By “global warming”, I mean the wider orthodoxy not only that warming is happening, but that it is caused by human activity, that it will lead to catastrophic consequences, that action to change the climate is urgent, that said action consists largely of limiting CO2 emissions and reducing energy use, that such action will be effective, that such action is required of developed and developing countries alike, and that it can only be achieved by using taxation, legislation or other forcible, government-imposed means to make people comply.
A while ago, I listed ten reasons to reject global warming. I’d have to be wrong on all of them before I could rationally consider measures such as cap-and-trade, carbon-tax or other elaborate, invasive and expensive government measures to combat climate change.
A comment by a retired geology Ph.D. on this well-considered piece on the irrationality of the climate change debate (from the felicitously named Rightwing Nuthouse) lists ten more reasons to be skeptical of anthropogenic global warming:
- It has all the marks of a religion; skeptics are treated like heretics and the spokesman is a Baptist lay preacher.
- Global warming is now called climate change so it can embrace global cooling, also.
- It is anti-American since America is biggest producer of CO2.
- I’ve been through this before in the 1970’s with Global Cooling.
- As I geologist I know that climate changes take a long time since the earth has a very large thermal mass.
- Humans have adapted to colder and warmer conditions. Manhattan’s average temperature has increased 7°F in the last 50 years but New Yorkers are not wilting.
- The data for the earth’s temperature for more than 100 years in the past are very sparse and unreliable.
- The data for the earth’s temperature for the last 100 years is not much better and practically all of it has to be compensated for the urban heat island effect, vide Manhattan.
- Other measurements of the earth’s thermal condition, for example, shrinking growing season lengths, are not consistent with global warming.
- Concomitance is not causation.
I don’t agree with all of them. Point three, for example, should in my opinion read, “It’s anti-development, since development, poverty reduction and prosperity growth are big producers of CO2,” but it makes some good points, especially about the quality of the climate record, the selectivity of factors considered in the overall models, the assumption that correlation implies causation, and the failure to adjust correctly for urban heat islands.
Steve McIntyre’s Climate Audit site has been documenting many of these data and statistical problems, prompting in some cases corrections to the official records. See this post on urban heat island adjustments, and see these posts on temperature record errors and corrections, for example. (I covered some of his work inter alia here and here.)
So while Rick Moran makes some good points about our ability to evaluate the scientific basis for climate change theory, even the notion that we just don’t know enough suggests that expensive programmes of enforced action are imprudent, at best. Not to mention that they’re philosophically repulsive to anyone who values individual freedom and bases their views of how best to minimise poverty and maximise prosperity on the vitality of free markets and innovation.