What is the axe to grind?

2008 International Conference on Climate Change was formed to take a look at the anthropogenic global warming question. Since it did not toe the line on the political hysteria, it was itself a stimulant of interesting behaviors. A statistician provides his summary from attending the conference.

Too many people are too confident about too many things. That was the simple message of the Heartland conference, and one that I hope sinks in. – Wm Briggs.

On the other hand you have the allegation from one who did not attend at Science Blogs: At the Heartland and Discovery Institutes, a Shared Rhetoric that “The Chicago based think tank seeks to frame climate change in a way that is consistent with their free market ideology and mission.”

In seeking to bend science to fit with their preferred policy goals, the Heartland Institute (HI) chooses as a rhetorical bedfellow the Discovery Institute (DI), the think tank that brought us the public relations campaign against the teaching of evolution in schools.

Al Gore was invited at his usual honorarium. He declined to present his views. Some others who have become know for strident FUD mongering about climate were also invited. They also declined. The general reason given were in line with those of the Science Blogs: the conference was formed for ulterior motives and attended by a bunch of kooks who had their minds made up.

Then you should look at Lessons from the Skeptics’ Conference by John Tierney

… if you believe global warming is a risk, you should be supporting drastic cuts in carbon emissions and expanded versions of the Kyoto Protocol. … That may be the policy urged by many scientists,… but it’s not a consensus based on climate research. It’s a conflation of two separate issues. You can fear global warming and favor adaptation policies rather than emissions cuts because you think adaptation is more cost-effective and technologically practical. You can fear global warming and be opposed to Kyoto-style cap-and-trade systems because you think they’re too expensive and too ineffective…

There are a few things that can be learned from looking at this. One is that the ‘skeptics conference’ was misrepresented by those who did not agree that skepticism should be applied to the global warming issue. Another is that more than science is on the table as the ruckus is very much about what, if anything, should government do to ameliorate any human effects on climate. What you don’t see is the ‘skeptics’ advocating definitive conclusions or pursuing false representations of those who oppose them in the manner quoted above. You don’t see the ‘skeptics’ advocating political action, new taxes,

Briggs notes the need for avoiding hubris. That is usually a good key to consider in evaluating integrity. Science is always based on being uncertain of what you know and being open to legitimate questions about how you know things. The Intelligent Design proponents illustrate illegitimate questions in their quest as a comparison and contrast to the proper questions raised at the Heartland Institute Conference. Scientists who cannot tell the difference are indicating that they have their own axe to grind on a field other than science.

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