In early May, Lennart Bengtsson, a Swedish climate scientist and meteorologist, joined the advisory council of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a group that questions the reliability of climate change and the costs of policies taken to address it. While Bengtsson maintains he’d always been a skeptic as any scientist ought to be, the foundation and climate-change skeptics proudly announced it as a defection from the scientific consensus.
Just a week later, he says he’s been forced to resign from the group. The abuse he’s received from the climate-science community has made it impossible to carry on his academic work and made him fear for his own safety. A once-peaceful community, he says in his resignation letter, now reminds him of McCarthyism.
“I had not expect[ed] such an enormous world-wide pressure put at me from a community that I have been close to all my active life,” he wrote in his resignation. “Colleagues are withdrawing their support, other colleagues are withdrawing from joint authorship.”
When scientists cannot abide people questioning their hypotheses, something besides “science” is going on.
But there is an even deeper and more fundamental problem here. Is study of climate change even “science” to begin with?
In a court of law, jurors are told to take the opinions of experts into account — but not to blindly accept them. And indeed, it would be difficult to blindly accept all expert opinion in an adversarial setting, where you often find “experts” on opposing sides, saying completely different things that cannot be reconciled.
But in the field of “science” we are told to trust the “experts.” To do anything else is to reject “science” and that is ignorant and wrong.
That may be, in fields that actually deserve the name “science.” I’m just not sure that study of so-called “climate change” merits that label.
“Science” is based on the scientific method: scientists propose a hypothesis, and then test it through experimentation. When a result can be reliably replicated, the hypothesis gains credibility. When it cannot, it is discarded.
Under this definition, I’m not sure that study of so-called climate quite deserves to be called “science.” The public has been shown no track record of hypotheses that are reliably confirmed by experimentation. Instead, we are told that over 95% of climate scientists agree on . . . something. (Then we find out that the number is phony, because it proposes a test for determining who supports the “humans cause global warming” theory that includes most skeptics among the supposed supporters.)
You want to know what else more than 95% “climate change” scientists agreed on? That their models predicted high temperatures in 2013 — higher, in fact, than the temperatures turned out to be. Climate change models are routinely wrong, and scientists are being forced to admit it. It’s the biggest issue facing those who study the climate.
Scientists are dealing with a system that is so complex, it’s difficult to make pronouncements. In this respect, it reminds me of economics. There is a priesthood of Keynesians who assure you that, for example, the Obama stimulus will “work” as defined by some set of benchmarks — and then, when those benchmarks are not met, we are told things would have been worse. And we are supposed to believe that because the guy telling us is Paul Krugman, and he has a Nobel Prize and you don’t, so how dare you question him?
That being said, I don’t agree with the idea that economists — or the climate scientists — are the priesthood, and we need only have faith in their pronouncements, no matter how often they’re shown to be wrong.
I don’t think that makes me “anti-science.” I think it makes me pro-science.