In the raging debate over global warming (or climate change), each side contributes to polarization and misrepresentation of views. Too many of those who see themselves as part of the “consensus” about anthropogenic global warming (AGW) have a habit of ignoring the differences among those who disagree with them. These people are eager to slap the label “denier” and “anti-science” on the skeptics. (Both those labels have been applied to me by Mike Treder, who has consistently proven the most dishonest and arrogant example of what I’m talking about.)
We skeptics (okay, “planetary traitors” if you prefer) actually hold a wide range of views. I’m tired of being labeled a “denier” of some unspecified received truth. I do not deny, for instance, that there has been some global warming this century. My doubts about the claimed (and possibly real) consensus concern other beliefs. To set the record straight (and to make it a bit harder for people like Treder to misrepresent me), here are my current views, as of early August 2009:
• It’s highly probable that there has been some global warming this century—probably about 0.7 degrees C.
• The climate is dynamic and is continually changing. Further, it changes in different ways in different places. For instance, it may be warming in some areas while it cools in others. Local, specific examples are not good evidence for a global trend.
• There has been no warming over the past 12 years—despite continued human-related emissions.
• Over the next century, it’s extremely uncertain how much, if any, further GW/AGW to expect.
• Climate models are not proven reliable or accurate. Climate modeling is still an infant science.
• GW is far from the most urgent or important global issue for us to deal with. (See the work of The Copenhagen Consensus. Also see this [yes, it’s from a Cato blog, so start up your ad hominems]. Some problems that are more deserving of attention: Hunger, malaria, and unsafe water.
• Enormously expensive actions to reduce/stop GW by severely restricting CO2 emissions are premature. (Global wealth decades in the future will be far higher than with restrictions; mitigation is vastly more efficient, to whatever extent it might be needed.)
• Given the considerable uncertainty (and also taking in account geopolitical and health considerations), it probably makes sense to move strongly toward nuclear power (and more solar, wind, and wave power where feasible) and to encourage or even subsidize research into alternative energy sources.
• The extent to which global warming is anthropogenic is much more uncertain than asserted by the “consensus”/orthodoxy.
• The extent to which a consensus actually exists is not clear, nor is it clear on what exactly the consensus agrees (beyond the fact of some warming over the last century and some contribution by human activities).
I reserve the right to change these views as I continue to study this interrelated set of complex issues.