Thursday, December 7, 2006

A durable hysteria - So exactly what accounts for the durability of global warming hysteria? To be sure, in that we live in a society that hardly recognizes any kind of real heroism, the prospect of man-made global warming presents an opportunity for cheap and easy heroism. For many people, the belief that individuals can “save the planet” is a most attractive self-deception, especially for those whose lives are otherwise without distinction.

For others, global warming feeds into an intrinsic need to maintain an illusion of control over their lives and surroundings. Members of the scientific community are especially susceptible to this illusion, in that they often conclude that anything that can be understood – however imprecisely – can also be controlled. As we might expect, many politicians who take up the cause of climate change as a way to show their governmental gallantry, with the corollary benefit being a chance to burnish their liberal bona fides.

Another dynamic that reinforces the sense of impending doom seems to be the herd mentality that seems universal among global warming researchers.† This is in spite of the fact that such a mindset has been an impediment to empirical discovery throughout history; we need only think back to Copernicus to know that such has often been the case. Traditionally, scientific advances have rarely been achieved by building upon consensus, but rather by challenging it in a methodical way, with the old understandings yielding under the weight of a new explanatory paradigm.

For reasons that are perhaps only tangentially related to science, global warming researchers appear to be resistant to explanations that do not support their “consensus.” Writing in the U.K. Telegraph on April 9, 2006, James Cook University climate researcher Bob Carter provides a lasting insight on the issue of science in pursuit of non-scientific interests.

Does something not strike you as odd here? That industrial carbon dioxide is not the primary cause of the earth’s recent decadal-scale temperature changes doesn’t seem at all odd to many thousands of independent scientists. They have long appreciated – ever since the early 1990s, when the global warming bandwagon first started to roll behind the gravy train of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – that such short-term climate fluctuations are chiefly of natural origin. Yet the public appears to be largely convinced otherwise. How is this possible?

The problem here is not that of climate change per se, but rather that of the sophisticated scientific brainwashing that has been inflicted on the public, bureaucrats and politicians alike. Governments generally choose not to receive policy advice on climate from independent scientists. Rather, they seek guidance from their own self-interested science bureaucracies and senior advisers, or from the IPCC itself.
† Perhaps this mindset only appears to be universal among climate researchers. Since 1999, the Oregon Petition Project maintains a list of over 19,000 signatories – many of whom hold advanced degrees in physical or environmental sciences, chemistry, biochemistry or life sciences – who are of the opinion that “[t]here is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.” Similarly, a number of academics have signed the 1995 Leipzig Declaration, which rejected the global warming hypothesis, along with the 1997 revised declaration opposing the Kyoto Protocol.

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