Climate Denier. Such an odd term. It used to be Global Warming Denier, and before that Anthropogenic Global Warming Denier, for the sophisticated.
I suppose I might be called a Denier. I’m not sure if that should be capitalized or not. It seems to be a formal label of sorts, so I guess it should be capitalized.
Anyway, it’s an interesting choice of words. To deny something, according to the dictionary, is to “refuse to admit the truth”. In the case of global warming, now called climate change, to deny the “science”, or “the truth”, is to be a Denier. I call bullshit.
First of all, no one can deny climate change. The climate on earth has always changed, from the very beginning. It is changing now, and will change again, and again in the future. Such is the nature of the planet. I can’t imagine anyone who would deny that, but alas, that is not the point, is it?
The point is whether or not one agrees with the “settled science” of the day. Disagree, and one automatically becomes a Denier. Worse, one becomes some sort of Neanderthal, incapable of understanding the complexities of the modern world. To disagree makes one an outlier; not to be taken seriously, a person to be ignored. I accept that challenge, and here’s why:
First of all, there is no such thing as “settled science”, that’s not the way it works.
“But you’re not a scientist”, some may say, “what do you know?”.
Well, a little. Let’s have some background before continuing. I worked for four years at Rutgers University, in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology. For those four years plus four more, I worked on a human subjects research project as the project director. The work of this project was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
Additionally, I have presented research results to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), both in Washington DC and at the University of California (USC) Irvine, at the invitation of the NAS.
So no, I’m not a scientist, but I have worked in the field and believe I have some notion how legitimate science works, and how it does not.
First of all, science is rigorous. A “fact” is never a “fact” until it has been tested, replicated, and repeated again and again and again. Even then there is always the open notion that it can be proven wrong sometime in the future. There is not now, and has never been such a thing as “settled science”.
Science relies on experimentation, not consensus. There is no opinion polling in science. Even when legitimate scientists agree, they allow for the possibility that they could be wrong, individually or collectively.
Generally speaking, science is not in the predicting business. It is recognized that certain outcomes may be likely, even seriouly likely, but they are never guaranteed. Speculation, plausible outcomes, possibilities, and liklihoods are all fair expressions. Absolute certainty is not. Scientists have been proven wrong in the past, and will be in the future. There are no absolute truths.
What we are seeing today is a hypothesis presented as fact. Statistical extrapolation projected as absolute truth.
There is always great risk speculating about climate. The earth’s climate is a vast and complicated organism. Collecting past data accurately may reflect what happened in the past, but is a poor resource for predicting the future. The reality is that with all our sophistication, we can barely predict the weather more than a week in advance. Predicting such things as climate and sea levels hundreds of years in the future is arrogance, not science.
As a non-scientist, my hypothesis is not worth much, I understand that. But since this is my blog, I will be presenting some of my ideas on the subject in future posts. Read them or not, agree or disagree. That is fair. What I do urge, however, is that you do not blindly accept the “facts” you read today as “settled”. Examine them, question them. Those presenting the information are not infallible. Don’t let them pretend that they are.