Written by James E. Kamis on 07January2015
Given time and new data many seemingly “proven” scientific theories are shown to be…well just plain wrong. Others are shown to be only partially correct, and in need of significant modification. One striking modern example is the Geological Theory of Isostasy proposed in 1889 by American geologist Clarence Dutton.
This theory stated that less dense continental rocks (“Lithosphere”) floated on top of more dense ocean floor rocks (“Asthenosphere”). Isostasy was a buoyancy theory: continents were thought to be in gravitational balance with the underlying ocean rock layers which were theorized to extend under the continents.
Until 1955 this theory was accepted as “proven” by all geologists, supported by large amounts of data, taught at all universities, and published in all major geological text books. During my early geological career it was the reining theory and no one even considered seriously challenging it. After all it was the “consensus theory”, fully supported by all respected Geologists.
A mountainous amount of research and associated data was essentially force-fitted into this theory. Geological features such as lateral (side sliding) faults, like the giant California San Andres, that that did not perfectly fit into the up and down Isostasy Theory were dismissed as irrelevant or explained away in a complicated fashion. Isostasy was considered proven, and therefore no need to consider alternative theories
During this time period German Meteorologist Alfred Wegener proposed an alternative explanation. In 1912 he proposed the Theory of Continental Drift in a now-famous lecture and in three publications. Wegener recognized that the continents could be re-fit together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
This new theory was met with skepticism by all respected geologists and geological associations, for instance the AAPG (American Association of Petroleum Geologists). AAPG released formal statements in the press opposing this new theory saying “the Oceanic Crust was too firm to simply plow through.”
Undeterred, Wegener continued his research and observations, this time utilizing a multi-discipline approach compiling data and ideas from the sciences of geology, biology, paleontology, geography, and meteorology to refine his Continental Drift Theory.
In 1915, he published The Origin of Continents and Oceans. In this publication, he theorized that the continents had drifted together at one point, forming a Super Continent he named Pangea.
Starting in the mid 1950’s geologists began to realize that large amounts of new data and geological observations simply did not fit into the Isostasy Theory, however they did seem to fit into the Continental Drift Theory. Slowly at first, new information such as the fact that the ocean floor rocks were much younger than the Continental Rocks, convinced geologists to at least consider the Continental Drift Theory.
Then it happened: magnetic surveys of the ocean floor rocks taken in the 1960s showed that huge portions of the earth’s upper crust were emerging from thousand-mile-long deep-ocean fissures and moving outward laterally. Wegener was proven correct. Continents did drift sideways and collide together.
The Theory of Continental Drift was renamed the Theory of Plate Tectonics.
Sadly, Alfred Wegener died in 1931, too late to see his theory borne out.
So what, if anything, can be learned from the experience? Many things:
- When data and observations don’t fit perfectly into a supposedly “proven” theory, it’s time to consider alternate explanations.
- Be cautious of blindly accepting “consensus theories” that are being constantly readjusted / modified in complicated fashions.
- Utilize a multidisciplinary approach.
- Be slow to dismiss new theories that have possibilities.
Now to a comparison of the two Climate Theories: Anthropogenic Global Warming and Plate Climatology.
First, the reigning “consensus” theory of global warming does not explain many of the current climate trends and climate-related events:
- The atmosphere has not been warming for over 18 years even though atmospheric CO2 content has been increasing.
- Ocean temperatures have risen during certain periods and in certain geographic regions during the atmospheric “warming pause”.
- Polar Ice mass is increasing, not decreasing.
- Limited portions of the Polar Ice Caps are proven to be melting from geologically induced geothermal heat flow.
- Sea level is not rising as predicted. In some interpretations of the sea level data, it has not been rising since 2004.
- Worldwide continental Alpine Glacier Ice mass is not decreasing at predicted rates.
- Global warming models are not working and in a constant state of readjustment.
- Atmospheric CO2 content increased after decade-long warming periods in the past, not before.
- Historic climate related events such as the California drought are proven to not be related to atmospheric warming, rather local ocean warming.
- El Nino’s are not well explained by atmospheric warming.
- Sea surface high-temperature anomalies can sometimes be related to deep ocean Rift Systems.
To be perfectly clear, the incongruities listed above do not conclusively prove that the global warming theory is incorrect. It does, however, conclusively prove that it is way past time to consider alternative theories.
Next the Plate Climatology theory, which does provide a plausible explanation for each of the incongruities listed above. The reader is directed to “here” for details of the theory of Plate Climatology.
Also it just makes common sense that if major geological plate boundaries (Rift Systems and Subduction Zones) have the power to move continents two to three centimeters per year, frequently create large tsunamis that mix thousands of feet of ocean column, support vast chemo-synthetic communities, and contain 70% of the planets known active volcanoes, they can certainly and easily influence our climate in a dramatic fashion.
Wegener understood this power. Let’s take a cue from the historical development of his Continental Drift theory and at least consider the “non-consensus” Plate Climatology Theory. Is it proven? Not yet, but the evidence is mounting that it might be correct. Since the creation of this theory ten years ago, new data and research has proven that many of the basic tenants of the theory are plausible, maybe even probable.
As Wegener once said, “Only by combing the information furnished by all the Earth sciences, everybody working together, can we hope to find truth. We have to be prepared for the possibility that each new discovery may modify the conclusions we draw.”