by Barry A. Liebling
The doctrine of climate alarmism is a mainstay of today’s dominant culture. The educational establishment fully embraces it and feeds doomsday predictions to students from first grade through graduate school. Most major players in the print, broadcast, entertainment, and internet media enthusiastically push the alarmist agenda. Political entities on the left – especially the Democratic party – recognize that the words “climate change” are magic and justify their most extreme ambitions to meddle in everyone’s life.
Climate alarmists claim that the human race is facing a catastrophe. Burning fossil fuels puts more carbon dioxide into the air. The increase in carbon dioxide is ruining the planet and will result in irreversible damage that will make life miserable for those who are lucky enough to survive human-caused “climate change” (previously referred to as “global warming”). There is only one solution that will avert the disaster – strong government intervention to sharply reduce and then eliminate the use of carbon-based fuels.
While the majority of the cultural elite fully endorse climate alarmism, there are those who disagree. Skeptics question whether the climate (which is always changing) is changing any more than previously and is getting worse. Furthermore, they doubt that human activity (especially using energy to improve human life) is having a deleterious effect on the world. And significantly, they realize that the leftist solution (government control and massive reduction of energy production and consumption) will result in more (rather than less) misery.
One of the main smears that climate alarmists use against those who fail to comply with their hysterical demands is that skeptics are “against science.” That is a potent insult, since science – properly understood – is a method of rationally and systematically making sense of the world. The scientific method consists of examining objects and events, designing and conducting surveys and experiments to determine how things work, and interpreting the results with logic.
Note the vacuity of the alarmist charge that skeptics are “against science.” Here are a few illustrations of how alarmists are mistaken.
The most common rationale for accusing skeptics of being “against science” is that the doubters are not conforming to a majority opinion. Alarmists often remark that a survey was conducted among scientists, and most of the participants agree that the climate is being trashed by human activity. This is the classic fallacy of argumentum ad populum. The error is to assume that if a lot of people – particularly experts – agree with a statement, the statement must be true. Of course, in science (as well as in the rest of the world) there are endless examples of the majority being wrong. The most famous case is Galileo who stood nearly alone against the “natural philosophers” of his time and promoted heliocentrism against geocentrism. Thinking people, particularly those who respect science, should not make the mistake of counting votes instead of examining evidence.
And it is interesting to note that “climate change” zealots who condemn skeptics for discounting a majority opinion are often hypocritical. They are typically fans of organic food and take efforts to avoid food that contains GMO (genetically modified organisms) ingredients. Most food scientists claim that organic food and non-GMO food is no more nutritious and no safer than conventional comestibles. Apparently, counting votes on scientific questions is only appropriate when it benefits the leftist narrative.
Climate alarmists stacked the deck when they changed their nomenclature from “global warming” to “climate change.” Go back to the 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth that puts forth Al Gore’s vision of calamity. The “documentary” warns viewers that the world is getting dangerously hot, and drastic steps must be taken to stop it. When the planet did not boil over the true believers asserted that a hotter climate is not necessary to prove them right. Any change in the climate, they claim, counts as evidence that supports their position. Notice that there is no scenario where “climate change” does not occur. No observable events can disprove that the climate is changing. What does this say about who is “against science?”
The main protagonists in the climate alarmist movement frequently make predictions that if their demands are not met immediately it will be too late. The world will go down the drain. But on multiple occasions the experts’ deadlines have passed, and the catastrophe has not occurred. Of course, this does not diminish the reputation and prestige of the doom sayers. No matter how many times their predictions fail the boosters in their enthusiastic base continue to believe and spread the pessimistic narrative. Does this qualify as supporting the scientific method? https://www.manhattancontrarian.com/blog/2018-10-11-manhattan-contrarian-quiz-climate-tipping-points-edition
Frequently climate alarmists charge that skeptics have a vested interest in defying the leftist prescription for saving the world. Zealots claim that doubters are often paid by companies that produce and use energy. This motivates doubters to discount any evidence (“most scientists agree!”) that supports the alarmist position. Furthermore, according to mainstream pundits, skeptics are often enthusiasts for free markets and consequently bridle at any policies that contradict their philosophy.
Observe that the vested interest criticism is a two-edged sword. If it can be used against skeptics it certainly applies to alarmists. Nearly all of the scientists that support the “climate change” story are dependent on government money. They know that their best prospect for obtaining research grants is to publicly support the “climate change” doctrine. They also understand that going against the dominant academic culture can ruin their careers. And do not overlook that most academic investigators are committed to the progressive left and recognize that climate alarmism is a convenient vehicle for achieving their political ambitions.
Science – done correctly – is a positive force that enhances human well being. Those who are “against science” are on the wrong track, as are those who deliberately make false accusations.
*** See other entries at AlertMindPublishing.com in “Monthly Columns.” ***