In “Climate skeptics don’t ‘deny science’” (Townhall , September 27, 2011), commentator Jeff Jacoby chronicles that the ship may indeed be turning.
There is grudging admission that the respectable scientists who haven’t bought into climate change hysteria do have some evidence on their side. Here at UD News we survey the scene with popcorn: How does dogma die?
Bill Clinton declared last week that Americans “look like a joke” because leading Republican presidential contenders decline to embrace the agenda of the global-warming alarmists.
Look like a joke to whom? Most Americans are probably relieved if they are not asked to make sacrifices with no guarantee that any other large nation will.
In truth, global-warming alarmism is not science at all — not in the way that electromagnetic radiation or the laws of planetary motion or molecular biology is science. Catastrophic climate change is an interpretation of certain scientific data, an interpretation based on theories about the causes and effects of growing concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It is not “denying science” to have doubts about the correctness of that interpretation any more than it is “denying economics” to have doubts about the efficacy of Kenyesian pump-priming.
True, but terms like “denying science” or “anti-science” are cultural, not science terms. They translate, “this person doubts the cultural consensus on a fashionable topic that upholds elite beliefs.”
The principal elite belief, throughout human history, is “There are too many rabble and they’re ruining everything.” Elites are always generous about what constitutes evidence in favour of that view. But they can’t always ram it down everyone’s throat indefinitely:
By now, only ideologues and political propagandists insist that all reputable scientists agree on the human responsibility for climate change. Even within the American Physical Society, the editor of “Physics and Society” (an APS publication) has acknowledged that “there is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree … that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are … primarily responsible for the global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution.”
Such skepticism is not “anti-science.” Everything in science is subject to challenge; innumerable facts about the natural world have been discovered only by poking holes in once-prevailing theories. And if that is true generally, how much more so is it true when it comes to something as vast and complex as climate change? Researchers still have no way “to reliably discriminate between manmade warming and natural warming processes,” climate scientist Roy Spencer has written. “We cannot put the Earth in a laboratory and carry out experiments on it. There is only one global warming experiment, and we are all participating in it right now.”
Frantic elite efforts to put an end to discussion do provide a benefit: They are helping lesser mortals learn the difference between science and culture. And none too soon.