Climate talks have been going on in Copenhagen for a week now, and it appears to be a two-sided debate between alarmists and skeptics. But there are actually four different views of global warming.
The writer proceeds to offer a “taxonomy of the four,” labeling them the “Denialists,” “Skeptics,” “Warners,” and “Calamatists.” He then summarizes …
The calamatists and denialists are primarily political figures, with firm ideological loyalties, whereas the warners and skeptics are primarily scientists, guided by ever-changing evidence.
This seems a healthy way to look at this particular issue, if not every issue, since there are frequently more than two sides to a debate. In fact, I’d go a step further than the author of the noted op-ed and suggest there are at least 14 “sides” in the global-warming debate.
Nestled between the four primary camps the op-ed writer outlines, I’ll anticipate three additional “mini-camps,” namely: skeptics who lean toward denial; warners who are bridled by skepticism; and calamatists who temper their predictions of doom. In turn, these seven total camps/mini-camps could probably be subdivided twice each into those who have some expertise and those who don’t, giving us expert and non-expert deniers, calamatists, and so on.
Of course, you might respond that the expert/non-expert divisions are meaningless, since the fundamental positions of the experts and non-experts within a given camp are the same. Perhaps, although I think the sophistication of the knowledge underlying our convictions can materially shape the way we argue our convictions. For instance: The non-expert calamatist might support actions against polluters that are even more punitive than the expert calamatist supports, because the expert calamatist might have the requisite knowledge to understand that certain less-punitive actions could produce the same result.
Either way, you can put me in the camp of the non-expert warners who are bridled by doses of skepticism — not so much skepticism of the fundamental science, but skepticism that theoretical models can reliably anticipate every variable and predict with precision every outcome. I’m also skeptical, as noted before, about the focus of the current debate, i.e., should we spend as much time as we are debating ways to prevent warming trends that we may or may not be able to stop — or should we balance this debate with more discussion of ways to deal with the consequences of warming trends, regardless of the causal factors?