The field of global warming has become a happy hunting ground for holier-than-thou poseurs and ideologues on both sides. This is evident from the tone of the debate. The two sides have congealed into ideological in-groups that demonize the opposition and reveal all the inaccessibility to logical argument typical of such groups. For the “antis” their opponents are “environmental wackos.” For the “pros,” their opponents are “deniers.” That’s unfortunate, because it’s probable that global warming is real, that it is dangerous, and that it would behoove us to take effective action to stop it. Some of the arguments on both sides may be found here and here.
There will certainly be “action,” in the form of political grandstanding, but effective action is another story. A big part of the problem is that the environmental scientists, the people who should be sounding the alarm, have lost their credibility. They have cried “wolf” too many times, as documented, for example, by Bjorn Lomborg in his “Skeptical Environmentalist.” When they responded to Lomborg’s book by collecting a gang of ideological shills posing as scientists into a kangaroo court that accused Lomborg of “scientific dishonesty,” they lost what credibility they had left. As a result, in terms of social influence, they are now limited to preaching to the choir, because no one else will listen to them.
The result has been the co-option of the debate by ideologues referred to above, accompanied by the usual stifling of intelligent debate. Anyone who disputes any aspect of the “absolute truth” of global warming automatically becomes a “denier,” or, in other words, the evil denizen of an out-group. “Winning” the argument has now become much more important than actually doing anything effective to solve the problem. This is demonstrated by the way in which, with a few noteworthy exceptions, the global warming zealots are studiously ignoring the option of nuclear power. A rapid transition to nuclear power production is the single most effective, and at the same time most environmentally benign action we could take to combat global warming. The fact that the ideologues are ignoring this part of the solution demonstrates that, in fact, for them the pose is everything, and the reality nothing. They really don’t mind a little global warming as long as it gives them one more chance to climb up on the moral high ground a strike heroic poses as the saviors of the planet.