Climate Change Alarmism and the Stupidity of ‘Certainty’

By Tom Gilson Published on May 9, 2023

Climate scientists working with ice cores from Greenland have data that agrees with climate-crisis alarmism. Temperature measurements have indeed been rising steadily over the last 150 years or so. They also show that doesn’t mean what it appears to mean. The time when scientists started measuring temperatures happened to be the coldest moment in 10,000 years.

The earth’s temperature naturally rises and falls over long periods of time. Common sense tells us that if temperatures reach their lowest point in 10,000 years, they might just start naturally bouncing back up from there.

This doesn’t prove climate alarmists are wrong about human-caused global warming. It only proves that the climate policies they’re forcing on us are scientifically unsupported, ethically monstrous, and supremely stupid. Watch the 4-minute video — you’ll enjoy it, I can promise you that — and then read on to find out why, and how you can avoid making a different but similar mistake.

It’s fascinating, it’s insightful, it’s surprising — and it leaves us with a lot of maybes. Maybe temperatures are rising because of carbon emissions, or maybe it’s just naturally time for them to start rising again. That’s if the findings hold up to further research, which is still another maybe. I didn’t hear anyone in this clip saying they had achieved global certainty over it.

In this case, though, “maybe” is more than good enough. It’s all we need have, in order to deal with the biggest problem in climate policy today: the stupidity of premature certainty.

Certainty Can Be Stupidity

This is far from the first maybe in climate science. Climate alarmists’ predictions have a way of failing to come true fairly often, so maybe their statistical models aren’t as trustworthy as they claim. And even if carbon is the problem they say it is, we don’t know yet whether there’s any reasonable way humans can reduce emissions enough to matter.

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It’s easy to underestimate the power of maybes. Certainty can be stronger — you can be sure I don’t say “maybe” to my deepest values and beliefs — but certainty can also be just stupid. Unethical, too: People in power often use “certainty” to control and manipulate people.

Climate change policy is a great example. It’s dominated by people who are certain and who preach certainty. These people need a good solid kick of “maybe” in the rear. In this case it’s, “Maybe your certainty is all messed up. Maybe your science is all wrong.”

The Power of “Maybe”

Notice: That’s not necessarily, “Your science is wrong.” It’s simply, “It could be wrong, maybe.” That’s all you need, really. It’s good enough to carry plenty of meaning.

Just start with this: “You are re-wiring entire human economies, in ways that are guaranteed to deprive people of energy resources. Its harshest impact will be on developing nations. People across the globe will resist your demands, so if you’re going to make it stick, you’ll have to do it by taking away basic human liberties. That’s ethically horrendous on its own, but it’s just the start of it. It’s absolutely certain your energy policies will result in massive human suffering across the globe: widespread hunger, severe heat and cold, and more.

Then add this: “You’re forcing absolutely certain catastrophe on everyone, in order to maybe head off a maybe catastrophe.”

That’s wrong.

Recognize the Reigning Stupidity

When politicians tell you they’re making drastic, controversial policy changes because of “scientific certainty,” take cover. They’re aiming something nasty your way. Scientists are often certain, but science itself almost never is. If someone tells you it’s certain, and especially if there’s money, politics, or religion involved, you can bet there are scientists who disagree and can give good reasons for it. They’re just being shouted down.

Policy makers should know that about science. Possibly some of them are sincerely misguided, and they just don’t know. They don’t belong in positions of power, but that doesn’t keep them from getting there. Others may have fallen victim to false “consensus”: They’ve been listening so much to just one side, they think only one side exists. They’re no help to the rest of us, either. Worst of all are those who actually do know better, who are lying outright, and are using this manufactured “certainty” to control and manipulate people.

When politicians tell you they’re making drastic, controversial policy changes because of “scientific certainty,” take cover. They’re aiming something nasty your way.

Scientists themselves can be vulnerable to that manipulation. Science depends on funding, and powerful people control those funds. If you recall the debates over cigarettes and health, you know they came out with two results, not just one. One: Cigarettes are bad for your health. Two: Tainted money is bad for science. The tobacco industry bought the results they wanted from researchers.

The same sort of thing still goes on. Therefore when you hear policy-makers insisting “The science is absolutely certain!” it’s a very good bet someone’s paying to help keep it that way. It’s not because they love science, it’s because they can use it for their own ends.

Use Good Strategy Against the Stupidity

So here’s strategy you can use against this.

First, please do not make the same mistake, acting as if you have reasons for certainty when you don’t. If you have proof that carbon emissions are meaningless, or that global temperature change isn’t real, then good luck to you. I’d still go with the flanking maneuver, myself. We don’t need to prove alarmist science wrong. We only need to show it’s inadequate to justify the policies they’re forcing on us, and all your need for that is a good solid “maybe.”

Second, be careful of relying on science-y websites that agree with you. They may or may not be right, but if you’re going to use them in debate, you have to demonstrate they’re right, which is bound to be difficult. If you’ve got what it takes to do that, fine. Otherwise, follow the lead I took with the video above: It’s intriguing, it’s suggestive, but it doesn’t amount to scientific certainty, at least not yet. It doesn’t need to.

Third, bring the attack you can bring with power. “Maybe” is plenty powerful here.

Put a Halt to It!

Certainty is stupid, in the case of climate science. There’s just one semi-exception. It isn’t a real exception, it just might seem that way to whoever is trying for it. A person or group that wants to grab a lot of power might think it’s good strategy to abuse science this way. To a point they’re right: Just see how well it’s been working for them so far. In the end, though, they’ll suffer for it more than the rest of us, I believe.

Remember what I said earlier: If a politician tells you his drastic new policy is based on “absolutely certain science,” that’s all you need to know there’s something wrong with it. No one speaks that way unless they’re ignorant of how science works, or being dragged along by some crowd, or abusing science to gain power for themselves. That’s exactly what’s happening in climate policy today. The “certainty” it’s based upon is either stupid, or immoral, or both.

The word is “maybe.” If the world would only catch on to that one word, it could put a halt to global alarmist insanity. So speak it loudly. Speak it often. Otherwise … catastrophe is looming. I wish I could say maybe.


Tom Gilson (@TomGilsonAuthor) is a senior editor with The Stream and the author or editor of six books, including the highly acclaimed Too Good To Be False: How Jesus’ Incomparable Character Reveals His Reality.

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