John Redwood bravely touched on the global warming subject again in “Challenging establishment orthodoxies“.
“One of the strange features of global warming theory is the reaction of its leading protagonists. They say it is scientifically derived, but then go on to say the science is proven and established. I thought the essence of scientific method was to reach a hypothesis that seemed to fit the facts, and then to keep trying to improve or destroy it by further testing or experiment. This seems to be a thesis where the aim is always to buttress it rather than test it. For many years scientists thought Newton had said the last word on planetary motion, but the twentieth century did not rest until they had replaced or improved on the Newtonian universe in a dramatic way.”
My comment (following from previous comments made on this blog) was
You will notice that whenever you mention “Global Warming” that you are guaranteed to get a greater number of comments compared to practically any other issue. Further the views are probably more polarized and politicized than any other issue.
However, the way to proceed might not be one of hypothesis testing. The data is complex and most of the science is about future events. Rather, it might be worth using the experience with which you are more familiar.
1. In business, a new investment proposal will just be assessed on the theoretical profits, but on the capacity to see that proposal through to actual success. The Stern Review allegedly gave the theory, but there was nothing on public policy issues of controlling policy costs, and maximizing policy benefits (CO2 benefits). Whatever the policy, this failure to focus and project management is a sure guarantee of policy disaster.
2. In politics, the greatest threat to extremist and untenable viewpoints has been from the majority who are able to compare these viewpoints to their other perspectives. That is why authoritarian regimes only can exist in an environment where they silence criticism. There is growing evidence of excluding contrary views without a fair hearing in our scientific institutions, in research funding, and in the mainstream media.
3. Science at the frontiers about making bold hypotheses that can be falsified by later testing. Similarly, the police in a crime investigation make conjectures and then gather evidence. Established science (on which policy should be based) is like a successful prosecution in a criminal case. It is about presenting the evidence and under-going a cross examination by the opponents. This to convince a randomly-selected group of people. My contention would be that the strongest evidence of catastrophic global warming is the most trivial, whilst the most alarming aspects of climate change are based on weak, circumstantial and hearsay evidence.
Two relevant references