Scientists and environmentalists might be a bit alarmed by a bill introduced in the House that references a scientific theory that they were entirely (and perhaps blissfully) ignorant of before last week: the “Stockman Effect.” The Stockman Effect Act mandates that the director of the National Science Foundation must commission a study on the extent to which changes in the weather can be attributed to natural shifts in the Earth’s magnetic fields. That may have led many scrambling for their textbooks and scientific journals. They would have been better off looking up the names of the sponsors. Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) clearly is looking for a legacy as he completes his final term in office after losing his seat in the last election. He wants a federal law that orders that a federal study of his own theory. Stockman, as you might imagine, is a sceptic of man-made climate change theories but he is an advocate of . . . well . . . Stockman science.
Stockman’s bill is based on the notion that “[t]here is a possibility that the reason Mars lost its atmosphere was because of the loss of its magnetic field.”
Of course, some could wonder if the Stockman Effect could also be a political theory positing the connection between a loss of power and the subsequent elevation of ego.
Stockman grilled White House science adviser John Holdren recently on why “global wobbling” is not factored into models of global warming. Holden explained that wobbling effects are measures over tens of thousands of years and that, in fact, would be contributing to cooling at this stage. Moreover, the theory is based on indications that the Earth’s magnetic poles are getting ready to shift, which has occurred throughout history (including 786,000 years ago, though this is when people who believe that the Earth is only a few thousand years old should probably stop reading). Despite such past shifts, fossils from the last reversal 780,000 years ago showed no change to plant or animal life or glacial activity.
Putting aside the theory, there is always unease when members of Congress demand such specific scientific studies. In fairness to Stockman, there are some legitimate instances where Congress wants scientific theories or solutions explored in the public interest. This bill is not unprecedented in that regard. Indeed, I know little about the impact of such wobbling on climate. However, there is already a great interest and motivation of scientists to study viable theories without politicians dictating such specific inquiries. More importantly, it is the title of the legislation — and the theory — that are so notable.
Stockman holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Houston–Clear Lake and worked as a computer salesman in Friendswood, Texas before being elected to the House (He also has an impressive story of someone who turned his life around after dropping out of school and difficulties as a younger man).
Stockman has been a firebrand with tweets and quips. (My favorite is his “If babies had guns they wouldn’t be aborted” bumper sticker).
The rise of Stockman to the level of a scientific theorem is quite a turn around for a man who dropped out of San Jacinto College because of what he described as the “partying syndrome”. This however is not to be called the “Stockman Syndrome” not avoid confusion with the “Stockman Effect.”
Source: National Journal