February 23, 2009
Fabian Tassano spies a little opportunism:
Mike Edwards of CAFOD has written to the Telegraph to argue for a pragmatist perspective on the question of whether the establishment view on climate change is correct. In other words, we may as well assume it is correct, because the consequences of doing so are the ‘right’ ones.
The longer I work on climate change, the less important I think it is whether or not the warmists or the sceptics are right. [...] Imagine a world where we had listened to the climate scientists and started to change our resource-consuming behaviour and address the inequities of the global economic system. Although the warming still didn’t materialise, we would have addressed a host of environmental issues and be living a largely pollution-free existence. We may even be saying thank you to the climate scientists who, although they got it wrong, provided us the opportunity to create a cleaner, brighter and fairer world.
Unfortunately, it is easy to imagine that Dr Edwards is not unusual in believing that the preferred effects of particular research conclusions should influence those conclusions. The vast majority of ‘researchers’ seem to share a leftist ideological outlook these days, and also seem to share the belief that this perspective is indubitably the morally correct one, providing them with a spurious legitimacy for actions which would be considered questionable in other contexts. In some cases, this ideological bias - wanting research to support the creation of a ‘fairer’ world - may have effects only at the margin. For example, when a result is ambiguous, the choice of how to present it is made in the direction that is most supportive of the preferred belief system. Though individually small in effect, an accumulation of such minor biases at the margin can easily add up to something significant. In other cases, the bias is more blatant. Research results can often be guessed in advance, and those which would undermine the consensus can be avoided by the simple method of withholding financial support.