It’s time to be scientific about global warming, says climatologist Judith Curry.
We’ve all come across the images of polar bears drifting on ice floes: emblematic victims of the global warming that’s melting the polar ice caps, symbols of the threat to the earth posed by our ceaseless energy production—above all, the carbon dioxide that factories and automobiles emit. We hear louder and louder demands to impose limits, to change our wasteful ways, so as to save not only the bears but also the planet and ourselves.
In political discourse and in the media, major storms and floods typically get presented as signs of impending doom, accompanied by invocations to the environment and calls to respect Mother Nature. Only catastrophes seem to grab our attention, though, and it’s rarely mentioned that warming would also bring some benefits, such as expanded production of grains in previously frozen regions of Canada and Russia. Nor do we hear that people die more often of cold weather than of hot weather. Isolated voices criticize the alarm over global warming, considering it a pseudoscientific thesis, the true aim of which is to thwart economic modernization and free-market growth and to extend the power of states over individual choices.