Archive for August, 2012
Many observers are salivating at the opportunity to watch the potential spectacle that would come about if Michael Mann makes due on his threat to sue Mark Steyn and NRO for this blog post. Not least of which is James Delingpole, who is suggesting that people contribute to a legal fund for the case: not in support of Steyn et al. but to encourage Mann to go ahead with the lawsuit.
Here’s part of Delingpole’s position:
[T]he “Climate Science” community is a bubble in much the same way that the Westminster and Washington DC villages are bubbles: these people spend so little time living in the real world that they lose the plot completely. In the weird, weird world of Michael Mann and his fellow climate “scientists”, Climategate was just a case of ordinary decent scientists doing their job, the IPCC remains the gold standard of international climate science, the Hockey Stick is not a standing joke and man-made global warming remains the greatest threat to the planet ever. The facts speak otherwise. But when you’re working in a business as awash with cash as the Climate Change industry, why would you ever let facts get in the way of a good story?
My focus here isn’t the pending lawsuit which, if this response indicates, could be a whole lot of fun, but with the semantics use by Delingpole and possibly others.
Notice the use of “scare quotes” around the term “science” and “scientists” in Delingpole’s post. It’s his way of suggesting that Mann and his collaborators aren’t truly scientists, that they practice some sort of pseudo-science as a guise toward their ultimate goal of normalizing the theory of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming.
But writing these guys off as not being scientists is dangerous thinking. Mann is a scientist, as are many of his fellow global warming propogandists. I wrote about this a few months back:
[T]here is good science and bad science, and often they clash. That’s because science moves along with the intent of solving individual problems as they arise. It’s a process of unveiling the unknown, and it’s messy and fraught with wrong turns and tangents and dead ends. It’s far from perfect, but that’s why we keep trying to do better.
Therefore, when describing something as complex as the earth’s climate, we need to be damn sure as to what is actually going on before we move toward defining our collective priorities.
Which brings me back to these ridiculous accusations that AGW skeptics are somehow “against” science. No, they — we — just want better science. As in, you’d better get it right before blowing my money and subjugating the world in your orgiastic socialistic frenzy.
In the same way, it’s not that Mann et al aren’t doing “science”, it’s that they are doing arguably “bad” science. They may be poor scientists, but they are scientists nonetheless.
This is an important distinction because it treats scientists as they are, that is to say, scientists are human. They make mistakes, they follow false premises, they have their biases. To treat scientists you agree with as the purveyors of “true” science is to place them on a pedestal, and that their science is akin to the Word of God, while those who disagree with “true” conclusions are heretics, and it simply allows others the licence to do the same.
That’s the false premise used by Al Gore and his CAGW cronies. When we start elevating scientists to be above the foilbles of Man, that scientists we trust are somehow immune from our human weaknesses, we take away our right to criticize the findings, methodology or motives of any scientist.
Again, science is not the Word of God, but instead a practice. There is good science and bad science. Michael Mann is not a so-called “scientist”; he is a true scientist and his science is wrong. Mann’s hockey stick is bad science. That’s the fundamental issue.
Remember when I said, “the whole debate on energy and climate is not a purely scientific exercise; it’s an economic one”?
No? Sure you do. I said it right here.
I neglected to follow up on this point because of life etc., but I never forgot about it because it is an important point:
Whether or not the “science” is “established” by the “scientific consensus”, there remain many questions left unanswered before we all go down the hellish road of One World Government in order to stave off Armageddon. The questions go beyond “science” and into the realm of economics, where every action and change has a cost and a benefit. If we intend to react to these changes, then we must find a way to measure these costs and benefits so that we have an adequate comparison before we react.
Luckily for us, Steven Horwitz hasn’t forgotten to post some of these economic questions, which I’ll reproduce in part here:
1. Is the planet getting warmer?
2. If it’s getting warmer, is that warming caused by humans?
3. If it’s getting warmer, by what magnitude?
4. What are the costs of global warming?
5. What are the benefits of global warming?
6. Do the benefits outweigh the costs or do the costs outweigh the benefits?
7. If the costs outweigh the benefits, what sorts of policies are appropriate?
8. What are the costs of the policies designed to reduce the costs of global warming?
This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s a good start. An even better start would be to answer the first four questions, which to my knowledge have not been adequately or honestly answered yet. After all, we need to agree on an opening premise before we move into logial debate of an issue of this magnitude.
Even if you disagree with me, we can’t just go from “The sky is falling” to “Let’s all live in caves” in one step. If this is as serious an issue as many claim it is, we have to be able to have a serious debate about the subject and not jump directly to hackneyed solutions without giving any thought to the unintended consequences.
But of course, the solution for One World Government types never changes, just the rationale; whether we’re dealing with the class struggle, social welfare, or the environment, the economy of Western liberal democracy must give way to international socialism.
The global warming debate has always been and remains ultimately about power. Never forget this.
So, should we worry or not about the warming climate? It is far too binary a question. The lesson of failed past predictions of ecological apocalypse is not that nothing was happening but that the middle-ground possibilities were too frequently excluded from consideration
Another excellent post at Cafe Hayek:
If the choice were between, on the one hand, all the commerce and industry and its attendant greenhouse-gas emissions over the past 250, 260 years, and, on the other hand, none of that industry and (hence) no industry-released greenhouse gasses over the past 250, 260 years, how many rational people would choose the latter?
Worth reading in full.
Now is the time when we juxtapose!*
Ottawa Citizen, August 3, 2012:
Drama at the Chick-fil-A same sex “Kiss-In” event in Hollywood … TMZ has learned the chicken joint called police today claiming the MEDIA was harassing its employees.
Law enforcement sources tell us … the Chick-fil-A staff wasn’t bothered by the pro-gay marriage event taking place inside the restaurant, but felt the media was being too aggressive in trying to get commentary from Chick-fil-A employees.