A thoughtful article on climate change in the Guardian - whatever next?
The piece in question is this one, by Andrew Holding of the Medical Research Council. He thinks the way to deal with us pesky global warming sceptics is to open things up:
[T]hose in academia are constantly debating and modifying their ideas over time as new evidence comes to light, and those who hold minority viewpoints are valued for their opinion, but only when they can provide evidence for their stance, not for their ability to sign a petition.
Sounds good to me.
We need to tear down the ivory towers of the past and remove the walls dividing the public and academia. Journals need to be open, and in complex cases, such as the evidence for climate change, we need to provide the skills and tools that people need to discover the answers for themselves. If we ask them to to accept our viewpoints just because we are the experts, we have already lost. We would be no different than anyone who stands on a pedestal and proclaims the truth.
The idea that climate journals are going to be open is probably wishful thinking, although we must admit, I suppose that there has been some improvement since the pesky sceptics started making a noise about it.
Scientific inquiry will not always provide the right answers first but, unlike other methods, it will eventually get there even if it has to admit its mistakes. There is plenty that we don't know yet, but what we do know is that, given the same resources, tools and time, there is no reason for the public to disagree with the established consensus.
Admitting mistakes is again a wonderful sentiment, but I'm just not sure that mainstream climate science is ready to make this step yet. Climatology still has to get past the "biased method + bad data -> correct answer" stage.