In response to the Pascal’s wager argument made by Sean Norton in

“How Pascal’s Wager Helps Us Understand the Irrationality of Climate Change Denial” @sdnorton

Sean says

Science is either right or wrong about climate change

Then he attacks as climate change deniers those who don’t support his own vague call for action now to prevent the catastrophic future that he asserts science is possibly predicting.

Yet this is fundamentally misunderstanding what science is saying about climate and is definitely misunderstanding what opponents of the Climate Change Movement believe.

First, nearly every knowledge person agrees that climate is changing and has always been, at least for 4 billion years on this planet. We are not denying climate change and we are certainly not denying science. Actually our argument is based on the empirical scientific observation that climate has changed without humanity having much of a hand in it. Ten thousand years ago we were in an Ice Age and glaciers covered the sites where Boston and New York now stand. Sea level was much lower. You could walk from Siberia to Alaska. Then climate changed and got warmer. Glaciers melted and sea level rose, all before a single lump of coal was burned. Did humanity go extinct? No it adapted and promptly took a huge leap forward. Civilizations began in part as a response to climate change ten thousand years ago.

His main argument is based on the unscientific doctrine of climate stability. When he says “If we move to prevent climate change now,..” he is assuming the default state is that climate does not change. He assumes human activity is the major cause of climate change, that if we stop certain of our activities then the climate will stop changing. He also assumes the changes we have to make to stop climate are minor. Those are all statements that are scientifically unsupported or unscientific.

The right strategy may not be to stop climate change, but to adapt efficiently to whatever climate change does occur. Science says climate change will happen over the course of decades. This gives enough time to adapt with minimal disruption. We can build on higher ground, extend waterborne living (Venice), reclaim wetlands, modify crop strains, and so on. Over 50 -100 years we can complete the adjustment to new conditions. Why should we assert this is this possible? Because we have made incredible changes over the last century.

This is not a case of Pascals wager based on what Science is saying as much as an attempt to impute scientific support for courses of action that are inherently outside the realm of science. Science does not say the Paris climate accords are a necessary or even sensible course of action.

Mathematician, Statistician, Businessman, and Academic. Student of history, poli sci , and the Bible.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store