Monday 26 October 2009

the one thing he knows is wrong

Clive James proves yet again that clever people can make very silly points. Especially when they are not really interested in the subject they're discussing. He writes:

Whether or not you believe that the earth might have been getting warmer lately, if you are sceptical about whether mankind is the cause of it, the scepticism can be enough to get you called a denialist.

The casual use of 'whether or not' and 'might' at the start at that sentence is simply untenable. (See graph below.) James tries to turn his admiration for Montaigne, and the idea of not taking everything on trust, into some kind of justification for siding with so-called 'sceptics' in the climate change debate. All good scientists are sceptics.

He writes that he knows next to nothing about climate change. The one thing he says he does know about the subject is that the number of scientists who voice scepticism has lately been increasing. Well, the one thing he knows is wrong too.

He would only have to read the science historian Spencer R. Weart's The Discovery of Global Warming to learn that precisely the opposite is the case. It took many decades for the majority of scientists to accept the idea of human-induced climate change. What convinced them was the evidence. That's how scepticism works.

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