As lengthy as his list is, it is not complete. Still, this too will pass away. Paul Ehrlich has been consistently wrong about population consequences for more than fifty years. There are still totalitarian exterminationists who subscribe to his beliefs but for all that, his arguments no longer hold sway.
Ridley does point out one consequence to this decades long climate change folderol, the democratization of science. When so many of the "scientists" are self-interested advocates, scientists from peripheral fields have come to the rescue as well as non-scientists with sharp minds and polymath interests.
There is, however, one good thing that has happened to science as a result of the climate debate: the democratisation of science by sceptic bloggers. It is no accident that sceptic sites keep winning the “Bloggies” awards. There is nothing quite like them for massive traffic, rich debate and genuinely open peer review. Following Steven McIntyre on tree rings, Anthony Watts or Paul Homewood on temperature records, Judith Curry on uncertainty, Willis Eschenbach on clouds or ice cores, or Andrew Montford on media coverage has been one of the delights of recent years for those interested in science. Papers that had passed formal peer review and been published in journals have nonetheless been torn apart in minutes on the blogs. There was the time Steven McIntyre found that an Antarctic temperature trend arose “entirely from the impact of splicing the two data sets together”. Or when Willis Eschenbach showed a published chart had “cut the modern end of the ice core carbon dioxide record short, right at the time when carbon dioxide started to rise again” about 8000 years ago, thus omitting the startling but inconvenient fact that carbon dioxide levels rose while temperatures fell over the following millennia.Ironically, this is somewhat akin to the early days of science in the 17th-19th centuries when amateur scientists, explorers and travellers were responsible for a goodly portion of the acquisition of knew scientific knowledge. The specialization and professionalization of science may end up being a relatively brief interlude, with science change being the catalyst for the movement of the informed public back in to science fields on almost equal footing with the professionals.
Scientists don’t like this lèse majesté, of course. But it’s the citizen science that the internet has long promised. This is what eavesdropping on science should be like—following the twists and turns of each story, the ripostes and counter-ripostes, making up your own mind based on the evidence. And that is precisely what the non-sceptical side just does not get. Its bloggers are almost universally wearily condescending. They are behaving like sixteenth-century priests who do not think the Bible should be translated into English.
In forecasting, groups of informed people usually perform much better than groups of experts. The experts overweight information with which they are familiar (overweighting by discounting uncertainties) and underweighting contextual information. Groups of informed people do a much better job of weighting all factors appropriately and therefore come up with better (more accurate) forecasts. The climate change contretemp may end demonstrating this phenomenon once again. Hopefully to the detriment of the specific advocates such as Michael Mann rather than to the detriment of the reputation of science as a whole. It is this latter possibility which has Ridley concerned.
Viva science and let's hope that this actually is a catalyst to a wider engagement with science rather than a public withdrawal from it (as yet one more institution not to be trusted).