JD WALTERS SAID:
“Global warming is real, it is manmade, and it is a huge problem. And if the corporations producing greenhouse gases lack the incentive to produce honest research on the impact of those gases, then it's up to the government to do so. I have read numerous treatments from both the 'advocates' and the deniers and it is clear that the latter are guilty of gross manipulation and distortion of the evidence.”
“And while we're playing the bulverizing game, one might ask why global warming skepticism so often comes from scientists affiliated with business-friendly and business-funded think-tanks. Clearly they do not like the idea of greater environmental controls which would chip away at their profits. If environmentalism is the religion of nature-reverence, global warming skepticism reflects the creed of the ruthless capitalist: growth, growth and more growth, whatever the social and environmental consequences of this growth are.”
This raises a number of issues:
1.I’m not a climatologist. JD is not a climatologist either.
So the general question is how a layman should respond to claims which fall outside his competence to directly evaluate?
One logical response is to suspend judgment. However, Green politicians won’t allow me to withhold judgment on global warming. They are trying to enact sweeping economic policies based on the alleged phenomenon of anthropogenic global warming. Therefore, Green politicians are forcing me to stake out a practical position on this issue.
2.Another response is to defer to expert opinion. That’s the argument from authority. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with the argument from authority. Sometimes, as a matter of practical necessity, we are dependent on expert testimony.
However, the argument from authority is only practical or persuasive if there’s a general consensus of opinion among experts in the field. If, by contrast, there’s a significant body of dissent, then I can’t use the argument from authority since the argument from authority is unable to adjudicate between rival authorities.
Why do the experts disagree? Maybe because their theories are underdetermined by the evidence.
In that case, the logical response would be for me to reserve judgment unless and until the experts arrive at a general consensus of opinion. Once again, however, the Green politicians won’t allow me to wait for a scientific consensus to form.
3.So what’s my fallback option? At this point, JD is half-right, although the way he expresses his point betrays his own particular bias. When the experts disagree, we might examine their motives. Is this pure, disinterested scientific inquiry, or do sociological factors figure in the debate? Is the evidence driving the agenda, or is the agenda driving the evidence?
4.Once upon a time, environmentalism had fairly modest and reasonable aims: clean air, clean water, safe food, national parks. But over time, it has evolved and coalesced into a radical worldview, involving elements of deep ecology, ecocentrism, ecosocialism, antinatalism, Earth liberation, &c. This is a radical, self-contained conceptual scheme.
i) It is, in part, a militant, neopagan alternative to the Christian worldview. And it would behoove a religion student to be more astute about the ideological underpinnings of this movement.
ii) It is also driven by self-hating Americans as well as envious foreigners who resent American military, cultural, and economic dominance. They want to cripple the American economy. JD’s own position clearly buys into some of this Chomskyesque outlook.
iii) It’s also driven by the same coercive groupthink and peer pressure that I see among the militant Darwinians.
5.JD’s attempt to discredit scientists who question global warming orthodoxy would be more convincing if he could show me that all of them are on the payroll of Standard Oil.
And I’d add that the argument from economic incentive cuts both ways. It can also be lucrative to promote the global warming agenda. A good way to secure gov’t grants or UN subsidies.