Saturday, January 25, 2014

Climate Change waves

It seems like there's something of a cycle to climate change. I don't mean actual climate change; rather, I'm referring to the appearance of climate change as a major topic of discussion. It cycles. It's all anyone can talk about for a while, then it kind of recedes into the background until it's suddenly, once again, front page news.

I find this to be an interesting pattern, particularly in context of what is so often said about climate change, how it's the Biggest Threat mankind has ever faced, how we are all doomed unless we do something about it Right Now, and how there is no room for discussion on the issue because its Settled Science. In this regard, we've been in a trough for a while now; climate change hasn't been a driving issue perhaps because more important things--like Kanye West's latest exploits, "Bridgegate," and the Obamacare fiasco--have been on center stage.

But looking just at the last--Obamacare--isn't it interesting how health insurance has been presented as such a critical issue, even in the face of climate change? I mean, what does it matter if one has health insurance, if mankind is on the verge of extinction because of climate change?

Getting back to the cycle, though, one might possibly note that climate change falters as an issue when it falters as a theory. After being all the rage some years ago, it fell off the front page following the East Anglia email scandal (the use of a "trick" to hide declining temperatures that didn't fit the narrative). Prior to that, there was the collapse of the hockey stick graph, after a period of pronounced "global warming" fanboy-ism in the wake of An Inconvenient Truth. More recently, the lack of a warming across the past fifteen or so years brought the climate change alarmists to heel for a time, at least until someone figured out a new way to "interpret" the data. With such clever "science" in hand, the climate change crowd is suddenly reinvigorated and--once again--editorials and "news" pieces on climate change are commonplace. Robert Tracincki noted just how deceptive all of this is, how un-scientific it is:
This is an obvious shifting of the goalposts. The measure of warming that they all thought was fine and dandy when temperatures seemed to be rising now doesn't show rising temperatures. So they have to reinterpret the data to get the result that fits their theory.

When someone posted my article on Facebook, commenter Jordan Phillips named the basic pattern of global warming arguments: "In a real scientific theory, you have to make some kind of blind prediction that makes you vulnerable and accountable, so that if later observations contradict the prediction then your theory has no squirm room to avoid its fate. But catastrophic manmade global warming theory is the opposite: it's based on waiting for a weather event to happen, then rationalizing how that event was caused by global warming."

So global warming science is not just ad hoc but post hoc.
Looking at the cyclical pattern of climate change through this kind of lens, wherein reality is manipulated to serve the agenda, works very well. But there's another way to see the pattern. Climate change returns to the newscycle when it's convenient for those pimping it, when it serves as a distraction from other things, other issues that are doing damage to the same side of the ideological divide that is all gung-ho about climate change.

No doubt, the truth involves both of these responses. And, to be fair, it also involves actual science, the publication of new data and/or theories that can occur at any moment and can serve as justifications--warranted or not--to raise the spectre of climate change. In this same light, I want to reiterate my position on climate change:
I do not "deny" the idea of climate change, at all. I take it as a given that climate change is occurring (and always has been, and always will). And because mankind is an active part of the world's ecological system, mankind's activities impact the climate, impact its future. I'm all for studying this, of understanding--to the best degree possible--what the consequences are for various activities engaged in by man, with respect to the eco-system in general and the climate in particular. So when it comes to the science of climate change, I'm okay with it being pursued, I think it should be pursued.

That said, I do not accept any absolutes in this regard, I do not accept the idea--now hammered home on an almost daily basis--that the science of climate change is "settled." It's not. It can't be, because the future is not settled and the systems in question here--the global climate and the world's eco-system--are open, complex systems. So when Climate Scientist A predicts the Arctic will be ice-free by 2013, I don't accept this as "settled science." I understand it for what it is: a prediction based on assumptions that may or may not be completely accurate.
So when there is new data to be looked at, new theories to test or understand, I'm all for it. And when these things impact the newscycle, that's just fine. But let's face it, there is only a marginal amount of interest among the general public when it comes to such things. They're often complicated and require some serious science background to fully understand and process, much less to effectively question and critique.

And to that end, what we so often see--consistent with climate change being used as a distraction or being pushed for political reasons--is the use of "new" data and the like, not at the time of publication, but down the road, when it is needed and can be cited--wrongly--as authoritative, as a part of the "settled science" of climate change.

Watch for the waves, know the purpose behind them, what they hide or what they try to drive back into obscurity. And remember, this is not how real science is done. Never has been.

Cheers, all.

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