Climate “Science” And “Deniers”

A guy named Bradford Plummer has a piece in The New Republic about climate change that begins like this:

Spend enough time listening to doubters and deniers of climate science speak, and you start to recognize certain familiar tics and tropes. There’s the personal conversion story, for one. The skeptic explains how, once upon a time, he, too, blindly accepted everything climatologists have to say about how human activity is heating the planet. But then, as he began to pore over the evidence, the holes in the theory became readily apparent, and, more in sorrow than anger, the skeptic had to conclude that the scientific consensus was mistaken.

Spend enough time listening to those with a religious faith in the idea of anthropogenic global warming and you also recognize certain familiar tics and tropes. 

One is equating skeptics with Holocaust “deniers.”  That is not a friendly way to begin a conversation, though it is pretty clear that people like Plummer don’t want to have an actual conversation about climate science. 

Another is declaring doubters of man-caused global climate change to be “doubters . . . of climate science.”  You see, Al Gore long ago declared the debate to be over.  So if you doubt his conclusions, you must be anti-science.

One reason that is so annoying is that it is, itself, anti-science.  Skepticism and a demand for rigorous analysis are the essence of a scientific approach. 

For example, in a decision holding that a state law requiring public schools to teach “creation science” in was unconstitutional because it violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Judge William Overton found that

the essential characteristics of science are:

(1) It is guided by natural law;
(2) It has to be explanatory by reference to natural law;
(3) It is testable against the empirical world;
(4) Its conclusions are tentative, i.e., are not necessarily the final word; and
(5) It is falsifiable.

McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education, 529 F. Supp. 1255, 1267 (E.D. Ark. 1982).  Judge Overton went on to describe the value of skepticism to science:  “A scientific theory must be tentative and always subject to revision or abandonment in light of  facts that are inconsistent with, or falsify, the theory.  A theory that is by its own terms dogmatic, absolutist and never subject to revision is not a scientific theory.”  Id. at 1268-69.

Evolution itself provides a great example, in particular the evolution of humans.  When Neandertal fossils were first discovered, the consensus of scientists of the day — scientists, mind you, not religious leaders — was that the idea of modern humans evolving was preposterous.  The skulls and other bones must be a hoax, belong to a species of ape, or be the product of severe malformation in a modern human.  Anyone who suggested such that the bones were from a precursor to modern humans was promptly dismissed from polite scientific company.

As we now know, the skeptics proved to be correct, and the consensus scientists, the dismissive dogmatics, were wrong.  The consensus group became absolutist and dogmatic and failed to have the requisite tentativeness and skepticism.  They were the ones acting outside of scientific theory.

To reach that conclusion, one need look no further than the utter lack of falsifiability in the belief systems of global warming advocates.  More snow — global warming.  Less snow — global warming.  Cooler in Europe — global warming.  Warmer in the U.S. — global warming.  More storms in the atlantic — global warming.  Fewer storms in the pacific — global warming.  If every observation, no matter how counter-intuitive, is attributed to a preconceived belief, you have a religion, not science.

Back to Mr. Plummer, who writes:

So what about those new EPA greenhouse gas rules? . . . Republicans, as usual, argue that these regulations will crush the U.S. economy. At Wednesday’s hearing, they invited Steve Rowlan, a representative from Nucor—a major U.S. steel producer—to explain how his company had to build a $750 million plant in Louisiana instead of a $2 billion one because of “the uncertainty created by these regulations.” Likewise, Jim Pearce, an official from soda-ash manufacturer FMC Corp., warned that new pollution controls could drive businesses offshore.

All these examples may be true (and certainly there’s room to quibble with the EPA’s counter-study suggesting that forthcoming clean-air regulations will actually create jobs). But, then again, no one suggests that these carbon rules are free—companies will have to spend money on pollution controls and efficiency upgrades. The green argument is that the benefits outweigh the costs—as has long been the case with Clean Air Act rules. And that’s something Republicans would rather not confront head-on. . . .

That’s the core of the fight here. If you don’t believe climate change is a problem (or real), then of course most of these new carbon rules are pointlessly pricey. And, within the Republican Party, the belief that global warming is a made-up non-problem has become thoroughly ingrained—so much so that it’s no longer even worth justifying or debating.

Actually, it is the environmental dogmatics that do not want to debate the cost/benefit issue.  Congress — our elected officials — refused to enact cap and trade.  So the Obama Administration is trying to impose  policies that elected officials refused to adopt through non-elected bureaucrats, at tremendous expense to the entire economy.  But liberals don’t care — if they cannot convince voters, they are happy to impose their will through judges and bureaucrats, neither of which are subject to the democratic will of the voters.  That is a threat to not only our economy, but our democracy.  They have decided that the “tipping point” is upon us, and that drastic measures must be imposed, so the cost to the economy and democratic values be damned. 

Moreover, Mr. Plummer would have bureaucrats impose a “green” agenda based on demonstrably flawed “science” of a false consensus, as advocated by the UN’s political climate change advocacy group, the IPCC.  As I wrote some time ago, the climate change models cannot even hindcast, so they certainly can’t be relied on for forecasts used to reorganize our entire global economy.

If Mr. Plummer and company want skeptics to take their “science” seriously, the global warming scare mongers need to stop being so secretive, share data freely (remember “hide the decline”?), and view their own conclusions as tentative and subject to revision or abandonment in light of  facts that are rather often inconsistent with the theory.

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Published in: on February 10, 2011 at 12:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

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