Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Climategate should be irrelevant to government policy

As I have argued before, just the simple fact that all the prominent global warming alarmists promote statist solutions to the "global warming problem" and that NONE argue for increased freedom, wealth and prosperity should make their motives suspect.

We can always hope that the recently leaked emails will draw attention to this fact, but many powerful special interests are heavily vested in the catastrophic scenarios, so it still may not be enough to shift such entrenched beliefs.

Ultimately, however, the science is irrelevant to the politics.

John Derbyshire states it well when considering the relationship between science and politics:

That one stands higher than the other in the great scale of things, is a value judgment, based probably on one's temperament. I could argue it either way. Without rational politics and a stable social order, not much science would get done. Without some true understanding of the natural world, politicians would commit gross errors and fail.

Both fields have their crucial contribution to make to human well-being. The problem arises when scientists and politicians claim that a scientific fact (or theory) implies a particular political policy. It does not. Not for alarmists nor for skeptics.

Derbyshire continues, reminding us of the dangers posed by conflating these two subjects:

Does the political connection corrupt science? Yes it does, though in different ways in different areas of science. It has the biggest corrupting effect on the softest science — things like GW, where the data is indecisive enough (it seems to me) to be open to easy political manipulation.

The greatest gift of science is perhaps its emphasis on the scientific method, which is really just reason applied to the study of the natural world: observations lead to pattern recognition, which leads to theories of causation, which must then be verified through experimentation and the power to predict. The goal is a continued refinement of our knowledge and understanding of the world.

But scientific facts pertaining to the non-human natural world provide no guidance for determining a political response to those facts. There is nothing in climate science which informs us on the question of whether the proper response is more government or more freedom. To answer that question requires an adequate understanding of the social and political requirements for man to thrive. A robust literature exists* which demonstrates those conditions to include the recognition of individual rights (including the right to property) accompanied by the systematic exclusion of the initiation of force from the realm of acceptable human behavior.

Respecting the rights of life, liberty, and property leads to the wealth and prosperity which will allow us to continually improve and adapt to our environment.

Wealth is not the problem. Wealth is the solution.

*For just a few sources to substantiate this claim, see my list of recommended books in teh side bar.

1 comment:

garret seinen said...

Beth I'll plague you again.

For all of those with even a smattering of commitment to logical analysis, AGW was always a non-problem, simply looking for government help in picking productive pockets. It is, though far from over, as the lack of scientific support was known before the publication of the fraud, by a hero, not a whistleblower.

But I see the manifestation of the broader problem, mixing science with government funding. It can almost be concluded that government involvement corrupts everything.

With the government involvement, theoretical science has become the darling and applied science the dog, relegated to the back burner, and the exact reversal of what a free enterprise system would demand. With the current system the nonproductive is elevated above the productive - a true travesty.