Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Why climate change "scepticism" is not science

Climate change "scepticism" is an a priori argument; it stems from absolute belief in the free market, and belief in the principle is so strong, it can allow the believer to override a complete body of science.

One of the features of mature science is that it builds a coherent picture of the systems it is studying.

For example,  in the case of scientific medicine, we have a clear idea of how the human body functions - how respiration, hydration, nutrition, metabolism, reproduction, perception and excretion work together in a unitary system to produce a living human person. There are areas of uncertainty in medicine and human biology because that is the nature of science, but the uncertainty is at the periphery where the specialist scientists are working; alongside the peripheral uncertainties, we still have the central certainty that if there is a pulse, breathing, good colour and verbal responses we can be pretty sure that the patient is not dead.

Coherence is one of the ways we know that climate science is right and climate scepticism is wrong. This is important, because some journalists and broadcasters seem to think that science happens when people use long, perhaps incomprehensible, words and can refer to papers. It is not. Climate science creates a coherent picture of the planet in the following way:
  1. The greenhouse effect is real 
  2. CO2 is a greenhouse gas
  3. We have already increased CO2 levels by 40%
  4. The earth surface temperature has already risen by nearly 1*C
  5. Already we are seeing weather changes in terms of heatwaves and floods. 
  6. If we continue to pump CO2 into the atmosphere, we, our children and our grandchildren are going to suffer significantly
Climate sceptics on the other hand just have a number of criticisms and talking points that they raise over and again: climate is not changing, it is changing but not because of CO2, it is due to the Sun, it is due to volcanoes, it is due to the little ice age, cloud cover will cool us down, it is due to cosmic rays etc etc. There is no consistency, no attempt to construct a coherent picture of the world. 

The only fairly constant concept in the climate science sceptic armoury is that the free market is an inviolable principle, and if anthropogenic climate change were true it would mean that the free market will have to be replaced with measures to end the free market in carbon fuel. 

The sooner that the mainstream media grasps this reality, the safer we will all be.


Andy S said...

You may be interested to read this recent paper on "skeptical" incoherence.

DocRichard46 said...

Thanks Andy, excellent link (not least because it agrees with what I am saying here)