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When scientists rebel

10 Jul 2019 | OP ED Watch

A group of 90 Italian scientists just signed a strongly-worded petition asking governments to concentrate on fighting known environmental problems and not to waste resources and spread panic over climate change, which they call an unproven theory based on computer models whose predictions do not match the evidence. Their surprisingly strong statement and the number of signers gives the lie to the notion that virtually all scientists agree that global warming is real, urgent and man-made. Indeed, they heap scorn on that notion. What’s more, the names are not the “usual suspects”—the handful of mostly American scientists who are known by the press and public to be critical of climate orthodoxy, nor are they uncredentialled. The list is lengthy and includes highly-qualified experts in Earth and environmental sciences.

As the petition also says, in Pierre Gosselin’s admittedly “unpolished” translation, “the media release the message according to which, with regard to the human cause of current climate change, there would be an almost unanimous consensus among scientists that the scientific debate would be closed. However, first of all we must be aware that the scientific method dictates that the facts, and not the number of adherents, make a conjecture a consolidated scientific theory. In any case, the same alleged consensus DOES NOT EXIST. In fact, there is a remarkable variability of opinions among specialists – climatologists, meteorologists, geologists, geophysicists, astrophysicists – many of whom recognize an important natural contribution to global warming observed from the pre-industrial period and even from the post-war period to today. There have also been petitions signed by thousands of scientists who have expressed dissent with the conjecture of anthropogenic global warming.”

It is hard to dismiss this group as cranks and impossible to claim that they are not scientists. One might attempt to suggest that they are not “climate scientists”… provided one was unaware of the various disciplines directly pertinent to the study of climate, such as Geology, Atmospheric Physics, Physical Chemistry, Oceanography (all members of the organizing committee for the petition) and so on.

They are not alone. Four years ago the Société de Calcul Mathématique SA in France put out a white paper whose title “The battle against global warming: an absurd, costly and pointless crusade” gives a fair idea of its scathing contents. The SCMSA is in fact a consulting firm rather than a scientific congress. But its employees are trained in the hard sciences and their view was that “mathematicians do not believe in crusades; they look at facts, figures, observations and arguments…. There is not a single fact, figure or observation that leads us to conclude that the world’s climate is in any way ‘disturbed’. It is variable, as it has always been, but rather less so now than during certain periods or geological eras. Modern methods are far from being able to accurately measure the planet’s global temperature even today, so measurements made 50 or 100 years ago are even less reliable.”

To call man-made global warming a “hypothesis” is not to belittle it. It is simply to insist that it is a scientific theory like others, and like others must be treated as something to be investigated, checked against evidence, explored and refined, rather than worshipped with the fury that worship too often directs against heretics and infidels. Too often enthusiasts for alarmism who themselves lack even a lay appreciation of science, let alone the specialized training they demand in their adversaries, have no idea that the physics behind the models is not “simple”, that the data are not conclusive, that extreme weather is not demonstrably increasing or that, perhaps their most culpable piece of ignorance, there is no “97% consensus” among scientists on the “orthodox” view that is, in fact, orthodox only among journalists and politicians.

2 comments on “When scientists rebel”

  1. AGW is NOT an hypothesis. The progression in science is from conjecture to hypothesis to theory. A conjecture is basically a hunch, a guess. This is the starting point. From there, scientists try to figure out what would follow and what would not follow if the conjecture were true, and devise experiments (or seek measurements) to see which it is. An hypothesis is the testable claim of an experiment, the proposition that an experiment is meant to disprove. But no experiment has ever been devised that tests the claim that human activity is causing the planet to heat up. Therefore, AGW remains a conjecture, not an hypothesis. Or rather, insofar as the General Circulation Models used to generate projections of climate amount to an hypothesis about what causes average global temperature, the hypothesis has long ago been disproven. The models are crap at generating predictions. It is only once you have a coherent body of hypotheses that have resisted strenous attempts at falsification, correctly predict a broad range of phenomena - such as gravity, general relativity, and evolution by natural selection of variability - that you have what it is proper to call a scientific theory. AGW is not "just a theory;" it is just a conjecture.

  2. Until the media decide that honesty in reporting is less important than sensationalism this farce will continue. As well, to go against the now accepted belief and speak out can be a career wrecker. Who wants to be called a denier. Politicians must now fall into line or lose elections. Recently a scientist in BC lost her funding for daring to say polar bears are doing fine. Free speech is in decline. Journalism is almost dead. I don’t know what will turn this around .

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