I find it taxing to discuss the climate with those who are unabashed global warmists (GWs). I don’t mind disagreements per se but, I am sorry, most GWs are muddled-headed wombats when the matter proceeds beyond the notion that the planet is warming to what should be done about it, the practicalities and the cost. I want to help.
Categorisation is a helpful tool to make sense of complicated situations. In this case it might help to set down a broad classification of beliefs. Now any broad classification involves a fair degree of fudging. Bear that in mind.
I will go in just six steps; from the extreme GWs to the sceptics. Attributions are indicated in brackets.
- “It ain’t ‘alf ‘ot, mum. We’re doomed I tell you. Doomed!” Fossil fuels must remain where they lie, only sun and wind will save the day. ( Deep Greens)
- The temperature’s rising and it isn’t surprising – that coal and gas is a pain in the posterior. They must be phased out as soon as possible, anything else is irresponsible. (Light Greens)
- It’s happening, that is true, but don’t get in a stew. We have time to think up something new. (Lomborg and others)
- Maybe it’s happening, maybe it’s not. Let’s keep our heads and proceed with caution; lest we throw our money away, commit self-harm and lose the farm. ( Light Sceptics)
- From left field, or is it right field? “It’s getting greener. The plants love warming and CO2. Let it rip, man, it’s a boon for me and you. (Matt Ridley and others)
- It’s a scam from go to woe. (Deep Sceptics)
I realise that this erudite classification is not absolutely perfect, but it may allow some people of different views to stay friends when they understand that they are not far apart, but just one step. My emotional inclination puts me in classification 6 — and, unfortunately, people can spot this because of my conservative political demeanour. Those in classification 6 also annoy greenies most, and this is an incentive to be there. But that is a childish reason for pinning one’s colours to the mast and beneath me (mostly).
Intellectually, if you will overlook the pompous connotation of the word, I am in classification 4, with a leaning also towards 5, but have no implacable objection to 3 and could be dragged there by events. I could not be dragged to 1 or 2 because they are wholly impractical.
I am pretty sure GW has happened to some degree, going by surface land and ocean measures. I simply don’t know whether and/or by how much fossil fuel is responsible, or whether warming will resume, having stalled since circa 1997/1998. The advantage of the greening of the planet (classification 5) sounds logical and persuasive, but I simply don’t know enough to weigh that against the potentially adverse effects of warming.
The scientific opinion differs, albeit that the weight of view – so far as I can tell – still appears to favour the man-made hypothesis. However, I have been troubled that some scientists seem out to seek affirmation of this hypothesis, instead of trying in Popperian fashion to reject it. All too often they rush to retro-fit explanations when their predictions go awry – as they often have. Mind you, of itself, this does not prove the hypothesis wrong.
But, the most telling point I would like to make about the science is that I don’t know. More than that, as a non-climate scientist, I have no insight into the science worth speaking of at all. I say, in all modesty, that my view of the science is worthless.
As my level of ignorance is mirrored in nearly all of the population, can people please stop saying that they believe, or don’t believe, in the science? Vanity, all is vanity. Sometimes, when I hear someone saying this – usually that they “believe in the science” – I think I will go completely around the bend. The science itself is a black hole to most of us. Nothing comes out of it that is intelligible. If you doubt that, grab hold of a professional scientific climate journal and see how far you get.
Unfortunately, what we do get is pap for the masses. Tim Flannery and company saying things like ‘the dams are going to dry up’ and then popping up again with more doomsday predictions when they don’t. Never mind, if you don’t like those alarmist predictions there are others.
How, in the midst of alarmists’ headline-grabbing, can common folk form a considered view? Well the truth is that they can’t. We are in the hands of the political elite. That should make us all feel safe in our beds.