Wednesday, March 14

More thoughts on climate...

... moving further afield.

This rambling post began with more climate heterodoxy: The Great Global Warming Swindle, BBC Channel 4 Documentary (74 minute video). I found it over at subadei's weblog after he commented on my Green SI post.

The Wikipedia article does a good job of summarizing the ideas behind this video and the critiques against it as propaganda. Sounds like some of the propaganda charges are probably true. A few ideas:
  • One big problem with global warming theory: Trying to clamp down on CO2 emissions stunts development in parts of world that need it the most, after we have already developed using those technologies. Leapfrogging is something else...
  • Could weather and climate be more closely tied to solar activity?
  • Also, they say that cosmic rays, solar wind, and cloud formation could be critical.
Here's the 'further afield', into the philosophical part.

Could part of the presupposition of catastrophic global warming and climate change be our modern tendency to overestimate the impact of humans?

I use the term 'modern' advisedly, in the philosophical sense, evoking the Enlightenment and philosophical thought before Post-modernism.

Back in the Enlightenment, Erasmus said 'Man is the measure of all things'. See?

I also want to revisit a comment I have made before. The Post-modern critique has not substantially penetrated the scientific community. You still find very modern ideas over there about the nature of truth and the capability of humans to understand and master and control our world. Time and again as I read science fiction by scientists or read scientific journalism I come across 'modern' thinking.

Remember, I'm not arguing for Post-modern thinking. I'm arguing for thinking that takes into account both Modernism and the very effective Post-modern critique.

Something else I'm always arguing for: civility. Let's find a place we can meet in the center. If the scientific community has truly concluded that humans are contributing to global warming, great. Where is the place for scientific, civil dissent? Scientists who believe in global warming should not shout down civil questions. The scientific method does not admit politics or rhetoric.

In our emerging global culture with massive, instant communication we have become used to polarized, sound bite attacks. This isn't debate. It's almost always preaching to the choir. Neither Al Franken nor Ann Coulter are trying to convert anyone on the other side. They're trying to mobilize and entertain and sell to their own base (and maybe convert some people in the middle). People like this only degrade the debate.

So, on the issue of climate, does An Inconvenient Truth help us? I don't think so. Al's being a politician and Al's being a pundit. He's not trying to be objective. he's not trying to foster debate. In the same way, vehement, polemical climate warming deniers don't help the debate. Ridicule of the other 'side' does not foster dialogue.

Of course, all of these same principles hold true in the Creation/Evolution debate.

Can there be meaningful dialogue between avowed positions in climate and Creation/Evolution? I don't know. At least in the latter debate, the presuppositions are so different. I believe there's a God who created and acts and they believe that presupposition is out of bounds. Hard to dialogue from there. In this case, we're probably only trying to win converts from among the unconverted in the middle, not from the other side.

But I still don't think rhetoric and incivility are fair play. I don't care what anybody else, on either side, does. I'm not going to play that way or listen to anyone who does.
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