Saturday, September 01, 2012

Climate sceptics are not "heretics". They're just disproven.

There is a piece by Jay Griffiths (Don't give climate sceptics an easy ride)  over on the Guardian, I have just commented, and I paste my comment here in case the Guardian catches fire or something:

It would perhaps be simpler if writers, editors and producers could be given to understand clearly that the climate "sceptics'"  hypothesis has been disproven, and that their views on climate change policy have no more validity than the views of a creationist have on biological topics.

There are two grades of sceptics. First, we have those who deny the physical basis of climate science, who deny that there is a greenhouse effect, that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, that it has increased, and that a doubling of CO2 concentrations will cause a global temperature rise of ~1.2*C. These poor souls are beyond hope, pure time-wasters and the only rational response is to ignore them. To debate with them is like seeing your enemy drowning in a bog and jumping in to get them with a knife.

Then there are the sceptics who accept the physics, but suppose that the temperature increase caused by  CO2 will not cause a further temperature increase because negative feedbacks predominate over positive feedbacks.

Their hypothesis is unsupported by any valid scientific evidence, it is unable to explain past climate variations, and crucially, it cannot deal with positive feedbacks caused by water vapour, clouds, ice and snow fields, methane releases from tundra and clathrates, and further CO2 releases  from soil and forest fires.

In short, the climate sceptic hypothesis is refuted. It is not sleeping, it is an ex-hypothesis. It is no more. It is, in the words of the immortal sketch writer, one very dead parrot.

The problem with climate "sceptics" is not a matter of heresy, nor of academic qualifications, it is a simple, everyday piece of scientific process, a matter of refutation of a hypothesis that does not fit the facts.

This is the piece of knowledge that needs to be placed on every editor's desk and in every journalist's consciousness.

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