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in their lives would tell them to disprove the consensus. Do any of us—
outside of hardcore disaster freaks—really have incentives to accept cli-
mate change? We enjoy our lives as they are, and typically we would like
to be more wealthy, consume more energy, travel greater distances more
often, and contribute to and benefit from steadily increasing economic
growth. Nearly everyone from the poorest to the most wealthy likes the
idea of an ever increasing abundance—an abundance, of course, that with
current technology also implies an increasing emission of greenhouse
gases. Who, exactly, wants to bother with rebooting the industrial capac-
ity at the basis of all this abundance? For most of us, climate change is
the last thing we want to see happen. Our lives would be much easier and
more casual, far more relaxed and enjoyable, if we didn't have to worry
about it at all. Nearly all the incentives are on the side of the contrarians .
Follow the money. If the entire global economic system is on one
side, and a handful of granting agencies is (hypothetically) on the other,
which one wins? In the face of such an immense tide of longing for more
wealth, the conspiracy of a handful of scientists for their own self-interest
would soon be swept away. But that's assuming scientists would ever wish
to participate in this scheme in the first place. Scientists are people too:
their assumptions, training, laboratories, and institutions are fully bound
up with the technologies of an advanced industrial society and thus with
the very economic systems that are also causing climate change. What
they are discovering, in short, is inconvenient to them as people, too. In
fact, it is especially inconvenient to them, for a change in our industrial
economies would affect their technical labor quite directly. It's ludicrous
to imagine that they are concocting the tale of climate change for per-
sonal benefit. On the contrary, they are laying out findings that the entire
international community would rather not accept. Instead of denouncing
them as conspirators, we should see them as reluctantly discovering and
investigating something that even they might prefer were not true.
Given the enormous incentives for all of us not to accept the science of
climate change, it would be much more plausible to ponder whether the
small group of dissenters is concocting their science for personal benefit.
Dissenters, after all, have the entire world potentially with them, espe-
cially business-oriented groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,
which continually pressures the U.S. Congress to take as mild a course
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