Dave Leggett | 27 November 2009
I must admit to being something of an unhappy observer to the general row over 'climate change' and whether or not man is now contributing, in a potentially catastrophic manner, to a rapid acceleration of warming that will screw things up for future generations.
The whole subject area seems to have become highly politicised in recent years and that seems regrettable to me. The climate change crowd are increasingly portrayed by their opponents as a part of a liberal Left academic establishment in cahoots with liberal media and politicians (step forward Al Gore). And they, in turn, seem to paint their opponents - the so-called climate change sceptics - as 'denialists' or 'flat earthers'. The sceptics seem to have become increasingly identified with the libertarian Right and people who generally want to keep government regulation at bay, protect business, keep things as they are etc.
Most of us would just like the scientific evidence to be made as intelligible as possible so that we can have a basic understanding of how clear things are, what the policy implications may be and where the risks are. But it's a confusing picture, snippets of information coming into the mainstream media to suggest that there's a problem – but, as some have pointed out, the way the media presents the information is often rather loaded, 'climate change' presented as a given.
How can we have the political debate about an appropriate response when there is still a lack of clarity on the extent of the problem and its consequences? Or have I got that wrong? Maybe it's hugely complicated and mainly about risk assessment, uncertainties unable to be removed...(IPCC site)
But it's not really for me to say that we've had ice ages and 'mini ice ages' before, that climate changes anyway, whatever we are doing. I'm a total layman in this respect and many scientists would argue that I'm missing the point, that despite what's gone on before, the evidence suggests we have made a significant difference to warming over the last 100 years and we shouldn't risk moving over a 'tipping point' that will make warming irreversible.
Fair enough perhaps, you're the scientists, so please get on with doing the science. And I'd like to think that the scientific community is engaging in the research in a professional and non-partisan manner (perhaps that's a little naïve, given the way academic funding works).
Anyway, there has been a leak of emails allegedly sent to each other by researchers at what is seen as a 'pro-climate change' group of academics in Britain. Arguably, according to the emails, they are stifling dissent from their self-derived 'consensus' viewpoint and not giving the sceptics a fair hearing. Hmm. Would you want to be judged on private emails you sent being selectively made public? Is this the whole picture? Are the allegations actually borne out?
The debate will run. And I suspect it will become increasingly politicised as the apparent stakes get higher. The rest of us will look on, slightly bemused, wondering where the fuzzy line between genuine scientific evidence and politicised selective treatment is exactly.
This website appears to be the work of a sceptic – you can see how he's describing the emails – but you can read the emails themselves and some of them make for interesting, if voyeuristic, reading. One guy says he want to 'beat the crap' out of an academic opponent, which I guess testifies to how worked up some of them are getting.
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