The climate is changing. Full stop. No rational person is arguing that the climate is now or has ever been immutable, but expecting climate alarmists to care what we actually believe very obviously remains wishful thinking. Bill Nye the Science Guy recently reinforced this in an interview with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson, doubling down on an early assertion that anyone that denied climate change was suffering from “cognitive dissonance” (watch here).
Pointing out that the climate has always changed is a popular retort, but it clearly isn’t getting through to the Left, or, at the very least, it clearly isn’t getting through to Bill Nye. Since I absolutely love clarity in science and logic, let me be absolutely clear. In my opinion, Bill Nye has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about in regards to climate sciences. At present, I don’t believe that any climate scientists can be trusted, and the young science is irrecoverably tainted by political activism for at least a generation or two.
While I am pretty far from a climatologist myself, unless Bill Nye has secretly acquired a degree in meteorology or climate sciences, he isn’t one either. Bill does have a stronger background in science than I do, however, so I’ll address his argument from a broader philosophical and historical fashion and stay away from climate, meteorological, and atmospheric dynamics outside my expertise.
Point by point, here are actual statements made by Bill Nye during his representation of the current climate alarmist argument with Tucker Carlson.
1) “Cognitive Dissonance is not a delusion, it’s a feature – it’s human nature.” – Bill Nye
So, I just looked it up, and according to online psychology resources, cognitive dissonance “can give rise to irrational and sometimes maladaptive behavior“. That certainly sounds like a delusion to me. More clearly, it sounds like exactly the kind of base ad hominem that the Left resorts to when it wants to disqualify dissenting opinion. Here’s the problem for Bill Nye. Even if we’re really all as crazy as he thinks we are, this does not in any way address skeptical arguments against anthropogenic global warming alarmism.
2) “…You deny the authorities that are providing the evidence.” – Bill Nye
That’s an interesting choice of words: “deny the authorities“. It’s almost like Bill is making an appeal to authority argument. Actually, strike that, it’s exactly an appeal to authority argument. In Bill’s world view, there is a small cadre of expert and infallible scientists, and then there’s the unwashed masses of “maladaptive” deniers, who dare to question the proclamations of these “scientific elite“, of whom Bill claims to be one of, despite, as noted earlier, not having any classical education or experience in the field of climatology.
3) “It’s not an open question, it’s a settled question.” – Bill Nye
Yes, because as every school child knows classification of scientific knowledge goes: voodoo, hypothesis, unpopular kid in gym class, theory, Superbowl contender, law, and then “settled science“. Except, when I think back to my science courses in college, I don’t remember a designation of “settled“ being attributed to any scientific principle. What Bill Nye really means to say is that even though 95% of climate models have failed to accurately predict the temperatures for the last two decades, we should believe based on how many within the “scientific elite” and in the media are pushing the premise, not necessarily on the actual science. This is a fallacious appeal to popularity and does nothing at all to substantiate his argument.
4) “Don’t you have 4 children?” – Bill Nye
Did Bill Nye the pseudo science guy just imply a causal relationship between the number of children someone has and the validity of a hypothesis with a 5% success rate? Though, honestly, being that I’m a “maladaptive” denier, I was operating under the delusion that such an obvious appeal to emotion is not only unscientific, but philosophically fallacious and blatantly illogical. Like so many people who remain skeptical of the climate alarmism, I thought how I felt about the data has no bearing on the meaning of the data. Silly me.
5) “[The Climate] would look like it did in 1750… Britain would not be very well suited to growing grapes.” – Bill Nye
Here Bill Nye’s argument finally approaches an objective argument with unemotional assertions and must be disassembled very carefully. First, Bill suggests that the climate would and, implicitly, should look like it did in 1750. Alright, so what was the observed mean temperature for 1750? Well, we have no idea, and we never will, because the data necessary to even ball park the climate in 1750 simply doesn’t exist, since there wasn’t a systematic, let alone global, method of acquiring that kind of data in the mid 18th Century.
Second, Europe was still in the grips of the Little Ice Age in 1750 and would be for another century. Does Bill Nye the pseudo science guy actually mean to suggest that Ice Ages are somehow ideal or even normal? Apparently so, because Bill suggests that the Earth would be in an Ice Age right now, if it weren’t for human activity. From a purely logistical and economic standpoint, since food production and biodiversity seems to strongly positively correlate with temperature, global warming seems to be a net positive for humanity and life on the planet.
Third, grapes were being grown in Britain during the Roman Empire during the Second Century and again one thousand years later in the middle of the Dark Ages. Given the lack of cars, planes, trains, or any heavy industry of any kind at either the century after the Crucifixion or the first Millennium later, the climate clearly can and does fluctuate immensely in the 1000 year range, from warm, to cold, to warm again, and grapes being grown in Britain, if that even can be any indication at all of the climate, is indicative only that the climate has changed, and this seems to be a good thing, if only for the domestic wine industry in Britain.
6) “Instead of happening on time scales of millions of years or, let’s say, fifteen thousand years [climate change is] happening on a time scale of decades and now years…” – Bill Nye
This is the most pseudo science of all of the pseudo science claims that Bill Nye made in his short interview. In order to know whether or not temperature data is changing “faster than ever“, for example, we’d need anywhere from 5 to 10 comparable sets of half century observations, meaning we’d need data going back to at least the early 1700’s and as far back as the 1500’s to compare to. Unfortunately for Bill Nye, again, that data simply doesn’t exist. Without that data, Bill’s claim isn’t science but hysteria.
So let’s look at the climate alarmist argument as Bill Nye presented it. Fully two-thirds of the alarmist argument is fallacious garbage, barely worth making fun of, though, I have to admit, it was fun doing so. The last one-third of the alarmist argument is based on less than 50 years of data, during the last twenty years of which there have been no significant increases in observed temperature. Only 60% of 33% of their entire argument holds up to any scientific, or, at least, philosophical scrutiny, and any conclusions that could be drawn from that 20% of their argument has no context outside of the 15 to 17 years of data that they have found alarming.
The only thing I find surprising at all is that anyone still finds such obviously weak arguments at all compelling, however, there are always many people who will believe such blatantly fallacious arguments. This, my friends, is why the Founding Fathers feared democracy as the tyranny of the weak minded that it always is.
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