Ideology and Climate Change

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." - H. L. Mencken

A good friend of mine is a meteorologist and professor who can be called a Left-Statist. That is, his ideological inclinations are NOT toward free markets and limited government. But he separates his ideology from his scientific judgment, and he remains unconvinced that human industry has had any more than a negligible influence on any supposed changes in the climate. He has also mentioned colleagues, subsidized by grant money, who felt pressure to remove "inconvenient truths" from their studies that conflict with the pre-determined conclusion of man-made climate change.

My friend has also discussed changes in universities, where "sustainability" as a political goal has replaced "geography" as an academic subject.

I don't know enough about weather and climate to hold an informed opinion on man-made "climate change." But there are good reasons to be skeptical, even if I ignored the judgment of my scientist friend.

For example: In a recent lecture, scientist and journalist Matt Ridley made the following observations regarding the theory of man-made "climate change" (Hat Tip: Ronald Bailey at Hit and Run):

I’ve looked and looked but I cannot find one piece of data – as opposed to a model – that shows either unprecedented change or change is that is anywhere close to causing real harm....

Meanwhile, I see confirmation bias everywhere in the climate debate. Hurricane Katrina, Mount Kilimanjaro, the extinction of golden toads – all cited wrongly as evidence of climate change. A snowy December, the BBC lectures us, is ‘just weather’; a flood in Pakistan or a drought in Texas is ‘the sort of weather we can expect more of’. A theory so flexible it can rationalize any outcome is a pseudoscientific theory.

Ridley goes on to say that "you can accept all the basic tenets of greenhouse physics and still conclude that the threat of a dangerously large warming is so improbable" and that "we may be putting a tourniquet round our necks to stop a nosebleed."

Is skepticism toward climate change "anti-science" or "anti-intellectual?" Or are the scientists promoting the theory doing so because they are ideologically Statist themselves, and come to their conclusions using research money funded by politicians? If so, three doubts about their work come to mind:

  1. It is the latest hobgoblin to frighten us into sacrificing our economic and personal freedom.
  2. People who have most loudly promoted climate change have ALSO been vociferously anti-market, anti-freedom over the years, and "climate change" is just their latest excuse.
  3. Scientists who are employed by public univeristies (that is, on The State's payroll), or whose research is funded by the State, will be naturally under pressure to come to conclusions that encourage MORE State control, not less.

The climate change/global warming scare has been used to further the cause of Statism. In that sense, it is similar to WMD's in Iraq and terror "threats" on American soil. When the State funds the people who produce the "evidence," that is its own proof that the evidence should be doubted.