by Mark Rhoads
A new-sub controversy regarding the correct “balance” in news coverage has emerged at the BBC that is part of a larger battle between a large number of scientists who are certain that man-made global warming is a serious threat to the planet and a smaller group of scientists who still remain sceptical and less convinced by the data they have seen in part because some of it was shown to be falsified by researchers at the University of East Anglia whose research the UN relied on to sell global warming.
But the pro-global warming group still somewhat arrogantly argues that there is no room left for honest debate because only their data can be correct and sceptics should be labeled as “deniers” and dissenters who should be treated as pariahs outside the world of legitimate scientists. They go even further to impugn the motives of sceptics and suggest sceptics are paid by oil companies for selfish reasons. They argue that only their view of the data is “settled science.”
Although I am not a climatologist and I have not seen all the data on both sides of the debate, I am always suspicious as to why one group of scientists with a more popular view would be so terrified of any questions about their prevailing orthodoxy that they would have to resort to name-calling and demonizing colleagues who might disagree. This does not sound like a spirit of open inquiry. When I was in college my professors emphasized that the scientific method of inquiry should always be open to new ideas and challenges and that the search to discover new truths was never over and was never finished or “settled.”
At the present time, the prevailing view is that the age of the universe is about 14 billion years. But that number has changed many times in the last 30 years due to new methods of measurement of the distance of stars and technological innovations such as the Hubble Telescope. But back when most astronomers and physicists thought that the universe was much younger–only 7 billion years, they did not try to demean of delegitimize those scientists who thought the universe might be much older.
My point is that some climatologists who insist that man-made global warming is a short-term danger might be hurting their own cause by going way too far to belittle anyone who differs with their opinion. Intellectually honest scientists should always be open to challenges and not worship at the altar of a “prevailing consensus” of opinion in order to freeze out any more debate or inquiry that might challenge their conclusions. The best scientific research depends on challenges to assumptions and old data so sceptics should always be welcome to present their views even if, and especially when, they are a challenge to the prevailing consensus opinions of the day.