A lot of my acquaintances are going to hate me for writing this. As far as global warming is concerned, I’m an agnostic. I’m not sure if it is, or isn’t. But a substantial number of the people I know are not only convinced, they’re nearly militant about insisting Al Gore is right.
I think he’s wrong. And now, with some of the “science” behind it falling apart, or at least coming under serious question, he’s strangely silent.
Do I think the climate is changing? Yes. It always changes. It apparently goes through long cycles.
One thing I do know for sure is that science is not at all about consensus. At the end of the 19th century, all his fellow scientists and surgeons thought Joseph Lister was bonkers. He’s the man who discovered bacteria, but when he talked about it, the scientific community of the day said it was settled science: high death rates in Glasgow hospitals were caused by an invisible, stinking miasma in the air.
Some of the biggest “names” in climate research are in trouble, after somebody hacked into the e-mail servers of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia northeast of London. The Washington Post says Phil Jones, the director of the CRU, is stepping down. US News and World Report says Penn State professor Michael Mann is in hot water with his institution.
Jones and Mann are two of the biggest names in climate research, and it appears that they are not very scientific in their methods. They’ve been caught trying to quash the work of anybody in the climate research community that doesn’t agree with them.
Science, like medicine, puts great faith in “peer review”. That’s so somebody’s wild, rogue speculation doesn’t become “settled science”. It has to be reviewed by a group of peers. And it appears very clear that when it came to peer review, Jones “peer-reviewed” Mann’s work, and vice-versa.
The e-mail flap has led to literally thousands of Freedom of Information requests from the media, to take a look at the data, methodologies, and supportive evidence behind CRU’s publications.
Al Gore’s 2006 Oscar-winning PowerPoint presentation, An Inconvenient Truth, has been excoriated by reputable scientists. Two minutes of doodling around on the internet will net you a whole mess of unsettled pseudo-science in the Gore presentation. I get the idea that Gore is in it to generate speaking fees and sell books. Really.
The capital-T Truth about global climate change is still very much unsettled. Truth in something so complex will not be easy to come by.
The scientists who were caught trying to stifle disagreement about climate research have done a huge disservice to their cause, and to the reputation of all scientists. It’s not a holy duty imposed by Al Gore. It’s science. It’s not consensus.