Bad Climate “Science”

The subheading to Joel Schwartz’s article on National Review about global warming science sums both the article and the issue up nicely: The ideology goes in before the science goes on.

Assume that human greenhouse-gas emissions are causing dangerous changes in the Earth’s climate. What should we do about it? Public debate on climate change has focused almost solely on requiring large reductions in fossil-fuel energy consumption. Enter the journal Nature with a new feature article on another potential means of dealing with climate change.

…Another potential contributor is a wooly-minded romantic environmentalism that seems to have infected scientists as much as anyone else. This also comes through in Nature’s profile:

Hans Feichter, a climate modeller at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, speaks for the vast majority of his colleagues when he says ‘the role of a geoscientist is to understand nature, not to change it.’ Climate scientists have proved themselves happy to advocate massive changes aimed at shifting the climate. But they are massive changes in technology, in geopolitics, in social norms…Not changes in the workings of the stratosphere. Not changes in the natural.

Where does one start in unwinding all the fallacious assumptions implicit in this confused line of thinking? Why should the goal of climate policy be to make the world more “natural”? And why should anyone think “natural” is better than “artificial”? Why is it okay to force “massive changes” in how people live their lives without even a nod to the possibility that this could cause “massive” harm of its own?

In fact, it is exactly because we have made our environment less “natural” that we have improved the lot of humankind. “Natural” means horrifying percentages of our children dying of infectious diseases and mothers dying in childbirth; lifespans of only 30 or 40 years for those who survive these earlier tribulations — years lived in backbreaking toil merely to avoid starvation; and constant nagging pain from injuries and infections.

Climate scientists’ ignorance of the factors that contribute to long, safe, healthy, and prosperous lives for the world’s people is what makes them so dangerous in the debate over what to do about climate change. Their scientific credentials give them great authority on the world policy stage. Yet like the boyfriend who is in fact “high maintenance” while unwittingly believing himself to be “low maintenance,” climate scientists believe their policy recommendations to be based on science, rather than on unexamined prejudices that are yet to be subjected to scientific scrutiny. Only at our peril do we continue to dance to their tune.

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