The report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change presents the current scientific consensus on climate change and global warming finding the evidence for it is “unequivocal” and that human activity is the main cause. Some people have a vested interest in denying the science and they are scrambling for ways to get people to ignore the scientific findings. I previously noted the attempt by a right wing think tank with ties to the oil industry to circumvent the normal peer review process and bribe scientists to dispute the findings. If they can’t get enough scientists to go along, The American Thinker presents a creative but specious attack for a different direction.
While the argument is totally devoid of rationality, it is worth mentioning both for its creativity and for the total lack of understanding of science frequently characterizes the right wing. They try role reversal, attempting to characterize those who believe in global warming as the religious fanatics. They argue that religion is hard wired into our brains, and that when religious belief is “subverted” it is replaced by something else, playing to the conservative belief that only tree-hugging liberals, all of whom in their viewpoint are anti-religion, believe in global warming. From here they argue that environmentalism is a pseudo-religion, and that all religion must have an apocalypse, such as the dire predictions of global warming, as they project their intellectual shortcomings on others.
The fallacy here is that I don’t “believe” in global warming in the sense that people “believe” in various religious teachings without evidence. Matters of science are not based upon an individual’s personal beliefs. Instead I accept the scientific method and the conclusions reached when it is used. I believe in global warming because this represents the consensus of scientific belief. While religious beliefs are not subject to refutation, opinions based upon science are. Should other evidence (in peer reviewed publications–not opinions obtained with bribes) show otherwise I have no aversion to changing my view on global warming. I would prefer that the problems predicted by global warming not occur, but we cannot ignore the consequences because we would prefer that they not be real.
If scientific predictions based upon the belief in global warming should turn out to be erroneous then the idea will need to either be revised or thrown out. In contrast, those who do not believe in global warming do so for reasons unrelated to science, and therefore no amount of evidence, such as that which has been presented in the IPCC report, will change their minds. It is the people who disbelieve in global warming who are actually exhibiting pseudo-religious beliefs, not those who accept the scientific findings.
Such anti-scientific belief is seen in many areas on the right, including their belief in intelligent design over evolution, disbelief in geology when it conflicts with biblical predictions as to the age of the earth (including claims that the Grand Canyon was created in the biblical flood as opposed to by geological forces), and claims of fetal pain before this is biologically possible to support their opposition to abortion.
Even the Bush White House is no longer willing to go along with the right wing fanatics in disputing the scientific evidence for global warming as is seen in this White House statement:
“This Summary for Policymakers captures and summarizes the current state of climate science research and will serve as a valuable source of information for policymakers,” said Dr. Sharon Hays, the leader of the U.S. delegation at the meeting and Associate Director/Deputy Director for Science at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. “It reflects the sizeable and robust body of knowledge regarding the physical science of climate change, including the finding that the Earth is warming and that human activities have very likely caused most of the warming of the last 50 years.”
When George Bush’s White House has abandoned a right wing idea all that is left is the lunatic fringe.