Robert Meyer
August 21, 2017
Global warming advocates need a fresh approach
By Robert Meyer

Regardless of your position on the issue of humanly caused global warming, one thing remains undeniable: Those who are apologists for the "save the planet" approach have done an abysmal job of graciously persuading the public to participate in the cause.

If I were on that side of this issue, I would emphasize the economic benefits of reducing emissions and encourage the virtues of environmental stewardship. Instead you have chosen to bully or insult people who don't subscribe to a fully-orbited "humans are responsible for destroying the planet or bust" narrative. Is that really necessary? All such antics have accomplished is further fortifying resistance against your cause. It's yet another example of how otherwise intelligent people can act in ways detrimental to their own objectives. Ideology has become more important than actual practices.

To pretend that skeptics don't have rational reasons for their doubts is intellectually dishonest. Even if they ultimately are wrong, their dissent makes an important contribution. Space here will allow us to consider only a few reasons.

The most blatant observation summarily ignored, is that viewpoints on this issue are so closely aligned with political ideology. That alone can't help leaving the impression, that this issue, as so many others, has become politicized. The varying narratives seem to be products of location on the political spectrum, rather than conclusions of independent investigation.

Of course, people will frequently resort to appeals to scientific objectivity when making their case. We habitually conflate the positive definition of science with the normative practices therein.

This distinction is best articulated by the late Paleontologist Dr. Stephen Jay Gould of Harvard. Gould was a committed and uncompromising evolutionist, but scoffed at the assumption of pure scientific objectivity.

"Our [scientists'] ways of learning about the world are strongly influenced by the social preconceptions and biased modes of thinking that each scientist must apply to any problem. The stereotype of a fully rational and objective 'scientific method,' with individual scientists as logical and interchangeable robots, is self-serving mythology."

Concepts such as consensus and peer review seem impressive and decisive, until we consider the possibility of a groupthink relationship existing between the presenter and the panelists doing the reviewing.

Baby Boomers who were in high school from the late 60's to mid 70's, probably remember a tome by Paul Ehrlich , The Population Bomb, as part of required reading in social studies curriculum. Ehrlich made numerous dire predictions that seemed all but inevitable to those with impressionable minds. About that time, there was also theory of "Peak Oil," featuring a bell curve graph that predicted peak petroleum production occurring around 1970. A generation later, we experienced the Y2K phenomenon, which many people thought could generate a technological meltdown. These hypotheses were all buttressed by scientific or empirical evidence. The point is that taking a snapshot of current conditions, then extrapolating them out to a theoretical 'tipping point,' has hardly been a fool proof way of predicting the future.

Some see the calls for a 'carbon tax' as a ploy for wealth transfer and a further encroachment on individual freedom. It's what literary luminary C.S. Lewis decried as "Government in the name of science." It isn't that people disrespect the scientific enterprise, but that they are suspect of ideology cloaked as science.

Much angst has been generated over the U. S. dropping the Paris Accord. Why is a global treaty required to be a responsible steward? The two are not mutually essential. Insisting on "treaties" that transparently penalize our country can be harmful economically and threaten national sovereignty.

Climate Change activists need a different playbook that addresses adverse concerns.

© Robert Meyer

 

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Robert Meyer

Robert Meyer is a hardy soul who hails from the Cheesehead country of the upper midwest... (more)

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