Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Consensus Not Important - Unless It Supports AGW

After having been told for years that there was consensus on anthropogenic global warming (AGW), and that anyone who stood outside of this consensus was a crank, paid industry shill or a right-wing contrarian, it now appears that consensus isn't so important after all. So says Richard Black, blogging on the BBC website. Argument from authority, which is what the appeal to consensus is, has been the key plank of the AGW for so long that it's hard to imagine life without it. The entire IPCC process was about creating the illusion of consensus. A huge part of the Climategate email stash is all about perverting the course of peer review and academic freedom in the name of fostering the illusion of consensus.

At the same time, sceptics have both disputed the existence of consensus and the importance of it should it exist. Against consensus they have argued that the scientific method does not depend on a popularity contest. Largely it's an argument that has been ignored or rubbished by the mainstream media, particularly the BBC.

So, what should we make of Richard Black suddenly appropriating a key sceptic argument? He actually says:
But it is surely the arguments themselves that ought to be the focus for discussion - not what they purport to say about a cracking consensus.
Absolutely true, but he comes to it only as the weight of numbers in the climate debate starts to turn. The number of people willing to voice criticism of AGW orthodoxy is growing rapidly. The line that they are all cranks or have been bought off can no longer be sustained. At which point we should expect to see more and more warmists adopting Black's strategy. The line will now become - 'we never claimed consensus is important'. Soon it will be that they've always had some doubts about the most alarmist claims, but that the broad truth of the greenhouse effect is true (as though most sceptics disputed it), and that warming is real (again, most sceptics will agree that there has been some warming over the last few hundred years).

Also likely to happen is the fall-back position that although catastrophic global warming is unlikely to happen, CO2 needs to be controlled for other reasons - with ocean acidification likely to be the new line in the ground.

In any case, we can expect that the luke-warmist position will be in the ascendant.

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