A level playing field

Alarmists playing left to right

Carl Sagan famously said “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” In the case of climate change, this could be rewritten to say “Extraordinarily expensive mitigation strategies require extraordinarily unbiased and impartial evidence, resulting from research carried out with the greatest possible levels of scientific integrity.”

In other words, it is the “consensus” camp that is insisting that we take drastic climate action costing trillions of dollars in order to avert their projected catastrophe. Therefore, we should subject their claims to the highest levels of scrutiny and examination before acquiescing to their demands.

Is that what we have? No – in fact, precisely the opposite. A compliant media and scientifically illiterate governments give the consensus boys a free pass. Grey literature abounds in the IPCC reports. Environmental activist groups are in bed with lead authors and scientists. Journalists in the mainstream media are unashamedly advocates for action on climate change. Governments, desperate to appear politically correct, have swallowed the hysterical nonsense of the Greens.

Matt Ridley in his brilliant speech on “Scientific Heresy” (see here) argued:

Suppose I am right that much of what passes for mainstream climate science is now infested with pseudoscience, buttressed by a bad case of confirmation bias, reliant on wishful thinking, given a free pass by biased reporting and dogmatically intolerant of dissent. So what?

After all there’s pseudoscience and confirmation bias among the climate heretics too.

Well here’s why it matters. The alarmists have been handed power over our lives; the heretics have not. Remember Britain’s unilateral climate act is officially expected to cost the hard-pressed UK economy £18.3 billion a year for the next 39 years and achieve an unmeasurably small change in carbon dioxide levels.

At least sceptics do not cover the hills of Scotland with useless, expensive, duke-subsidising wind turbines whose manufacture causes pollution in Inner Mongolia and which kill rare raptors such as [this] griffon vulture.

At least crop circle believers cannot almost double your electricity bills and increase fuel poverty while driving jobs to Asia, to support their fetish.

At least creationists have not persuaded the BBC that balanced reporting is no longer necessary.

At least homeopaths have not made expensive condensing boilers, which shut down in cold weather, compulsory, as John Prescott did in 2005.

At least astrologers have not driven millions of people into real hunger, perhaps killing 192,000 last year according to one conservative estimate, by diverting 5% of the world’s grain crop into motor fuel*.

That’s why it matters. We’ve been asked to take some very painful cures. So we need to be sure the patient has a brain tumour rather than a nosebleed.

“The alarmists have power over our lives.” That is the key point that differentiates the alarmists from the sceptics. If we reverse the situation, with the consensus position being that the likelihood of catastrophic climate change is minuscule and in any event climate mitigation is practically useless, and the sceptics arguing that we should turn our economies upside down to counter what they allege to be a real risk, spending billions of dollars which could be otherwise spent on alleviating poverty or disease, which side of this hypothetical argument would be subjected to the greater scrutiny?

I am not suggesting such uneven scrutiny, merely a level playing field. But at the moment, we are a very long way from that.


  1. Funny you should mention Sagan. Pity that what he was preaching wasn’t actually one of his principles when it comes to climate change. Having said that, I admire the guy for his thinking about the cosmos in general.

  2. Speaking of level playing fields, the latest global average lower tropospheric temperature anomaly for October, 2011 has dropped to +0.11.

    Although not indicative of any predictive value, “it is still the kind of behavior we expect to see more often in a cooling world,” according to Dr. Roy Spencer.

    I think this would pass as an extraordinary claim, which is backed-up by extraordinary evidence but will it make the 5th IPCC Assessment Report … of course not!

  3. Mervyn Sullivan says:

    It’s over 20years since NASA’s Dr James Hansen effectively warned a US Congressional hearing that rising carbon dioxide emissions would cause runaway global warming unless brought under control. Since then, the IPCC has been formed to tackle this problem, countries have been implementing costly policies to halt climate change… and obscene amounts of money have been wasted in the process.

    Where is the runaway global warming? It has not happened. It has been a lie.

    When are the alarmists going to wake up and accept the reality that they have been wrong?

    When are governments, like the Gillard government, going to acknowledge the truth instead of maintaining the lie?

  4. I like the photo. Very clever.

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