As climategate grows, it confirms something I’ve known for a long time. Scientists are human and they are subject to the same biases, politics, agendas, groupthink and response to incentives as the rest of us.
The funny thing is, I think I recall learning that in my 8th grade science class when studied the history of science. Scientists that had ideas that didn’t line up with the general consensus of the science community were not treated well. If the ideas were correct, though, they would eventually win out. But, it would often take decades, if not centuries, before the truth came out. Sitting in an 8th grade class you just don’t get a sense for the passage of that time.
If I recall my paradigm shifting lesson, pioneers explain anomalies and those aren’t always well accept by the current members that reinforce the current paradigm. But, over time, some aspiring scientists who aren’t as tied into the politics of the current paradigm test the new ideas out and over the course of time – sometimes a very long time – if the new ideas appear to be true they’re incorporated into a new paradigm.
Peer review doesn’t quite have the check-and-balance strength that many in the non-science community implicitly believe. It’s subject to the workings of the paradigm. Big surprise. The scientific community and organized religion have strong parallels – both are staffed with humans.
My opinion on global warming? The climate changes naturally. It always has and always will. But, it changes at a slow enough pace for us to adapt. Yes, that means that 100 or 200 or 200,000 years from now things may be different. But, things were very different 10,000 years ago and we seem to getting along okay now. We adapted. We’ve been measuring temperature, very imperfectly, for a very short time compared to the history of Earth.
The idea that we need to preserve Earth’s climate as it was in 1950 with little variation, to me, is even more self-centered and presumptuous than what global warming believers think of Hummer drivers.
Things change. Bad stuff will happen, so will good stuff. As soon as we think we’ve got the Earth temperature-controlled (which won’t happen – sorry kids), we’ll get smacked by an asteroid, comet or gamma burst from a nearby supernova. Or the Earth’s magnetic field with collapse and expose us to the full brunt of the Sun’s radiation. Or we’ll simply find out that climate change was necessary to balance something else that we haven’t thought of yet.
Of course, I could be wrong. But, I’m not asking you to change the way you live now for something that may not be happening.