Climate change is not about science….at least not for 99.999% of us

For everyone on the planet other than the miniscule fraction who get paid by government to study it, global climate change is not an issue of science. Essentially none of us have direct knowledge or experience of the data or the arcane calculations involved – and even if we did, we wouldn’t know what to do with any of it.

So what does this mean for the 99.999% of the world’s population whose opinion on the science is less than irrelevant?

It means we need to be self-consciously aware of what we are really doing when we settle on a particular opinion about man made climate change. Since we are not basing our opinions on the actual production and evaluation of the data, what are we basing it on?

The answer is trust. We are deciding to trust certain far removed professional institutions and the various forms of media that filter their proclamations down to us. There is nothing particularly wrong with doing this. In fact, it is the only means we have for engaging with the complexities of the larger world beyond our immediate experience. But it isn’t science.

Too often people pretend that the act of choosing to trust an institution is the same thing as as being knowledgeable about the phenomenon of planetary climate change itself. Even worse, it often imbues people with an unearned sense of intellectual and even moral validation.

If on the other hand it was explicitly clear to everyone that the only issue we are grappling with when it comes to climate change is whether or not the institutions and media who promote the premise are deserving of our trust, then the debate would be much different than the one we tend to see. Rather than supporters hurling the pejorative ‘denier‘ at people who refused to ‘acknowledge’ what they personally ‘know’ to be an incontestable fact, they would be obliged to ask, ‘What cause do you have for not choosing to trust these institutions?’

A humility in the face of our collective ignorance about the physics of atmospheric CO2 concentration is immediately imposed on everyone. Instead of arguing about the arcane proclamations of a distant, unquestionable professional scientific class – we are forced to justify and take responsibility for the quality of our own skills for critically assessing the arguments.

Could man made CO2 emissions be driving planetary climate change in a way that proves to be catastrophic? I guess so. All I know for sure is that unlike what we have been encouraged to believe, there are many highly credentialled, professional scientists who are recognized authorities in their fields presenting reasonable, rational, demonstrable criticisms of the means, methods, conclusions and politics of the climate change establishment. Anyone who looks into it finds the same thing. But like the rest of the 99.999% of the population, I have no freakin’ idea who is right and I’m not qualified to say anything definitive about it.

But I am qualified to critically assess the intellectual integrity, logic and ethical validity of influential institutions that insist we believe there is no valid criticism of their work while encouraging the denigration and demonization of anyone who dares challenge the absolutism of their authority. And so are you.

Is this tactic of immunizing themselves from criticism a factor in my judgement of their trustworthiness?

You’re damn right it is.


As always, feel free to leave a comment below!



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Michael Harris

Michael Harris is an oil painter, photographer, song writer and blogger from Toronto Canada. Michael's work is influenced by his interest in psychology, media, consciousness studies, politics and philosophy.

2 thoughts on “Climate change is not about science….at least not for 99.999% of us”

  1. I don’t think it makes much sense for you to condemn some scientists for saying that criticisms of their work are not valid, while at the same time admitting that you have no idea which side is right in general.

    Despite what you say, your position sounds to me as though it’s based on a judgment that the majority is wrong and the minority is right, at least regarding the validity of these criticisms. But that is just the kind of judgment that you seem to be saying that – as a layman – you are not qualified to reach.


    1. Chris, the point is that there IS valid criticism of their work. And yet they have aggressively promoted a narrative that there is no justification for scepticism and they have encouraged people to reject all criticism as the rantings of ignorant “deniers”.

      What other group of elite professionals – who had so much influence on major public policy decisions – would you passively accept their insistence that there was no valid criticism of what they do?

      I don’t see how you could have construed that I’m arguing that “the majority is wrong and the minority is right”.
      What I have argued is that the one thing we are qualified to assess is if the climate change establishment’s assertion that that there is no justification to be sceptical about the certainty of their claims is true or not.

      The fact that there are so many highly credential authorities who are highlighting serious flaws and failures with the premise and the institutions that promote it is clear justification for scepticism.



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