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Catastrophic climate change and scientific skepticism

August 2, 2012

Professor Robert Muller of University of California, Berkeley professor Robert Muller was for years a prominent skeptic of the theory of anthropogenic climate change.  He made news last year when he renounced his previous beliefs and stated that climate change was real; he made more news last week when he announced that not only is climate change a real and observable phenomenon, but that human generated CO2 is a primary cause.   On this point Dr. Muller and EGP are in full agreement.  In his most recent statement on the topic, Muller included this passage:

“It’s a scientist’s duty to be properly skeptical. I still find that much, if not most, of what is attributed to climate change is speculative, exaggerated or just plain wrong. I’ve analyzed some of the most alarmist claims, and my skepticism about them hasn’t changed.  Hurricane Katrina cannot be attributed to global warming. The number of hurricanes hitting the United States has been going down, not up; likewise for intense tornadoes. Polar bears aren’t dying from receding ice, and the Himalayan glaciers aren’t going to melt by 2035. And it’s possible that we are currently no warmer than we were a thousand years ago, during the “Medieval Warm Period” or “Medieval Optimum,” an interval of warm conditions known from historical records and indirect evidence like tree rings. And the recent warm spell in the United States happens to be more than offset by cooling elsewhere in the world, so its link to “global” warming is weaker than tenuous.”

This is also my own position.   “Catastrophism” is the term that I have given to the alarmist, hyperbolic contingent of the global warming community.  It is an appeal to fear and emotion in order to advance their goals, some of which have little to do with dealing directly with the issue.  There are some in the movement who are simply using it as a stalking horse to advance other ideological goals.  It is my contention that if you believe in catastrophic global warming, then you have to support radical geo-engineering techniques; if you don’t support the latter, then you are probably being disingenuous about the former.   It is the long held position of this blog that, as global warming is a technological problem, it will require a technological (not a political) solution.

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