March 24th, 2011

How cyclists and environmentalists sometimes might differ

If I may whine, I do find it personally distasteful when climate change skeptics are spoken of as though they are evil. Can I not hold onto some healthy skepticism, yet ultimately side with climate change scientists, either as a precaution, or in my case, because I derive aesthetic delight from frugally? Better to walk the walk, but not talk the talk, than have it the other way around, I would suggest. If it provides any solace, we cyclists do have lower carbon footprints than most of our neighbours, whether we care about, or believe in, climate science or not.

But you know, damming skepticism is a greater offense to science, than doubting a consensus of scientists. Scientists, real ones, want to be doubted. They want to be forced to provide empirical proof, for to get by while skimping on proof, would be an unwinding of the enlightenment. ('tis a pity, it's true, that we cyclist are often drawn into ungentlemanly debates such as these. We are though, so let's work this post through). Okay, the very notion of a "consensus of scientists" defies logic. It would only require one scientist to find empirical proof to the contrary, and whatever theories the consensus once held, will be thrown onto a heap with the theory of a flat earth, or the four elements theory—you know, earth rain wind and fire.
  
Fellow cyclists, when you find you need to harness the political backing of Green politicians, just remember, they are seeking a moral high ground, not an intellectual one. Take whatever political leverage you can from them, then get on your bike. I mean literally. Go for ride. Remind yourself what you want from the deal. Don't be subsumed by their religious world view, where one speaks of believing in climate science, as though the words "belief" and "science" could ever be put in the one sentence.  
This bee in my bonnet today, is there thanks to Philip Adams's radio discussion with Brian Collins, Chief Scientific Adviser with the UK Department of Transport. My desperate snide comment in response is as follows:
 
I don't mind hearing a presenter say his house is 300km from his office. Neither do I mind hearing a presenter scoffing at climate change skeptics. But the same presenter? In the same show? Am I to take from your example Philip, that mocking critical thought (remembering someone can be skeptical, yet still on-board with the scientists) will score me more points than reducing my carbon emissions? 

He left my comment, and one other agreeing, there for a few days, then took them down. Fair enough. No-one likes being told they're a hypocrite; again, better to advertise yourself as a hypocrite and paradoxically always and never actually be one (a little play with double negatives, for your reading pleasure). But whatever, after all this, I have had to go and cleanse myself with some Bjorn Lomborg. He's a climate scientists who speaks on the subject with more reason than feeling.