Will: Can we please stop pretending climate scientists are saints in lab coats?
posted at 10:11 pm on May 6, 2014 by Erika Johnsen
In his increasingly meek efforts to not look like a lame duck (as well as to take every available opportunity to portray Republicans as apathetic-yet-spiteful haters of any agenda item he could possibly produce), President Obama is once again turning to that ever-reliable progressive tactic of climate-change alarm-mongering to gin up some noise. The administration released what we’re told is a “major,” “new,” “significant” report on the extravagant perils of living on a planet that doesn’t remain in climate stasis, and yet the report seems suspiciously full of plenty of everything we’ve already heard before (most recently, from the United Nation’s International Panel on Climate Change). For instance, this is MSNBC‘s take on the report’s findings:
Climate change has officially arrived, and it is wreaking havoc across the United States – draining water supplies, throwing off sea levels and affecting the health of millions of Americans, according to a significant new government report.
“Residents of some coastal cities see their streets flood more regularly during storms and high tides. Inland cities near large rivers also experience more flooding, especially in the Midwest and Northeast. Insurance rates are rising in some vulnerable locations, and insurance is no longer available in others. Hotter and drier weather and earlier snow melt mean that wildfires in the West start earlier in the spring, last longer into the fall and burn more acreage,” the U.S. National Climate Assessment report found.
Climate change effects every part of daily life, including major sectors of the economy – the growing season is getting longer, which could be considered a positive effect in the short term, according to the report. But, “our society and its infrastructure were designed for the climate that we have had, not the rapidly changing climate we now have and can expect in the future.”
The report, released Tuesday by the White House, seeks to quantify and illustrate the huge impact climate change has had and will have on the country, from the catastrophic and devastating – rising sea levels threaten millions of homes in coastal communities as hurricanes, wildfires, and other extreme patterns ravage communities – to the subtle but pervasive growth in allergies.
You get the idea, and if you merely accept that climate change has indeed been happening since the dawn of time, and that mindfulness and mitigation may be good ideas but central planning from a global bureaucracy isn’t — instead of faithfully accepting that an utterly earth-smashing disaster is absolutely imminent and that human beings are irrevocably, devastatingly hastening the planet’s natural processes — then you will be called a knuckle-dragging flat-earther/denier. Deal with it.
The best that can be said for the report is that it does endorse some adaptation strategies, and that the White House is still fine with fracking — at least grudgingly acknowledging that natural gas has been the best thing for carbon-emission mitigation in recent history (brought to you by the free market, and not by egregiously subsidized/costly/unreliable wind-and-solar schemes. Sorry.). But, never fear, progressives — I’m sure we can all look forward to the report being used for all kinds of sweet new regulations and executive orders of the next few years. Here are some thoughts from Krauthammer and George Will on that front:
KRAUTHAMMER: Any scientific theory that explains everything, explains nothing, and no matter what happens — in climate, if it’s unpleasant, the word for that is “weather” — is attributed to global warming. I mean, if we continue with global warming up here in the northeast, we’re going to freeze to death. But, the most important element is what McConnell was talking about: The negligible gain. Assume they are right about global warming. Assume that it is all caused by man. The United States has reduced carbon emissions since 2006 more than any other country on earth. We are right now at 1992 levels, according to the IEA, and yet, carbon emissions have gone up globally. Why? We don’t control the emissions of the other 96 percent of humanity, especially China and India. As we dismantle the coal plants in our country, China and India together are adding one coal-fired plant every week. …
WILL: There is however no evidence in the increase of extreme weather. I own a home on an island in South Carolina looking south in the direction of hurricanes, and after Katrina, I was really interested when they said, “This is a harbinger of increased hurricane activity,” which since then has plummeted. Now, Mr. Holden who introduced this report has his own record of very interesting failed forecasts, not to mention Al Gore who, in 2008, said that by 2013 — for those of you keeping score at home, that’s last year — the ice cap in the North Pole would be gone. It’s not. Now, there is, as Charles says, the policy question is how much wealth do we want to spend, directly or in lost production, in order to have no discernible, measurable effect on the climate. … There is a sociology of science. Scientists are not saints in white laboratory smocks. They’ve got interests like everybody else. If you want a tenured position in academia, don’t question the reigning orthodoxy on climate change. If you want money from the biggest source of direct research in this country, the federal government, don’t question its orthodoxy. If you want to get along with you peers, conform to peer pressure. This is what’s happening. … The New Yorker magazine, which is impeccably upset about climate change, recently spoke about the report from the IPCC as “the last word on climate change.” Now, try that phrase, “the last word on microbiology, quantum mechanics, physics, chemistry.” Since when does science come to the end?