Global warming skeptics are essential. How else are we to get a balanced opinion on the critical issue of what, if anything, we need to do about anthropogenic global warming ? Or even to be sure that there is such a thing.
Skepticism is at the heart of human ingenuity. If all we did was accept the status quo we would not have invented anything. We would have stayed hunting and gathering in Africa, still believed that the earth was flat and remained totally convinced that we are the centre of the universe.
Instead we questioned, tried new things, explored and moved our understanding and ourselves forward.
But at times we have failed to question. Often this is when we are not aware that we need to ask. It also happens when we were prevented by ignorance, or by force, from asking.
The consequences of blind acceptance are not so good. Dictators, wars, corruption, crime, poverty and a host of societal ills often persist because our scepticism failed us.
It should not be a crime to be a global warming skeptic.
Indeed, a questioning mind should be applauded.
Science is skeptical too.
In fact, the scientific method of setting, testing, refuting and reformulating hypotheses is the very foundation of scientific knowledge.
A hypothesis is a guess, albeit an educated one, of how something works. Scientists design experiments, take measurements and make observations that test the hypothesis. The guess proves to be right or wrong.
When scientists set out to refute hypotheses they must be skeptical or they will design tests that have a bias toward the desired result. A big chunk of scientific training is about how to design and execute information gathering that is neutral so as to achieve an objective the test of the hypothesis.
If the scientific test shows that the guess is right; then science is bound to test again, often multiple times, before the guess can be accepted as a theory. Still not an undeniable law, but a theory that is better than a guess.
This is how human knowledge grows; in part through healthy skepticism.
Denial is disbelief and rejection. If I deny your existence, then, for me, you are not there. If I deny the existence of God I am an atheist and, for me, God does not exist. If I am sceptical about God I am an agnostic, not sure either way.
Skepticism is neither belief nor disbelief. It is indecision. Usually scepticism also includes a curiosity to gather the information, knowledge and understanding required to form a belief. The facts about climate, especially those from the long-timeframe science (geology, geomorphology, palaeontology, evolutionary biology), make climate change denial difficult. The scientific evidence is that the earth is a dynamic molten ball with a thin crispy skin that has wobbled for billions of years around a pulsating sun.
The staggeringly long time that this has been going on is enough to convince most of us that change must have happened.
So the climate change conundrum is not that climate changes, it's about why it changes, and there are many causes climate change
More sensible is to be sceptical and seek unequivocal evidence.
Being a global warming skeptic should be a safe. At least skeptics can't get it wrong.
If anthropogenic climate change turns out to be true, then the inquiring mind of the skeptic would have helped to secure the evidence that gave is the proof.
If anthropogenic climate change turns out to be false and climate changed due to some other mechanism, then, again, skepticism wins because evidence was needed to confirm this alternative mechanism. Perhaps we should all remain skeptical.
This would be a mistake.
And this is why global warming skeptics are chastised. The evidence is in say the believers that now include many politicians. It is time to make things happen, not to debate the cause. So, unfortunately, it is not a good time to be a skeptic.
Much easier to be in the moral majority.