Friday, April 24, 2009

A pollution to worry about

One of the greatest tragedies of the environmental movement is the political pollution of science. In the article below, two atmospheric scientists decry the deleterious effect that global warming alarmism has had on our ability to discover and understand the complex truths about the real workings of earth's climate.

COMMENTARY: Global-warming politics

Pure science victim of an empirical meltdown

In our combined 50 years of professional atmospheric and environmental science experience in government, academia, activism and consulting, we have observed a dichotomy between the real and the academic-bureaucratic worlds of environmental science.

Scientists and engineers who work hands-on in the trenches with real-world environmental-science challenges on a daily basis are skeptical of claims of a substantial influence on global climate from human activity.

Academicians who view the world from their computer screens, theories, limited field investigations and well-read published reports are not only true believers but avid promoters of the theory of anthropogenic global warming (AGW)...

Our serious interest in the environment, however, is not unreasonable concern. Much personal, professional and academic experience tells us there's much more to be learned about the hugely complex climate system. And simple, politically motivated declarations of supposed climate facts and proposed solutions to dubious anthropogenic contributions to global warming will only abridge a full understanding of the biosphere and humans' limited interference with its natural operation.


Michael Labeit said...

Like I told Doug Reich, the source of the error in global warming alarmism must be in its method. That "humans are causing global warming which will ultimately obliterate civilization" is a conclusion of the alarmists. As a result, they must be working from multiple premises and a method of forming such a conclusion from those premises. I believe a thorough. investigation of their methodology would produce innumerable non-sequitors, e.g., "our computer simulation predicts disaster when we use statistical imputs," etc.

Burgess Laughlin said...

The intrusion of ideological motives into climatological science may indeed be a problem. As a layman, I suspect it is. But I also suspect there might be a deeper problem: the culture of science might not be standing on a firm philosophical foundation.

I got a hint of this when I posted a few times on When I asked about which books were the best for a layman to read, that is, books which offered proof of ICACC (imminent catastrophically antropogenic climate change), I was told there by scientists that science doesn't prove, it only collects evidence. If I want proofs in life I should go to mathematics.

What was missing there is the philosophical idea of objectivity: all ideas in our minds must be inferred, directly or indirectly, from sense-perceptible facts of reality. Proof is an argument that leads logically from facts to conclusions. Where there is no proof of complex conclusions, there is no objectivity.

Many scientists themselves might not have the philosophical background they need to defend science.

Beth said...

You are exactly right. Just one example is the following.

Climate scientist and former NASA researcher, Dr. Roy Spencer, has written a book for laymen in attempt to counter the skewed information promoted by global warming alarmists. In Climate Confusion, he provides excellent explanations of the research challenging the claims of the IPCC and other alarmists. He even understands and conveys the economic and political consequences of the global warming movement. But his defense is seriously weakened by his epistemological errors. In a chapter fittingly titled "Science isn't truth" he denies man's ability to achieve certainty, or even real truth. In trying to undercut the alarmists' claims to predict our future climate, he denies all attempts by science to prove anything.
The gains that science could achieve with a proper epistemology, both in improved methodology as well as in self-defense, would be tremendous.
Thanks for bring up this crucial point.