Proponents of AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming aka human caused climate change) are getting a bit nervous. A number of recent polls suggest they are beginning to lose the battle for the hearts and minds of the public. Granted, still about half of Americans believe in AGW, but that number is declining. So how do the champions of climate change choose to turn this tide? By engaging in a positive information campaign? By answering the questions of their critic’s head on in a forthright, open, and honest manner? No. Rather than shine a light they hand out blinders. More and more of them outright refuse to engage in any kind of debate (e.g. Gavin Schmidt refused to even sit at a table on air with a slightly skeptical fellow climatologist on The Stossel Show). And it’s not just scientists playing this game; the state apologist media eagerly snuffs out any hint of dissent. The Los Angeles Times refuses to publish letters to the editor that hold a skeptical position on AGW. The BBC refuses to air debates on the topic. Michael Mann (of “ClimateGate” fame) attempts to suppress those that would question his scientific conclusions regarding climate change by seeking the protection of the state. To wit, he convinced a judge that it is a violation of his rights for such skeptics to “question his intellect and reasoning.”
But it is the latest tactic that is the most frightening. Some have proposed to throw into the state’s dungeons those that have the audacity to publicly not conform to the officially sanctioned viewpoint on AGW (see here and here . Yes, you read that correctly: many now desire to make it illegal to publicly question AGW. Well I suppose that is one approach to winning an argument: gag your critics. Even the most contentious science-centered public debate of the 20th century, evolution vs creationism, never drew calls from either side to criminalize the opposing view. What are those pushing the AGW agenda so afraid of? If the science is so overwhelmingly on their side they should be able to wipe the floor with the skeptics. And by skeptics I mean genuine science-based skepticism, not conspiracy theorists. There are actual legitimate scientific questions concerning the magnitude, rate and quality of expected changes as well as the extent to which human activity has contributed to those changes.
Climate change will be to the 21st century what Keynesian economics was to the 20th century: a “science” backed justification to expand the power of the state.
They claim the science is settled and thus debate would be pointless, however their behavior reveals this to be a spurious excuse. They scorn not solely skeptics but likewise those in 100% agreement with their scientific conclusions – when, that is, such individuals (i.e. Bjorn Lomborg ) have the temerity to question the conventional wisdom of proposed ameliorative solutions. It’s not about the science; it’s about what many want to do in the name of science. Climate change will be to the 21st century what Keynesian economics was to the 20th century: a “science” backed justification to expand the power of the state. If those in power can slap the science label on their political ideology in order to shut down all debate, then even the fantasy that democracy can solve all problems will not long endure. No vote necessary dear citizen, science says we’re right.
“The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion and politics, but it is not the path to knowledge; it has no place in the endeavor of science.” (Carl Sagan, Cosmos, pg 91).
Science is supposed to be a process of uncovering truths about the natural world. It is always open to the possibility of revision in light of new information or insights. To suppress new information or insights is to short circuit any hope of moving closer to the truth. Maybe the skeptics are wrong, maybe they are right, but simply telling them to “shut up” is not how science works. Science should never be rejected – but scientists, whose behavior runs counter to the scientific method, should be rebuked. Although Carl Sagan was one of the earliest proponents of the dangers of climate change, he, as a scientist, would be aghast at the current state of debate on the subject: “The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion and politics, but it is not the path to knowledge; it has no place in the endeavor of science.” (Carl Sagan, Cosmos, pg 91).