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Jay Currie

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5/06/2005

The Anti-Science Left

Over at No More Shall I Roam, Jonathan Dursi, writes a rather ill informed piece on "The Anti-Science Right".

It appears that Dursi takes it to be anti-scientific to question the prevailing orthodoxies of the Left's favorite scientists and whatever crack pot theory they have managed to get the great and the good of the NGOs to subscribe to this month.

He cites my posts, here on the broken hockey stick of Kyoto, on global dimming here. The claim being,

Newly ascendant are those right wing technophiles who are big fans of science and technology, but when any science result conflicts with their ideology, they simply reject it and attack those scientists who dare to make such claims.
The religious fervour with which the Left embraces the ineffective, expensive and vastly inefficient canticles of Kyoto means that they cannot possibly allow for the least hint of scepticism regarding its shakey scientific foundations. Which will mean chaps like Dursi will have to cover their ears and sing "La, la, la" as loudly as possible in order to avoid the head exploding implications of a new Science article summarized in this press release. Here's what Tim Worstall writes about the paper at TechCentralStation,
Commenting on the report, one of the authors states:
"The atmosphere is heated from the bottom up, and more solar energy at the surface means we might finally see the increases in temperature that we expected to see with global greenhouse warming,"
Which is a comment that can be taken two ways. One is that here is a solution to the rather uncomfortable problem that all of our models get the actual amount of warming wrong, which might be unkindly described as clutching at straws; the other is that the paper is a useful reminder that the science is not, contrary to perceived opinion, settled yet.

Before I get swamped by screams of outrage, by those calling me a greenhouse denialist, please, get a grip. It is quite obvious that there is a thing called the greenhouse effect, the differences between Venus, Mars and Earth are the only evidence one needs for that contention. I've said before and will no doubt have to say it again, I'm broadly of the Lomborg persuasion, that there is a general change in the climate going on, that humans are at least partially responsible for it and the important thing is to find out exactly what is going on and then work out how to deal with it. Papers like this add another level of complexity to this process, but do not obviate the need for such a process, rather they reinforce the notion that we should indeed be doing what we are, researching the problem as best we can.
Pace Mr. Dursi, what is anti-scientific is the willingness to take as settled science matters about which there is a great deal more to know. And what is dangerous about this anti-scientism is the tendency to make policy for the real world based on as yet largely untested, much less proven, scientific theory.