Have you ever noticed that the people who seem to be most certain about things are often really quite ignorant?
It’s a version of “don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up!”
That’s what we are seeing before our eyes in the debate about anthropogenic (man-made) climate change. An unholy alliance of some scientists, celebrities, government and non-profit bureaucrats, and politicians have joined together to force massive changes to our economy and our lives based upon an intellectual framework as rickety as an old abandoned barn.
We are hearing some of the most astounding claims (we have only 10 years to save the planet!), seeing some of the silliest behavior (Prince Charles cancels a ski vacation to “save the planet”), being subjected to some of the most dreary lectures and warnings (sea levels will rise, crop yields will fall, and human civilization has only a 50-50 chance of survival over the next 100 years!), all based upon some shaky computer models and wild predictions.
It’s not that surprising that politicians have jumped on this bandwagon. After all, they are exquisitely attuned to the cultural zeitgeist and make it their business to benefit from every twitch of emotion in the populace. It’s not even surprising that bureaucrats are jumping on board—the fears aroused are sure to lend them more power and prestige to wield in the battles over funding and control of our daily lives. Celebrities—well, enough said about them.
But most of us tend to defer to scientists, and tend to assume that their first loyalty is to the truth, so when they start getting deeply involved in politics and sounding a warning, citizens are generally inclined to listen.
I won’t speculate about why some climate scientists (and many others, who are almost completely ignorant of the subject) have been banging the drum on climate change and scaring the bejeezus out of many of us—I’ll leave the psychologizing to others—but let me repeat a few facts that should lead most of us to be very skeptical of their warnings.
Climate scientists haven’t got much of a handle on why global climate is so naturally variable—and it is very variable indeed—and hence have a terrible time explaining why global temperatures have varied so much over the millennia. So if you don’t know how the system works, or for that matter which exact variables influence the wild swings within a very chaotic system, how competent will you be in detecting the influence of relatively minor influences such as human behaviors?
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