Climate change, skepticism, consensus and science.
I’m getting absolutely sick and tired of hearing about “consensus on climate change”, “climate change skeptics”, and people debating “if climate change is happening”, or debating “how to stop climate change”.
Climate is a dynamic phenomenon – everybody knows this! Obviously climate is dynamic – if it wasn’t, there would be no climatology, no climate prediction efforts. There would be no ice ages, no warm periods.
Of course climate is subject to time evolution!
For as long as there has been climate, for as long as Earth has had an atmosphere, there has been climate change!
Is “climate change” happening: Yes, of bloody course it is! It’s not even a question.
How do we “stop climate change”? You don’t. You can’t. If you could, then, really, by definition, you wouldn’t really have a climate.
The actual question(s):
Is the anthropogenic forcing of normal climatic evolution occurring to any significant degree as a result of the consequences of human industrialisation?
If so, how severe is it, and what consequences is it likely to have for ecological systems or for human civilisation?
These areas are outside of my academic expertise, and I don’t want to speculate. However, these are indeed open questions. There is a considerable inventory of empirical scientific measurements on the topic, which is certainly of crucial importance towards answering the questions. Based on the current scientific knowledge on the topic, it absolutely doesn’t hurt to reduce or mitigate the anthropogenic emissions of global warming gases where it is practical to do so without destroying our way of life.
As for “consensus” on climate change:
Science isn’t operated by the process of a democracy. Scientific results aren’t decided by a unanimous verdict of a jury.
“Consensus” isn’t science.
Replication of experiments is valuable – but the idea is to see if the experimental results agree – not if the people agree.
Nature doesn’t care what you think.
Of course, nature is in consensus with itself – so, if the experiments do not produce results that are in agreement, then you’ve missed something – something is wrong with the experiment! Find out what it is!
Everybody should be every bit as skeptical about the anthropogenic forcing of normal climatic evolution as they are skeptical about absolutely everything else.
Yet, when it comes to discussing the potential for anthropogenic forcing of normal climatic time evolution, some people talk about “skeptics” in a way that almost implies “quick – everybody grab your faggots and matches and hurry to the town square!”.
Skepticism is not a crime, and the notion that scientific skepticism can be essentially equated to Holocaust denial or some shit is absolute insanity!
If nobody had ever been skeptical of the idea, then we’d still believe that the Earth is flat.
If nobody had ever been skeptical of the idea, then we’d still believe that all matter is made up of earth, air, fire and water in varying proportion.
Skepticism is one of the foundations of the scientific method, and it is undoubtedly one of the most important philosophical constructs in the history of sentient beings.
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- July 20, 2008 / 3:13 pm