The global warming “discussion” almost inevitably degenerates to a ridiculously simplistic binary alternative: Are you a skeptic denier or warming alarmist? Such a choice obscures a huge realm of important issues, many of which flow from an analysis of the following four fundamental questions:
1) Whether temperatures are unusually warm by historical standards?
Al Gore’s ‘hockey stick graph’ was discredited long ago, but the question still conjures up debate. A recent Met Office report stated categorically that there had been no discernible rise in aggregate global temperature for 16 years, concluding at the end of 2012. Phil Jones, of East Anglia fame (as one of the outed email ‘fibbers’), could only muster up a “too short a time frame to draw conclusions” argument as rebuttal to the data.
2) Whether humans are the primary cause of recent [?] warming?
The logic of the affirmative to this question is tied inextricably to the production of CO2. Because CO2 emissions are essentially the love child of industrialization and economic growth, if increased concentrations of CO2 cause warming, humans are responsible. That ‘unity’ has the benefit of extreme simplicity as perhaps its only redeeming virtue, requiring in the words of one scientist, “many non-scientific leaps of faith”. Much science concerning climate variability has to be essentially sidelined as a result despite:
- All of the scary global warming scenarios are based on computer models.
- None of the models work.
- There is and has been no scientific consensus.
Of course, this does nothing to ‘settle’ the causality question one way or the other; it merely puts the certainty of some of the doomsday predictions into something of a different light.
3) Whether a warmer climate is substantially worse than a colder climate?
Not too many years ago, climate science was predicting the onset of a new ice age with dire implications. Currently, alarmist dogma equates warming with Armaggedon. A dispassionate analysis might, as Bjorn Lomborg has already suggested in a preliminary way, lead us to conclude a warmer world, on balance, would be better one. The IPCC’s ‘worst case’ scenario speculations, predicated on nothing much more than conjecture, have tended to obscure the science, economics and adaptive prospects and capabilities of man.
4) Whether global warming alarmists offer solutions that would achieve meaningful real-world results?
True believer (alarmists) seem oblivious to the “beggar yourself, your neighbour and every one in sight” aspects of some of the solutions proposed to prevent warming (ignoring for the moment the extreme hubris of thinking we have that amount of precise control over our world). Their “no price TOO high” mindset disregards economic reality entirely.
Whether economic resources should be applied to potentially futile effects to stall temperature increases, towards adaptive responses to temperature change, or perhaps not at all, is one of the ‘nuts and bolts’ questions that flows from, and is perhaps answered by, coherent answers to the preceding three questions.
The sooner the dialogue can be brought to a consideration of properly framed questions, the more likely some set of policy initiatives can take over from the hysterical screaming match that is currently the norm for the global warming discussion.