The emergence of the scientific method ran into the beliefs of the church and was often treated as heresy. Skeptics of anthropomorphic global warming are treated the same by the powered elite who seek not a fight for truth but a fight to retain power.
There are three factors that drive my skepticism. In order:
1. The universe of factors that affect climate is so vast and changing that there is no list of PhDs that can claim to know the weather years ahead with any accuracy. Nor can they know for certainty all the factors, including man’s activities, that will impact the climate and to what degree. In fact it seems that those who claimed to have the answers ten years ago missed their predictions by greater margins that some of the heretics. The validity of a theory is directly related to its ability to predict.
2. History is filled with predictions of disaster and Apocalypse from the educated and the credentialed that fail to come true. Technology has rendered many scarcities irrelevant. Remember the story of the proposal to close the Patent Office in 1910 because there was nothing left to invent. You can now Google it on your iPhone.
3. While the skeptics are treated as unscientific it is those that call them heretics who are imitating the intolerance o f the Church who fought the development of scientific inquiry. Science depends on reproducible objective factors. It is not decided by opinion polls and political ideology.
These points were well made in Concerned Scientists Reply on Global Warming in the Wall Street Journal on February 21. 2012. The original article, No Need to Panic About Global Warming, ran January 27, 2012, and a number of scientists responded in Check With Climate Scientists for Views on Climate, on February 1. This was a response to their challenge.
Trenberth et al. tell us that the managements of major national academies of science have said that “the science is clear, the world is heating up and humans are primarily responsible.” Apparently every generation of humanity needs to relearn that Mother Nature tells us what the science is, not authoritarian academy bureaucrats or computer models.
One reason to be on guard, as we explained in our original op-ed, is that motives other than objective science are at work in much of the scientific establishment. All of us are members of major academies and scientific societies, but we urge Journal readers not to depend on pompous academy pronouncements—on what we say—but to follow the motto of the Royal Society of Great Britain, one of the oldest learned societies in the world: nullius in verba—take nobody’s word for it. As we said in our op-ed, everyone should look at certain stubborn facts that don’t fit the theory espoused in the Trenberth letter, for example—the graph of surface temperature above, and similar data for the temperature of the lower atmosphere and the upper oceans.
One might infer from the Trenberth letter that scientific facts are determined by majority vote. Some postmodern philosophers have made such claims. But scientific facts come from observations, experiments and careful analysis, not from the near-unanimous vote of some group of people.
The Trenberth letter tells us that decarbonization of the world’s economy would “drive decades of economic growth.” This is not a scientific statement nor is there evidence it is true. A premature global-scale transition from hydrocarbon fuels would require massive government intervention to support the deployment of more expensive energy technology. If there were economic advantages to investing in technology that depends on taxpayer support, companies like Beacon Power, Evergreen Solar, Solar Millenium, SpectraWatt, Solyndra, Ener1 and the Renewable Energy Development Corporation would be prospering instead of filing for bankruptcy in only the past few months.
I encourage you to read the article and the others referenced in the article. The labeling of skepticism with heresy and the willingness to hold economic growth hostage to ideological dogma is the kind of thinking that brought us the dark ages.