Never that long till one of these moments come along…a chance for politicians from around the world to take stock of the apparent evils that humanity has wrought upon the world, mainly in the supposed danger of anthropogenic global warming (AGW)(or “climate change”…which the acolytes of the belief feel makes their movement less questionable, cause…you know…climate has never changed ever in the history of the world *sarcasm*). The plan set forth by world leaders at the Paris conference will be to come up with guidelines of putting together a cleaner world, with cutting down emissions over a few decades. The conventional thought is that something must be done, because the danger that our planet is in requires us to be prompt in putting together a response. However, is such a dire feeling backed up?
Despite the common claim that 97% of scientists believe in the danger of human impact on the climate, that isn’t necessarily backed up by closer looks at the actual breath of research and stances on the matter (http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2014/03/16_not_97_agree.html; http://sealevel.info/97pct/; http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamestaylor/2013/02/13/peer-reviewed-survey-finds-majority-of-scientists-skeptical-of-global-warming-crisis/; http://www.globalresearch.ca/more-than-1000-international-scientists-dissent-over-man-made-global-warming-claims/5403284; http://www.intellectualtakeout.org/article/5-scientists-skeptical-climate-change; http://www.evolutionnews.org/2014/08/when_ideology_t088701.html). Even those that might be more sympathetic toward the belief in dire times ahead admit that things aren’t as serious as first thought (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/climate-change-will-not-be-dangerous-for-a-long-time/). Even if some “agreement” can be brought to bare, there is no indication that it will matter much in the grand scheme of things, especially if the actions of fellow carbon “polluters” are any indication (http://news.yahoo.com/smog-chokes-beijing-paris-climate-talks-under-way-061633522.html). Heck, even the dream that alternate forms of energy will be “emission-free” isn’t really true (http://instituteforenergyresearch.org/analysis/argonne-lab-study/; http://news.investors.com/blogs-capital-hill/101915-776239-ivanpah-solar-plan-emits-greenhouse-gases.htm; http://ourfiniteworld.com/2014/01/21/ten-reasons-intermittent-renewables-wind-and-solar-pv-are-a-problem/), which is pretty jarring considering how limited the output in energy such methods is compared to more conventional forms of energy now (http://www.nationalreview.com/article/419720/crony-king-elon-musk-doesnt-know-extent-his-reign-sean-noble; http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/09/26/powered-by-oil-and-gas-u-s-energy-production-is-on-the-rise/). Therefore, to cut off our nose economically for meager benefits now seems short-sighted, especially when it seems that no international trust is clearly garnerable at this point. Rhetoric is all fine and dandy, but results matter…especially when trillions of dollars is involved. Looks like some have already begun to question such questionable programs (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/on-eve-of-paris-climate-summit-britain-pulls-the-plug-on-renewables/2015/11/20/240c5630-8311-11e5-8bd2-680fff868306_story.html; http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-02-26/merkel-advisers-urge-germany-to-end-clean-energy-subsidy-program).
For all this back and forth about the seriousness of the moment, all this grandstanding distracts from the real strides that have happened on the market, even in areas that are popularly considered problematic, that could do more to get the world to more sustainable energy than any political wishboating (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fast-growth-can-solve-climate-change/; http://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/New-Recycling-Technique-Enables-Spent-Nuclear-Fuel-Rods-to-be-Used-Again.html; http://www.realclearscience.com/blog/2015/10/dear_bernie_science_doesnt_feel_the_bern.html; https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-31/swiss-pickles-set-to-benefit-from-first-carbon-capture-plant; http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3945808/Scientists-tweak-photosynthesis-increase-crop-yield.html; http://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-have-figured-out-how-to-turn-co2-into-solid-rock-within-months). Instead, what tends to come out from avid proponents of AGW are threats, even culminating in using the government to chill dissent (http://freebeacon.com/issues/scientist-demands-criminal-investigation-of-climate-change-skeptics/; https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/11/05/exxonmobil-under-investigation-for-misleading-the-public-about-climate-change/). Such actions, coupled with the whole “climate-gate” fiasco, really cut down on reasonable, substantive debate that should be going on in a subject that certainly still has much to be realized despite popular conventional wisdom. Some stances that such proponents have taken in the past, such as the effect of CFCs on the atmosphere, have possibly turned out to be hardly the case (http://www.ourcivilisation.com/ozone/king.htm
http://cfc.geologist-1011.net/; http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2089537/Ozone-hole-Arctic-actually-caused-COLD-weather.html), while the seriousness of CO2/temperature levels isn’t particularly straightforward either (http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/Carboniferous_climate.html; http://hotair.com/archives/2013/12/13/study-proves-it-was-warmer-in-roman-times-than-today/). Therefore, there is still much to be discovered, as is typical of scientific inquiry. Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be something that will be possible for a while yet.
Perhaps most damning (though it really shouldn’t be surprising to supposed venerable “green” politicians who use whatever means of travel they want as well), one would want to see what the population at large does in their everyday life. Are they changing their daily routines? Not quite actually: http://thefederalist.com/2015/11/20/great-news-americans-dont-really-care-about-climate-change/
A big deal was made during one of the meetings of the conference over the supposed “expansion” of the Sahara Desert into farmland. However, one has to wonder where such doomsayers got such information…as the Sahara has actually been getting greener. This shouldn’t be too surprising, as the area has gone from greenery to aridity over thousands of years. Why is still very much debated: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/08/26/climate-change-is-making-deserts-greener.html; http://www.astrobio.net/news-exclusive/how-earths-orbital-shift-shaped-the-sahara/; http://www.livescience.com/4180-sahara-desert-lush-populated.html
Some have tried to argue the belief that climate change/AGW is responsible for the growth of terrorism. However, research into the matter doesn’t necessarily show a correlation at all. The Global Terrorism Index mentions main drivers as political, nationalist, and separatist movements as well as weak political systems and a lack of political legitimacy. Countries that have high levels of such violence tend to have hostility between different religious or ethnic groups, state-sponsored violence, political terrors/group grievances, and organized criminality. If climatic changes are of any significance, they would only be a multiplier to political and social issues that were already there: http://www.visionofhumanity.org/; http://climateandsecurity.org/2015/11/16/is-climate-change-the-biggest-security-threat-is-still-a-bad-question/
So much for that adherence to data sharing. I thought that was something only “deniers” did?: http://hotair.com/archives/2015/12/11/scientists-cheering-for-noaa-chief-to-not-be-bullied-into-showing-their-work-on-climate-data/
As stated before, always pays to keep an open mind, especially in a field as dynamic as climatology. There is still much to be realized: http://fee.org/freeman/earth-day-22-ways-to-think-about-the-climate-change-debate/
An individual that tends to get accolades in the social sphere, particularly in the realm of scientific inquiry, is mechanical engineer and television personality Bill Nye. He is perhaps most well known by the nickname “The Science Guy” as a result of the various media he has done in the service of promoting the field to people of all ages. Far be it from me to consider such an endeavor to be problematic, for more people understanding the role of science in bringing innovation and growth to the world is a truly empowering and liberating thing. However, such an endeavor is undercut by the manner in which Mr. Nye has carried out such a calling. Science is supposed to be tasked with staying ever vigilant to logical, procedural, and philosophical consistency in regards to understanding the knowledge of the universe that surrounds us. That ultimately involves accepting the results and data that are found, even if they conflict with preconceived and conventional beliefs. Sadly, many of the proponents of scientific understanding (Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye…and even the one I include in my cover photo, Carl Sagan) break such an axiom, showcasing how difficult it is for people…even those educated and practicing such endeavors…to be consistent. This is especially true with the ongoing politically-charged topic of anthropogenic global warming (now called climate change by supporters of AGW…despite the fact that an attempted clever change actually causes it to make even less sense).
For all his talk of scientific ethics over the years, Mr. Nye has shown himself to not only be misrepresenting climatic data (http://www.justfactsdaily.com/is-the-earth-warming-catastrophically-fast/)…he has also incorporated logical fallacies with how he attempts to justify his views on AGW (https://redalertpolitics.com/2017/03/16/apparently-bill-nye-never-took-basic-logic-college/). Despite his often repetitive claim that the vast majority of scientists agree with AGW, actually looking over the work of climatologists shows such an assertion to not be the case. Couple that with his continued advocacy for public policy to enforce his debatable views (even when he has shown little to no knowledge of actual constitutional law http://twitchy.com/gregp-3534/2015/05/24/bill-nye-the-constitutional-scholar-guy-the-highest-form-of-patriotism-is-science-or-something/), and use of ad hominems with regard to those who disagree with him (http://dailycaller.com/2017/02/27/bill-nye-the-science-guy-says-climate-deniers-suffer-psychological-delusions/), and it is clear that Mr. Nye is a poor representative of the discipline he claims to cherish.
As if his previous transgressions weren’t enough, Mr. Nye has continued such biased and nearly dogmatic tirade on a new Netflix show. Besides dealing with segments that hardly touch on controversial subjects, such as a transgendered song that was more cringe-worthy than informative, he has even decided to entertain the notion of state-sponsored eugenics (https://townhall.com/tipsheet/christinerousselle/2017/04/26/bill-nye-the-eugenics-guy-maybe-we-should-penalize-people-with-extra-kids-n2318527). Of course, as with any biased rendition, Mr. Nye doesn’t consider the fact that government-sanctioned programs are up to those ultimately running it…and all the passions and misconceptions that come with that. He also seems to be oblivious to the historical indications as to why such an action is a horrifically bad idea (http://www.michaelcrichton.com/why-politicized-science-is-dangerous/; https://symbolicorder.info/the-united-states-once-sterilized-tens-of-thousands-here-s-how-the-supreme-court-allowed-it-327c3ee04ccb; https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/the-one-child-policy-has-left-chinas-economic-and-social-support-systems-de). For all the time he spends concerning himself with the supposed issue of overpopulation, realty has shown that concern to be hardly as dire as Mr. Nye claims (https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/01/us/the-unrealized-horrors-of-population-explosion.html?smid=tw-share&_r=4; http://reason.com/archives/2010/10/19/the-eternal-return-of-overpopu). One wonders how he continues to claim being a defender of science and it’s methodologies, when he continues to struggle at upholding them.
It has been the conventional belief of many to view the work of scientists as being above notions of self-interest and bias, preferring to see them as pursuers of wisdom and knowledge. However, that belief has been challenged of late by research that shows such devotion to be much more complicated. What has instead been shown is the increased realization of many study results that are non-reproducible, flat out wrong, or full of sloppy analysis (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/09/10/why-medical-clinical-trials-are-so-wrong-so-often/; http://www.businessinsider.com/reproducibility-initiative-study-replication-2012-8; http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/11/lies-damned-lies-and-medical-science/308269/; http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB118972683557627104). There is also a bias toward those publications that either push a shocking new result, or that come to a solution that isn’t particularly conclusive. Hardly surprising, this is helped by the pressures of continued funding by public and activist organizations…which are of course attached to whether the results continue to justify their continued investment. Motivated by self-interest, many practitioners can simply push for certain results that will continue to bring on that funding, validity of result be damned (http://www.testingtreatments.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/0-Macleod-et-al.-Comment1.pdf; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1420798/). Taken together, all this calls into question the relevance or even quality of how scientific tenets are adhered to in academic circles. Topics such as anthropogenic global warming (AGW) show how politicized science, as well as the drive for scientific advancement without any widespread accountability for such, can hurt the respect and objectivity that many have for the institution.
How do we fix such a problem? There is no easy solution, but there are perhaps a few steps. First, there must be a realization that scientists must be accountable to everyone, not just activists or bureaucrats. Scientists shouldn’t be held to only being policed by their own, but also by those outside the confines of academia. Funding, if it is to be given, should be tied to an actual applicable outcome/goal instead of simply “for the good of science itself”. No truly groundbreaking development, from the compass to the Internet, came to be without some applicability to a real-world problem. And by allowing innovation and economic growth to take further strides, technological advancements might allow even more frontiers to be traversed like never before. Of course these are only just a few possible steps, but a start like this might just work to once again focus true practitioners of science to return to solving the issues and problems that face us all and not just doing it for their own sake.
An interesting read, though I feel Mr. Sarewitz oversimplifies some things in his way through a pretty decent analysis. Accountability toward scientists and their work ethic doesn’t just have to be through military endeavors. Such focus on research applicability can also work with those outside of it after all, though it can’t be denied that many advances through history have come through military endeavors. Monetary profit is also not as much a problem as he surmises as well. Indeed it can be destructive if channeled poorly, but such drives also work with funding that is focused more prudently. What is more important is the culture that surrounds that drive and what is being encouraged when we do business. Finally, to be so dismissive of certain fields of study, such as economics or space travel, is a little much. Indeed there is complexity with such fields, but perhaps Mr. Sarewitz should take his own advice regarding that it is how the endeavor is channeled. Travel through space can still be productive if it is focused more on an applicable solution to a real-world problem, such as dealing with efficiency and economic growth concerning fields like manufacturing (as well as an expected timetable for continued investment), rather than simply traveling to another planet for it’s own sake (though a focus on accountability through a deadline, like Kennedy’s Moon challenge or Mr. Musk’s Mars challenge can offer a hybrid solution in this case). Otherwise, a pretty good read – http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/saving-science