« We can't predict how the climate will evolve »
Can global warming be in doubt ? Heavily criticized for his column in Le Monde, Serge Galam maintains his right to be skeptical.
The mere act of asking the question exposes the questioners to a worrying social stigmatization. The Theory of Disorder theoretician and physicist Serge Galam is no ’conspiracy theorist’. He has been working for twenty years on shifts in public opinion and, since 2007, has observed the growing momentum of melodramatic catastrophic scenarios in relation to the climate, with the assertion that man is guilty of a programmed apocalypse (coming soon).
He was disturbed by the presentation of the facts : first the unanimity, constantly emphasized, of the 2,500 scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), followed by the focus on man’s guilt, supported by scientific ’fact’.
Yet when Serge Galam took a greater interest in climatology and its evidence, he noticed that it was not (yet) a science capable of exact prediction and that the aforementioned evidence was made up merely of results of models simulated on big computers.
He then wrote a column in Le Monde, in which he explained in detail, taking all the necessary precautions, that today there is no scientific certainty of man’s culpability in the global warning of these last years :
« There is only the absolute certainty of thousands of scientists. And just because the debate is over among institutional climatologists does not mean that the question is out-dated. It still has not been resolved scientifically, even if it has been ’politically’, in principle at least ».
A moral offensive
It came as a considerable surprise to him to be faced with so many fierce reactions from all quarters (colleagues, friends, strangers...) :
« They went in for the kill. Disciplinary measures against me were called for, I was vehemently criticized for my ethics. »
Invited by a publishing house to develop the issue, he then wrote Les scientifiques ont perdu le Nord, Réflexions sur le réchauffement climatique (« Scientists have lost their way, Some Thoughts on Global Warming » Plon 2008). In this riveting opus, which analyses the ins and outs of the current unanimity without falling into the trap of conspiracy theory, the virtues of doubt are revived.
For it is not a case of the alarmists on one side and skeptics on the other : there is, in fact, only one voice, that which is announcing the end of the world, like the two books which landed on my desk this morning, La catastrophe climatique (Climatic Catastrophe by Robert and Maya Kandel, Hachette Littérature) and « Alerte. Changement climatique : la menace de guerre » (Warning. Climatic Changes : The Threat of War by Gwynne Dyer, Robert Laffont). As for the Copenhagan Climate Conference in December, its aim is to help us avoid the worst.
90% Certainty = 0% Evidence
NGOs, scientists, politicians are all predicting the same future with the same degree of certainty decided by the IPCC. Serge Galam is stalling for time :
« To say that Man is 90% certain to be the cause of climate change means the same as having 0% evidence . For there only is one planet, only one climate, the workings of which we are ignorant, and therefore probability makes no sense. And yet the decisions we will make concern us all ».
What did Serge Galam say that was so reprehensible ? That the climate is much too complex to be reduced to one single parameter, CO2 ; that climatology is a young science, not at all exact, and that « for it to become a hard science, it would have to be capable of making predictions which are refutable by experiments ». This might be the case in two or three hundred years.
« The Greenhouse effect is more complicated than is being said. Of course CO2 contributes to it, but we hardly ever talk about methane or steam which contribute even more to it. And most of all, we know nothing about the unexpected effects that other elements could have on the climate. »
A Good Cause, but False Arguments
Unmotivated by any political persuasion, he favors the fight against pollution, waste, and inequality. However, science is not morality and the confusion between the two can create serious problems :
« When, in the name of a good cause, one uses false arguments, it ends up in catastrophe. It is just like colonialism where resources were pillaged under the pretext of saving souls ».
This obligation to rethink our Capitalist model of development in the face of the threat of global warming reinforces Serge Galam in his skepticism : and what if the West was organizing its own downfall by creating an enemy, ourselves ? Huge sacrifices will be asked of us, and there is something « reassuring » in that, he thinks, because the opposite idea, that global warming has natural causes, « is much more alarming, because there is no guarantee that we will be able to cope with it. »
« Behind this consensus, there is the myth of an ideal nature, where the earth, once rid of man, would have a climate that would no longer fluctuate. This is untrue.
And those who want to end Capitalism to save the planet will have prepared our minds for a salutary war in the name of a superior right of interference to save the planet and, by the same token ... the re-establishment of Western supremacy over all humans.
There is nothing new under the sun. »
Translation by Fiona McCann
- Sur dailymotion.comThe video interview of Serge Galam
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