Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Global Warming

The global warming issue has, ahhhh, heated up of late.

First there was Michael Crichton's attempt to debunk global warming as environmentalist hysteria. This was followed by a lot of new data tending to shore up human-caused global warming as an important problem. Now the British government has been pushing the issue, telling the US that the world would be more interested in fighting global terrorism if the US would show a bit more interest in the global environment, especially human-caused global warming.

I wrote a pretty lightly critical review of Crichton's book in these pages, and I still think pretty much the same thing as I did then: Crichton's book isn't very good as a novel, but it is interesting as polemic. Not to say that it's right. I doubt that it is.

But what I do think is that arguments tend to get a lot sharper and more convincing when everybody knows that there are intelligent skeptics in the audinece. Crichton and, before him, Bjorn Lomborg have given notice that there is an intelligent contingent in the opposition to the notion of global warming, and I think the arguments in support for the proposition are bound to get better in light of that skepticism.

Nothing is worse than a field where everyone just agrees with one another. The competition in fields like that goes away from determining who has the sharpest and most convincing argument to finding out who can state the argument in the most extreme and absolutist terms.

There is a very good website out there for those interested in the technicalia of global warming:
RealClimate is a commentary site on climate science by working climate scientists for the interested public and journalists. We aim to provide a quick response to developing stories and provide the context sometimes missing in mainstream commentary. The discussion here is restricted to scientific topics and will not get involved in any political or economic implications of the science.
(from the site)

I highly recommend this site for those of you who are really interested in the science.

No one can stay out of politics on this issue, of course, and there has been some controversy over realclimate, though its been fairly civil and reasonably argued controvery.

Check out the Promethius archives for some criticism of