There has been plenty of natural rhythm climate change. The point now is that we are adding to that. And yes 200 years is a very small part of earth history, but quite compared to our and our children’s life time. i.e. It matters to us.
I follow the Austrian philosopher of science and conservative thinker Karl Popper (1902 to 1994) see
in believing there is no such thing as conclusive proof in science; merely failure to disprove. Climate science is still emerging, but right now the climate science consensus is overwhelmingly that we face 3-5 degrees C rise causes by methane and Co2 emissions. And that this will cause chaos and major problems. But as you say it is not fully 100% certain.
But just as I insure my house against quite low probabilities of fire etc., so with climate change the results are so potentially awful (the Pentagon did a study on the military implications aka wars) we should take action on the precautionary basis. I am always surprised that conservatives, who value the precautionary principle in some many other political areas, and like Karl Popper wish to avoid radical change, because the effects are so unpredictable, are willing to play high stake poker with the planet when the results are unpredictable and potentially catastrophic. Moreover, the actions that I think we should take are far more nuclear power, more alternative energy, less coal, less oil, focus on insulation of buildings etc., and these are all things we need to do for other reasons, including because oil is sometime running out, is found in unstable areas (indeed finding oil causes instability) and that it makes economic sense. GE saved over a billion in costs by energy conservation measures.
I hope climate change is not happening, but am not prepared to take the risk. I read the case against human induced climate change. Here are what I find the most interesting counter-arguments with some counter comment too:
- I agree climate science is recent and not fully developed.
- We don’t understand all the feedback loops that rising temperatures trigger, but so far they have all proved to accelerate rather than check rising temperatures.
- We don’t fully understand cloud cover effects.
- Our temperature measurements are difficult because the historical records are not as good as our current records and
- there is different trend data by altitude from ground and remote sensing.
- And there is of course the meta risk that climate scientists are guilty of some form of group think of being boxed in some paradigm.
- But I know of no recent scientific issue, in which there was such consensus amongst the experts.
- There is not a reputable single climate department in the world that I know of that does not think that human induced climate change is a major problem, though they differ on its pace.
- Their differences by the way are one confirmation that we are not dealing with group think here.
- And there is such a massive potential gain to someone overturning the theory because we could then divert our attention to other pressing global problems environmental (9 billion people on the planet) and other.
- Given this complexity I hazard the guess that there is no more than a 20% risk that the climate scientists are wrong.
And so I hazard the guess that human induced climate change is about 80% certain, and to have serious implications and that is good enough for me to suggest we act. I do look at the arguments against this, as above, but so far none are very convincing and none meet the standards of peer reviewed science.
There is also an interesting overlap of beliefs. According to Pew polling data in theUSand elsewhere: 20% of the world’s population thinks the sun goes round the earth; 50% don’t accept evolution; and 50% don’t accept man made climate change. Almost all the 20% who think the sun goes round the earth also don’t accept evolution or human induced climate change; almost all the 50%, who don’t accept evolution, don’t accept climate change. This doesn’t prove anything, but is interesting alignment of beliefs about scientific evidence. Like all science, evolution is not ‘proved’, but is probably the most tested and supported scientific hypothesis in history. It explains how our immune system works right now, no need for fossils.
Though there are very many clever people contesting climate change, they use their smarts to prove their point not to doubt it. I like doubt. And I use probability to handle doubt about the uncertain future. And I do insure my house based on the probability, though it is low, of its potential loss. Why would not believers in the free market not do the same with climate change? The insurance industry is based on probability and gets climate change. And fundamentally why don’t conservatives want to conserve?