Sunday, March 05, 2006

Miranda Devine rolls her eyes at climate change…

…and suggestions it gets her "all hot and bothered". From her SMH column - Geeks in white coats shall inherit the earth:
Every time I write an article pointing out there is no scientific consensus on the extent of man-made - as opposed to natural - climate change, or that attacks on genetically modified food are flawed, I am accused, quite seriously, of being on the payroll of Monsanto or Western Mining.
This is simply untrue - see this article in Science for evidence of a scientific consensus:
Many details about climate interactions are not well understood, and there are ample grounds for continued research to provide a better basis for understanding climate dynamics. The question of what to do about climate change is also still open. But there is a scientific consensus on the reality of anthropogenic climate change. Climate scientists have repeatedly tried to make this clear. It is time for the rest of us to listen.
Any field of scientific inquiry moves forward through hypothesis and counter-hypothesis. Devine states that the jury is out on anthropocentric climate change. She is guilty of using the rhetorical tactic of Exaggerated Conflict. Her implied argument is that uncertainly within the field of climate change means the whole field can be safely doubted.

(Also, have you ever noticed that, yes, there are climate change "skeptics", but none of them actually ever seem to be those who study climate change? There are also "evolution skeptics" (read: creationists) but we don't take them seriously either, because none of them are evolutionary biologists. This is not to say either of these "non-experts" couldn't be right, but I know which group I'd put my money on - if I was so inclined to gamble, which I'm not.)

She then moves on with a favoured False Analogy of the climate change "skeptics":

Environmentalism is the powerful new secular religion and politically correct scientists are its high priests, rescuing the planet from the apocalypse of climate change, as the Doomsday clock ticks down. Kyoto is the Promised Land and Bush/Howard/capitalism/industry/farmers are Satan.
If you need the explanation as to why this is a False Analogy then see a previous post - McCrann's false analogy. Now it's time to bring in a heavy weight - a scientist (obviously the one scientist that is not biased) - to back up her point:

Perth exploration geologist Louis Hissink suspects "politicised science has replaced religion as the arbiter of human affairs ... priesthoods of both organisations are concerned with what happens in the future and that current behaviour is thought to affect that future, hence it needs to be proscribed and prescribed".
And so we have an Appeal to Authority. This one guy is an authority (an exploration geologist - on climate change - he couldn't possibly work for the mining industry... surely not?), but let's ignore the 928 papers surveyed by Science Magazine in which none of them disagreed with the scientific consensus. (Note that by talking to only one person for her column, someone who tells her what she wants us to hear, she is Stacking the Deck - here's Hissink's blog.)

A bit of advice - try not to use opinion columns as a primary source for anything - especially science. They'll let any fool write for a newspaper these days, no matter how pointless everything they say is.

Update: Expert scientist guy Louis Hissink doesn't think the much of the Big Bang either, and rates it about the same as biblical creationism:
The Big Bang is as fictitious as Creation, the two being the one and same event, but separated intellectually by an enormous expanse of chronological time. It is the religious belief of a competing, more liberal minded, religious sect… the ‘Big Bang" fact is scientifically absurd.
Just what science does he believe in? Doubting everything is the same as believing everything - both require limited cognitive function.

Update 2: Some of the most prestigious science academies in the world issued this statement on climate change -
Joint science academies’ statement: Global response to climate change (note – pdf).