UPDATE: Josh records Cardinal Pell’s speech (on which this article was based) in cartoon form here.
The irony – a spiritual leader within a faith-based belief system (the Catholic Church) possesses far more capacity for rational thought than thousands of “scientists” and politicians swept up in the quasi-religious tide of climate alarmism.
We can only attempt to identify the causes of climate change through science and these causes need to be clearly established after full debates, validated comprehensively, before expensive remedies are imposed on industries and communities.
I first became interested in the question in the 1990s when studying the anti-human claims of the “deep greens”. Mine is not an appeal to the authority of any religious truth in the face of contrary scientific evidence. Neither is it even remotely tinged by a postmodernist hostility to rationality.
My appeal is to reason and evidence, and in my view the evidence is insufficient to achieve practical certainty on many of these scientific issues.
Recently Robert Manne, following fashionable opinion, wrote that “the science is truly settled” on the fundamental theory of climate change: global warming is happening; it is primarily caused by the emission of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide; and it is certain to have profound effects in the future .
His appeal is to the “consensual view among qualified scientists”. This is a category error, scientifically and philosophically. In fact, it is also a cop-out, a way of avoiding the basic issues.
The basic issue is not whether the science is settled but whether the evidence and explanations are adequate in that paradigm.
I fear, too, that many politicians have never investigated the primary evidence.
Much is opaque to non-specialists, but persistent inquiry and study can produce useful clarifications, similar to the nine errors identified by the British High Court in Al Gore’s propaganda film, An Inconvenient Truth.
The complacent appeal to scientific consensus is simply one more appeal to authority, quite inappropriate in science or philosophy.
Read it here.