Thursday, August 02, 2007

Act of Erm...Whoever

Climate change in action?
One of the trickier things about being a non-believer is that you don't feel entirely able to describe the recent flooding as being an act of god; even the secular equivalent, 'shit happens' doesn't quite carry the same meaning. Whatever term you come up with though is likely to be more appropriate than assigning events to the old hoary chestnut of global warmingclimate change. I will be fair to the green lobby to give some balance to my derision at their principal speaker in my earlier posting and say that at first even many of the theory of climate change's most persistent and vocal advocates have been wary of suggesting too close a connection to current events.

Of course not everyone has been quite so responsible. There are now a couple of groups of people who, though generally wholly unschooled in the details of the science, are desperate to link any outbreak of 'funny weather' to climate change; we call them politicians, and journalists. For the latter the benefit is in making a big story even bigger sounding, and for the former it helps justify taking ever more money from us to misspend more our behalf.

It's probably the journalists, led as ever by Auntie, who have been making the biggest meal of it this time around. Every single interview featuring a cajoling of every interviewee from emergency services officers to Mrs Miggins, whose cat is missing, presumed lost, since the floods, to add their doubtfully authoritative weight to the link to climate change. Each segment on the aftermath of the flooding almost always ends with a pronouncement that, due to climate change, we must expect more such events.

Of course there have been slightly more qualified pronouncements on the issue. Only yesterday some of Radio Four's coverage featured a couple of scientists who were already claiming to have 'proved' the link between recent events and climate change, by extrapolation from their existing work. I was drifting around a bit and didn't catch their names on any of the bulletins on which it appears, and nor have I had time to 'listen again' to dredge up the information, but even a cursory consideration of their claim raises a number of considerations. To have come up with a new theory, or adapted an existing one, in the limited number of days since the rains began is indeed an impressive feat, and does, just about, fall within the bounds of credibility. To claim the theory as proven fact strays far beyond these bounds. Proof involves disproval of alternative possibilities, of which many have already been raised, not simply asserting that that ones own theorem fits the available observable data.

To be fair, the scientists in questions did not exactly make this claim, but were certainly in no great rush to correct the impression that a number of poorly informed, credulous presenters and interviewers gave in discussing their theory.

What we need more than ever is the rational debate that the greenies are so keen to deny us. Hysterical band wagon chasing by much of the media, some politicians, and a irresponsible segment of the scientific community does nothing to promote this.

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