I was disappointed by a recent entry in the Cool Tools blog – a place that normally highlights useful stuff like little tripods. Their post on the 16th, which got re-posted on Boing Boing, was about Lawrence Solomon’s book: The Deniers: The World Renowned Scientists Who Stood Up Against Global Warming Hysteria, Political Persecution, and Fraud – And those who are too fearful to do so. The post argued that since science is advanced by those who question current beliefs, we should encourage those who question the reality of anthropogenic climate change.
It is regrettable that the mistaken impression endures that the key tenets of climatic science are still disputed by the scientific community as a whole. Greenhouse gasses unambiguously cause warming, and humanity is unambiguously releasing those gasses. While we certainly need critical thinking to advance climatic science (there is much left to learn about feedbacks and the internal dynamics of the climate system) the kind of people who deny the existence or seriousness of climate change are not engaged usefully with the scientific discussion. In most cases, they tell stories that contradict one another (it’s not happening, it’s not caused by greenhouse gasses, it is likely to be beneficial, it is all China’s fault, etc). In most cases, I also don’t think they are genuine in their approach: they are united by the desire to avoid government regulation of greenhouse gasses, not by a substantive disagreement about what is happening in the world.
Given the strength of entrenched interests opposed to climate change regulation, people willing to add confusion to the debate will always be able to find financial support. That is, at least, until society as a whole finally appreciates that their arguments are self-serving and wrong.