Way back when I was a kid, the first episode of Star Wars came out on the silver screen, and everyone in the land was gaga over it. Except for me that is. I didn't see Star Wars for precisely the reason that seemingly everyone else in the world wanted to. That may sound like a dumb reason to be on the "man does not cause global warming" bandwagon, but that's part of why I am.
The dictionary defines "consensus" as "a majority of opinon" or "a general agreement or concord". Using that definition, I agree that a consensus exists that man is causing global warming. I even agree that it is a very dominant consensus. Consensus, however, should not end debate on the issue.
Galileo went against the consensus. Copernicus went against the consensus. Even Martin Luther and Martin Luther King went against the consensuses of their day. And in every one of those cases, that was a good thing.
Unfortunately, if you type "the science is settled" into google, you find almost every single reference is related to the topic of climate change. We know a lot about global warming, but it's not healthy to say that it's "settled" regarding man being a significant cause. This recent article in Nature, for example, is causing scientists to rethink what they thought they knew about how solar activity affects the warming of the earth's atmosphere.
Claiming that "the science is settled" gives some people the apparent license to incessantly pillory those who disagree with the consensus. Is it okay to point out that some anti-AGWers have received funding from big players in the carbon energy industry? Absolutely--so long as you don't discount the science that they have produced to support their side of the argument until after you've studied it. But pointing to a handful of individuals who worked for Exxon or Big Tobacco as the vanguard of the entire anti-AGW camp is similar to claiming that nothing makes it into print on the pro-AGW side without first receiving the blessing of Michael Mann and the Climatic Research Unit at East Anglia. Neither statement is even close to true.
I appreciate a Facebook friend of mine for bringing to my attention this video, of which one main point is that, as it currently stands, increasing temperatures really can't seem to be explained by natural causes, and therefore, it makes sense to look at man as being a significant contributor. I agree to the point that I wish it were more cost effective for me to have solar panels and a windmill in my backyard, as well as a much more fuel-efficient car than the one I own. Let's just not settle the science, though, but rather let's continue to check our hypotheses against new information that may happen to come along.
Tim Ferris, in his scintillating book The Science of Liberty has this to say about probability vs. possibility:
The current rise in anthropogenic greenhouse gases and global temperatures might be a coincidence, but how much do you want to bet on it? The [current] cost of bringing global warming under control is [estimated to be] about 1 percent of global GDP...whereas the cost of inaction [could] be equivalent to losing at least 5 percent of global GDP each year, now and forever.
The Science of Liberty, page 282
Wise words, I actually think. He also reminds us that
Global warming [itself] was discovered in a haphazard manner that illustrates the benefits of having an open scientific community where all sorts of individuals are free to pursue their interests, report their findings, and make themselves heard.
We need healthy debate on this subject of which, although we know so much, we don't know everything. Othewise, global warming will become like unto
the postmodernists [who] began gaining control of university humanities departments and denying tenure to dissenting colleagues.
The Science of Liberty, page 238or even an Austrian philosopher named Paul Feyerabend, who
supported repressive governmental controls on scientific research. Feyerabend offhand[edly] dismiss[ed] the Lysenko Affair, which involved the persecution of talented scientists whose views deviated from the party line...
The Science of Liberty, page 254
I have since watched Star Wars--every single episode. Someday, maybe even soon, I might even believe that man is causing significant global warming. But don't exclude me from the debate because I currently harbor some reservations about it
Read the "Global Warming Basics" series: