Monday, February 19, 2007

What a "Consensus" of Scientists Can Do

In the 1970's, a consensus of oceanographers and environmental scientists agreed that placing old tires in the ocean would be a good idea. It would provide artificial reefs for marine life and free up space in crowded landfills.

Now the tires are creating an ecological disaster. Sea critters are not building on the tires in significant amounts. The tires are either degrading, with pieces of rubber scattered throughout the oceanscape, or coming loose completely, littering the beaches and ocean floor for thousands of square miles.

The "experts" who advocated the idea now react with a shrug. Ray McAllister, a professor of ocean engineering at Florida Atlantic University who was instrumental in organizing a project in Florida, said: "I look back now and see it was a bad idea." Meanwhile, government money is being spent to try to repair the ecological disaster.

This vividly illustrates what happens when a so-called "consensus" of experts determines a solution based on a faulty premise. The remedy is worse than the original problem, and the experts walk away, leaving the rest of us to clean up their mess.
This should make all the global warming conspiracy fanatics pause and consider what the consequences of their "solutions" might be. As I often tell my children, "Consensus does not mean correctness."

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