Underwhelmed

As often happens to me at this point in the week, I’m up late again, working. I’ve been thinking about all sorts of postworthy topics in the past few days, but I just can’t find the time right now to write about them, so they’ll have to wait.

So for tonight, all I have to offer is a brief article from Forbes about that “overwhelming judgment of science” thingy the President mentioned on Tuesday evening.

2 Comments

  1. Dom says

    Hmmm. Worth reading the study itself, and not just what Forbes says about it. It’s not really a survey at all, although a survey was used. And it’s a survey of scientists in the petroleum field.

    Posted February 15, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    Right. The report begins with an interesting, if a mite turgid, discussion of how communities of experts jostle for authoritative legitimacy.

    Clearly there are vested interests all round; folks like Al Gore and Rajendra Pachaury, as well as green-energy entrepreneurs and academics who live on climate-change grants, all have a compelling interest in whipping up public concern about warming, as well as convincing everyone that human activity is both cause and potential cure (this angle appeals also to those who seek increased central sovereignty over both the global economy and the activities of powerful nations.)

    The opposite is of course true of those who benefit from the free use of carbon-based fuels (which is an awful lot of people). There are also many of us who have an inveterate wariness of centralization of power generally, and who know that manufactured crises are a marvelously effective way to justify expansions of sovereign power.

    There are enormous personal, corporate, social, and political interests at stake in this issue, on both sides, and I’m cynical enough to believe that the “truth”, whatever it may be, is not only unclear, but is also rather a minor factor here.

    As I’ve said many times, the questions are:

    1) Is the Earth actually warming?

    2) If so, how much of it is due to natural causes, and how much manmade?

    3) If the Earth really IS warming, what are the chances that we could actually reverse the change, if we wanted to badly enough?

    4) What would be the costs and unwelcome consequences – economic, political, and ecological – of such an intervention? Obviously they are not small.

    5) What are the effects, both good and bad, of a warmer Earth?

    6) Weighing in the balance all of the above, what do we want to do?

    Given the difficulty of the first five questions, it’s not surprising that the answer to the sixth is going to depend a great deal on one’s own interests and preferences. It’s also not surprising, given how compelling these personal interests and preferences can be, that people will work hard to frame the issues in whatever terms gets them the desired result, and will even go so far as to do so in strongly moral terms. It’s no accident that the Left likes to refer to those who disagree with their climate-policy prescriptions as “deniers” — the preferred term for those who dispute the historical reality of history’s ultimate eruption of evil, the Holocaust. It’s also a term used often, in translations of the Koran, for unbelievers. Dissent becomes sin.

    Posted February 15, 2013 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

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