Reality-based science…

/ 23 December 2005

Here’s an interesting discussion up at the dailyKos about the Republican “war on science”:

Climate modeling--the use of sophisticated computer models to try to project what the climate may be like in the future--is just one sub-sector of climate research. But all of the different strands of research in this field--modeling studies, observational studies, research into historical climate, and so forth--now support some central conclusions. First, human beings are triggering the greenhouse effect through their emissions of heat-trapping gases. Second, temperatures are already rising from this phenomenon. And finally, real-world impacts--particularly the melting of the Arctic--are quickly becoming apparent.

This is what all the published science says. Those who are countering it rarely do so in the published literature, where the consensus conclusion has now been tested and retested repeatedly. Rather, they cobble together scientific-sounding arguments--"temperatures aren't rising in the lower atmosphere," to give just one example--that are extremely misleading, but that you'd need a Ph.D. to debunk properly. (For a debunking of this particular claim, see here: Real Climate: Et Tu LT?) Through this strategy, they've been very successful when it comes to misleading policymakers, the media, and the public.

Part of the author's argument is that the Republican party finds this kind of attack on science very useful in appeasing its base -- part of which, of course, is the Christian right. I begin to understand, from this whole other angle, how crucially important the science and theology debate really is!