Monday, May 08, 2006

Climate change not global warming

So lets look at climate change as it is the predominant, prevailing ecomyth for this decade. Phillip Stott in a series of excellent summaries, has referred to climate change as "the grand narrative" that embraces several contingent components of contemporary eco-discourse: including pollution, limits to growth, sustainability, anti-Americanism and other neo-liberal deconstructions of capitalism and consumerism.

Simply put, the political myth of global warming is contingent on the science of climate change for its validity.

So what is the science? On the junkscience website a nice summation of the science of climate change is presented and there are excllent summaries posted here, here and here.

Climate is always changing. It is a dynamic process, with a host of complex inter-relationships, many of which are poorly understood. What is clear is that temperatures are neither abnormal nor unprecedented today, unless we apply an a priori moral and political assumption that all change on the planet is caused by humans: which, of course is the basis for contemporary environmental ideology -- but its not science. What we know scientifically is much more limited and has been summarized in accessible language by Richard Lindzen, here and here.

So we have a nascent science: a fact only revealed when those outside the inner circle of practitioners ask questions and hold that science to account.

The "debate" around climate change has been slow to evolve and has often embraced an abundance of personalized and acrimonious exchanges. Some have attempted to broaden the consideration of climate change into a wider discussion of how science is incorporated into public policy. But for the most part, discussion has become polarized, with calls by some experts for governments abandon the present political aspects of global warming, while others appeal for enhanced funding of these same initiatives. Those who advocate caution and are unconvinced about claims of human-induced catastrophe due to climate change are usually dismissed as "skeptics". Those who support the assertions of global warming and advocate government-imposed sanctions on the economy to suppress this supposed doomsday refer to themselves as "the scientific consensus". The skeptics remain thus as they tend to view the science of climate change as being distinct from the ideologies of political policy. Those asserting a scientific concensus in favour of global warming tend to do so as they see no such distinction. They are the scientists and they know best. Their science should be our policy. Because theirs is the truth and the way.

And so, climate change is less a question of science, subject to and open to the normal rules of refutation and conjecture. Rather it has become the standard opiate of environmentalism and it is essential dogma for those who seek to follow its religion.

But for those for whom ideology and science are distinct spheres, climate change holds no fears.