Writing at Climate Audit, Buddenbrook asks a question I have often pondered. Why do highly intelligent scientists distort the science of atmospheric temperature change, and then try to stifle any debate over those distortions. Maybe some of the global warming proponents down at the State Capitol, or our local NCFocus contributors, have the answers, but Buddenbrook has some interesting theories we all should ponder.
Why do they do it? This is the question that bothers me. What have they got to gain in all this?
If there is going on a conscious and systematic distortion of science, why is it happening? People like Hansen, Solomon, Schmidt, Mann they are not stupid people. They must themselves be aware of the huge uncertainties involved re: modelling, metrics, climate forcings, climate complexity. Then why is a facade created, a facade to the politicians and the public, that the science would be settled? That the “debate is over”, like they keep saying. Why are the IPCC fighting a political fight to supress scientific debate and inquiry? Shouldn’t falsification be in the heart of all science?
I have five possible theories, but I’m not sure how viable they are:
1. Personal pride - People who have invested their life work into AGW can’t come into terms with the possibility that it would have been without a meaning. That the modelling, everything would have been purposeless in the end. There is too much emotion invested, after all the preaching to “denialists”, all the warnings to the public, it’s psychologically impossible to back down now.
2. Power, recognition - IPCC is wielding global power, they already have a huge impact on EU policies, and with the second round of Kyoto could become a keyplayer in world politics. Recognition and stature contain addictive emotions.
3. Genuine concerns - They seriously believe that the probability of CAGW is high enough to justify the suppression of uncertainty, that the end justifies the means. The potential risks are too huge to have the politicians arguing for another 10-15 years, so it is justifiable to create an impression, that the debate would be over, that arguments should end, and concrete actions begin.
4. Personal financial gain - CAGW is a huge business, billions are being channelled into the research. If CAGW dropped from the political agenda, thousands of people would be in the danger of losing well paying jobs and research grants. How easy would it be for a person who has studied and tuned GCMs for the past 15-20 years, to find an equally well paying job?
5. A broader perspective of green and global social idealism, possibly preceding career choice - CAGW is a tool to undermine free capitalism, consumerism, exploitation of the planet and global disparity. AGW scientists can feel their jobs to contain a larger purpose and meaning, that they are fighting a good fight, which can become emotionally very satisfying, a sort of a “flow”. And even if the worst CAGW fears are not realised, it’s still important to change our mindset about how we use and share the earth’s resources, and to become aware of the dangers there are involved.
I think that elements of all five have some validity. I am interested in your thoughts in the comments.