Over the last few years I’ve noticed quite a few similarities between the arguments and logical errors used by global warming advocates and those used by believers in religious debates. I’d like to discuss some of these similarities, and, despite the title, I don’t intend to discuss religion to any excessive detail nor offend any people of faith who may be reading (except perhaps of the green variety). My main goal is simply to highlight some of the fundamental errors in the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) belief system as seen through the lens of my atheism.
The most basic tenet of AGW is that correlation must equal causation – because carbon dioxide has increased at the same time temperature has increased then one must be causing the other. Unfortunately, correlation has never and can never prove causation – the only way to establish causation with regards to global warming would be to take a few identical planets, alter their CO² levels and then measure the effects. This is clearly beyond our current means and since such a scientific experiment is not possible, the AGW hypothesis cannot be disproved which makes it completely at odds with the scientific method.
Since this belief is obviously unscientific in nature then what arguments are used to promote it? Of course, there is the aforementioned assumption that correlation equals causation, that because CO² has increased on the same climatically insignificant timescale that temperature has risen that it must be due to our emissions – even though temperatures have fallen or remained steady for several periods during this past century. This is where I apply Occam’s razor, a favorite of atheists, which states that the simplest explanation is most likely to be true, and I ask myself if the numerous cases of measurement error, assorted human biases, oceanic and solar cycles are a better explanation for what we’ve seen or are our CO² emissions, which are only 3-4% of what nature emits each year, to a gas that makes up only 0.038% of our atmosphere, meaning 0.0000152% of the CO² is due to our activities, a more likely hypothesis?
Of course not.
That’s why they have go on wild hypothetical tangents like how CO² will increase water vapor, which will heat up the Earth, causing more CO² to be released and then the world turns into The Day After Tomorrow. I find this Death Star chain-reaction scenario to be quite interesting since CO² levels have been much higher, 10 times or more in the past, and they didn’t trigger any great apocalypse.
Perhaps they forgot to adequately factor in that increasing water vapor might have a cooling effect with all those extra clouds reflecting the sunlight back into space.
This all naturally leads us to Pascal’s Wager, often used in religious debates, which basically states, that you have nothing to lose by believing in God, but everything to lose if you don’t. AGW advocates, and environmentalists in general, often promote this view, but without fail they don’t take into account the real risk of AGW, which is quite low in my opinion, and the real costs of implementing the proposed solutions to that imaginary problem, which are quite high.
Perhaps DDT is the one of the best examples, while the WHO finally lifted the ban, the rush to ban the chemical caused the genocide of over 100 million people. The eco-genocide, “eco” for both economy and ecology, that AGW policies will inflict on us will certainly be worse than anything a degree of warming will do to us.
Finally, after all those arguments are exhausted, AGW advocates will inevitably rely on appeals to authority (scientists) and popularity (“consensus”) – these are both logical fallacies. In religious terms, people will often rely on the Bible, Koran, or other religious texts, and the fact that more people are religious than not. Fine, people are welcome to their faith and it does no good to argue over it – the problems occur when one group decides that their faith is absolute in its authority and everyone else must bend and lose their lives in service to that religion.
Regarding the religion of global warming; this must stop.
Unfortunately, due to confirmation bias, it is quite difficult for people to change their mind, which is why some scientists hold onto flimsy theories and why propaganda, the initial blitz on the public mind, is so very effective. It took me many years to go from a believer, to an agnostic, and finally to an atheist. The first step, agnosticism (without knowledge), is to admit we don’t really know whether we are warming the globe or not, and we are slowly but surely taking this step right now. The real challenge, and the next step, is one of courage, where we admit that while we don’t know for sure, the evidence simply isn’t there and we won’t be scared into believing something by those who want to exercise power over our lives and minds.