A fundamental part of the debate over the nature of global climate change is the notion that scientists–because they are educated, because they have done research, and because they consulted with each other–have produced an understanding about the impact of human activity on the environment that is unassailable and should not be questioned.
I do not question, at all, that human activity has an effect on the environment. Anyone who has ever seen the devastation of a forest cut away without regard for replanting, a strip mine bored into the earth, or a river fouled by industrial pollution has seen the effects humans can have. I do not even doubt that human activity, especially the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation of broad swaths of virgin, ancient forest around the world, has helped contribute to changes in climate and weather.
What I do question–what I reject outright–is the notion that scientists actually understand the thing the are claiming when they make their statements about climate change. I reject their premise because it violates the fundamental philosophies of the methodology they are supposed to use to arrive at their claims. Scientists have presumed to understand what their data is telling them before they have actually proved anything.
Current climate change theory relies on too many things that are not fact. A model is not a fact. Data sets, without independent, corroborating, supporting evidence are not facts. Extrapolation, while a useful tool, is not a fact. Consensus is not a fact.
In fact, the question of the impact that human activity is having on climate change and weather is far from settled. Most existing climate science seems to ignore significant contributing trends to climate change that exist outside the “it’s humanity’s fault” presumption. Most models ignore ongoing changes in solar activity that have heated other planets in the solar system during the same period of time. Most models ignore the evidence that periods of warming precede periods of deepening cold. Most models ignore the effects of natural, long term climate trends that exceed the periods for when records have been collected.
Further, scientists base their consensus on climate change on an incomplete and still evolving collection of information that regularly changes or disproves fundamental assumptions they made about their models and data sets. Regular aberrations in the collected data create statistical variances big enough to alter their predicted slope of change. New research into past climates continues to cast doubt on presumptions the current models make. The models themselves do not consistently predict the same results.
Finally, the scientific claims about the solutions to their consensus problem have practically no factual basis. Unless models and conjecture suddenly become fact, there is no way to know what the effect of these proposed solutions might be, especially because of their scale and scope. Scientists have no way to know that these solutions will help and no way to assure they will not cause harm.
All of these factors, then, represent one of the greatest departures from the fundamental philosophies of science that has ever occurred.
And in departing from the very things that made science into the accurate and trustworthy enterprise it once was, scientists have departed from the realm of objectivity into the realm of speculation. Their insistence that their research cannot be wrong, that their understanding cannot be clouded, that their conclusions cannot be questioned asks any critical observer to suspend his skepticism and just believe.
As a person of faith, philosophy, and objectivity, I cannot accept such a demand. Even as a Christian, I constantly question my faith and constantly challenge my beliefs by continually delving for the truth. Faith is not blind acceptance of someone else’s claims but certainty built on increasing understanding of the thing upon which faith is built.
I trust science that follows the time-honored rules embraced by scientists since the beginning of the scientific revolution. That kind of science brought us discoveries as widely varied as antibiotics and nuclear power. That kind of science questioned itself with the constant challenge that the hypothesis might be wrong. In other words, that kind of science was a process of discovery, not an effort at proof.
The consensus behind climate change claims is not that kind of science.
As a result, I question that consensus with the same kinds of skepticism and demands for empirical proof that the scientists themselves should be using. As a rational, thinking human, I can look at the body of evidence being presented as the consensus for human driven climate change and see, without needing to delve into computer models and data sets, that things are missing, things that could change the entire nature of the debate depending on what their discovered effects might prove to be. I do not need to be a climatologist to understand the nature of these issues any more than I need to be a theologian to understand the nature of faith.
That so many people accept the climate change argument with little or no question says something about those who claim to be rational objectivists themselves. When I hear people telling me, unironically, that they “believe” in global warming, I wonder whether the effort to promote climate change as a result of humans is coming out of laboratories or Rome.
Unfortunately, while the debate about the nature of the beast continues to rage, things are going to happen anyway. Eventually, world governments, if they keep on their current track, will invest a significant portion of the world GDP into a program whose real necessity has yet to be established and whose outcome and benefits cannot be defined. If this was any other kind of endeavor than scientifically induced climate hysteria, many of the same people who currently lead the charge to stop global warming would be ridiculing people for their hysterics.
What remains, then, is for calm, rational, objective people to look at all the evidence and to discover in that evidence the truth. As long as people believe what they are told without question, that truth will remain unknown.