‚ÄúMoral nihilists assert that morality does not inherently exist, and that any established moral values are abstractly contrived. Nihilism can also take epistemological or...
Denial of the Truth by Michael Cochrane
The term ‚Äúdenier‚ÄĚ is frequently used as a criticism of those who refuse to believe an apparent self-evident truth or fact. I think it first came into vogue when it was applied to Islamists and ultra-right wing neo-Nazis who claimed that the Jewish holocaust of WWII was a fabrication. The evidence of history is clearly on the side of the truth claim that the genocidal extermination of 6 million Jews by the Nazi regime did, in fact, take place. But in recent years, the derisive term ‚Äúdenier‚ÄĚ has been applied to anyone who is the least bit skeptical of the degree to which human activity is primarily responsible for global warming, or even if global warming is taking place. It‚Äôs disturbing to me that this would be the case, given that the body of evidence purporting to undergird the ‚Äútruth‚ÄĚ of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is still very much open to debate.
In fact, those who accuse AGW skeptics of being ‚Äúglobal warming deniers‚ÄĚ argue that the ‚Äúdebate is over‚ÄĚ; that it is now time for radical action. What‚Äôs disturbing about this is that this is not how science is supposed to work. As an illustration, imagine there are 1000 reputable climate scientists in the world. If 600 of them are convinced of AGW and the remaining 400 are not, does that mean AGW is a fact? What if the ratio was 800 to 200? Does a so-called consensus have to be reached in order to arrive at scientific truth? Fortunately, science has never worked this way! If it had, we would still believe the earth was the center of the solar system and that all the matter in the universe had always existed (no big bang)! Very often, the most profound scientific revolutions come about because of the work of lone scientists working in fields sometimes outside of those in which the discovery is made (see the book by Thomas Kuhn, ‚ÄúThe Structure of Scientific Revolutions‚ÄĚ).
Most of the time, the advancement of knowledge through the operation of the scientific method does not engender controversy. But the current state of global warming alarmism leads me to believe that science is being co-opted by political and social agendas. I will be blunt: I strongly believe that leftist, eco-socialists have been promoting AGW as a ‚Äúhook‚ÄĚ to advance a radical environmentalist agenda that is fundamentally anti-capitalist and anti-free market (it has to be man-made global warming or else their agenda doesn‚Äôt work). This agenda seeks to weaken industrialized nations, particularly the United States, and uses the manufactured world cataclysm of the hypothesized effects of global warming (rising sea levels, droughts, etc.) to shake down the ‚Äúrich‚ÄĚ nations and force the transfer of wealth directly to underdeveloped countries. That this is clearly a political and not a scientific issue is borne out by the fact that opinion on the existence and/or the severity of global warming (particularly AGW) is divided along political lines. Liberals in congress tend to support AGW and conservatives do not. It is also evident in the money trail: grants by governments to scientists to produce evidence of AGW.
The academic community is also clearly, and bitterly, divided over this issue. Here is an excerpt from an open letter by Dr. Petr Chylek, a leading climate scientist, to the top 100 climate scientists in the world (including Phil Jones, head of the East Anglian University Climate Research Unit whose emails were leaked to the world recently) in which he argues for a return to academic integrity in climate research:
‚ÄúFor me, science is the search for truth, the never-ending path towards finding out how things are arranged in this world so that they can work as they do. That search is never finished.
It seems that the climate research community has betrayed that mighty goal in science. They have substituted the search for truth with an attempt at proving one point of view. It seems that some of the most prominent leaders of the climate research community, like prophets of Old Israel, believed that they could see the future of humankind and that the only remaining task was to convince or force all others to accept and follow. They have almost succeeded in that effort.
Yes, there have been cases of misbehavior and direct fraud committed by scientists in other fields: physics, medicine, and biology to name a few. However, it was misbehavior of individuals, not of a considerable part of the scientific community.
‚Ä¶ To blame the current warming on humans, there was a perceived need to ‚Äúprove‚ÄĚ that the current global average temperature is higher than it was at any other time in recent history (the last few thousand years). This task is one of the main topics of the released CRU emails. Some people were so eager to prove this point that it became more important than scientific integrity.
The next step was to show that this ‚Äúunprecedented high current temperature‚ÄĚ has to be a result of the increasing atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels. The
fact that the Atmosphere Ocean General Circulation Models are not able to explain the post-1970 temperature increase by natural forcing was interpreted as proof that it was caused by humans. It is more logical to admit that the models are not yet good enough to capture natural climate variability (how much or how little do we understand aerosol and clouds, and ocean circulation?); even though we can all agree that part of the observed post-1970 warming is due to the increase of atmospheric CO2
concentration. Thus, two of the three pillars of the global warming and carbon dioxide paradigm are open to reinvestigation.
The damage has been done. The public trust in climate science has been eroded. At least a part of the IPCC 2007 report has been put in question. We cannot blame it on a few irresponsible individuals. The
entire esteemed climate research community has to take responsibility. Yes, there always will be a few deniers and obstructionists.
So what comes next? Let us stop making unjustified claims and exaggerated projections about the future even if the editors of some eminent journals are just waiting to publish them. Let us admit that our understanding of the climate is less perfect than we have tried to make the public believe. Let us drastically modify or temporarily discontinue the IPCC. Let us get back to work.
Let us encourage students to think their own thoughts instead of forcing them to parrot the IPCC conclusions. Let us open the doors of universities, of NCAR, NASA and other research institutions (and funding agencies) to faculty members and researchers who might disagree with the current paradigm of carbon dioxide. Only open discussion and intense searching of all possibilities will let us regain the public‚Äôs trust and move forward.‚ÄĚ
It is very distressing to me that world leaders are so convinced of this so-called ‚Äútruth‚ÄĚ of AGW that they are willing to destabilize their own economies trying to ‚Äúreverse‚ÄĚ the effects of something that, to all intents and purposes, is a complete and total scam. Radical policy decisions will be made on the basis of a corrupted scientific process in which researchers of good faith are derided and ostracized for reaching conclusions at variance with the prevailing ‚Äúcorrect‚ÄĚ ones.
Hopefully, decades from now, we will look back and see that the real truth was that the world climate was never in danger of an apocalyptic rise in temperatures. What will more likely occur, however, will be a revisionist historical view that vindicates the draconian measures currently being taken by the industrialized world to reduce ‚Äúpollutants‚ÄĚ like CO2 as having ‚Äúdone the trick‚ÄĚ in saving the world from global warming. If that is the case, science is doomed to be the slave of politics.
¬© 2009 by Michael Cochrane. Used with permission. All rights reserved.