Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Global Warming - Dogma? Religion? Conspiracy?

I really thought that Anthropogenic Climate Change was a foregone conclusion.

I thought that the polar caps and the alpine glaciers were melting. That Ocean Acidification was a major threat and well-supported by unequivocal data. That Oz was in dire straights.
Granted, the Academy Awards may be just the self-masturbation celebration of the Californian liberal intelligentsya. But the Nobel Price should account for something and confer both legitimacy and scientific gravitas - or not?

No, apparently not.
Watch this.

Clearly, the guy is no fool. He may even have a point.
If so, it would indeed be highly alarming. One of the principal differences between Science and Religion is that Science should never be dogmatic and always welcome a robust dialogue with dissenters - mind you, scientific dissenters using scientific data and methods, not fraudsters like the proponents of Intelligent Design!

The guy is Ian Plimer and he has just written a book called Heaven and Earth.
Although most people haven't read it as is just being published, it is already causing quite a debate following this op-ed by a prominent Ozzie journo. Another good piece here.

Being scientifically minded, I will of course read it.
Probably, I'll be impressed - but I shall probably not be swayed.

It's a difficult one.
The very nature of Science implies that there will always be intelligent, well-meaning and well-documented dissenters. Non-specialists like most of us are then left with the conundrum of whom to believe.

For my part, I try to follow the debate and if sufficiently convinced, I tend to go with what is considered to be the "consensus opinion".
When it comes to Global Warming, the consensus opinion is represented by the Nobel Prize Laureates, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and many other reputable Organizations. They believe that Global Warming is a fact and that it is caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gases, foremost of which our emissions of CO2.

If one dismisses the obvious disinformation campaigns and the rubbish of the inevitable conspiracy theorists, there is still a large group of bona fide -and thus, respectable- scientists who are looking into the issue. They can be divided into a majority of proponents and a minority of skeptics, the latter being divided into several factions, from people that deny that there is any warming at all, to people who accept that it is happening but claim that it is not caused by humans.
As I said, it's really a difficult one - check out the links!

But regardless of who will be ultimately proven right, this is why I'm likely to stick to the Global Warming hypothesis.

Let's assume for the sake of the argument that Global Warming turns out to be nothing but a hoax, a mass hysteria triggered by the propaganda of the Socialists and the Liberals, a scam perpetrated by the scientific mafia in order to get more funding: does that mean that we should throw overboard our newly discovered Ecological conscience?
Reverse Cap & Trade? Shelve Solar and Wind and drill more instead? Go ahead and cut down more forests? Tell Detroit to resume the production of SUVs? Reap and pillage like we've always done? Continue the unbridled expansion of our collective Ecological Footprint at the expense of the Environment? Further add to the disgraceful track record of our Stewardship of Planet Earth?

Surely, the answer can only be, No we should not!
Hoax or no Hoax, Truth or Fallacy: the actual debate about Global Warming is offering us a unique chance to re-assess our way of life and to revert, or at least halt the negative impact we're having on the Environment.
Can any Conservation-minded person really be against that?

And then, there's this.

Can we really afford to take the risk of being wrong?
Do we really have the option of disregarding the warnings, do nothing and continue as before? Only to say Oops once the doomsday prophecies turn out to be true and we are faced with the Apocalypse?
I've blogged about just this in respect to the Fisheries industry. The Precautionary Principle dictates that when presented by plausible theories like the present one, one has to assume the worst case scenario, stop procrastinating and act accordingly. Once the required data have been collected and once a solid scientific consensus is established (although I would argue that this is already the case), one can then always reverse course and relax the measures.
Principle #15 of the Rio Declaration states just that.

Yes, that's a lot of debate and a lot of links to sift through!
Yet, I believe, nothing could be more important.
Further arguments here.

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