Monday, December 14, 2015

Why limit climate discussions

Recently a very large number of nations entered into a climate change agreement.  Simply entering into the agreement will not close or end discussions on the subject no matter how much some people want it to.  The biggest problem with the climate change debate is and has been the debate itself, or lack thereof.

First off let me preface my remarks by noting I am not talking about any merits or facts for or against climate change, global warming, global cooling, or any other weather phenomenon.  The only thing I will remark on this at this time is that climate always changes in different ways and has for as long as we have records or evidence for.

So why the discussion now?  That is really the ultimate question in all of this:  Why?

My first “Why” is to ask why some people are so ready to limit debate?  Science is about testing and retesting.  It is about reevaluating and being able to share the information with other scientists who can reproduce exactly what the other scientist or team of scientists have done.  That is not what we have here.  To quote one famous leader “The Science is settled”.  To me, that is one of the most ludicrous statements ever made, as having science be “settled” goes against everything that science is – exploration, experimentation, and the ability to reproduce results.  Science is not facts by consensus, but proof by evidence.

The same famous leader has also compared those who doubt global warming / climate change as “Flat-Earthers”.  Currently the discussion back and forth with those who believe the one group of scholars who support the view of man-made global warming, etc and with those scholars who have issues with it does resemble the flat-earth discussions of long ago, but I think some people have the idea backwards.

While the history of how much of the world believed the earth was flat vs how much believed it to be spherical is debated (many scholars debate what you may have been taught in school), the concept is the same that there were varying opinions on subjects such as the shape of the earth, whether the sun goes around the earth, or if the earth is the center of the universe.  In many scientific areas, from my recollection, there were several views strongly supported by the governments in Europe and the Catholic Church who, at the time, was intertwined with the governments.  (An over-simplification, but I don’t want to side track with the entire history of church and government intertwining here, nor does debating the exact level of support for various ideas.  That is really the point here).  It was at this time that the government, based primarily on biblical interpretation, maintained that the earth was flat, and the center of the universe, and those that would dare contradict that statement would be outcast, ostracized, and punished up to and including death.  The experts and those experts paid for by the leaders were in a consensus as to the nature of the Earth in the universe.  Today we have the same scenario – where governments, leaders, and those that are supported by those governments and leaders constantly point out their consensus position and ostracize, outcast, and to the extent possible punish those who would dare speak otherwise.  Why is that?

Why do we have climate change summits made up of mostly politicians and dictators when we have thin trust in their motives to begin with?  Because these leaders have various motives and agendas, I become suspect when I see them engage in “climate talks”.  Why?  Simply because while I would love world leaders to suddenly become selfless and do things to save the world, it is really wishful thinking.  While some of the leaders may be that way, many will just be there to get what they can for themselves.  A “what’s in it for me” scenario.  This has bothered me for a long time – from the first time I heard it announced about an international convention of global leaders and scientists.  Why do you need a conference of both scientists and political leaders for such a discussion?  Would not the political pressure have a tendency to pollute the science?  Money and power tend to do just that.  Does having scientists on-hand really put any additional pressure on dictators?  What pressure or leverage can they place? 

All of these items – limiting debate, government sponsored studies that align with political agendas, co-mingling of science and politics, among others should all be red flags to people that something could be wrong.  Not that there is a problem, but at least to take a second look.  Having scientists who have different takes on the data should be examined, not shot down.

Debate and discussion is important, especially when it comes to scientific studies and should be an area that can never be completely “settled”.  If someone or group of people try to shut down such discussion, should we not question their motives in doing so?  Or should we blindly accept the answers given and move on.

I always seek the truth.  Limiting discussion indicates to me, usually, that the truth lies elsewhere.