Religion is faith. We believe these faiths are the truth.
Science is different, but not necessarily incompatible, with religion.
When science stops relying upon facts, but turns to subjective belief, it is no longer science, and should not be treated as such. It is more of a religion. Each of us is free, both by free will given us by God and the Constitution, to choose our religion. Many today have become secular humanists in additional to the traditional religions, and are using this belief to influence their science..
Early on in the environmental movement, a few true believers viewed environmentalism as an “ism,” i.e. a new religion for Man, even resorting to ecoterrorism.
That is not representative of the mainstream environmental movement. Most environmentalists, no matter how fervent their feelings, recognize environmental protection as a major goal for society; to change the prevailing ethos from the quantity of life to the quality of life, from resource exploitation to resource conservation, to view and enjoy our natural resources for ourselves and our children, for aesthetic, conservational, and recreational uses, to keep trees standing and waters flowing in their natural state.
Yet, even the leaders of the mainstream environmental organizations recognized that compromises were inevitable and environmental progress not always steady. The National Audubon Society has oil wells on its refuges, and for a long time the Sierra Club did not use recycled paper to make its beautiful calendars.
The cause of global warming has recently become a religion to some, with no room for dissent and no questioning of the underlying facts. It is their core belief that human activity is warming the globe. The picture painted is apocalyptic, calling for draconian action now!
Perhaps the overwhelming majority of scientists, and certainly the vast majority of Environmental Law professors in America, agree that society must take action to combat human caused global warming, but are not global warming zealots.
What if the science is wrong? What if some of us, a minority like myself, are iconoclasts on the science because we are not convinced? What if the numbers have been manipulated by true believers?
Questions that arise include:
Is the globe really warming, since global temperatures have dropped or stabilized this decade?
Is this decade just a short term anomaly in the long term temperature rise?
Are weather changes simply part of long natural cycles, dependent for example on sunspots, ocean currents, and volcanoes?
Are the apocalyptic global climate models accurate; what are their assumptions and underlying facts? Can they be validated? After all, the models a quarter century ago predicted the coming ice age.
Why is the carbon footprint being singled out when several greenhouse gasses exist?
If the current warming phrase is caused by carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, then would any actions undertaken today make a difference? The current CO₂load is the result of hundreds of years of coal burning, will not dissipate for hundreds of more years, and we currently lack the science to neutralize it.
The scientific method is critical for science to have validity and believability.
A scientist may observe phenomena in nature, or through experimentation, and then form a hypothesis. The scientist can also form a hypothesis, and then test it through experiments, observations, and studies. The goal is to prove or disprove the hypothesis. The observations and methodology should be public so that other scientists can replicate the results, as well as provide searching critiques (even Einstein wasn’t always right a century ago, and cold fusion report from Utah was a bust two decades ago).
Proof of a hypothesis often involves the elimantion of alternative theories. Sometimes you can prove a positive by excluding the negatives. A major variable in global warming is the cooling-warming natural meterology cycle.
The scientist can certainly be hopeful of verifying the theory, but must remain objective. The hypothesis may be a failure, or not verifiable. The data can be incomplete, or even inconsistent and perhaps contradictory. Anomalies may appear in the data. The scientist should then reassess the hypothesis, and perhaps recognize that the answer or solution is not yet in sight.
The true scientist should neither dismiss inconsistent data nor silence opposing voices; the search must always be for the truth.
Science does not have to be 100% correct; indeed, 95% often passes for scientific certainty. (By way of comparison, the law looks upon a preponderance of the evidence, or 50.1%, as factual). Science must recognize that 5% though.
Herein lies the problem with the recent email disclosures. The Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia has informally become the central clearing house on global climate studies. Many international reports are based on studies coming through the university, especially the highly influential Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Someone hacked into the computer system at East Anglia, downloaded over 1,000 emails and 2,000 documents, and then posted them for the world to view. The University is irate at the breach of security.
The resulting treasure trove is a Pentagon Papers of Global Warming, or Summer Simpson Papers of asbestos. Some scientists crossed over the line and became true believers rather than truth seekers. They sought not the truth but to suppress it. They have become zealots with Ph.D.’s posing as scientists. They are intolerant of dissent and dismissive of inconsistent facts. Rather than reasoned scientific arguments, they engaged in ad hominem attacks.
One refrain refers to skeptics as “idiots.” Discussions were made of discrediting the Wisconsin Ph.D. thesis of a prominent critic, Dr. Pat Michaels, of the Cato Institute.
Dr. Phil Jones, Director of the East Anglia Institute, wrote to Dr. Michael Mann of Penn State about the “trick of adding in the real temps to each series … to hide the decline” in the actual temperatures.
He also emailed Dr. Mann that with respect to dissenting papers on the IPCC report they “will keep them out somehow --- even if we have to redefine what the peer review literature is!” Critics were unable to get their papers published in peer reviewed journals, and hence turned to the global web with their criticisms of global warming.
The peer review process is supposed to validate the methodology of the paper, and not necessarily its conclusions, but the advocates were using peer review to block publications.
Dr. Mann once argued that if one highly successful, prominent critic, Michael McIntyre, wanted to be taken seriously, he should publish in refereed journals. We now know that was impossible.
Climate Research once published a dissenting paper. Dr. Jones demanded the editor be fired, and advised others to stop considering the publication as a legitimate peer reviewed journal. They encouraged blacklisting of the journal.
Dr. Mann referred to a Wall Street Journal column questioning the global warming hypothesis as “total garbage.”
These proponents of human caused global warming refused to include contrary reviews in their prominent international studies, such as the IPCC, thus providing a veneer of unanimity in the reports.
They refused, contrary to the long established practice in the scientific community, to share their data with contrary voices.
Benjamin Santer of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory wrote that he was “tempted to beat” up Dr. Michaels. So much for reasoned discourse! Years of inconvenient measurements were ignored, giving rise to Vice President Al Gore's famous hockey stick of global warming.
The internet releases do not change the underlying science of global warming, whatever that science might be, but they dramatically alter the perceptions and politics.
We have a skewed saying in the law: “I know the law; don’t confuse me with the facts.” The East Anglia circle, key to the international consensus on global warming, is: “I know the science; don’t confuse me with the facts.”
Apparently, we still cannot predict the weather, but we can lie about it.
The true believers may have perverted science and crippled their cause. They distorted the scientific method to seek personal fame, millions in grants, universal acclamation, and even a Nobel Peace Prize.
The Tines of London published over the weekend a report that calls into question the entire methodology and studies of the East Anglia institute. Their studies, the basis for the IPCC report, built a baseline of temperature readings over time so as to calculate global temperature rises over the past 150 years.
The raw data was massaged to account for “variables.” The revised “manipulated” figures become the baseline. The Institute now admits pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request that it had thrown out the raw data. It has retained only “the value added (quality controlled and homogenized) data.” In other words, science is unable to replicate the East Anglia studies.
Significantly, Professor Jones already had to retract one of his papers, which he could not substantiate in response to criticism by Mr. McIntyre.
I repeat, global climate change may or may not be a scientific fact, but you cannot prove it by the East Anglia studies. We have true believers, who quite possibly engaged in massive academic fraud.