Wei-Hock Soon’s “crime” is being a scientist who sincerely believes that the global warming of the 1900s was caused by a rise in solar output, whereas most scientists believe that you and I are to blame because we use fossil fuels.
What is particularly appalling about his crime is that he has actually substantiated his views in scientific journals and argued for them in public. His accusers have clothed their accusations in terms of funding sources, but have no doubt: his real crime is his ongoing scientific work within a theory of global warming that blames the sun, not us, for global warming.
Since when, you may ask, is it a crime for a scientist to hold a theory that disagrees with that of his fellow scientists? Well, ever since the scientists who believe the theory that you and I caused the world to warm have convinced huge numbers of us that we are, in fact, guilty. We have accepted our guilt on faith ‚Äì faith in science.
We don’t have the expertise to do the math ourselves, but we believe in science, and whole bunches of scientists have solemnly told us that the proof of our guilt is simple: burning fossil fuels emits CO2, a greenhouse gas, making the world heat up like a greenhouse sitting in the sun. Since we the voters have accepted our guilt, our democratically elected governments have too ‚Äì and when governments see guilt, they see crime.
Greenhouse Warming (GW) is an apocalyptic theory: GW scientists prophesy that the whole world will be devastated if we don’t stop burning fossil fuels immediately (if not sooner, since some say it’s too late and the world is already doomed). With the world’s fate on the line, people in government are understandably trying their damnedest to save us ‚Äì by such things as keeping our scientists all in a row.
Politicians can’t expect the people, you and I, to swear off our “addiction to fossil fuels,” unless they can keep our scientists on message. This is easy to do, since politicians control government funding of science. As scientists know, GW has become a magic password when it comes to funding. Can’t get funding for your scientific study of the arcane chemistry that makes leaves turn red and yellow in autumn? No problem: just title your study “How Leaf Color-Change Is Affected by Greenhouse Warming” and you’re writing cheques. To double your money, tap environmentalist organizations.
Such publicly funded science gave us GW theory, and GW theory has in turn opened the vaults of public science funding, in a self-reinforcing feedback loop. Politicians and environmentalists love saving the world, and the scientists they fund have found just the thing for them to save it from: GW. A postmodern takeover of the political agenda was achieved without a single shot being fired back in the gloriously warm and heady days of the late 1990s. It is the leaders of this revolution who have placed Wei-Hock Soon under investigation.
Why? Since the revolution, things have changed. Global temperatures have stopped climbing, and the dread we the people once felt for GW has begun to fade. Poll after poll has shown GW has fallen from the top of our list of priorities to the middle or even the bottom. The last thing GW scientists and politicians need now is a viable alternative on offer to the public ‚Äì and that’s just what Dr. Soon is offering. So he must be discredited, marginalized, criminalized ‚Äì in a word, silenced. How to do this? Tar him with his source of funding: some of his meagre support over the last decade has come from people in the (gasp!) fuel business ‚Äì whereas massive GW funding has come from our hard-earned taxes and holier-than-thou environmentalist NGOs.
Enough of this farce! The real crime is the purging of scientists to maintain GW orthodoxy. Soon is not a criminal but a victim, and he’s not the only victim. A number of other scientists are also under investigation, some of whom, like Roger Pielke, have only challenged minor tenets of GW orthodoxy, such as that it causes more hurricanes.
We need science to be rational and objective, so that we the people can be well-informed. This in turn requires the independence of scientists from legal or political interference. Once we use our democratic power to tell scientists what to think, we turn things upside down. How can we trust scientists if we police what they believe or say? We need to let scientists fight it out among themselves without political interference. Otherwise we run the risk of fooling ourselves ‚Äì and not for the first time. We must not forget that saving the world, whether from Satan, capitalism, communism, or whatever, has made people do things we now see were unjust and cruel.
We ordinary taxpayers and voters need to up our game. We need to grow up and out of the greenhouse. The greenhouse is only a metaphor created by scientists for us because we don’t understand the science of global temperatures.
Actual greenhouses warm up because they trap warm air inside. Hot air normally rises, but greenhouses are designed precisely to stop that from happening, and so they get warmer. But carbon dioxide doesn’t make a roof above the whole surface of the planet that stops warm air from rising. That’s just plain obvious. So, the CO2 greenhouse is just a warm and fuzzy image used to sell us the theory. The actual science of global temperatures is far more complex ‚Äì and that’s something we must realize, because it means we have accepted GW on faith.
Whether we accept GW, reject it, or just don’t know, we all have an enormous stake in keeping our societies sane. Galileo, a scientist, was silenced by the charge of heresy in darker days when heretics were burnt at the stake. Let’s not go there again. Let’s stop the persecution of Wei-Hock Soon and his fellow scientists. This persecution is the real crime. If we really want the truth about global temperatures to triumph, we need to free true scientific method from political interference.
Dr. Jeffrey Foss is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Victoria and the author of Beyond Environmentalism: A Philosophy of Nature.