Cards on the table, since those who dare even to broach this subject are inevitably subjected to name-calling. The ” collapsing consensus ” notwithstanding, I’m among those who believe that the earth is getting warmer, that human beings probably have something to do with it, and that climate modeling being at best a pseudoscience, we have no idea what the consequences might be. I suppose in the eyes of some that makes me a “global warming denier”, despite my sincere belief that global warming is occurring and that we’re probably causing a significant part of it. So it goes . . .
With that out of the way, perhaps it’s time that we addressed the real questions.
With all due respect to our esteemed former Vice-President, an agreement upon the reality of anthropogenic global warming marks the beginning, not the end, of a series of debates. Some time ago, our very own Ivan Kenneally wrote a phenomenal article for the New Atlantis in which he explored the manifold ways in which we have become accustomed to believing that value-free science points the way towards policy. That this is simply not so was stated with uncommon eloquence by Michael Hulme , founding director of the Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research:
He stresses that he has little problem with the basic scientific understanding of climate change. Its just that, if progress is to be made in debates on how to respond to that knowledge, they need to be opened up to other disciplines, from the arts and humanities, for example - and to good old-fashioned politics and ideologies.
“However much we agree on the fundamentals of the physics of climate change, there are huge ethical, political and ideological differences that remain about what climate change signifies for society, says Hulme. And if one pretends that we can gloss over those, converging on a single political position, where there is no party political debate and differentiation, then we’re losing some of the essential dimensions of climate change that we have to engage with. It narrows down debate rather than opening it up.”
. . .
For Hulme, for open debate to be possible, there must be a recognition on all sides that we all bring a host of values, beliefs and influences to the table along with our knowledge, expertise and training .
. . .
“To hide behind the dubious precision of scientific numbers, and not actually expose ones own ideologies or beliefs or values and judgements is undermining both politics and science”, says Hulme.
Bravo, Mr. Hulme! Now allow me to add my own two cents: “The debate is dead! Long live the debate!”
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