Vox Magazine published, “What Aliens Can Teach Us About Global Warming.” It was linked on Real Clear Energy. (That website is losing slowly, but surely losing, its distinction as a serious website linking to stuff like this but that’s for another story.) I clicked on the link just to see if it was a parody or perhaps an article on The Onion but it appears to be an attempt at serious journalism.
It starts as follows, “There’s no doubt that global warming on Earth is a human-driven trend.” There is much debate about global warming and despite what is claimed, there is no consensus that global warming is either occurring or man-driven. But then the article goes from bad to worse when it states, ” But what if the tendency of intelligent species to alter their planet’s climate was a more common phenomenon than we think? In the vastness of the universe, it’s very likely that other life forms have also evolved to an extent that they altered the atmosphere of their planets.” Not that there’s any evidence for aliens either but we just have to believe them because it is asserted.
They then cite the Drake Equation to support their theory of aliens. The late Michael Crichton had some insightful things to say about this in his serious lecture whimsically titled Aliens cause global warming:
Cast your minds back to 1960. John F. Kennedy is president, commercial jet airplanes are just appearing, the biggest university mainframes have 12K of memory. And in Green Bank, West Virginia at the new National Radio Astronomy Observatory, a young astrophysicist named Frank Drake runs a two week project called Ozma, to search for extraterrestrial signals. A signal is received, to great excitement. It turns out to be false, but the excitement remains. In 1960, Drake organizes the first SETI conference, and came up with the now-famous Drake equation:
N=N*fp ne fl fi fc fL
Where N is the number of stars in the Milky Way galaxy; fp is the fraction with planets; ne is the number of planets per star capable of supporting life; fl is the fraction of planets where life evolves; fi is the fraction where intelligent life evolves; and fc is the fraction that communicates; and fL is the fraction of the planet’s life during which the communicating civilizations live.
This serious-looking equation gave SETI a serious footing as a legitimate intellectual inquiry. The problem, of course, is that none of the terms can be known, and most cannot even be estimated. The only way to work the equation is to fill in with guesses. And guesses—just so we’re clear—are merely expressions of prejudice. Nor can there be “informed guesses.” If you need to state how many planets with life choose to communicate, there is simply no way to make an informed guess. It’s simply prejudice.
As a result, the Drake equation can have any value from “billions and billions” to zero. An expression that can mean anything means nothing. Speaking precisely, the Drake equation is literally meaningless, and has nothing to do with science. I take the hard view that science involves the creation of testable hypotheses. The Drake equation cannot be tested and therefore SETI is not science. SETI is unquestionably a religion.
Not only is SETI a religion. so is global warming. The assumptions made in the models can use any value assigned depending upon the desired outcome. The “adjustments” of temperatures currently being exposed are arbitrary all with the intent to show global warming.
I gave up on the article at that point. It is ridiculous what passes for journalism and science.