Climate models a re complex and unreliable and are ultimately trying to model a system that is beyond human comprehension. We ought not to trust their results, which means that we should go ahead and proceed with business as usual.
This is another utterly irrational and irresponsible argument that global warming deniers often made.
Hearing or reading this argument in the statements made by a global warming denier is like hearing somebody say, "I do not know if the price is more than or less than $100; therefore, it must be less than $100." Or, "I do not know if John is taller or shorter than Jim so he must be shorter."
The only sane and sensible conclusion to draw from 'I don't know . . . " is "I don't know."
In this case, the foolishness of this reasoning is made morally objectionable by the fact that this careless is being used in discussing an issue where the lives and well-being of others are at stake. It's quite permissible to be this careless in one's thinking when an agent only harms himself or herself as a result. When they are debating policies that affect the lives and well-being of others, they have an obligation to say, "Okay, this is not the time for foolish games. To claim that ignorance of whether A is larger than or smaller than B implies that it is smaller than B is a type of foolishness that we don't need in this discussion."
It's moral irresponsibility is easily captured using the two paradigm examples of irresponsibility that I have been using throughout this series.
(1) The factors determining whether or not a drunk driver will or will not actually make it home from the party are too complex to figure it. It depends on traffic, on the route the driver will take, on facts about the other drivers on the road and a host of variables that we cannot even begin to figure in. Therefore, we should go ahead and let the drunk driver try to make his way home.
(2) We have no way of knowing whether the found gun that the guy has picked up in the park and pointed at the child is loaded or not. We have no way of knowing. Perhaps the gun is loaded, perhaps it is not. In our ignorance, it is perfectly within that agent's right to go ahead and treat the gun as if it is not loaded - to go ahead and aim it at somebody and pull the trigger.
In both of these cases, following The Unreliable Argument would lead to acts of reckless endangerment and, perhaps, negligent homicide.
Imagine logging into your computer and reading a story of a drunk driver who has killed family of four, or a college student who found a gun on the beach, pointed it at some random individual, and pulled the trigger. Hold that thought in your mind for a moment.
Now, imagine to a news commentator on a cable news network say that climate change models are unreliable and, therefore, they ought to be ignored. The drunk driver and the shootists are the paradigms of virtue compared to the commentator who uses The Unreliable Argument in discussing climate change. The drunk driver and the shootist simply does not care about the harm they do to one family or one person. The global warming denier who uses The Unreliable Argument is willing to put whole cities and whole populations at risk.
One of the facts that these irresponsible people fail to consider is that if these climate change models are unreliable, they are as likely to under-estimate the risk as they are to over-estimate the risk.
One of the areas in which these climate change models seem to have gone wrong is in estimating the melting of the polar ice. The ice cap is melting far more quickly than these models predicted. In the case of the melting of land-based ice, this suggests that sea level will rise far more quickly than expected.
In a display of recklessly selective use of data among global warming deniers, there are some who are quick to point out that the average global temperatures over the past 10 years has not risen. "Therefore, the climate models cannot be trusted. Therefore, we are free to continue business as usual." They love to grab onto and broadcast deviations that go in the direction that they like - that suggest less global warming rather than more.
And then, because they really have no interest either in truth or the potential destruction that might result from global warming - they completely ignore any evidence (such as the faster-than-predicted melting of the ice caps) that threaten more and sooner destruction than the models once predicted.
In this case, the argument that, "We don't know whether the climate models are accurate predictors of the rate at which the ice caps will melt; therefore, they will melt more slowly than the models predict" proved to be wrong. Furthermore, it is the type of error that will result in destruction that could have otherwise been prevented if only people had not embraced such a foolish argument.
When you see these types of patterns in somebody's postings or writings, you know that you have encountered somebody who is fixated on defending a conclusion (and is cherry-picking his evidence accordingly) and is indifferent to the potential to destruction. Another type of person - one interested in preventing destruction and, therefore, wants to know the truth of the matter, will not cherry-pick evidence in this way.
Once again, I would like to remind the reader that we are talking about people exhibiting callous indifference to the destruction of whole cities and the suffering of whole populations. Only a horrendously reckless person would allow a drunk person to drive home because he is ignorant as to what the precise results would be - or pick up a gun, aim it, and pull the trigger because he does not know whether or not it is loaded.
He is orders of magnitude more reckless if he peppers his anti-global-warming texts and speeches with the claim that, because climate change models are not perfectly reliable, that it is perfectly legitimate to engage in activities that may end up doing considerably more harm than those models predict.