Thursday, February 03, 2011

the spencer challenge

Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow.  With this post I am happy to follow the lead of WUWT and post the link to Roy Spencer's challenge that cuts right to the heart of the climate question:
  • I’ve been picking up a lot of chatter in the last few days about the ’settled science’ of global warming. What most people don’t realize is that the vast majority of published research on the topic simply assumes that warming is manmade. It in no way “proves” it. 
  • If the science really is that settled, then this challenge should be easy: 
  • Show me one peer-reviewed paper that has ruled out natural, internal climate cycles as the cause of most of the recent warming in the thermometer record. 
  • Studies that have suggested that an increase in the total output of the sun cannot be blamed, do not count…the sun is an external driver. I’m talking about natural, internal variability. 
  • The fact is that the ‘null hypothesis’ of global warming has never been rejected: That natural climate variability can explain everything we see in the climate system.

The challenge has provoked some interesting responses. Many have objected to the reversal of the normal null hypothesis of scientific inquiry and many have simply retorted, kindergarten style, well show us how natural change precludes the effect of CO2.

I suspect that is the real purpose of Roy's challenge: to point out that AGW is not falsifiable but, instead is a presumed, axiomatic construct without refutable scientific basis.  Doesn't in itself mean it's wrong, just not a scientific imperative for global reorganization of the economy, society and the rules of scientific inquiry.

Science is a means to measure and understand things.  What those measurements mean and what we do with that understanding, are societal 
determinations: the social and political processes of decision making and not hard science.  Science, both good and bad, is but one input into societal decisions: it is not the sole determinant of those decisions.

What most activist scientists fail to realize is that politics is an exercise in power, not truth.  The truth of the science is irrelevant.  Climate science, like any science of the environment, is merely a convenient contrivance for the promotion and imposition of a particular ideological dogma. Science that promotes the advocacy of the dogma is favored, the science that challenges the dogma, marginalized.

But within democratic society, political power is exercised by the acceptance of the dominant narrative: if the mainstream, voting public sways in the belief, their trust in the dogma, then it loses its political traction, becomes a liability and the political imperative switches to an alternative narrative, with amended framing.

Because of its excessive use of authority and its presumptive use of the science, the climate dogma has spectacularly imploded as the narrative runs counter to so much of observed personal experience.  It has simply ceased to be useful as a presumptive political imperative, hence the desperate shift to recast the climate narrative as "climate disruption".

Trouble is, this time the exposition has been too fundamental for the narrative to be simply re-cast.  The very assertive power of ideological environmentalism as a political imperative is now being questioned and rejected by many, perhaps even the majority.