Science based ideas are falsifiable, whereas religious ones are not (thanks Karl Popper). That means even our most favourite scientific theories can be dumped in a bin if new evidence shows they are wrong or ‘falsifies them’. (See here for what qualifies as evidence). Religious people get strength through knowing that no matter what happens, their faith will not be shaken. There is nothing that can prove to them that God (or climate change) does not exist. Religious faith has many benefits, but it doesn’t belong in a scientific debate, and it’s a lousy way to decide most public policy.
How to spot a religious AGW supporter:
Ask them: is there is any evidence that would convince you that carbon was not significant?
You’re looking for answers like: “twenty years of no warming”, “temperatures returning to 1970 levels”, or “no atmospheric warming 10km above the tropics”. Any answer that can be proved wrong is scientific in nature. It may be outlandish, “it’ll take an ice age”, but it’s at least a point to start discussing the likelyhood that carbon plays a major role in our climate today.
The usual AGW non-science:
- “The debate is over”,
- “The time to act is now, we can’t wait for proof”,
- “Look around you, ice caps are melting, forests are dying”
- “There is a consensus among mainstream scientists”
These are religious answers; even if spoken by a certified professor. When a well qualified person says one of the above it tells us nothing about the role of carbon in the atmosphere but everything about how poor our universities are. All scientists should be trained to spot-the-difference, “faith or fact?”. They rarely are.
If AGW supporters want to prove me wrong, send me your answer to the falsifiable question. Likewise, skeptics, please send me examples of religious responses, I’ll add them to the list.
Disclaimer: 25-2-09. Even if all AGW supporters (or all skeptics) qualified as having a religious belief rather than a scientifically open mind, it would not prove anything about the climate (and I’m not suggest that it’s true either). Despite that, those who claim this is a ‘distraction’ miss the point. The idea of falsifiability is at the center of what IS science and what is not.