Despite being a moderately intelligent and relatively well-educated person, I find it hard not to be skeptical of the popular theory of anthropogenic (man-made) climate change or global warming.
I’m not a scientist, but I have no difficulty accepting the doctrines of this or that science provided a consensus exists among scientists in a particular field. Thus I have no difficulty accepting the periodic table of the elements, or the idea that later biological species descend from earlier species, or the notion that our physical universe is 13 or 14 billion years old. And so on.
So why do I find it difficult to believe in global warming when I’m told every day that 97 percent of the world’s climate scientists agree that human behavior makes a significant contribution to climate change? Let me list the reasons.
Please note, however, that I’m not claiming that the anthropogenic theory is wrong. I am simply saying: “Here is one not-entirely-stupid man who has his doubts.” I offer myself as a case study. Perhaps global-warming folks can, by studying my sorry example, figure out how to make their arguments more effective.
1. There are (a) certain real sciences — for instance, physics, chemistry, astronomy, and biology. A layperson like myself can trust what scientists in these fields have to say. They are almost certainly correct. But then there are (b) certain “sciences” that are not fully scientific.
I have in mind, for example, the “sciences” of economics and psychology. One should listen with attention and respect to what economists and psychologists have to say, for they are (for the most part) serious persons who have spent years trying to discover the truth about economic and psychic phenomena. But you can’t be quite sure that they are correct in what they say. For their “sciences” are not truly scientific. Well, then, how scientific is the science (or “science”) of climatology? I suspect it lies closer to the “scientific” than to the scientific end of the spectrum.
2. I’m told that 97 percent of climatologists agree on the anthropogenic theory. What about the other 3 percent? In a true science that would be a pretty big group of dissenters. If I only 97 percent of chemists agreed on the periodic table, I’d have doubts about the periodic table. Or if a mere 97 percent of biologists agreed on evolution, I’d have doubts about evolution.
3. If I’m correctly informed, the globe has not been getting warmer for about 15 or 20 years now. This makes it harder for me to believe in the man-made theory.
4. The people who, at least in my hearing, make the most noise about the scientific nature of the climate change theory, the people who are most insistent that I am an unscientific numskull for not accepting the theory, are politicians and movie stars.
Politicians and movie stars are very smart people, no doubt about it. But they are not scientists. I am reluctant to allow them to shape my judgments on questions of science.
5. The theory of man-made global warming is most ardently championed by those on the political left. But leftists are “big government” people. They have a great bias in favor of big actions by big government.
That predisposes them to believe in the man-made theory. For if man-made climate change is a reality, this calls for really big governmental action — and not just big action by the U.S. government, but a coordinated worldwide action by all big governments. This is just the kind of thing leftists dream about.
To repeat: I’m not saying the global warming enthusiasts are wrong. I’m just showing why some of us — perhaps due to our intellectual deficiencies — are not convinced.