Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Climate Models and the Scientific Method

Some of the best analysis on science and its use (and misuse) in public policy is that offered by Roger Pielke, Jr.

His latest
post draws a comparison between the tactics of some climate skeptics and those of activist scientists, indicating that persistent belief in a proposition not open to falsification is not an act of science but of social construction: an act of politics.

What prompts his discussion is the latest in a series of dismissals by AGW advocates of recent weather events that would seem contrary to the predictions of global warming models. The fact that these are weather events notwithstanding, defenders of the AGW faith have moved to dismiss queries about contrary weather extremes with the defence that they are "not inconsistent" with modelled projections for climate change.

Pielke's point is that it appears just about any abnormal weather event is consistent with some aspect of modelled climate change. If all change is deemed to be "not inconsistent" how are the projections ever to be tested for their veracity and validity?

Some time ago, Michael Crichton gave a speech in which he referred to ideological environmentalism as a religion. In contrast, many people still subscribe to the notion of environmentalism as being scientifically valid.

The problem comes when the science of environmentalism is scrutinized and it is defended as a religious belief, but when environmentalism is deconstructed as a religion and it is then defended by appeals to scientific authority. Either this is having your cake and eating it too, or it is non-paradoxical by fiat: it is the truth and the way and no questions can be asked of the truth. Both constructs lead to totalitarianism, the imposition of dogma and the creation of the scientist as dictator (maybe that's what these guys mean?).