Saturday, January 30, 2010

the problems with the global warming debate

From William Anderson in First Things...

These days, in the matter of climate change, simple epistemology has become a matter of dispute. Competing visions prefer appeals to emotion. After a plausible beginning some three decades ago, testable hypotheses concerning climate have faded into the background—eclipsed by an ever-ramifying and near-impenetrable tangle of acrimonious accusations, ad hominem arguments, well-poisoning, and appeals to authority.

Some of the frequently heard assertions may now be fairly judged as false to a moral certainty:

“The science is in, settled, or enjoys overwhelming consensus.”

“Those who disagree cannot be trusted because they have a vested interest in the outcome.”...The statement does not discriminate between believers and skeptics and is an empty assertion.

“Even if the current findings are uncertain, the application of a ‘precautionary principle’ requires that we act to avert catastrophe, just in case.” Again, the assertion is logically untenable, since it assumes what it purports to prove....

These three propositions, still frequently proclaimed, serve only to distract and mislead. Reasonable debate should not involve their use.

As for those controversies that cannot be settled by the use of logic alone, they are of two types: questions of process and of content. The problems with the process of climate science begin with the corruption of the peer-review process....

Worse, these same investigators refused to disclose their original data and their methods of analysis, threatening to destroy data rather than comply with freedom-of-information demands, as required by law. This action constitutes scientific malfeasance of the gravest type. Alone it is sufficient to discredit their entire enterprise.

A second problem with the process is the corruption of the original data....


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