Dr. Dawg

A Paradox For A Very Cold Day (guest post)

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[In the interests of provoking discussion, I am publishing this post from frequent commenter Peter1. Have at it! —DD]

Over the past roughly ten years, the climate change establishment, also known as the scientific consensus, has become more and more consistent and confident in its assertion that anthropogenic climate change is a real, ongoing phenomenon and that we face very serious consequences if dramatic remedial steps aren’t taken as a global priority. Temperature recordings from remote and inaccessible places confirm this dependably, and weather patterns are said to both reflect progressive warming and offer harbingers of disasters to come. Whether climate change can ever be said to be “a fact” or “settled science” in the formal epistemological sense, in a practical sense it seems to be more so today than it was in even the very recent past.

In the face of this, the general public is more skeptical or sanguine than it was ten years ago when doomsday scenarios abounded in the public square, polls showed climate change was the number one worry for many and the issue was front and center on the national political agenda. (Remember when Conservative MPs all wore green ties during an uncommonly mild December to assure us they were deeply concerned?) While many people will still say they are worried about the environment in a general sense, increasingly there seems to be a rote “Mom and apple pie” flavour to their protestations. It is clearly not the public priority it was, and those who have become outrightly suspicious are growing in numbers. It is as if the scientific establishment and much of the public are on separate trains headed in opposite directions.

Is this paradox best explained by:

a) The influence of a relatively small number of dissidents within the climate change community who are either contrarian, eccentric or have had their objectivity compromised by support from the oil industry or other corporate interests;

b) Right-wing political forces, mainly in the United States, which can be described broadly as “science-denying”, such as religious conservatives, talk show hosts, Tea Party ideologues, etc.;

c) A feckless and easily distracted general public that simply cannot be expected to sustain interest in such a complex long term problem. Democracy itself is an impediment to needed remedial action;

d) The Boy Who Cried Wolf syndrome. The IPCC and other members of the climate change consensus succumbed to reckless fear-mongering and have fared so poorly with their short and medium term predictions (and have amended their long term predictions so frequently), they have compromised public confidence in whether they really understand what they are saying and doing; or

e) The fact that, after thirty years of intensive media and other public exposure to the issue, the vast majority of the global population cannot detect any change in the climate patterns where they live?

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on February 15, 2015 11:13 AM.

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