13.2 Science & Skepticism


Skepticism is an essential part of the scientific method.   Scientists see the benefit in being proven wrong.   Yet the so-called global warming skeptics (deniers is a more appropriate term) believe that the scientists have an unprofessional interest in the outcome and are rigging it.   The accusations are partly self-delusion and partly just plain lying. [2]

While there is much legitimate debate about the particulars of global warming like how bad and how fast.   Yet there is no legitimate debate about whether human-generated carbon emissions are the root of the problem – humans have thrown the great carbon cycle horribly out of whack and it is only a question of just how sensitive is she to our abuse.

Man-made global warming is as scientifically certain as the rising sun, Einstein’s theory of relativity or Darwin’s theory of evolution.  The science of climate change is now essential to understanding how our world actually works and will work in the future.

[1] It’s almost embarrassing to include such a note but we live in the U.S., where public opinion has been so damaged by a few corporations and religious fundamentalists.  Just recently Bob Lutz, General Motors’ vice chairman, stated that in his view, global warming is a “total crock of shit.” Then he added: “I’m a skeptic, not a denier. Having said that, my opinion doesn’t matter.”  (source: http://www.frontburner.dmagazine.com)[2] See Chapter 2, “The Denial Industry,” in the book Heat, How to Stop the Planet From Burning, by George Monbiot, 2006.

2 Responses to “13.2 Science & Skepticism”

  1. kenlevenson Says:

    Thanks for the kind words. And we can agree to disagree on the characterization. The rising sun is a literary term, obviously. As for Einstein and Darwin’s theories – I chose them for the very reason that they are, like AGW, called theories – tested and proven theories at that….as without Darwin there’s no biotech revolution etc….
    Let’s get to work.

  2. Koop Says:

    Thanks for this site and the work that went into it. But instead of telling you all the things that you did right I’m going to point out where I disagree.

    To say that “man-made global warming is as scientifically certain as the rising sun, Einstein’s theory of relativity or Darwin’s theory of evolution” is way over the top. The first argument can be made purely on semantics. For one the sun does not rise, the earth rotates and revolves giving the appearance of the sun rising. Secondly, theories aren’t certain. Laws are certain. They are called Einstein’s and Darwin’s theories and not Einstein’s and Darwin’s laws.

    We have great concensus in the scientific community that man made gasses are causing some warming. On the face of it it makes perfect sense. But then again it makes perfect sense for clouds to reduce global warming since they increase the albedo effect and reflect light and heat back into space. But then again it makes perfect sense for clouds to increase global warming since water vapor is a greenhouse gas and clouds are mostly water vapor.

    Consensus isn’t certainty and modesty is the best course of action. WIth that said, let’s get the hell off of fossil fuels. Let’s start debating the merits of Cap and Trade or Cap and Dividend or of a Carbon Tax. Let’s make it happen.

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