Quiggin: The Global Warming Debate Is Over

Interesting write-up from John Quiggan at Crooked Timber: The end of the global warming debate. I especially liked this part:

Finally, the evidence has mounted up that, with a handful of exceptions, “sceptics” are not, as they claim, fearless seekers after scientific truth, but ideological partisans and paid advocates, presenting dishonest arguments for a predetermined party-line conclusion. Even three years ago, sites like Tech Central Station, and writers like Ross McKitrick were taken seriously by many. Now, anyone with access to Google can discover that they have no credibility. Chris Mooney’s Republican War on Science which I plan to review soon, gives chapter and verse and the whole network of thinktanks, politicians and tame scientists who have popularised GW contrarianism, Intelligent Design and so on.

There’s a process to doing good science, and it’s very much not the same thing as selling your a priori opinions as Truth. As with the evolution debate that took place in the 1800s, the scientific community has looked at the evidence and reached a consensus. Those who want to continue arguing that particular issue aren’t doing science.

4 Responses to “Quiggin: The Global Warming Debate Is Over”

  1. ethan-p Says:

    I call bullshit…bigtime. It’s funny that this guy is exactly what he accuses doubters of. I think that I’ve shown that I’m not an ideological partisan, and I can say with authority that I have no ties to the energy industry; still, I’m not totally sold on the idea that humans have caused (and are causing) global warming.

    Obviously, it’s clear that the planet is getting warmer. I don’t think that anyone is debating that.

    However, the question remains: Are humans really causing this? Is there any evidence beyond the antecdotal? How is the ‘hockey stick’ not consistent with any other warming trend in the climate history that we’ve been able to dig up? I still don’t see how it’s any different from historical trending — other than the fact that there is a strong correlation between warming trends and the industrial revolution…but like FSM story points out, there’s also a strong correlation between the decline of pirates and global climate trends. Neither of these actually show causation.

    The fact is that this is an emotionally driven issue. The writer here is clearly an evangelist, and is treating anyone who questions what has become conventional wisdom as a moron. I’m not even saying that it isn’t happenning, I simply have questions which remain unanswered. The answer from the believers is similar to followers of a religion. The argument is that the consequences are dire, and time is short. I don’t know if I have an eternal soul, and I don’t know that following Jesus is the way to eternal salvation. The argument is that since I don’t know, and the cost of being wrong is so high — why not just be safe and follow Jesus? I’m sure that it would boost my Christian neighbor’s opinion of me. Well…I don’t follow Jesus, and I’m not going to take it on blind faith that 50,000,000 people can’t be wrong about the global warming contraversy. Similarly, the consequences are dire with global warming, and time is short. There are still unanswered questions. It’s not my way to take things like this on faith — and not ask questions for fear of being ridiculed.

    The fact is that people on both poles of this debate are politically motivated. There are quite a few people on the humans-caused-it side of the debate who cling to it like it was the word of god. If global temperatures returned to normal tomorrow, and it was clearly proven beyond any doubt that this was simply a normal trend in the global climate cycle, they would still cling to their ideals. They’re evangelical about it, which (IMO) makes them just as bad as their counterparts, and makes me quesiton them like I’d question any other ‘dogmatic’ ideal.

    We should all continue to ask questions everywhere and challenge our convictions. Our scientists should as well…the scientific process depends on it. I simply don’t see this happenning. Critical thought has given way to popular opinion and conventional wisdom. The writer here seems like a whiner who has no tolerance for opinions different from his own. What a shame.

  2. treehugger Says:

    Although I think there is always room for genuine debate, I think that anyone who looks at the changes in climate patterns and how they coincide with the industrial revolution can clearly see there is something definitely there.

    I can say with all honesty that my belief that man is in a big way responsible for climate change (which includes global warming; they are other things happening as well) is not attributed to political motivation, but rather for a real concern for our fragile planet.

  3. Emissary of Death Says:

    Ya i agree, were all dead…

  4. Transducer Says:

    This is a first post – probably to thin air.

    If you dare to enter the scientific journal arena where the real science is actually played out, and ignore all non-technical commentators, you will see for yourself a careful ballet in progress. Everyone agrees the earth is getting warmer, but that’s about all they agree about. Proponents of the carbon hypothesis (warming due to manmade greenhouse gasses) will always dance around the indisputable fact that climate appears to be linked to solar activity, and solar activity has been rising steadily during the last 100 years. The scientific point at issue is whether the current climate cycle is natural – whether it would have the same shape if there were no industrial humans around.

    In the end, those who call for reduction in emissions are guessing that human activity must have an important aggravating impact – that this is not a normal cycle we are in right now. The actual evidence for that is far weaker than, for instance, the evidence that links sunspots to global temperature, which is statistically powerful.

    My point is that it is a verifiable fact – despite what gets written about it on either side by non-specialists – that this is an area of active scientific discussion. It is only a rhetorical device when one side describes their position as “proven” or even “widely held.” If you don’t believe me go google it yourself, and read a few dozen fully footnoted, refereed articles on climate change by PhD geophysicists and paleoclimatologists written over the past decade or so.

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