One scientific issue that may polarize people even more than evolution is anthropogenic global warming – the idea that CO2 from human activity is throwing off the natural balance, leading to significant, possibly irreversible, greenhouse warming.
The proponents argue that there is significant evidence that CO2 levels have risen faster since industrialization than any time in the geologic record, and that the temperature and climate profile are consistent with rising temperatures induced by GHG’s. Increased energy in the atmosphere could not only lead to rising temperatures, but increased storm activity, melting ice caps, increasing sea levels, and ultimately economic disaster and the displacement of a significant portion of humanity.
The naysayers claim that the evidence is inconclusive (at best) or nonexistant (at worst). Further, they argue that Global Warming Propagandists (or “Warmers”) are threatening global economic stability for personal agenda, or even personal gain.
Significant fuel for this dispute was tossed into the flames this week with the “hacking” of emails and data files from the University of East Anglia Climate Reasearch Unit (CRU). Selected exerpts mention using “tricks” in the data, and “hiding” a decline in temperatures. Sites sharing this information – purporting to blow the whistle – go over the top with rhetoric about how ALL of climate research from “warmers” and alarmists can immediately be dismissed because of clear evidence of fraud and conspiracy.
This leak of private information in no way informs the debate. None. This is private communication, out of context, taken illegally. Third party interpretation and trumpeting is not even remotely reliable. Why? because those spreading the files have as much of an agenda as they purport the “warmists” to have. Innuendo and quote mining is not the way to win an argument upon which the future of humanity may rest. Sorry, but it’s not.
There are legitimate scientific questions still outstanding about climate change, because we don’t have a control earth to compare with. But the venue to resolve those problems is in the scientific literature, not FOX news. But, you cry, how can we trust the Warmist conspirators to allow unbiased peer review? Well, the criminal responsible for stealing and publishing the CRU files has seen to that. Climate research will now undergo an extra-thorough level of review, simply because everyone is watching. Carefully. Of course, that goes for all climate research, including that indicating minimal anthropogenic effect. So perhaps the theft will have a beneficial effect in that scrutiny will be even more thorough (not that it wasn’t before), but perhaps it will also delay important research.
In the end, I suspect nothing useful will come from the stolen files, but the potential for setbacks to important research is significant.