Sunday, March 11, 2007

"The Great Global Warming Swindle"

I have no scientific qualifications and I have little knowledge about the science surrounding global warming. Unfortunately I did not see the offending television programme on Thursday either. This article, however, does raise some interesting points. Despite my disagreement with many of their views I have always quite liked 'Spiked'. I tend to go with them on their 'culture of fear' arguments (how the media has a tendency to scaremonger).

It does pose the question: Why are those without scientific qualifications allowed to write about climate change or contribute to the discussion only if they agree with the accepted theory? The scientific world, as always, has it's dissenting and minority views. Although it is hard to believe that Spiked had nothing to do with the programme as they claim, the questions the article poses are nonetheless valid.
George Monbiot and his pals at the Graun put it down to a sinister conspiracy theory, and so do other environmentalists. I believe it os not so simple, and until I see the evidence of both sides and understand the science behind it better than I currently do I shall not adhere rigidly to either side. Yet man made global warming appears to have become the established truth in the current climate. Only a maverick loon or somebody in the pay of big business would doubt this allegedly incontrovertible 'truth'. Why do the media (and for their part, the majority in the scientific community) wish to shut down debate and discredit those who dissent? If one was to claim the Earth is flat they would simply not be taken seriously, as the proof that it is a sphere is taken for granted today.
Global warming perhaps only provokes such feeling because the proof is not so irrevocable as that.

Red Maria posted on this matter herself and I thank her for alerting me on it. Something which I find extremely irritating about the Green movement is the sanctomoniousness and self righteousness displayed by some of it's adherents and promoters. George Monbiot most readily springs to my mind, and so do some of the other Graunistas. Bear in mind that they have no more scientific credibility or expertise than the people they like to discredit. They fail the test themselves, so by their own standards would fall short of the qualifications they demand from the dissenters. They hold the dissenting scientists to be part of a big capitalist conspiracy, which doesn't wash.

Sensationalism sells newspapers. There is always something we should be very afriad of. People should be scared, so silence the dissenters as to better sell this package. Silencing debate is not going to save the planet. Looking at the issue from a less impassioned and calmer standpoint would surely be far more productive in the way of finding solutions as to dealing with potential problems? But no, people must be made to feel guilty. They must be scared so as to make them act.

It seems like a cause like that gives some people a sense of moral righteousness. Perhaps it is an attempt of the middle classes to gain credibility and assuage their liberal guilt. Case in point: A television clip showed a queue of cars outside a recycling unit, causing more pollution than dispensing of their rubbish in the normal manner would have done. Being 'green' is an easy thing for someone to hold up as proof they are kind and caring people, and to hold themselves above those who are wasteful. So easy to moralise about and install guilt into others.


Political Umpire said...

I saw part of the programme last night (it was repeated on More4). Certainly it seemed to present a strong case against the idea of global warming being caused by emissions in the way that the received view usually describes. And at the least a parade of eminent scientists all doubted the theory. The reason why the proponents of GW theory are so vociferous is that GW has become an industry in itself, with extravagant government grants, committees, research posts, lobby groups etc all depending on it for their livelihood.

Still like you I am no scientist and thus haven't formed a personal view one way or the other.

Liz said...

Thanks PU. At least I know I'm not the only one. Some people I speak to seem to think I am mad for not simply accepting the received view.

Anonymous said...

I think the issue is one of balance in reporting - the media generally seem to take the view that a balanced report is one that dedicates 50% of the reporting time to each side of an argument, even though in realitiy expert opinion may well have a 90%-10% split or greater. Take the MMR vaccine for instance - only a handful of people have ever even suggested that it's dangerous, and their arguments aren't well supported by science, yet you could be forgiven for reading some newspapers and comming away with the impression that the majority of scientists think it's evil and that the government is trying to force it upon people.

There is almost no doubt amongst most scientists that human activity is having a large impact on the environment - admitidly the extent of that impact is still subject to debate, but it's a very real thing, just it suits rather a lot of people to ignore it.

Liz said...

Anon - I recall the MMR thing and the media seemed to have been reporting both sides at the time. Perhaps they gave more space to the 'danger' side than what was warranted but that is the media, it does like a scare. Which is one of the main points in my post - the scare tactics around it's reporting.

I posted about climate change and it's reporting before (see my August 2006 archives), and my link to another blog cited an expert on either science or economics who claimed the Stern report to be a 'fraud'. Weighing up what I see I strongly would assume that human activity does have an impact on the environment - the question is, as you say, how much. It strikes me that the climate change lobby and it's spokespeople in the media like to portray a worse case scenario. For one thing it sells papers, and secondly as Political Umpire states - that many people in the lobby have a livelihood wrapped up in it. It may suit some people to 'ignore it' - but I think on balance more people are afraid of it than not - which of course suits the aims of the proponents of that theory.

james higham said...

...I have no scientific qualifications and I have little knowledge about the science surrounding global warming...

Ditto. Which is why we need to go with the scientific consensus [see L'Ombre's blog].

The C4 programme was thoroughly debunked.