My purpose in reading at various blogs and posting at a few is as follows:
Until about 2005, I pretty much accepted the AGW dominant scientific paradigm. It wasn’t that I invested a lot of time on it, but I did read the occasional article in New Scientist or other online science zines and accepted pretty much that the earth was likely warming, that it appeared that most of this warming was due to increases in GHGs, and that the significant portion of that GHG increase was due to fossil fuel use. If nothing was done to mitigate emissions, potentially harmful effects could occur.
I ran into a couple of contrarians who pretty much dismissed the dominant paradigm out of hand, claiming instead that the whole global warming science was really a front for a wholesale redistribution of wealth from the developed to the developing world. It was, they said, a quest for one world government via the UN. It was an attempt to institute some socialist agenda. It was a hoax. It was a fraud. The hucksters were Mann, Bradley and Hughes, Jones, Briffa and others. They referred me on to Steve McIntyre’s blog and Watts Up With That. From there I read Real Climate and a few others, once I was introduced to the hockey stick controversy.
So, my purpose is to try to understand for myself what is what. Is CA skeptic central whose goal is to uncover evidence of a massive fraud or is it the denialist industry’s mouthpiece, doing no real science but instead casting doubt over the science via smearing the scientists?
Note that this question is not about the science — it is not a science question. It is a question about the players in a politicized debate. It requires examining social and economic and political actions and motives.
I would ultimately like to know the right answer — is it warming? Is the warming the result of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels? If we do nothing to limit emissions, will we see sea level rises, temperature increases, glaciers melting, increased droughts and severe weather events, etc.?
But I am not capable of making a judgement on the question of what is the truth at this point in time. Instead, I have to look at the debates, look at the players, try to understand what their interests and motives and actions tell me about what they are doing and its significance.
Now, motives are notoriously hard to determine except for the clairvoyant among us, and I am not one of them. Hence I have to look not only at what is written at CA and RC and other blogs, but what is done based on that. I have to judge based on actions described therein in order to get any sense of motive. I have to look at backgrounds and economic interests and political ideologies to gauge if someone’s word is trustworthy.
Now some people claim that motive is not a scientific term and thus it tells us nothing about the science.
As a non-scientist, I am unable to determine if Briffa’s papers are adequate or whether Mann’s stats were truly bad, or whether Jones’ data is unusable and suspect. I read both sides and it appears that both sides claim victory.
How is someone like me going to decide?
Ultimately, the climate will tell. As a policy analyst, I know that waiting for absolute proof of AGW is not acceptable. I have to weigh the pros and cons, risks and benefits.
That’s part of what I am trying to do.