Thursday, January 17, 2008
Climate Debate Daily gives a megaphone to denial
Arts & Letters Daily has launched Climate Debate Daily: A new way to understand disputes about global warming. A more accurate tag would be “the same old ways of garbling disputes about global warming.”
The site’s layout creates the appearance of evenhandedness. The left column is “Calls to action,” links “supporting the idea that global warming poses a clear threat to humanity, that it is largely caused by human activity, and that solutions to the problems of climate change lie within human reach.”
The right hand promises “Dissenting voices,” “challenging the view that the world warming that began around 1880 is caused by human activity, that it constitutes a serious threat, or that the vagaries of the earth’s climate are within human control.”
The site claims, “As a matter of editorial policy, Climate Debate Daily maintains a studied neutrality, allowing each side to present its most powerful and persuasive case. Our object is to allow readers to form their own judgments based on the best available information.” Thus the casual viewer of Climate Debate Daily will have little chance to learn that the scientific debate has long moved on. At this point, making a fetish of balance just favors the rear guard.
One of the site’s co-authors, Douglas Campbell, sounds like a pretty solid specimen. He believes “the theory of anthropogenic global warming, and thinks that to the extent that the science remains uncertain the Precautionary Principle still justifies even relatively costly mitigation measures.”
But the site’s other co-author, Denis Dutton, teaches philosophy in
, and invokes the spirit of Karl Popper in favor of his skepticism. He says, “Working at the university where Karl Popper taught in the 1930s and 40s, I am more than a little aware of the way that good scientific hypotheses must always be open to falsification. The best way for science and public policy to proceed is to keep assessing evidence pro and con for anthropogenic global warming.” New Zealand
Popper is a philosopher I admire. He would have had fine targets for his indignation in the climate change skeptics, who are just the sort of enemies of open inquiry he attacked with such zeal. Their views that have been falsified often and rigorously, but that doesn’t deter them. The same bedraggled arguments keep popping up, no matter how often the patient souls at Real Climate and elsewhere swat them aside.