Global warming skeptics compared to defenders of slavery in the 19th century

(Probably NOT a hoax given the Green/Left propensity for "ad hominem" arguments)

There is a paper by a Dutch philosopher here -- with commentary and excerpts here -- which makes some stretched comparisons between the arguments of old-time slavery advocates and global-warming skeptics. The commentary is by another Greenie but the closing paragraphs of the commentary are pretty level-headed:
The crux of Davidson's argument is that the US economy now relies on oil in much the same way as the economy of the Southern States relied on slaves 200 years ago - as a key source of energy.

Although the quotes from the earlier congressmen are shocking, I'm not convinced the comparison is helpful. For starters, climate change and slavery cannot be compared. The former is a self-imposed "slavery" to a mineral source of energy; the latter an imposed slavery of one group of humans to another.

And although I agree there is also a moral imperative to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, just as there was a moral imperative to the abolition of slavery, I do not believe morals and ethics are what will win the battle to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The whole argument is of course an ad hominem one and it would be a fairly easy exercise to strike back by comparing what Warmists are saying with (say) the pronouncements of Hitler and Mussolini (See for example here and here) but is it worthwhile to strike back in such an unscholarly way? Below are two sets of comments, one from Larry Gould and one from Viscount Monckton. Gould says:
The issue of comparing rhetoric is not worth spending any time on. The issue for me is one about the science and scientific methodology (or lack of it, such as in the badly flawed recent methodological position called "post-normal science" -- where, in essence, "consensus" trumps valid scientific arguments).

I think more people need to see the flaws in the science/methodology claims by the AGWAs [my acronym for Anthropogenic Global Warming Alarmist -- stress on the "AG"] in order to see that "global warming" is a non-problem. So I would rather point out (and keep repeating) such things as:

(a) falsification of data by the IPCC (as, e.g., pointed out in a recent Cambridge University talk by Christopher Monckton);

(b) distortion of the data through the too-often-used ploy of choosing a "mean" temperature in such a way so as to amplify the positive temperature anomaly (see, e.g., the December 2007 issue of Physics Today, p. 23 ---- there, in commenting on the Nobel Peace Prize of Gore and the IPCC, we have a single "change from the average"-vs-"Year" graph showing the highest-slope being for the last 25 years relative to a mean temperature for the years 1961 - 1990; but there was a cooling trend for about half those years, pushing the anomaly up!).

Bob Carter has pointed out plenty of ways the AGWAs can select temperature trends by playing around with the choice of years over which temperatures are being considered.

(c) contradictions, by evidence, against the claims by the AGWAs --- examples are recent (December 2007) papers by Lindzen (on Taking Greenhouse Warming Seriously, Energy & Environment) and by Douglass, Christy, et al. in International J. Climatology where models are shown to be badly flawed.

(d) widespread lack of articles written by experts in climatology who have strong scientific arguments against the AGWAs claims (or suppression of such articles, or huge overbalance of articles in favor of the AGWAs) in popular scientific publications for the non-expert. This lack is evident in the pages of Physics Today, The American Physical Society News, Scientific American, and The American Scientist. For an example of a non-scientific publication where the lack plus distortions appear, see Newsweek.

Please note that I would not discourage anyone from taking on the task of comparing rhetoric. I think it would be worthwhile to see what, if anything, is the relevance of Marc Davidson's publication for the issue of "global warming" and whether what he says about the history is true. I, however, would prefer to keep hammering primarily on issues of science and scientific methodology (such as Davidson's incorrect claim "despite climate risks to future generations").

Monckton says:
I very much agree with Larry. It's on the science that we'll beat them, because so much of their science is inaccurate, fiddled, exaggerated, or claiming a certainty that is not possible when studying any mathematically-chaotic object (such as the climate is). See Lorenz (1963), whose landmark paper - in a climatological journal - founded chaos theory with an elegant proof of his now-famous theorem that, unless one knows the initial state of the object in question to a degree of precision that is not in practice attainable when considering the climate, one cannot predict either the onset or the duration or the magnitude of any future phase-transition (the mathematical term for what the enviro-left refer to as a "tipping-point", unaware that every time they use the phrase they are demonstrating their profound ignorance of its significance, which demonstrates the opposite of what they intend to convey).

Therefore it is not possible to predict for more than a few weeks the future evolution of the climate, and the entire IPCC exercise is futile. Very, very slowly, arguments such as these are making their way into the public consciousness and the alarmists realize they are being driven backward. Let us continue to batter them and better them and bother them with hard science.

Posted by John Ray

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