Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Scientific Climate Denialism

Most of the arguments I encounter for climate denial end up boiling down to a conspiracy. The scientists themselves have manufactured the controversy so they have job security and/or get grants, or the scientists are all left-wing ideologues wishing to push their socialist agenda on the world, or that the scientists are merely puppets for government who want to use climate change to push for a greater role of government. These are the kinds of arguments that anyone can deal with, really, as they're arguments about the role of human behaviour and politics - something most of us could see whether or not there was anything even remotely plausible.

But the foundation of climate change is a scientific one, and that's one point where most of us just don't have the qualifications to assess the evidence. So when I see people arguing against climate change on scientific grounds, I wonder what the purpose in it is. Not only are they not qualified to assess the evidence, but who they're talking to isn't qualified to assess that case.

It's interesting reading those cases, because like their evolution-denying counterparts, they make it seem as if the entire case is so obviously false. If it really was that easy to show the case is falsified, then why not formalise it into a manuscript and send it off to a journal like Nature or Science?

There's just something odd about those who will argue against scientific consensus among non-experts, because if they're truly a flaw in the science the best arguing the case among laypeople is bragging rights at a future change in paradigm. Making a scientific argument among non-scientists is not going to change the science, and worse still such an argument isn't going to have the appropriate feedback that any good science needs.

If one truly believes they have a good scientific case against climate change, then they should formalise it and put it up for criticism. But to only argue among among non-experts that climate change is bad science doesn't do anything useful - unless your aim is political in nature. But then that would just be opposing climate change for political reasons, and we're back to trying to rationalise away the scientific consensus.

In any case, if you think that climate change is bad science - show that to be the case. How? By getting off the internet, and start writing papers to submit to science journals. Because, what's more likely? That climate scientists who have spent their careers researching in the field have overlooked something that you, a layperson, was able to show wrong, or that perhaps the science isn't as feeble as you make it out to be...

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