Climate Change Controversy: More Than One Question

questionmarkscloudsThose who decry climate change “deniers” tend to lump them all into one group who reject the entire suite of concerns.  In reality, it is far more complicated than that.  The climate change controversy is made up of many separate, cascading propositions.

While climate alarmism appears to be premised upon the acceptance of the entire program, the “deniers” are a more diverse group that may reject, or merely be skeptical of, one or more points in the narrative. I believe it does a disservice to legitimate debate, at best, and is disingenuous, at worst, to overlook the many levels of questions that make up this issue.

Here are what I see as the high level breakdown of separate concerns in this debate.

  1. Has the earth recently warmed, overall?
  2. Is it still doing so and/or will it continue?
  3. Is it a serious problem, and for who/what?
  4. Is it caused primarily by human activity?
  5. Can we effectively reverse it?
  6. Is it worth the economic and political costs it would take to do so?
  7. How should we proceed?

Acceptance of #1 does not require acceptance of all, and rejection of the proposed energy & environmental policies of the Left does not imply rejection of all points.  The Left prefers to frame the debate merely as those who respect science versus the deniers.  I suspect this may intentionally be done, because the farther down the list of questions you go, the harder it is for them to produce solid evidence for their answers.

Don’t let them set the terms.

I would suggest that anyone arguing this issue make sure they have first identified the exact point(s) of disagreement, and don’t let (alleged) proofs relating to one question be taken as support for another.


Posted on May 9, 2015, in Science and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Stalwart Sam

    Ever heard of the Global Warming Petition Project?

    • They would say these guys don’t count, because few are climate scientists doing active research in the field of climate change who have peer reviewed works in respected publications.

      Of course, unspoken in all of that are things like the following:

      * Most funders for such research accept AGW as a foregone conclusion, which drives both who gets such grants and the direction of the research.
      * Studies funded by organizations seen as hostile to this conclusion are discredited.
      * There is academic peer pressure to conform to the “consensus,” and anybody who questions it is not considered a legitimate climate expert.
      * The peer review process is biased against skeptical research. Skeptics have to publish with great subtlety.
      * Journals that allow skeptical articles quickly get dropped from the cool kids list.

      When you control the gates and the definitions, then whatever you claim is true by definition.

  2. Stalwart Sam

    Makes you wonder when was the intellectual community actually devoted more to finding truth than pet causes.

    • When political or ideological advantage is absent for those doing the research or those sponsoring it. Beyond that, there’s also the problem that pet theories and the prevailing “consensus” are hard to overcome. The ironic thing is that each scientific revolution was usually led by the ridiculed few working outside of the “consensus.”

  3. So where do you stand on each of the seven questions?

    • 1. Probably, but this does not mean it is historically unusual to have warm spells, even significant ones.
      2. This seems to be a matter of heated debate. I’m skeptical.
      3. My question here is, “What temperature is the Earth supposed to be?” Given that ecosystems thrive at all temperature levels, and that the Earth and civilizations got on just fine during warming periods in centuries past, I think we’ll manage even if we do go up a few degrees. It is also noteworthy that there are vast tracts of land which could become tillable (think Canada and Siberia) if the Earth warmed. Perhaps global warming and world hunger are problems made for each other.
      4. Maybe. Maybe partly. But I think the effects of CO2 are overestimated. Besides, plants like it just fine, and there is evidence of a greening of the planet as a result. Historically, we’re actually in a sort of CO2 minimum, which isn’t far above starvation level for plants.
      5. Probably not short of imposing a draconian dictatorship on the world. I’ve also seen assessments of the ultimate results of proposed regulations and the results seem to show a negligible impact.
      6. I don’t think so. I think the poor, and poor countries, would be hardest hit. We’d end up denying 3rd world countries cheap energy and certain technologies (which is part of rising them from poverty), and we’d make many things more expensive in the industrialized countries, which affect the poor the most. We’d also end up sinking trillions of dollars into this, which would drain military and social programs. Both our economy and security would suffer.
      7. Stick with regulating toxins and let the free market work out the feasible and affordable “green” alternatives rather than the government trying to guess at the best path and coerce business and consumers into directions they are not ready for.

      It appears to me as though many who are most keen to do something about this suggest sweeping changes that pave the way for the rollout of their political ideology. In other words, the climate change issue is simply a strategic political tool.

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