Randi argues that throughout the ages, throughout the many shifts in climate change, the biosphere has survived. This is a confusing point because no scientist argues otherwise. If AGW is occurring and we do nothing to stop it - even if we accelerate the effect - the biosphere will still survive. Whether man will or not is another question. Certainly, whole civilizations will change dramatically.
In my amateur opinion, more attention to disease control, better hygienic conditions for food production and clean water supplies, as well as controlling the filth that we breathe from fossil fuel use, are problems that should distract us from fretting about baking in Global Warming.In other words, he is saying we have other things we should be worried about before getting to Global Warming. Of course, we are worried about those things. The spectre of Global Warming does not diminish our more immediate concerns. However, what's the point of stamping out a few small fires in your room as the house continues to burn?
I was disheartened to know Randi's stance on this issue, but I understand that it is a divisive one even among skeptics. Or perhaps, especially among skeptics. Skeptics have a particular drive to ignore ideology and focus on facts and data. That this particular community can be so divided illustrates how difficult the issues are surrounding Global Warming. For one, GW is not immediate. It occurs over hundreds of years. Also, high quality data does not exist. The past history of climate change has to be obtained via proxies - e.g. tree ring growth, ice core samples, effects on corals, etc. These are fraught with many variables and often times run counter to what the GW proponents theorize. Lastly, computer models do not still adequately address a variety of feedback mechanisms, not the least of which is low and high altitude cloud formation, which can have a significant effect on GW.
Yet with all these problems, the vast majority of scientists (aka the consensus) has discerned that GW is occurring and man is largely responsible. Does Randi think they are wrong? It certainly sounds like it. His opinion goes against the grain of science, yet he has shown in the past how scientists - especially scientists - are easily fooled by charlatans and tricksters who depend on deception and human fallibility. Nature, however, does not engage in premeditated tomfoolery. It does not actively seek to trick the scientist. It may hide its secrets very well and require the construction of a large hadron collider to tease them out, but it does not purposefully evade detection. So, I do not understand how Randi arrived at his conclusion. His post makes vague references and cannot stand alone as validation of his convictions. It merely states what he believes and alludes to 'common sense' as justification. As for myself, I don't buy it.
(first seen at Pharyngula)