Blogs > Liberty and Power > "Science versus Consensus"

May 16, 2007 5:30 pm

"Science versus Consensus"

Considering the recent discussions here about science, consensus, and global warming, I thought this paper by Frank Van Dun would be of interest. Here's how it gets off the ground:

Tonight I am not going to comment on any particular item in the vast field of the “science” that supposedly underpins the Summary for Policy Makers (published on February 2, 2007) of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). I have no competence to deal with any of it. I shall restrict my comments to two aspects of the IPCC’s treatment of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW):

1) How unproven assumptions built into computer models serve to transform the available “science” into a prediction of the state of the global climate a hundred years from now.

2) How the uncertainties and controversies that characterize science and research on the work floor disappear behind the shrouds of the supposed consensus on CAGW and the supposed fact that it is now 90% certain that CAGW is occurring.

To make such comments, one need not be a “climate scientist”. They rely on common sense, memory, and little bit of simple mathematics. For the sake of the argument then, I shall optimistically assume that “the science” is as good as one could expect, and leave it to the scientists to be sceptical with respect to each other’s work. My “Global Warming scepticism” concerns what the CAGW-establishment—the IPCC itself, and the political strategists, spin doctors, and technocrats in the EU and other international bureaucracies that have decided to hype CAGW—does with that science, how it coaxes it into a fallacious argument for its own sensationalist and alarmist conclusions and the political agenda they serve. In short, my scepticism concerns the alleged link between the available “science” and the so-called consensus on CAGW.

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Gus diZerega - 5/17/2007

Time is scarce, but even so I began reading the paper. But I did not read far. I stopped when I got to the following bull____:

"This state of affairs accounts for many of the decidedly ideological aspects of the debate. Advocacy of the CAGW-thesis translates easily into ‘More power and more money for the political, bureaucratic, and academic elites’. Scepticism of that thesis is more congenial to those who trust in the proven human ability to react adaptively to changes in the environment, if and when they happen. In contrast, the advocates demonstrate a degree of hubris that is unheard of in the whole of human history. They claim that a small political elite has the power to control the mass of humanity for many generations to come, and should use its power to adapt human society proactively to climate changes that they declare to be catastrophic and imminent. Such hubris is enough to make any sane person sceptical about the CAGW-thesis."

I then googled him to see whether he had any scientific expertise at all on the subject in terms of experience doing real science. He has not. He wrote on his website

"My central interest is the philosophy of freedom which I approach from the perspective of a philosopher of law. Hence my preoccupation with the theory of natural law (mainly natural law libertarianism), classical liberalism and logic."

His good-guy bad-guy approach and silliness about how government power and scientific budgets were the real motive behind those taking global warming seriously should have been enough to tip me off that he is unqualified to judge the specifics of the debate.

For what it matters, I have written how dealing with the issue need not lead to any increase in taxes or regulatory power. All one need do to meet these criteria is adopt a revenue neutral carbon tax. revenue generated by the tax is deducted from other taxes. There need be no net gain in governmental power.

Apparently anti-global warming ideologues and dead enders seem to think that repeating their mantras over and over again will somehow win arguments. They are wrong.