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The global warming hullabaloo has always been a religious movement. It has never been scientific.
And as its political potency has waned, the modern-day clerics have become ever more strident.
Let me illustrate with a recent and local example.
Back in March, Dr James Renwick appeared on TVNZ’s Q&A to tell farmers to de-intensify. He was in no doubt that man-made global warming was causing the summer drought.
“Yeah, it is. Yeah, climate change, global warming. Put more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and things warm up.” The host Corin Dann double-checks: “And you’re of no doubt of that?”
“Oh, no, no. There’s no other explanation that’s remotely plausible.”
That’s religious zealotry in action. Science is never that certain. The best-ever scientific knowledge was Newtonian mechanics. And Einstein blew it to bits. That’s the nature of science. It gets nearer the truth but can never declare the truth.
Only religious fundamentalists have certitude. Their knowledge is a belief system that’s immune to real world experience and facts.
Science is a method
Science is also not a person, a job, a group, a qualification, 100 peer-reviewed papers or a received wisdom. It’s a method. It’s the method of critically testing competing theories. Failed theories are tossed and successful theories are only ever tentative.
Anyone can do science. And scientists can often fall short.
It’s Dr Renwick’s certitude that gives him away. That’s not science.
His Q&A comments even fail the test of logic. The one thing that we know for certain is that global warming didn’t cause the drought. That’s because there hasn’t been any.
The world stopped getting warmer 17 years ago. That’s incontrovertible. As a result the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) scary projections have not been realised.
Its best estimate in 1990 was a warming trend of 0.3 degrees a decade. The given range was 0.2-0.5. The actual trend has been 0.14-0.18. The warming didn’t happen.
I can even follow global warming’s playbook and argue from clerical authority: IPCC lead author Dr Kevin Trenberth wrote the 2009 Climategate email that declared, “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t”.
And IPCC head honcho Dr Rajendra Pachauri admits global warming has been “paused” for 17 years.
The lack of warming hasn’t produced the banner headlines it deserves, but that doesn’t make the result any less true.
Dr Renwick declares, “there’s no other explanation that’s remotely plausible” for the drought. But logically that’s the one explanation that can be readily ruled out.
The changes we observed in Y can’t be caused by X. That’s because X itself hasn’t changed. Dr Renwick’s failure is not a failure of science, it’s a failure of logic.
He also declared, “Put more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and things warm up.” That’s the theory. But the real world hasn’t followed the theory.
Roughly 100 billion tonnes of carbon were added to the atmosphere between 2000 and 2010. That’s about a quarter of all the CO₂ ever pumped out by the burning of fossil fuels. And the world’s temperature? No warming trend.
The X variable increased. A lot. The Y variable didn’t budge. The experience falsifies Dr Renwick’s simple theory.
Will the global warming hullabaloo now quietly go away? Has it blown up with a bang? Nope. It’s religion. And power. And big money.
And history amply demonstrates that religions mixed with power and money readily survive long past their use-by dates.