The cat i' the adage

"The growth of knowledge depends entirely on disagreement" Karl Popper (1902 - 1994)

Friday, June 17, 2005

Environmentalists angry

It quite cheers one up despite the awful summer weather.

A leaked copy of a document on climate change being drafted for the G8 summit suggests it has been watered down.

A version of the communique leaked in May treated climate change as a fact and pledged money to energy projects.

In the new version the words "our world is warming" appear in square brackets, meaning at least one country disagrees, and all financial pledges have gone.

Of course, the issue is less whether "our world is warming" and more (1) whether we are responsible for any warming, (2) whether this warming is, on balance, a bad thing and (3) whether, if it is bad, we can do much to stop it.

Environmentalist lobbyists like to portray global warming sceptics as flat-earthers in the pay of the oil industry. People may have all kinds of reasons beyond the scientific evidence for doubting the climate change orthodoxy, just as they may have all kinds of reasons for believing it - e.g. grants, membership of powerful committees, shares in alternative energy sources - but it strikes me as as betraying an ignorance of the history of science and of the fallibility of scientific enquiry to suggest that somehow the science is "settled" in this matter.

There have been many occasions in the past when a theory has been thought "settled" - Newtonian mechanics and the wave theory of light spring to mind - but this has always proved illusory. Science will always be, to quote Popper, an "unended quest" for truth.

In the case of the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis, there are already too many contrary indications - especially the lack of tropospheric and antarctic warming - to justify its proponents much confidence in its long-term survival. Furthermore, their attitude to these anomalies is rather too reminiscent of the Catholic Church's tenacious defence of the geocentric hypothesis against the arguments of Galileo, for them to be able to claim to be on the side of science against the obscurantists.


At 18 June 2005 at 16:29, Blogger Jorgen said...

I agree fully. BTW, I read on RWDB that Alpine glaciers were non-existant 7000 years ago and much smaller in the heydays of the Roman empire:

At 19 June 2005 at 11:26, Blogger rexie said...

I saw that too. There's far too much anecdotal evidence for global warming in the media - melting glaciers, retreating snow lines, warmest day for 100 years etc. This is presented as if change were unprecedented and all in one direction. Someone ought to dig out all the anomalous evidence and put it in a blog: somewhat like Chrenkoff's good news from Iraq. Might do it myself.

At 19 June 2005 at 14:21, Blogger Jorgen said...

Good idea as not only the media but also Tony Blair apparently now believes in the myth.


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