In 15 years, the Global Warming hysteria is going to be one of those embarassing episodes in history. Several sociology and history of science PhDs will write their theses on “how they blew it on climate change”.
The latest person to risk his reputation by coming out and speaking truthiness to the enviro-powers is Freeman Dyson.
As I am not 80 years old, and I have to live with my reputation for a while longer, let me make my position clear again:
- The way science works is that you observe something and you try to explain it. Sometimes it helps to make a model, and useful models make predictions that stick.
- Climate change researchers haven’t been very successful at that, not because they are not smart enough or hard working enough, but because the climate is a really big complicated thing. Their models cannot explain past weather, and do not agree on future weather. Given that we cannot do large scale experiments on our climate, the best we have is the models. They don’t work.
- Politics and popularism that sways funding degrades science, because scientists will naturally seek the easy money, and will not go out of their way to make their own life difficult by spitting in the face of the rich research sponsors. Even if some climate researchers know that they are caught up in a hysteria and that the evidence does not support the hysteria, some of them will take the easy way out: take the money and give the answer the model says (and just keep their worries about the reliability of the model to themselves — due to the next point).
- When people cannot rationally discuss multiple theories about a natural phenomenon because those theories that contradict the status quo are perceived as “corrupt”, “dangerous”, “crackpot”, then science stops working right. This is happening now. Those who wish to investigate all possibilities are branded (most benignly) as “climate change deniers”, and usually much, much worse things. Read the rude comments sent Dyson’s way and be ashamed. This is one of our greatest living scientists. We should treat our elders with more respect than that.
- The climate might be changing in ways that are dangerous for humans or it might not. Humans might have changed it or not. That gives us four possible “realities”. 3 out of 4 of them do not justify any radical action on our part. The fourth possibility (man is making significant changes and the climate is getting dangerous to us) is, due to feedback effects, likely too far along for us to stop. Instead, we’ll have to live with the legacy we gave ourselves. But we’re smart enough and still rich enough — but only if we get to work.
- There are many excellent reasons to get off the fossil fuel addiction including: global security, local ecological reasons (well drilling is icky), and economic sustainability arguments. Human-generated climate change is not one of them.
- Human development in resource-poor regions is fundamentally just, and any action we take regarding climate change must allow those countries to develop as fast as they possibly can. Nothing reduces sickness, early death, and sadness more than poverty reduction. Nothing. My MSF work is a great big waste of time (and a very small waste of money, comparatively). I know it, and most other MSFers know it too.
- There is money, big money, to be made on green technologies. There are great reasons to go out and try to make that money. Climate change is just not one of them.
So, there you are, future socieology PhDs. When you find this blog post, you’ll see that the hysteria was not complete and utter. There were people who were willing to point to the angry mob and call it what it is.
PS: I found it cute that Dyson’s wife disagrees with him. When I told Marina I think global warming is a hoax, she almost called off the wedding…