As I point out over on my blog, the argument that the average citizen is not qualified to judge the science has some unusual qualities, whether it's true or not. Hasn't there been many cases in the past where the average citizen was deemed unqualified to form his own opinion?
Let's assume that GCC is real and deadly. Taking the word of scientific consensus, we change massive parts of our global economy to meet the threat and, sure enough, nothing bad happens.
Aside from the fact that, due to human nature, many will argue it was never going to happen anyway, what have we accomplished? Yes, we have saved millions of lives. We have avoided massive numbers of refugees and the destruction of coastal cities. But we have also, for the first time, let a new group of people decide by consensus what the policy should be for the rest of the population. Are we sure we want to do this?
It's a question I haven't seen addressed anywhere else. Sure — there has been a lot of hand-waving around the entire debate, but nobody has just asked point blank if scientists should make policy decisions based on information the average Joe couldn't understand
We've went through a time in our history where groups of clergy ran a great part of western civilization. While I know that it's popular to demonize them today, at the time they were the smartest people the world had to offer. They made decisions mostly on what they thought to be a higher cause. And significantly, there was consensus.
Things didn't work out too well for folks that disagreed in those days. They were called heretics, amoral. They were told to get with the program. They were not accepted by society. Dissent was not tolerated. What we found was that even though the church was created to take care of spiritual needs, once it got into politics it became just another political player, jockeying for power and playing hardball with the rest of the rulers.
So — what's the call? Is it better to suffer and have a free choice over your own destiny, or to be saved and safe, only to lose your choice to people who know more than you?"