Is Climate Change Like Gravity?

February 1, 2013 at 2:18 pm

If climate change is as straightforward a scientific concept as gravity, why does the IPCC continue to produce multi-thousand-page reports?

A few days ago Martin O’Malley, the Governor of Maryland, delivered a speech – the complete text of which was published by The Washington Post.

O’Malley is a lawyer by training. His official biography says he has been involved in Democratic Party politics since he was 23 years old. Near the end of his speech O’Malley said the following:

Climate change is not an ideological issue any more than gravity is. It is physics, pure and simple.

O’Malley isn’t the first person to use the gravity analogy. Last November, the Associated Press reported that physicist Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, an official with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), made similar remarks:

[Van Ypersele] said the scientific backing for man-made climate change is now so strong that it can be compared to the consensus behind the principles of gravity.

“It’s a very, very broad consensus. There are a few individuals who don’t believe it, but we are talking about science and not beliefs,” Van Ypersele told AP. [backup link]

But here’s the problem. Van Ypersele isn’t a dispassionate scientist who can be counted on to tell us the facts and only the facts. At the same time that he’s serving as one of the IPCC’s three vice-chairs (one step down from chairman Rajendra Pachauri on the org chart), Van Ypersele is also an honourary member of that granddaddy of alarmist environmental organizations, the Club of Rome.

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The front page of the Club of Rome’s website is currently promoting its latest report, Bankrupting Nature: Denying Our Planetary Boundaries. A headline on that same front page declares: “Enough is Enough. It’s time for a new kind of economy.”

club_of_rome_new_economy

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I’ve written previously about affluent, well-connected do-gooders who believe that their purpose in life is to shepherd the rest of us toward a utopian tomorrow. The Club of Rome fits that description.

It insists that the future is “gloomy” because of our “outmoded ideas, values and institutions.” Its members, therefore, have nothing less than a wholesale redesign of human society in mind.

In my view, the Club of Rome is dangerous because the people involved appear to have learned nothing from other, profoundly tragic, attempts to establish new economic and social orders (see the former Soviet Union, Communist China, North Korea, and Cambodia). They appear entirely unfazed by all the misery and murder that has historically accompanied these sorts of experiments.

But to get back to the gravity analogy. If climate change was no more than “physics, pure and simple” there’d be no need, would there, for a UN body such as the IPCC?

For the past 25 years the IPCC has recruited thousands of scientists to write reports thousands of pages long about what is going on with the climate.

The fact that no similar reports are necessary where gravity is concerned exposes the flawed – and foolish – nature of this analogy.

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