"Climate Change and Open Science," Wall Street Journal

“Skeptics don’t doubt science—they doubt unscientific claims cloaked in the authority of science. The scientific method is a foundation of our information age, with its approach of a clearly stated hypothesis tested through a transparent process with open data, subject to review.”

The Wall Street Journal’s “Climate Change and Open Science” by L. Gordon Crovitz is an excellent article explaining the point of view of the scientific global warming skeptic.

Too often, climate alarmists and global warming enthusiasts try to marginalize climate skeptics by calling us “denialists,” “deniers” and other terms less acceptable in polite company. We are excoriated as unpatriotic, anti-American and damned by association with Exxon, right-wing think tanks and pro-energy media campaigns. As usual, the science of global warming skepticism is lost in the rhetoric.

Climate change skepticism is about the free and open access to data and methodology, the hallmark of all scientific endeavor. Science embraces contradictory evidence as a critical part of evaluating and interpreting data and observation. Were it not for skeptical scientists, we would still view the Universe as revolving around the flat Earth, a demon haunted world where dragons peer over the rim.

As Carl Sagan taught us, science is a candle in the darkness. Let’s not snuff it out in the heat of political expediency.

The Commodification of Science

In an article in the Washington Times, Leonard Evans notes that the scientific community has abandoned the practice of science in favor of lobbying and seeking political favor in the name of science.

The “scientific community” in the article is identified as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), but this could also apply to such regulatory agencies as the International Whaling Commission, large international environmental groups such as the World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace and the Sierra Club. These organizations have largely abandoned scientific research as a basis for policy decisions and statements and instead rely on anecdotal reports, media hyperbole and celebrity advocacy, aka, the Al Gore Effect.

Rather than advancing science, the activities of these organizations derail the scientific process as they deligitimate the results of scientific investigation. Recent revelations concerning errors in climate change research through the IPCC and the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit have cast doubt not only on the results of this research, but on the methods employed by the IPCC and scientists in coming to the conclusion of anthropogenic climate change and its implications. The negative effects on public perception of the research and science itself is readily apparent.

But it’s not only public perception that comes into play. Scientists themselves are affected by such practices.

“Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen their grant funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse. Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their basis.” Richard Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

This has the effect of driving research in a particular ideological direction toward preconceived conclusions. Whether the subject is climate change, Peak Oil, space exploration or cosmology, the commodification of science moves research from theory based to political and economically based.

The danger of this approach is especially apparent in environmental research. If the ideology of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is the incentive for climate change research, what happens when AGW is proven wrong? And what has been the opportunity cost forgone by applying the bulk of our resources toward an ideologically driven conclusion? Where are the resources for pollution control, critical habitat preservation, biodiversity protection?

Perhaps more importantly, what does the corporate approach to climate change research tell us about those driving the agenda? Are they interested in the free and open exchange of data, methodology and results? Do they have pecuniary economic interests at heart? Do they have interests in perpetuating the economic and political status quo?

Look at the history of climate change and compare it chronologically with political and economic developments since the “Oil Crisis” of the 1970s.

Maybe someone took Carter’s “Moral Equivalent of War” speach seriously!