In my Forbes article a few weeks ago, I showed how the arguments alarmists most frequently use to “prove” that skeptics are wrong are actually straw men. Alarmists want to fight the war over whether the greenhouse gas effect of CO2 is true and whether the world has seen warming over the last century, both propositions that skeptics like myself accept.
The issue for us is whether man is causing a catastrophe (mainly due to large positive feedbacks in the climate system), and whether past warming has been consistent with catastrophic rates of man-made warming. Both of these propositions are far from proven, and are seldom even discussed in the media.
I found a blog I had not read before on energy policy issues that had a very sensible article on just this issue
The most frustrating thing about being a scientist skeptical of catastrophic global warming is that the other side is continually distorting what I am skeptical of.
In his immodestly titled New York Review of Books article “Why the Global Warming Skeptics Are Wrong,” economist William Nordhaus presents six questions that the legitimacy of global warming skepticism allegedly rests on.
- Is the planet in fact warming?
- Are human influences an important contributor to warming?
- Is carbon dioxide a pollutant?
- Are we seeing a regime of fear for skeptical climate scientists?
- Are the views of mainstream climate scientists driven primarily by the desire for financial gain?
- Is it true that more carbon dioxide and additional warming will be beneficial?
Since the answers to these questions are allegedly yes, yes, yes and no, no, no, it’s case closed, says Nordhaus.
Except that he is attacking a straw man. Scientists (or non-scientists) who are “skeptics” are skeptical of catastrophic global warming—not warming or human-caused warming as such. So much for 1 and 2. We refuse to label CO2 a “pollutant” because it is essential to life and because we do not believe it has the claimed catastrophic impact. So much for 3. And since 4-6 don’t pertain to the scientific issue of