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The Mechanics
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Environment/Sustainability Wed Dec 09 2009

The Politics of Climate Change

Recently I posted an article on my Facebook wall about the scandalous release of a set of emails from some key scientists revealing their dishonest practices in the measurement and reporting of anthropogenic global warming. Along with the article I posted the message "it's about damn time people started asking legitimate questions." Said leaked emails revealed that these scientists essentially cheated. They tweaked data to make it say what they wanted it to say.

I'm not here to talk about whether or not global warming is happening. I'm not a scientist, you're not a scientist (probably), and I'm not going to present any hard data to analyze. I'm here to talk about the nature of the global warming discussion. You see, the comments on the article on my Facebook wall quickly digressed into vitriol with liberals vehemently attacking me for posting the article at all, calling any discussion of the leaked emails - whether they be doubting the existence of global warming or not - stupid, irresponsible, and even intentionally ignorant.

How and why has this issue become so violently partisan? Isn't that kind of the opposite of the nature of science, i.e. the seeking out of provable, measured, objective truth? If so, shouldn't all of our allegiances be to truth, not to one outcome or another? I think it should be. If my chemistry teacher told me "always add acid" when I was in high school and I called it bullshit because she was a liberal, that would be absurd, wouldn't it? Reversing the situation doesn't make it less asinine. Truth is truth, and that is what we should have as our paramount goal. If global warming is as important as people say it is, shouldn't we be having an open, informed conversation about this sort of thing with all the arguments- scientific and moral- being considered?

Here's what I think: these emails are significant. I don't think they effect the overall body of science on global warming, but I also don't think they should be ignored. I think, at the least, they signify a new need for scrutiny and accountability when it comes to the climate lobby and the legislation that sprouts forth from it. What do you think? Are these emails inconsequential? What motivates bias on both sides of the argument? Is this scandal worthy of scrutiny, or is there something else in the broader discussion we should focus on? Try to refrain from angry hyperbole, please. I know this is the internet, but pretend it's not and leave your asshat in the closet.

 
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Ramsin / December 9, 2009 1:05 AM

>Truth is truth, and that is what we should have as our paramount goal.

If I could have one guiding principle for this site in general, it would be this (as it happens, the Latin quote up there, which means "through skepticism we find truth", comes close).

Your position is eminently reasonable; if you believe you know the truth based on facts derived through the scientific method, a scandal like this shouldn't shake your belief. Those who would use it to claim that all the scientific evidence underlying climate change is made moot by this one instance aren't worth debating--they would never come around to your way of thinking anyway.

May I suggest, for our truth-focused readers, the site Butterflies and Wheels

and this book: Fear of Knowledge

Chris B / December 9, 2009 1:18 AM

Even though my asshat looks amazing on me, I left it at home. I loved your article. It rings true. First, I must suggest that you never post anything remotely political on your facebook status. It's like throwing meat to a pack of wolves. As far as the emails, I think the whole scandal should simply remind us that while science might give us the facts, the truth is often distorted by human beings. Frankly, I don't give a damn whether the theories of global warming are true or not. To me, the whole environment issue should be tabled in favor of just about anything that will actually have relevance to myself and my children. Things like hunger, disease, and poverty, should be getting the funding we use to study the freaking weather. Well, that's enough rambling.

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