Friday, January 18, 2008


In honour of the continuing sound of quacks emanating from Poneke's blog. I've created a new link list over to your right. Countering Climate Quackery is a handy list of resources for countering 'climate sceptics'.

My current favourite is Greenpeace's Exxon Secrets, through which you can follow the dollar trail from Exxon to the climate sceptic of your choice. Our own Vincent Gray and Chris De Freitas make cameos. Of course, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter who's funding you: if you're science is right it's right. However, the list is interesting - especially given the oft' repeated sceptic claim that those climate scientists who are concerned about global warming are only in it for the research money.

I've also included Mark Lynas on my list. Lynas is someone I hope Poneke reads. I hope this because, in his first post professing climate 'scepticism', Poneke made the following argument about science, certainty and climate change:

Science at this global, theoretical level is never settled, despite the claims of the climate change lobby. Science is about testing and disproving theories to arrive at new ones to test and disprove again and again, always increasing scientific knowledge, not fossilising it in stone like the Ten Commandments, which some seek to do with climate science. Fortunately, science will not be fossilised and climate science will continue to develop.
In my reply I pointed out some of the problems using this argument against action on AGW. However, Mark Lynas, does a better job than I ever could:
Every qualified scientific body in the world, from the American Association for the Advancement of Science to the Royal Society, agrees unequivocally that global warming is both a reality, and caused by man-made greenhouse gas emissions. But this doesn’t make them right, of course. Science, in the best Popperian definition, is only tentatively correct, until someone comes along who can disprove the prevailing theory. This leads to a frequent source of confusion...that because we don’t know everything, therefore we know nothing, and therefore we should do nothing. Using that logic we would close down every hospital in the land. Yes, every scientific fact is falsifiable – but that doesn’t make it wrong. On the contrary, the fact that it can be challenged (and hasn’t been successfully) is what makes it right. a close follower of the scientific debate on this subject I can state without doubt that there is no dispute whatsoever within the expert community as to the reality or causes of manmade global warming. But even then, just because all the experts agree doesn’t make them right – it just makes them extremely unlikely to be wrong. That in turn means that if someone begs to disagree, they need to have some very strong grounds for doing so – not misreading a basic graph or advancing silly conspiracy theories about IPCC scientists receiving paycheques from the New World Order...

Yes, scientific uncertainties remain in every area of the debate. But consider how high the stakes are here. If the 99% of experts who support the mainstream position are right, then we have to take urgent action to reduce emissions or face some pretty catastrophic consequences. If the 99% are wrong, and the 1% right, we will be making some unnecessary efforts to shift away from fossil fuels, which in any case have lots of other drawbacks and will soon run out. I’d hate to offend anyone here, but that’s what I’d call a no-brainer.

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