Erik Larson

Nov 18, 2008

Inconvenient Truths

What happened to Global Warming? To the planet “having a fever”, as Gore in his arguably more inconvenient than truthful oratory impressed upon us? Apparently we have bigger fish to fry now (with, of course, non-carbon emitting heat sources). The economic meltdown, for instance. More powerful than a war-on-terror, which, apparently, wasn’t enough to keep the feverish planet out of the lime light. Not so the Credit Crisis.

So, perhaps, it’s a good time to revisit what I’ve long suspected is an entirely suspect political/scientific cause du jour .

Plenty of facts to bore everyone to tears, but let me instead explain the type of argument that Global Warming seems to inspire. It goes a little like this…

First, we have scientific data. We have charts. We make the case. But next, inconveniently, some really smart people (e.g., professors at MIT) disagree. They have different data, or see the existing data differently, and draw, with MIT rigorousness, entirely non-Global Warming conclusions.

Now, when confronted with these nay sayers—and for no apparent political reason do they nay say (unless, perhaps, they wish to disintegrate their careers, for some unknown future benefit)— the GW crowd goes democratic: “Well, most, indeed nearly all, of the scientists cut the political cake our way. There’s consensus. We voted, and we won.” More scientists said what they wanted them to say.

That’s fine, but science is hardly a show of hands. Its evidence based. Just one well-informed person (expert) with something to say, ought to be heard, whether contradicting the bandwagon or not. Maybe he’ll get less research money. But, if he or she is doing science , and if GW is so obviously right, it ought to be just easy then to rebut the dissenting view. Just prove the irritating dissenter wrong, if the theory is so obviously right. No need to vote . That sounds like politics. We didn’t vote on General Relativity, after all. It just is , as any physicist will tell you.

The GW debate is so far from over, it just astounds me that its near-religious proponents want so desperately to slam the lid shut. I’ve heard mamby-pamby justifications for this non-scientific attitude like “Well, even if we’re wrong, and there’s not imminent catastrophic climate change, we should do something about our emissions.” Yes, yes, yes. Of course. We should also import less foreign oil. Sounds like a win-win to me too, but lets do science as science . It’s not pragmatism or policy, after all; it’s supposed to be the search for truth. Let’s find it, if we can.

At any rate, and to return, the Gore-scare seems to be largely over, for now, replaced by the Credit-scare. And so, if something needed to be done now to fix Global Warming (I mean Gore-now, right now!), we’re either completely insane (worrying about this credit crisis crap), or less susceptible to b.s. than some would hope. An inconvenient truth, perhaps.