The integrity of our most important tool for understanding is being destroyed and it’s time to recognize and address it.
Guest essay by Walter Starck
We humans have a remarkable ability to rationalize whatever benefits us personally or that we find satisfying emotionally. Climate change has found strong resonance with different interests for different reasons. For researcher it offers generous funding, recognition and personal importance. For the media it is dramatic stories. For politicians it’s green votes and popularity. For the financial sector it promises huge profits. For businesses there is the prospect of getting in early on booming growth plus the added bonus of attractive subsidies. For activists it affords attention and donations. For bureaucrats it’s authority and budgets. For everyone it also promises a hard to resist sense of importance and moral righteousness.
Of all the areas of human endeavor science has been uniquely successful in establishing the preeminence of empirical evidence and logical consistency to limit our tendency to self-serving rationalization and our capacity to believe six impossible things before breakfast. The greatest danger of Climate Change is not the threat of climate itself or the socioeconomic consequences of our delusions. These risks are limited compared to the damage being done to the integrity of the most effective tool we have to better understand our world and to continue to improve our lives.
The now endemic corruption of science that has been engendered under the banner of climate change could be easily and effectively addressed by the establishment of a science court resourced to investigate and make determinations on prima facie instances of scientific misconduct. The most appropriate penalty might also be to simply disqualify offenders from any further public funding. This would largely avoid the risk of witch hunts or whitewashes and only a few convictions could effect a miracle cure on the malaise now epidemic in environmental research.
Some argue that true believers will only take the same points and argue they apply to skeptics – i.e. it is skeptics who are the ones rationalizing irrational disbelief and using false evidence to justify an emotional attachment to a contrary belief.
In response I argue that no amount of reason or evidence will convince a true believer to change their mind. Fortunately they are a minority and a majority of the public are unconvinced and receptive to counter arguments. Committed alarmists will of course try to use the “you too” tactic but this is generally recognized as a weak response only resorted to when sound opposing argument is lacking. That there is abundant evidence for skepticism while that for DAGW is far less and more uncertain is a verifiable fact which deserves more emphasis. Despite their huge advantage in funding, media support and political influence, opinion polls clearly indicate alarmists have already lost the public majority and the trend is ongoing. They can say what they want but it is obvious neither the public nor climate itself is being convinced.
In terms of scientific rationale and supporting evidence, climate alarmism involves far more denial than does skepticism. The only way one could honestly conclude differently would be to be blissfully unaware of the hundreds of robust peer reviewed studies which refute or bring into serious doubt virtually every important claim by the proponents of DAGW. In this regard it might be more accurate to discard the deliberately pejorative label of climate change denial and call it the Natural Climate Variability hypothesis. If those who introduced the use of denialism in this matter wish to continue with it they might more honestly apply it to their own position as deniers of Natural Climate Variability.