While researching various data sources and journals for a project last year, I came across a book claiming a conspiracy behind those who question “global warming.” I am not a conspiracy theorist, but those who think this way might have read Naomi Oreskes book, Merchants of Doubt. The basic thesis is that a handful of scientists have obscured the truth on issues like tobacco smoke and global warming. With regard to global warming, informed sources have come forward to dispute various points made in this book, so I would encourage those interested to look at “both sides of the story” by also reading the Amazon.c0m comments, the peer-reviewed paper by Nicolas Nierenberg, and the commentary by Norman Rogers.
Oreskes argued in a December 2004 essay that a consensus on climate science exists because statements from certain groups agreed with each other. Forgotten were those groups and scientists that didn’t agree. The work of the IPCC, no matter how extensive, is that of governmental representatives and therefore will be political by nature. It will not be unbiased, and is not subjected to the same peer-review standard as a scientific paper or study. In addition, though government reports of any kind have a measure of authority associated with them and should be respected for the effort they represent, that measure of authority and effort alone does not make what is said in the report true.
Agreement by many does not make a statement true, whether a statement of science or other, except to the postmodernist. In the postmodernist mind, objective reality exists only as a construction within the mind, so something is true because they believe and say it. So if everyone who they agree with agrees with them, then all is well, regardless if anyone else beyond their circle disagrees.
However, climate is an objective reality outside of oneself. Just ask the people in Joplin, Missouri who are recovering from the tornado damage. A tornado is not simply a construct of the mind, like a conspiracy theory. The reality of changes in weather and climate and the impact they have on human life and property requires us to concentrate on scientifically understanding the objective physical reality of climate, so that we can believe and base decisions on what is true about climate and weather. In contrast to the claims of the postmodernist, there are things we do not know about climate and weather that are objectively true regardless of whether anyone ever believes them (or models them)….and we use the methods of science to discover them.
Consensus is not built by ignoring those who disagree. Having examined closely the history of what has been going on over the prior decade on climate science that is just what has occurred. Instead of consensus having occurred, “groupthink” has occurred, but in this case with very large sums of grant and research money in play.
When a scientist submits work for peer review, and it is returned as “revise and resubmit” because of mistakes, the paper is corrected, and revised as necessary. This IPCC 2007 work has received a “revise and resubmit”, but there still is reluctance to accept the reality that mistakes had been made. The science has moved well beyond the IPCC 2007 reports on many fronts….and good water resource planning must be based on the best available science.