Science is a cost. It is also a career, but careers are costs and costs have to be justified. Therein lie the subtle political levers which may yet bring science and even objectivity itself under political control. A welcome development for the establishment which has never taken kindly to the idea that anyone is allowed to discover anything whatever their social status.
If political policies were evidence-driven, then political behaviour would be essentially scientific. Some scientists may think it is part of their job to point this out, but it isn’t going to happen. Doesn’t leave enough elbow room, enough flexibility for the right sort of people to have their say. Something has to give and the runes suggest it won’t be political behaviour. Science has that oh so fatal weakness – science is a cost.
Powerful people have always used evidence to promote their own interests but not if it isn’t convenient. They never have. If necessary they prefer to invent their evidence or dust off an old standby. Science as the prime exemplar of objective analysis has to be contained.
A powerful clue is provided by the catastrophe climate narrative. Science goes on behind the official narrative, but the catastrophe narrative is what matters not the science. This narrative is mostly what we see, what we are intended to see, the product paid for and delivered. It is no more scientific than a toothpaste ad. Probably less so.
Catastrophe climatology is merely one of the costs of promoting global policies aimed at levelling the energy playing field between rich and poor nations. These policies are obviously considered to be more important than scientific integrity so their promoters do not intend to allow it to dictate the narrative.
This appear to be the key motive driving it all, a genuine belief that fossil fuels must be left in the ground if the developing world is ever to achieve equality with the developed world. Energy inequality is seen as a globally significant political risk. Global warming probably isn’t. The BBC may think otherwise but the BBC mostly caters for dimwits. We know that but don’t always follow it through.
Yet science is a niggling political problem anyway. It tends to undermine unscientific narratives and for that reason it often gets in the way of political projects or points the finger at political failures. Not only that, but when everyone from monarchs to popes, from presidents to chief executives are seen as merely human and subject to the same natural laws as the entire universe then the mystique of authority is called into question. In which case, perhaps we should expect a response from the emerging global establishment. Action and reaction.
So maybe we should expect to see significant global resources directed at bringing many sciences under global political control. Global policy cannot be evidence-driven as a matter of policy, it would give far too much power to useful but socially inferior groups such as engineers and scientists.
The establishment has struggled with this issue since at least Darwin’s time, but as a global establishment finds its feet and fills its pockets it also seems to be aware of the need to make enduring cultural changes. The cultural role of science may well be over. Icarus has flown too high, the wax is melting.
The key political point about catastrophe climatology is that its sponsors have clearly decided that it cannot be allowed to fail. It doesn’t matter if we end up with global warming or not because more important global policies are at stake. Clean energy technologies and a level playing field for the developed and developing world. The climatologists can be as mad as a box of frogs so long as they stay on-message. Many are.
Stupid perhaps, but only from the old scientific standpoint. In a world where catastrophe climatology counts as a science, it is not so stupid.
It is not a question of money but of power, who gets to determine policy and on what basis. Old style science doesn’t do deals, scratch backs or take bribes. It gets in the way. As for the future, we should expect old style science and even objectivity to be driven out of anything in which governments might take an interest.
Ultimately that’s everything.
Ultimately that’s everything.