Since primary school (beginning of the 90s) I have been told that the planet is warming, that it's a catastrophe, and that we must do something about it. Do we really? "Warmists" (my word, since they can call skeptics deniers) make all sorts of claims on the subject, and many of are rather dubious. Here are 3 of them:
1. The Science is Settled
This is probably their favorite argument: the science is settled, there is no place for discussion. The planet is dramatically warming, humans are responsible and we must act quickly.
First and most important of all, the science is never settled. It took 250 years or so to find faults in Newton's theory of gravity (with Einstein's theory of relativity); it took 150 years after Darwin published his theory of evolution to find a very probable cause of evolution in apes (which made us human); and even today, scientists cannot agree on what caused the Black Death that decimated Europe in the 1300s.
The same thing goes for climate science. Scientists can't decide whether global warming (or is it climate change? Climate disruption? Extreme weather?) will cause more snow, less snow, more snow and/or less snow, if climate variability has increased or not, if it will cause more tornadoes or not, if the Arctic is at the tipping point or not, and many more.
However, many points are likely to be wrong: there are no more hurricanes (in strength and numbers) since the 1970s (it might even go back 228 years). There aren't more F3+ tornadoes since the 1950s (they are actually decreasing). The Arctic, while it may be melting more, is refreezing so quickly that the May 1 ice cover in 1979 and 2013 are not so different. Polar bears are nowhere near extinction, as assessed by the Nunavut government and Inuit hunters in northern Canada. More and more and more people seem to agree, even if they don't want to, that global warming has stalled for over 15 years. Recent data in southern Quebec, China and Sweden seem to imply that the infamous hockey stick (that temperatures have been dramatically increasing since the Industrial Revolution) isn't true and that they are actually much closer to the first finding of the IPCC in 1990 – most climate models have failed so far, and there doesn't seem to be a correlation between droughts in the US and CO2 levels.
Also, because humans were accused of causing global warming, many other influences on the climate were dismissed, such as cosmic rays and that giant H-bomb 150 million kilometers away. Also, faulty weather stations are likely to report higher temperatures than normal.
2. There Is a Vast Scientific Consensus
This is another favorite: there is such a vast consensus in the scientific world about global warming (many use the 97% figure) that debate is futile.
Numbers don't make right — the billions of Christians around the planet think the billions of Muslims are wrong about their faith, and vice versa. Also, the said consensus is questionable. It is either based on a non-scientific survey with a sampling of 79 people or is actually closer to 33% (although, I admit it, those who did take a position on global warming say it's man-made at 97%).
And even if there were a consensus, shutting down opposing view points is very dangerous. Only societies with limited liberty can make sure that only one opinion (and usually not the best one) be heard. And warmists are doing just that: they systematically refuse to debate with skeptics, they want to censor them or put them to jail, or even see them dead. Imagine the outrage if any non-anticapitalist organization did the same, or violate private property to stop the construction of something they don't like, or ran propaganda aimed at children ...
This explains why most professors don't accept Wikipedia as a source of trivial information: it can be edited by anyone, especially if it contradicts their views.
3. There's Nothing to Talk About Climategate
Since 2009, skeptics keep hammering that Climategate is the ultimate proof that man-made global warming is fake. Warmists brush criticism aside, saying that nothing out of the ordinary has come out of it.
Use your imagination for a moment. Imagine that a hacker (or whistleblower) got into a Big Pharma database and stole thousands of emails. Imagine that these emails revealed that scientists purposely:
- Asked to delete information that didn't fit their theory.
- Recognized that their theory wasn't working so they had to use a "trick" to make it work.
- Thought about a strategy to shut up people saying their product doesn't work.
- Edited websites so contrarian ideas would be censored.
Now, imagine that inquiries are made to check on those supposed scandals. One of them is conducted by the university that hires one of the main scientists in the scandal; it completely whitewashes him by claiming to have looked at all sides of the question while completely ignoring other scientists that had pointed at faults from the scientist. Imagine that another of these inquiries is paid for by a university sunk deep into the scandal and was made of people leaning towards the accused scientists. Finally, imagine that a parliamentary inquiry also tries to shed the light on the scandal. However, it claims that the emails were stolen without proof; it does not interview skeptics and simply supports Big Pharma by ignoring its misdeeds.
If such a thing had happened, the media would have, justifiably, asked that the inquiries be made again because of obvious conflicts of interest and an evident lack of objectivity. They would have promptly done it because it would be yet another reason to bash capitalism (or, most likely, corporatism) and ask for more government control. However, doing the same on Climategate would imply they are attacking one of their main sources of anticapitalist arguments — "fighting" global warming/climate change/disruption/extreme weather implies massive government intervention to favor certain types of energy and make others more expensive.