Science and not science, and how to tell the difference

Matt Ridley:

“[T]he huge green pressure groups have grown fat on a diet of constant but ever-changing alarm about the future. That these alarms—over population growth, pesticides, rain forests, acid rain, ozone holes, sperm counts, genetically modified crops—have often proved wildly exaggerated does not matter: the organisations that did the most exaggeration trousered the most money. In the case of climate, the alarm is always in the distant future, so can never be debunked.

“These huge green multinationals, with budgets in the hundreds of millions of dollars, have now systematically infiltrated science, as well as industry and media, with the result that many high-profile climate scientists and the journalists who cover them have become one-sided cheerleaders for alarm, while a hit squad of increasingly vicious bloggers polices the debate to ensure that anybody who steps out of line is punished. They insist on stamping out all mention of the heresy that climate change might not be lethally dangerous.”

I love that phrase, “trousered the most money.” Matt Ridley is a “lukewarmer.” He accepts that there has been some warming — there has been, of course, since the end of the Little Ice Age in roughly 1850 — but doesn’t buy that it’s catastrophic or that the human contribution comes to that much. I’ve been following this for a long time, and I have always found that the sceptics make by far the better case. They are treated, always have been, exactly as Ridley describes.

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