Climate change isn’t among the themes of this site, directly, yet we’ve commented on it twice: Climate Inquisition and Climate Change Thought Police. The purpose is to consider the means of forcing consensus and quelling debate, not whether the temperature is rising. Our ability to dissent is what’s at issue. It’s the tendency to manipulation, such as we see in the climate change movement, that is a threat to religious and intellectual freedom.
Why isn’t the following a reasonable way to think about climate change?
One: Is The Climate Changing?
First, there are so many variables affecting climate that it seems a perfectly reasonable proposition that long-term heating and cooling trends would occur. If they occur as a result of those many natural variables and there’s nothing we can do about it, then the science of climate change is useful only to help us anticipate what’s going to happen and when. This by itself wouldn’t be controversial.
Two: Is Climate Change Caused by Man?
This is where controversy comes in, on the science. There is a discomfiting tendency among the various advocates for climate change policy, to declare that “the science is settled,” or that “virtually all climate scientists agree,” or that there is “scientific consensus.” Even more troubling is the movement to label those who disagree as “deniers,” thereby linking them to the kooks who deny the moon landing or the holocaust.
Our antenna should go up anytime we hear this kind of thing. What they’re saying is that the conversation is over – if you’re a skeptic about climate change, you’re already left behind. And that you’re a fool for continuing to question it. But why would these kinds of conversation-stoppers have to be employed in the first place? Precisely because it’s being questioned. These are just methods of winning the debate by asserting that it’s not a debate.
There’s a petition that was set up to demonstrate that many scientists do not support the anthropogenic climate change hypothesis: the Global Warming Petition Project. Predictably, those who support the hypothesis came along to trash the petition, such as in this Newsmax article. We should take note of the meta-debate. What they’re arguing about is whether there is really a consensus or not among scientists about global warming. But the issue is whether there is global warming, not whether there is consensus about global warming. The fact that this side-issue is occurring at all should tell us something. Those who maintain there is climate change are avoiding the debate by asserting that the debate is already over. If we’re paying attention, this tactic should make us more skeptical, not less.
This tactic is troublesome regardless whether there is climate change that is man-made. But on top of that, there are ample reasons to be skeptical about the anthropogenic climate change hypothesis. For one thing, there have been all manner of over-the-top gloom and doom climate change predictions that have been laughably off-target. That doesn’t mean there’s no climate change, necessarily, but it certainly means that the level of certainty about it cannot possibly be as presented.
Climate change is supposedly the result of long-term warming, but there has apparently been no warming for many years now. Extrapolation of historical data cannot support the global warming conclusion as it is claimed to do. We’re told that there should be ocean level rising, but there hasn’t been any of significance, if one looks at the hum-drum data collected. The polar ice caps were supposed to significantly melt in the last few years, but Antarctic ice recently reached a new high, and the Arctic has rebounded significantly in the last three years.
But again, the point is not that there is no climate change. The point is that there is room for skepticism and we should be careful of the devious attempt to truncate further discussion of the issue, by claiming victory and labeling the dissenters “deniers.”
Three: Is Government Intervention Appropriate?
Climate change alarmists wring their hands at public indifference. But maybe it’s not indifference. Maybe it’s fear that the cure is worse than the disease.
The wild-eyed doomsday prophecies ought to tell us something. There must be a reason that alarmists raise alarms. They’re trying to motivate us to action. They sometimes miss the mark; sometimes hilariously. But why do they try to stoke fear?
To get you to do something. Something that the real facts wouldn’t support. Something that fake scare-facts might. That something is to turn to government to further regulate carbon emissions and other impacts on the environment.
Many people see this as just a massive power grab. From individuals, to the government. The whole point of government action – any government action – is to require conformance with the government’s regulation, rather than one’s own. Government regulation by definition infringes on freedom. It costs. Even if there is climate change, and even if it is man-made, we should count the cost of empowering the government more than we already do.