Last week, I wrote the post, Triple J and the Sports Reporter Full of Hot Air, which discussed the overly opinionated sports reporter, Matt De Groot, telling everyone what he thought about anthropogenic climate change. I didn’t hide that I thought this bloke was tooting the horn of ignorance and annoyed me no end.
This Friday Matt reappeared with his ‘Hack regrets’;
“I came on and felt the need to do two things. One was to sound informed and other was to sound passionate on the issue and to be completely honest, I’m not passionate on the issue.”
He did make a great point;
“I tried to come across as an expert that I’m not, I tried to quote science that I don’t know. You ask people to literally explain the science of climate change, they won’t be able to…
“People feel like they should [know what they’re talking about on climate change], because politicians have made it a big issue. But for most people it’s become over politicised, over hyped…”
It’s true that for many, the subject of climate change is more about their political standing than the science that underlies the issue. It’s mostly about the public opinion – hence why we have a committee designed to gauge the public opinion on climate change. This is also expressed through the blogosphere being awash with warped understanding of the science and many illusions about scientific certainty.
Of course, for instance, there will be many studies that question the results of previous studies. That’s the heart of sceptical scientific methodology; how we manage to chip away at ignorance and test the validity of the standing ideas.
However to the general public, this can be exploited, such as Poptechs, 850 Peer-Reviewed Papers Supporting Skepticism of “Man-Made” Global Warming (AGW) Alarm, to produce unreasonable doubt. It’s clearly not a sentiment shared within the scientific community, as Lockwood (2010) states,
“The Internet has played a useful role in conveying some of the understanding, images and data that lead climate scientists to their conclusions. However, it has also become a haven for un-refereed pseudo-science with dangerously incorrect inference. It has served to give the false impression that there is a serious, widespread academic debate on the basic nature of climate change. The most popular argument runs like this: ‘The Sun drives Earth’s climate system. Therefore changes in the Sun must drive changes in Earth’s climate system’. The first sentence is, of course, absolutely correct; but understanding why the second sentence does not follow from the first requires scientific training and study.”
Never before did we require a committee to decide if the public agreed with the science or whether we should ignore the evidence. We have had similar situations, obviously, such as with ozone depletion, the relationship between tobacco and health risks, and as far as the public debate goes, Einstein’s theory of relativity, but such ‘politically correct’ terms as “citizen scientists” were not entertained. Never before were there roaming individuals, with no scientific training of any sort, demanding that scientists refute any paper that they hold which happens to disagree with the standing ideas within the scientific issue at hand.
The more you thing about it, the more the idea of such is quite disturbing. It’s a devaluation of technical training and many people-centuries of scientific investigation. That’s not to say people without such training should step aside and “leave it to the experts”, but rather take the time to learn about the subject if it interests or concerns (in many cases scientists are geeks who love the opportunity to discuss a subject that they’re passionate about); ask questions and develop an understanding, don’t simply fall for such a cheap trick as a selection of cherry picked papers.
To truly engage with the science from a lay perspective is very different to this current group of “citizen scientist” who try to come across as an expert on the subject; it’s very different to the trolls that blog-hop, with a fist full of papers, demanding that the blog authors respond to this handful of cherry picked studies (anyone could simply hold onto Poptech’s list and simply refer, paper by paper, until the other grows bored and then simply celebrate illogically, that the science behind AGW is thus refuted).
All of this citizen science scepticism of AGW is meaningless at the end of the day, any way (to what end does you and I engaging in a war of the studies available in the literature achieve?), but as Matt stated – there is an expectation that we all know about the subject, can (and should) argue about it and be passionate about it.
As much as Matt admits no real passion or knowledge of the subject, he remained committed to his initial belief that climate change is not our fault and won’t effect him, so really his only regret seems to have been so vocal. This seems to be the best we can expect. It’s nothing short of a “get out of jail card” – “I have an opinion, it’s an not based on much interest or evidence, but I believe it and it’s up to you to agree with it or prove me wrong.”
Accountability, as we’ve seen with the many times Monckton has been discredited, is not the AGW deniers strong point – which is without a doubt imbalanced by their outspoken nature on the subject. I have no doubt that such people will forever remain “unconvinced” by the evidence. I’m also sure that they will blame others, or such as Matt, plead ignorant and pressured into having an opinion when it bites them in the arse. It’s we whom create PC terms, such as “citizen scientists” and attempt to argue with their bizarre war of articles that validate the climate denier. Something needs to change.