September 29, 2013 by David K. Sutton
Climate Change And Denialism: Is Science Ever 100 Percent Certain About Anything?
There are some who are climate change deniers. No amount of evidence will ever convince them anthropogenic global warming is real and happening right now. Then there are others who may choose to play the role of devil’s advocate, even if they fully accept climate change is real. When a UN report shows 95% certainty that climate change is real and humans are the cause, the devil’s advocate says there is still a 5% chance they are wrong, so therefore people who say they are skeptics (including out-and-out deniers) have a valid point. — No, they don’t, and here’s why.
Nothing, and I mean NOTHING in science is 100%. You can leave absolute certainty for your Sunday morning ritual. Nothing in science is 100% certain because scientists are humble. The same cannot be said of climate change deniers who are 100% certain of their beliefs. Scientists want to be proven wrong. Sure, as humans they want to be right, but for the integrity of the work they do, they want people to try to prove them wrong. But that doesn’t happen by simply asserting climate change is a hoax. If you want to prove climate scientists wrong, there’s no other way than hard work. In the absence of that hard work, you are only positing an opinion, nothing more.
The devil’s advocate might also say they’ve heard that scientists are 100% certain about anthropogenic global warming and this is now in conflict with the UN report showing 95% certainty.
I’d like to see documented evidence of these claims. I’ve never heard anyone say scientists were 100% certain of anthropogenic global warming. If someone did say this, it was an overzealous defense of climate science. I have heard claims that 95% or 97% of climate scientists agree global warming is real and caused by humans. But that of course is a different number entirely. It’s not the same as saying anthropogenic global warming is 95% certain. It’s ridiculous to get caught up in this kind of argument when it comes to science because science will never prove something with 100% certainty. Science offers us the best answer to a given question at this moment in time. And yes, I know how that sounds, but it does not dismiss areas where we have overwhelming evidence in support of a given theory which makes that theory an accepted fact. And we are at the point of accepted fact when it comes to climate change, and have been there for quite some time, regardless of continued climate change denialism. Anybody can have an opinion about anything without lifting a finger. I’ll trust the people doing this for a living, thank you very much!
Science is the best way humans have devised to get around our own biases and get to the truth. It doesn’t matter if 95% certainty leaves 5% potential to be wrong, because nobody else is offering anything better. It’s not like there is an independent peer reviewed study of “global cooling” that shows 95% certainly within that body of scientists. It doesn’t exist.
So here’s my message to people who want to play devil’s advocate when it comes to climate science. — Yes, the UN report says climate scientists are 95% certain. But here’s the problem with taking the devil’s advocate position on that other 5%. Climate scientists are upfront and honest about what they don’t know. People who deny climate change are not honest about the things they don’t know and it is evidenced in their very denial. Their denial is not based in scientific study. They are uninterested in gathering evidence and doing the legwork necessary to formulate a working theory. They simply deny what is inconvenient to them. So there’s no need to play devil’s advocate for them, because they have not done anything to deserve that effort on your part.