14 December 2009

Hide the decline: When the science isn't settled

I would like to write something on climate change, as much to obtain a better understanding of the issues for myself, as to proselytise to anyone else. I immensely dislike the whole tenor of the current debate, if indeed there is any real debate, and strongly object to being labelled with affiliations I do not hold, simply because I might wish to enquire about validity of a hypothesis and the efficacy of policy ideas. Climate change has clearly been a continous process since the Earth formed so the slur of climate change 'denier' is clearly disingenuous for a start. Incidently one might get the impression that I am biased already given the link below, but the main point of that link is the government using alarmist scare stories (I am sure not endorsed by serious climate scientists of any stripe) to terrify our children. If anyone believes that this kind of hyperventilating nonsense is helpful, then I have no time for them as they are not interested in rational enquiry and methods. Also, although the peer review system is a useful process, it is rich of proponents of AGW to dismiss criticisms as not peer reviewed, when they are happy to use alarmist journalism to further their own agendas.

It is interesting that one can hold heterodox views in other areas of science whithout becoming a social pariah at hip London dinner parties, or indeed without anyone caring at all. As an example and somewhat ironically given the context, I doubt the 'Copenhagen' interpretation of quantum mechanics, in fact I prefer the De Broglie–Bohm or Pilot-Wave theory of quantum mechanics, where incidently the debate appears to be alive and well. Why am I socially allowed this opinion, but not a similar minority view on climate change? Is it because of the science, or the perceived policy implications of the science? Why has 'sceptic' become an insult instead of an eminently sensible position to take when confronted with a decision to accept monumental impositions of society?

In a field entirely unrelated to climate change, I have just finished The Nurture Assumption, which holds that children's personalities are formed in the main by interactions with their peer group and the parents have little to no effect, other than through their genes. This is a controversial position, which flies in the face of the scientific 'consensus' amongst social psychologists. Now whether or not this author is correct in her theories, I doubt my agreement with her position is likely to get me metaphorically lynched by devout believers in the 'nurture assumption', yet as far as I am aware she does not have a vast catalogue of peer-reviewed papers backing up her theories.

Having expressed my objections to some of the cartoon portrayals of those who might query the anthropomorphic climate change movement (complete with policy implications), I would like to look at what evidence there is and see where that leads me. Although anyone who reads this blog will appreciate I am unlikely to like government 'solutions' for any perceived problems, this is a different issue to the truth of AGW. So I would like to concentrate on whether that is an issue or not first and then discuss what solutions there might be if it is, or were to become, a problem. I would add at this juncture that anarcho-capitalists do need to think about what our solutions are even if the current scare turns out not to be true, since there is nothing logically impossible about dispersed processes causing global catastrophes.