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The release of Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) has sparked a predictable backlash from the mainstream media and the scientific community. Yet it is a document that cannot be quashed with the usual dose of scorn; it’s far too well-researched for that!
In fact, the voluminous Climate Change Reconsidered has thrust the subject of anthropogenic climate change back into the spotlight. Heartland President Joseph Bast appeared in a Fox News special report today, in which he discussed the position of the NIPCC on the positive effects warming can have for humanity.
“Rising carbon dioxide levels and warmer temperatures have been shown to actually improve agricultural productivity,” Bast told the interviewer, “Billions of people are being fed today who would not have been fed.”
While it is unclear as yet whether this new report from the NIPCC will have the transformative effect on the public discourse surrounding climate change and global warming its authors hope for, it is clear that the debate it fosters has yielded significant returns in terms of both general public awareness of the continuing controversy, and of specific encouragement to move away from unquestioning acceptance of Establishment Science’s pronouncements.
During the Fox interview, Bast stated that, “Ethical standards have been lowered, peer-review has been corrupted, and we can’t trust what appears in our most prestigious journals anymore.” It is certainly true that the climate change debate, particularly in the wake of 2009’s Climate Gate scandal, has served not only to occasionally embarrass mainstream opponents, but also to enliven public scrutiny of the scientific research process.
Peer review is a system that often “rewards conformity” over unorthodox thinking, which can turn the journals and publications of record that are meant to be the keen spear-point of scientific progress into a blunt instrument for enforcing the status quo. The need to publish papers as the means of securing academic promotion reinforces the problem, as repeating or defending the existing consensus is more likely to garner successful publication. The echo-chamber of academia thus drowns out dissenting voices.
Scientists ought to welcome challenges to the mainstream, even if they believe they are wholly wrong. The flaws in research papers that Climate Change Reconsidered shines a light on can now be better addressed by all scientists in future. True scientific progress is achieved through iconoclasm, not conservatism.
The debates that will spread in the coming months as Climate Change Reconsidered II is discussed in the media and academic circles can only make science better.