I’ve been deeply troubled for some time by the way in which the scientific community has been addressing the issue of climate change. As someone who did his PhD in computer simulation, and has a very deep understanding of the capabilities and limitations of models and their ability (or lack thereof) to correctly predict the future, I’ve been horrified at the way in which models have been misused in the climate change debate. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that we should do all that we can to minimize our impact on the environment, but there has been a trend to dismiss those with any reservations as fringe lunatics, or worse.
This was brought home to me by a recent post at the brilliant blog www.politicalmathblog.com. The author notes:
… But the problem I’ve found is that people on both sides of the argument don’t really give a crap about credentials or scientific rigor.
What they care about is simply “Did this guy end up on my side of the argument?” If he did, he is a real honest to goodness scientist. If he didn’t, he is a hack, a washed up old know-nothing, a dishonest tool for religious environmentalism or a shill for the oil companies (depending on which side you’re on).
It may not matter whether or not your arguments are valid, if you are not with me you are wrong. The irony is that there are very well formulated arguments on both sides and surely those of us trained in the sciences should be prepared to listen. It’s almost as bad as the US political system. For this reason I love the web site www.climatedebatedaily.com which has two columns: ‘Calls to Action’ and ‘Dissenting Voices’. The only place where one can find both sides of the story.
Anyway, the politicalmathblog has the following brilliant chart which summarizes the challenges the skeptics have. It could, unfortunately, equally be done the other way around. Makes me worry for the future of scientific reasoning.