I beg forgiveness for I had closed this blog however, a highly charged issue of the day has compelled me to revisit and submit an additional post as an addendum if you will, to the much hyped subject (and blog label) that is, climate change. The catalyst for this was an article that appeared at The Times on January 19, 2015 as written by Matt Ridley, "author of provocative books on evolution, genetics and society". In it, he argues that "the polarisation of the climate debate has gone too far" and it just so happens that I too have been lamenting this of late.
From My Life As a Lukewarmer by Matt Ridley I present an intro as it appears at Jo Nova, the acclaimed Skeptical Science blog
In the climate debate, paying obeisance to climate scaremongering is about as mandatory for a public appointment, or public funding, as being a Protestant was in 18th-century England.Matt used to believe (like so many of us did):
I was not always a lukewarmer. When I first started writing about the threat of global warming more than 26 years ago, as science editor of The Economist, I thought it was a genuinely dangerous threat. Like, for instance, Margaret Thatcher, I accepted the predictions being made at the time that we would see warming of a third or a half a degree (Centigrade) a decade, perhaps more, and that this would have devastating consequences.When he initially switched there was a genuine conversation. People did try to engage him in long exchanges, but he gradually grew more and more skeptical, and the conversation just got more and more silly.
Then a funny thing happened a few years ago. Those who disagreed with me stopped pointing out politely where or why they disagreed and started calling me names. One by one, many of the most prominent people in the climate debate began to throw vitriolic playground abuse at me. I was “paranoid”, “specious”, “risible”, “self-defaming”, “daft”, “lying”, “irrational”, an “idiot”. Their letters to the editor or their blog responses asserted that I was “error-riddled” or had seriously misrepresented something, but then they not only failed to substantiate the charge but often roughly confirmed what I had written.I cannot recommend his writing enough, you will need a subscription to read his piece at The Times but thankfully, the author has also made it available to all at his blog, click here to read....
Like Mr. Ridley, I too have a view:
A Climate Change Point of View
Climate Change is both a highly contentious and polemic issue and one, that has dominated headlines for quite some time. I have a view, but before I share it, I feel duty-bound to make a couple of points.
Firstly, I believe the subject must be addressed in terms of the Oxford dictionary definition:
“ … a change in global or regional climate patterns, in particular a change apparent from the mid to late 20th century onwards and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels …”As opposed to the Wikipedia definition:
"Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years."Why you ask? Because the Oxford classification focuses on changes to climate post 19th century, hence it attributes climate change to modern humankind in terms of increased Carbon Dioxide emissions due to the use of fossil fuels to drive industry, motor vehicles, produce electricity etc.
The Wikipedia definition is also accurate, but present day conversation, (indeed argument), must focus on the study of modern kind’s contribution. This should be the default stance in any debate about the subject because climate change per-se has been happening since the dawn of time so the pertinent question is, has it accelerated by the use of fossil fuels since around 1900 or before that, the birth of the industrial revolution. Otherwise put, does one believe in Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW), meaning human made global warming?
The Oxford definition would be the preferred current day political view while Wiki's definition is the preferable science view.
Secondly, and though I have not stated it yet, you may wish to understand how it is that I arrived at my present view or interpretation about the subject. It has largely resulted from considerable consumption of reading material from all camps, right, left, liberal, conservative and the fringes. My interest in the subject peaked shortly after purchasing Time Magazines now famous issue dated April 3, 2006 with the cover headline, “Be worried, be very worried”.
Well I did get worried and from then on, I gravitated toward any article, op-ed piece, editorial, and documentary or radio segment on the subject. However, I went further and in 2009, launched the now redundant blog, Climate Change Views at www.climatecv.blogspot.com (link now inactive). As you will note from the business card images below, the goal was to create an on line portal to all views, ranging from the most alarmist to the most ardent deniers on the subject. In just over 18 months, I must have amassed and collated, read and presented links to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of articles on the subject of climate change and global warming combined with a short pitch of my own as a prelude to each. It was not long before something struck me, one detail stood out, that is, there is no consensus.You may think there is, when in reality there is not. If you expand your reading to all media, you will find this is the case.
|Climate Change Views Business Card 2009|
|Rear of Climate Change Views Business Card 2009|
“The modelling tells us that …”, and “… the model suggests …” etc.
“The Government will press ahead with its emissions trading scheme or Carbon tax for example; arguing that modelling to be released proves it is pro-growth and good for the nation's long-term economic competitiveness …”
“As you know, the Government released its Treasury modelling yesterday and what that modelling demonstrates …”
“ … the models used by neo-classical economists to consider climate change have so many solutions to their equations that they cannot produce information useful to policymakers without being rigged to do so … “
"Science has made such glorious leaps in the last 300 years that it is no wonder the worshippers lose their heads … I have heard more than one teacher say that all the fundamental conceptions of truths in science have been found and that the future has only the details of the picture to fill on. But the slightest reflection on the real conditions will suffice to show just how barbaric…crude…such notions are …whatever else be certain, this at least is. That the world of our present natural knowledge is enveloped in a larger world of some sort, of whose residual properties we, at present can frame no positive idea".
“When we turn to science, we assume that here, at least, our certainties are warranted. But are they? Most of us recognise the equation E = mc2” … “We know it has something to do with Einstein’s theory of relativity and perhaps we know he revolutionised scientific thought by challenging the accepted wisdom that mass and energy were separate phenomena. Today, the theory is being tested and challenged and’ …”contrary to Einstein’s conviction, it is possible for particles to travel at speeds greater than light” …”certainty in science like certainty in everything else that relies on assumptions, interpretations and theories, is more slippery than we might care to imagine. Scientific proofs are by their nature always provisional. In Religion and Science (1935), Bertrand Russell expressed the uncertainty that empirical scientists must learn the live with. He wrote that science is always tentative, expecting that modification in its present theory will sooner or later be found necessary, and aware that its method is one which is logically incapable of arriving at a complete and final demonstration.”
“Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) challenged the ideas that scientific truths once established are immutable and that scientific theories evolve via an orderly progression of thoughts. His point was that any scientific theory is subjective construction based on either constantly shifting data or perceptions of the data, or on occasion startling, which he called “paradigm shifts”. To assume certainty or stability at any given point in this process is to ignore the long history of science. The integrity of any theory, Kuhn argued lies in its falsifiability - that is, its openness to the possibility of repudiation in the light of more evidence, fresh insights or more creative interpretation of data whose significance was not previously understood.”
“As we moved through the twentieth century, labelled the Age of Uncertainty by many philosophers, psychologists, economists, political scientists and social analysts, we came to realise that, as Australian social analyst Richard Eckersley wrote in Well and Good (2004), “scientific knowledge is never the whole truth or an absolute, immutable truth. And what science has done, and how its results are applied, are powerfully determined by its cultural context”. Indeed, as Stephen Trombley put it in A Short History of Western Thought (2011), “Any claim to absolute knowledge is questionable, and that knowledge is dependent on the perspective of the observer”. In other words, we interpret what we see in the light of our existing knowledge, our existing convictions, or faith, and even our existing prejudices: the viewer is indeed part of the view.”
“According to Brian Schmidt, co-winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize for physics, scientific theories should be regarded as predictions. Much of what we regard as scientific knowledge, he says, is mere hypothesis that allows scientists to get on with their work until the hypothesis is proved right or wrong.”
“The French philosopher of science Bruno Latour, among others, has taken the uncertainty principle one step further. In his provocative book, On the Modern Cult of the Factish Gods (2011), he reiterates the conventional scientific wisdom that scientific facts are mere human constructions, just like any other human construction and claims that, like those other human constructions, scientific facts appear real and stable to us at a given time, even though they might be subject to future revision or reinterpretation on the light of new understandings’ … “these scientific constructions are not significantly different from the artefact's of a religion, in which we construct beliefs (the religious equivalent to theories), icons, fetishes and even gods out or our understanding of the world as we experience it. Embracing scientific knowledge strikes Latour as being rather like a leap of faith based on fresh revelation.”