One of my favorite movies is "The Princess Bride", and in one of my favorite scenes, one of the characters says to another (one who is convinced that he's the smartest man in the world) "you keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means". I find myself flashing on that every time I hear a liberal talk about the "science" of Manmade Global Warming.
I'm not a climatologist. Technically, I'm not even a scientist. What I am is an electrical engineer with training and experience in physics, computer modeling, and dynamical (control) system theory. I've also had one article published in an engineering journal, and I've spent many years working with formal scientific documentation processes. The scientific method and critical thinking are second nature to me. I would have no problem putting up my credentials against those of Al Gore, Ted Turner, and Prince Charles.
Although I consider myself a conservative, I've looked at AGW theory with what I consider an open, scientific mind. What I've seen convinces me that we're not only dealing with an erroneous theory, but with a worldwide scientific fraud of unprecedented proportions. Actually, I should say “nearly unprecedented proportions”, as this bears an eerie similarity to the way the Nuclear Winter fraud was carried out nearly two decades ago (the key difference being that the people who perpetrated the Nuclear Winter hoax never found a way to further enrich politically well-connected financiers who would help maintain the fraud).
I could go on for a half hour about the holes in AGW theory, the abuses of the peer-review process, the absolutely outrageous behavior of the IPCC, and the outright scientific misconduct of the people who've staked their careers on something that can be fairly described as a crackpot theory. I could explain how easy it is to bias a computer model to comply with your pre-determined outcome and how such a model will fail to reflect reality. I could point out that there’s no actual proof that CO2 is causing the Earth (or, for that matter, Mars) to warm up. I could I could ask them why there’s no evidence of the heat signature that a runaway greenhouse mechanism would cause.
I could do all of these things, but the fact is that there's nothing that will convince the alarmists that their pet hypothesis is wrong.
Why will we never convince them? Well, for one thing, most of them don’t have the fundamental knowledge needed to even understand the problems with the theory. We're talking about people who've never solved a differential equation or calculated the phase shift of a feedback function, who don’t even know what an absorption spectrum is. Trying to explain to them the effect of arbitrarily assigning positive magnitude to a major feedback channel in a computer model of a multivariable nonlinear dynamical system would be exactly as effective if done in Latin as in English.
Furthermore, these are people who might have studied the scientific method back in 6th or 7th grade, and haven’t given it a thought since. They simply have no idea how well the AGW crowd has gamed the peer review process (or, for that matter, the grant process). They don’t understand the incredible ethical lapse of Michael Mann not allowing anyone to see his source data, and then conveniently losing it. They don’t understand the level of scientific misconduct that went into preparation of the IPCC report. They don’t understand about the biases in the data collection, they don’t understand about statistical forcing in the analysis of the raw data.
But the most important reason we’ll never convince them is this: they simply don't care. They don’t care where the theory came from, they don’t care if there are holes in it, they don’t care that there are better natural explanations. They don’t care that the people who are flogging this theory the hardest stand to make billions through the stroke of a government pen. They don’t even care that their “solution” will lock billions of people into lives of hopeless, grinding poverty in order to assuage their own nagging feeling of environmental guilt.
What they understand, and what they care about, is that they now have a set of beliefs that gives them comfort, defines their place in the universe, and gives them a sense of smug self-righteousness. Better yet, it gives them an unassailable moral position from which they can tell other people how they should live. I realize that I’m not the first person to accuse environmentalism of becoming a faux religion, but I find it fascinating that this new religion’s adherents have found a rationalization for all of the negative behaviors that are usually attributed to the worst kind religious zealot.
The point I want to make is that we need to start calling them out whenever they claim to have “science” on their side. They don’t. Politicians need to pointedly reference Al Gore’s degree in government management, or Prince Charles status as a complete dilettante. When they trot out the “consensus” nonsense, we need to point out that consensus isn’t a scientific concept, and then ask them who exactly decided who was included in this “consensus”. When they claim that the science is settled, we need to ask them which science, and how they know it’s settled, and who settled it. When they claim that they’re the ones defending “real” science, we need to ask them how much of that science they understand. And most importantly, we need to ask them what it would take to disprove the whole AGW theory. Because if the answer is “nothing”, then we need to point out that they’ve crossed from science to theology.