The perception of competing polarized scientific camps within climatology is a politically constructed illusion.
I argued as such in response to a question I saw on Quora:
What are the logical premises shared by both sides of the AGW debate?
The questioner, Martin Stoehr, proposes for starters that:
* The average land surface temperature has increased over the last 200 years
* A CO2 molecule does not absorb EM energy at visible wavelengths and does absorb EM energy at infrared and near-IR wavelengths (1437nm, 1955nm, 2013nm, 2060nm, 4257nm asym-stretch, 7205nm sym-stretch, 14993nm bending: Page on wesleyan.edu)
Well, you'd think.
I respond as follows:
The question holds a premise that there are two coherent scientific positions. But there aren't.
Within science, there is no polarization, although there is a spectrum of opinion on a lot of open questions.
The illusion that there are two competing camps is promoted by political interests. If you look at the actual scientific perspective of the few people who are constantly invoked by the naysayer camp, you will find no coherence or commonality among their opinions. Many of them are frank crackpots, and all of them are, by definition, scientific eccentrics.
Therefore there is almost nothing or maybe nothing at all that they would agree to among themselves. They really don't have an alternative theory they are advancing.
It should be considered settled that
* humans affect the climate in many ways
* greenhouse gases are among those ways
* CO2 accumulates so the greenhouse perturbation grows every year
* CO2 accumulation causes energy to accumulate in the climate system on short and long time scales, which causes warming, some of which is delayed
* warming is observed, most of which is a direct result of human impacts
* a great deal more warming is to be expected.
That some warming has occurred is obvious - sea level is rising and this provides a crude global thermometer just by itself. You don't need a whole lot of observations and subtle data manipulations to observe this.
Also it is demonstrated that the rate of CO2 accumulation overwhelms the ocean's buffering, creating ocean acidification.
We can debate ethically, economically, and politically what to do about all these things. We can debate scientifically about the numbers and scales. But those facts should be considered established.
People questioning these points are very rarely real scientists in the physical climatology domain . Such exceptions as there are don't agree with each other, so they collectively concede nothing.
By pinpointing the “zero room” comment, Andy got right to the heart of the problem, and even cued a more specific elaboration from Greg of “zero room for debate.”
There’s your problem. In just two words you’ve captured much of the core of the failed climate movement of the past decade. And it is failed, given that there was once climate legislation in the works and bipartisan support for action, but today there’s nothing.
In 2006 Gore’s movie gave rise to the misguided “there is no debate” communication strategy. It took Climategate and Jon Stewart ridiculing the climate science community to show that actually there very much is a debate if you use the broader public’s definition of the word “debate” (that half the public does not support climate action) rather than the academic community definition (all the data point one way).
“Zero room” captures the self-defeating arrogance and tone deafness that has characterized the American environmental community for decades. Thank you, Greg, for distilling it down to just two words.