Sunday, February 05, 2012

The global warming debate

I enjoy a good scientific debate. The WSJ published No Need to Panic About Global Warming:
A candidate for public office in any contemporary democracy may have to consider what, if anything, to do about "global warming." Candidates should understand that the oft-repeated claim that nearly all scientists demand that something dramatic be done to stop global warming is not true. In fact, a large and growing number of distinguished scientists and engineers do not agree that drastic actions on global warming are needed.
It drew a lot of attention and a heated response, Check With Climate Scientists for Views on Climate:
Do you consult your dentist about your heart condition? In science, as in any area, reputations are based on knowledge and expertise in a field and on published, peer-reviewed work. If you need surgery, you want a highly experienced expert in the field who has done a large number of the proposed operations. ... For example, there is a retrovirus expert who does not accept that HIV causes AIDS. And it is instructive to recall that a few scientists continued to state that smoking did not cause cancer, long after that was settled science.
The rebuttal is disappointing because the climate scientists do not actually refute the first article. Nor does it stick to its own advice about sticking to the opinions of experts in the field. It ends up concluding:
In addition, there is very clear evidence that investing in the transition to a low-carbon economy will not only allow the world to avoid the worst risks of climate change, but could also drive decades of economic growth. Just what the doctor ordered.
Huhh? They are climate scientists, not economists. Artificially restricting the use of carbon will make us poorer in the short run, not wealthier. I am wary of people who brag about their expertise, tell me to accept their opinions as authoritative, lecture me on what science says, and then claims some unspecified "very clear evidence" for some political purpose outside their expertise.


A K Haart said...

In the early days I tended to accept the claims of climate scientists, but soon became suspicious of their public stance on certainty.

Particularly suspect was the way specialists in one aspect of climate would make sweeping statements about the whole climate and what we should do about it politically and economically.

At that point I looked at the science myself. Of course, the field is far too big for one person to master, but the political games have to be countered somehow.

Roger said...

I agree. The scientists would be more believable if they would stick to the science.