Bruce Webster reminisces about why the hysteria about Y2K closely resembles the hysteria surrounding Anthropogenic Global Warming – and why he is a confirmed skeptic on the whole subject. He's been there and done that.
My first clue that there were serious problems with anthropogenic global warming was, frankly, the vitrol towards and demonization of those who questioned it. In my experience, that is almost always a sign — especially in scientific circles — that the proponents of a given theory are insecure. I first saw this when Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick challenged both the data sets and the algorithms used by Mann et al. in producing the famous Hockey Stick. While I’m not a climatologist, I do know a lot about data sets, algorithms, and modeling — and what I was hearing was very disturbing. And the reaction to McIntyre and McKitrick was not to welcome open investigation and criticism but to circle the wagons and to start calling anyone who challenges global warming a lacky of the oil companies (curious, since the oil companies themselves seem to be drinking the AGW kool-aid).
It is a fairly long piece, but I rather suspect that many Crabitat readers will be very interested in it. What Bruce describes is essentially a cascade effect – where a consensus builds around a false set of data. While Y2K was a real threat, many jumped onto the bandwagon and generated additional, bogus threats that became media fodder. That snowballed the entire thing into a juggernaut that simply did not happen as predicted. There is a lesson here.