When I was in high school, a friend of mine who was distressed about all social and political conflict and human suffering in the world once asked, "Why don't we get six or seven scientists together, figure out what's wrong with the world, and then just do what they say?" Perhaps we could take a trial run at that proposal with something that pertains strictly to natural science. The question of climate change, its nature, direction, and human consequences, should do just fine. Kimberley Strassel in The Wall Street Journal and Paul Krugman in The New York Times both recently summarized what we know about this issue, appealing to the discoveries of esteemed scientists.
So they must agree on the what's what of the matter, right? Uh, no. They could not be more sharply divided. Indeed, Paul Krugman calls opposition to the Waxman-Markey energy bill that the House just passed "treason against the planet" ("Betraying the Planet").
The fact is that the planet is changing faster than even pessimists expected: ice caps are shrinking, arid zones spreading, at a terrifying rate. And according to a number of recent studies, catastrophe — a rise in temperature so large as to be almost unthinkable — can no longer be considered a mere possibility. It is, instead, the most likely outcome if we continue along our present course.
He states our situation in the gravest terms: "we’re facing a clear and present danger to our way of life, perhaps even to civilization itself;" and he asks,"How can anyone justify failing to act?"
Kimberley Strassel is not so unsettled over the matter ("The Climate Change Climate Change"). She denies that this is a conflict between scientists and global patriots on the one side, and opportunists and know-nothings on the other.
The number of skeptics, far from shrinking, is swelling. Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe now counts more than 700 scientists who disagree with the U.N. -- 13 times the number who authored the U.N.'s 2007 climate summary for policymakers. Joanne Simpson, the world's first woman to receive a Ph.D. in meteorology, expressed relief upon her retirement last year that she was finally free to speak "frankly" of her nonbelief. Dr. Kiminori Itoh, a Japanese environmental physical chemist who contributed to a U.N. climate report, dubs man-made warming "the worst scientific scandal in history." Norway's Ivar Giaever, Nobel Prize winner for physics, decries it as the "new religion." A group of 54 noted physicists, led by Princeton's Will Happer, is demanding the American Physical Society revise its position that the science is settled. (Both Nature and Science magazines have refused to run the physicists' open letter.)Scientists have found that climate change has stalled and disasters have not materialized. Political leaders have been sobered by the economic crisis and are reassessing the panic.
The collapse of the "consensus" has been driven by reality. The inconvenient truth is that the earth's temperatures have flat-lined since 2001, despite growing concentrations of C02. Peer-reviewed research has debunked doomsday scenarios about the polar ice caps, hurricanes, malaria, extinctions, rising oceans. A global financial crisis has politicians taking a harder look at the science that would require them to hamstring their economies to rein in carbon.With this much passionate disagreement over climatology, I would not expect much consensus from a commission of scientists studying moral and political matters. Perhaps scientific inquiry is not as separable from moral and political issues and the passions that attend them as we would often like to believe.
Take a second look at Harold's post to which I added a response, "Baby, It's Cold Outside!" We reflect on Australian geologist and mineral economist Viv Forbes' caution, "What we need to fear is a return of the cold, dry, hungry ice ages."
It seems the Aussies are far enough out of the way to be safe from the cloud of miasma surrounding the climate debate hussled up by European and Amercian socialists. Two other Australians, Ian Plimmer (a scientist and author) and Senator Steve Fielding are mentioned in a great piece by Robert Tracinski, "Could Australia Blow Apart the Great Global Warming Scare?" .
Plimmers book, Heaven and Earth: Global Warming, The Missing Science, is just about to be published in the US. It looks to be the one to read to get the arguments straight. Fielding was sceptical of the warming science, and decided to take a look for himself. Would that our own legislators had the intellectual curiosity and honesty to follow the actual science.
As to David's rumination, "Perhaps scientific inquiry is not as separable from moral and political issues and the passions that attend them as we would often like to believe" see Thomas Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions where he argued strongly for the "sociology of knowledge"--i.e., that scientific inquiry is not in fact seperable from the passions, morals, and politics of the scientists.
A student has just directed my attention to this at The Heritage Foundation: "An Inconvenient Voice: Dr. Alan Carlin."
Here is a CBS News report of the suppressed report and gag order.
Ever hear of Alan Carlin? Probably not, and that is the way the Obama Administration wants to keep it. Dr. Carlin is an Environmental Protection Agency veteran who recently wrote a damaging report, warning that the science behind climate change was questionable at best, and that we shouldn’t pass laws that will hurt American families and hobble the nation’s economy based on incomplete information.Despite its promise to put science above politics, the Administration has suppressed Carlin’s report, banned him from writing or speaking about climate change, told him to forget about attending any meetings that addressed his main job function—climate change—and gave him a new assignment: updating a grants database. One supposes that, by dedicating its distinguished scientists to data-entry tasks, Obama’s EPA is able to free up true-believing interns to do its research.
Kimberley Strassel has given this injustice and public disservice even greater attention in "The EPA Silences a Climate Skeptic" (Wall Street Journal, July 3, 2009). "The global-warming crowd likes to deride skeptics as the equivalent of the Catholic Church refusing to accept the Copernican theory. The irony is that, today, it is those who dare critique the new religion of human-induced climate change who face the Inquisition."
Dr. Carlin earned a B.Sc. in physics from CalTech and a Ph.D. in economics from M.I.T., and has been working in public policy since 1967.
In the comments section of this Heritage Foundation post, Tim from Australia writes:
These global warming skeptics in scientific academia now know what Christians are suffering who question the frail dogmas of the evolution establishment.
Do you think that the alarmists have a good case ? This is the answer you get when you ask them for the evidence:
1) “Your not a scientist, therefore you have no right to ask the question”,
2) “There is something morally wrong with you to even to ask the question. Your putting us all at risk”.
3) “The time for debate is over”.
There never was a debate. The real problem here is poor thinking in the western world. We simply don’t tolerate any debate anymore. Instead governments attempt to outlaw dissenting voices or at least condemn them. That’s what happens when the media becomes the de facto policy makers. It’s really very simple;
1) Media scares public with doomsday stories
2) Political parties assess public mood by focus groups and polls
3) Political parties make policy based on results
I hoped Obama would be a leader but it seems like he just looks like one. Where’s the substance?
If a janitor at the EPA wrote a piece supporting doomsday global warming scenario he would be held up as expert of some repute. No doubt he could be sighted for his/her historical studies of the increasing water levels in the toilet bowl.