenomena such as temperatures on Earth, both on land and in the oceans, but also in the various gaseous layers above the planetary surface to outer space itself. In contrast to a focus on short terms weather activities, climate scientists define their subject matter –– the climate –– as the average of weather over time, typically a period of thirty years. (Steven Koonin, Unsettled, 27.)

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