You may ask what is a scientific debate doing on an site dedicated to economics and politics. The truth is, as recent articles have shown, the global warming debate has long since left the realm of pure science and is now as much a political argument as a scientific one. As someone with a science background I have watched this debate for awhile.
Some years ago as the global warming hysteria was just taking off I heard the arguments and thinking them plausible assumed there was a good chance man’s activities might be influencing the global temperature. I also knew we were still coming out of the little ice age and being fully aware of the global cooling scare tactics of the 1970’s I figured further unbiased study was needed. As a student of economics I also knew that the massive energy restructuring that some were advocating would cause massive starvation and economic devastation. A high price to pay for that seemed like educated speculation.
I started to question the global warming claims more when Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth came out. Al Gore made startling claims and backed them up with impressive graphs. The only problem was not only was most of it exaggerated but some of it was an out an out falsifying of data. A British court actually documented 11 points where the work deliberately misled people. For me the most glaring was the graph showing a rise in CO2 levels have historically preceding temperature rises but the truth is the data showed CO2 levels have historically risen AFTER the temperature rises.
For anyone involved in science data is sacred. Science stands or falls on its data. Exaggeration and distortion can sometimes be attributable to variations in interpreting data but this went far beyond that. In the cathedral of science their is no greater heresy then to falsify data. Here was a former Vice President doing just that both in print and on the big screen. Even more amazing is that it was not the scientific publications that were calling him out on it but bloggers, individual scientist and new media types. In fact the movie was given an Academy Award and Gore a Nobel Prize! To quote an old idiom there was something rotten in Denmark.
After Al Gore’s movie there came a parade of even more disturbing lapses in scientific integrity. When a group started documenting the ground stations much of the global warming data was based on were giving out inaccurate data. Again I would of expected scientist to clamor for funds to correct the situation, after all with something as important as climate change accurate data was critical. Instead of looking to fix the situation the messengers were attacked. It seems since the inaccuracies tended to exaggerate the temperature increases the last thing wanted was to correct the situation. This was followed by the even more disturbing emailgate that showed out and out manipulation of data and falsifying of climate models by the CRU team at the University of East Anglia in the U.K.
The reason for this soon became apparent. While some give scientist a pass and assume that the scientist who have sold their souls did so to save the planet the real reason looks to be much more down to earth. The truth is scientist live for research, it is why they became scientist, and research cost money. Today only studies that seem to have predetermined outcomes in favor of global warming are funded by public funds. Even then, if the data gathered does not follow the predetermined template it is simply ignored and the study publishes a conclusion that better fits the Global Warming mantra. This likely also has much to do with scientist that buck the global warming monolith, even if they have won a Nobel prize, being ostracized from scientific organization that depend on those funds. Apparently scientist are humans and money talks more then ethics. On the other hand for politicians global warming is about power and money. The one thing most politicians live for is power. What better excuse is there to increase and centralize power then to save the planet. The fact that global warming can be used as an excuse to rape industry for funds that in turn can be redistributed as politicians see fit is a bonus. What has unfolded is a mutually contaminating relationship where politicians pay scientist to do sham research which they use to get more power. (This is not to say all climate researchers who’s work shows the earth is warming due to the activities of man is a sham but today it is hard to judge where the truth ends and the B.S. begins) All of this is not new but the scale of it all is.
The first time science got contaminated by involvement with outside entities was the Middle Ages. In the Middle Ages the church controlled the purse strings of science and declared what was good science and what was not. The trial of Galileo was a famous episode of this period. Scientist got in bed with the church and became a tool of the church, those that resisted often paid with their lives. The Nazi’s paid and coerced German scientist to create a justification for their bloody rampages. Today it is not a all powerful church or country bent on controlling an empire corrupting science but left wing politicians seeking power in order to advance their agenda.
Unfortunately for these politicians they do not control society in the same way the Catholic church controlled Europe in the Middle Ages. They can call dissenters of their newly ordained religion deniers (a childish taunt in and of itself) but they can not burned them at the stake (although some probably would like to). There are always those who’s integrity can not be bought and in the modern age information censorship is not that easy to accomplish. This means inconvenient facts tend to come out. Like satellite data, much more accurate then unmaintained earth stations, showing North America’s temperature leveling off or polar bears are not really dieing off.
Today as we hear global warming models have been using faulty data and that some scientist say we maybe even entering a cooling period due to lower solar activity the truth seems unknowable. While this might seem surprising to many it shouldn’t be, the fact is our understanding of climate change is not much better than the caveman’s understanding of lightning (an overstatement but not by much). Scientist still argue over the causes of the little ice age, the Medieval and Roman warm periods (both of which probably rivaled today’s temperature) and there is not even a consensus about what caused the last big ice age or why it ended. Even without using false data or manipulating research it is problematic for a group that can’t explain the past to expect people to believe they can predict the future.
The real tragedy of the situation is the truth might be out there. It maybe, as a reasonable global warming believer says, we are warming at a moderate rate due to human activity. It maybe also true we are just experiencing the normal climatic ups and downs of planet earth. The problem is there is so much hype, misinformation, hyperbole and scare tactics out there it is impossible to differentiate between the sane voices and noise. This is probably why an August 2011 poll by Rasmussen showed 69% believe it is likely scientist have falsified global warming evidence. In the same poll 57% believe there is significant disagreement on Global Warming. This poll also shows something else, science is loosing its credibility.
The truth is when science becomes captive to agendas it can no longer be relied on. This is all the more reason to step back and not do anything stupid that will harm the economic well being of billions of people.
(Judith Curry, a Global Warming Believer that has been labeled a heretic and a denier for her efforts to enhance the science of global warming by expanding honest debate and exposing junk science on both sides, has a blog http://www.judithcurry.com, worth a visit)
The Conservative Mind
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