The misleading arguments of those who use “science” to push political agenda become embarrassingly obvious with pronouncements they make and articles they write.
You may fool all of the people some of the time; you may even fool some of the people all the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all the time.
Abraham Lincoln and/or P.T. Barnum
Of three Sunday StarNews “PERSPECTIVES” articles, two pushing for public policy based on predictions of sea-level rising on the Carolina coast wrapped their arguments in “science.” Also, they were the longest and most prominently displayed on the page. A third article with opposing views appeared almost as a sidebar to the others (showing which side editorial editors favor).
S. Jeffress Williams, a retired U. S. Geological Survey employee and faculty member at the University of Hawaii, writes he’s “troubled” with “denial of scientific understanding about climate change impacts” by the North Carolina group NC-20 (link) representing people in 20 coastal counties. (link) Science advisor to NC-20 John Droz Jr. denies being a denier of “genuine scientific assessments.” (link)
Mr. Williams believes that human activities generating CO2 cause the Earth to warm and agrees with a prediction that North Carolina sea-levels will rise 39 inches by the year 2100. All this, he writes, is “settled scientific facts” and “well-documented” with “overwhelming scientific evidence.”
However, this prophecy is based on incomplete mathematical models; some proven to be created by activist scientists with political agenda. (link)
Further, there is no “settled science” on the theory of global warming. (link) In international surveys of hundreds of climate scientists “…half the scientific community doesn’t believe the science of global warming is sufficiently established to ‘turn the issue…over to social scientists for matters of policy discussion.’” (link)
The thinking of Stanley R. Riggs troubles me more than that of Williams. Prof. Riggs is a researcher at East Carolina University and clearly not a disinterested observer in this debate—he’s a member of the Coastal Resources Commission science panel. I sense an undercurrent of anger and resentment prompted by an attitude of: How dare they question our authority? (link)
Riggs lists “evidence of a rapidly changing coastal system”; many (shoreline receding, houses walled with sandbags, beaches that need renourishment) the result of storms shifting sand along the coast. Historically, large tropical storms cause billions of dollars of damage and a “changing coastal system” from heavy rain and temporarily high wind-driven seas.
Still, Mr. Droz does not dispute “that there will be sea-level rise.” He questions that anyone can know how much. NC-20 staff reviewed the CRC report and compiled criticisms from a panel of “40 independent experts,” expecting a “professional scientific dialogue.” This critique was essentially ignored by CRC panel members, according to Mr. Droz. (link)
True scientists aren’t threatened by findings that conflict with or add information to their theories. They welcome debate with peers and other credible sources—seeking knowledge rather than “consensus.”
Ignoring a body of conflicting evidence or ideas is unprofessional in established fields of science. This leads to suspicions that something other than objectivity is going on, and public distrust. Why do they use specious reasoning? What personal and political benefits do they expect?
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