Have You Stopped Beating Your Climate Science Yet?
posted at 3:25 pm on October 18, 2009 by Dafydd ab Hugh
I always love it when the “sophisticated” side of the aisle demands an immediate “yes or no” answer to a complex, multifaceted question; and when the Right can’t give it and won’t fake it, the Left brays that we’re dodging the question!
I stumbled across this crock of globaloney that occurred in the Virginia governor’s race, between Republican candidate Robert F. McDonnell and surrogates for Democratic candidate R. Creigh Deeds:
The issue had simmered since a debate Monday with Democratic rival R. Creigh Deeds, in which Mr. McDonnell never definitively answered a question about whether he thinks man-made climate change is a serious threat [wow, that’s specific! — DaH]. It flared Friday after former vice president and climate change watchdog Al Gore held a fundraiser for Mr. Deeds, and Virginia Republicans said it proved Mr. Deeds supports cap-and-trade legislation that they claim will increase energy costs and worsen unemployment. They dismissed the Nobel laureate as “the Goracle.”
Virginia Democrats fired back by calling Mr. McDonnell and the Republican ticket he heads “the most backward, anti-science” ever in Virginia.
“For the better part of a week, Bob McDonnell has had the opportunity to answer the straightforward question, ‘Do you believe in the science of global warming,’ and he still refuses. It’s not a hard question,” said Deeds strategist Mo Elleithee.
Oh isn’t it? Phrased the way they phrase it here — does McDonnell “believe in the science of global warming?” — it’s not hard, it’s impossible to answer Yes or No. Which science does Elleithee mean?
- The badly conducted or mendacious “science” that produced, e.g., the infamous “hockey stick” diagram?
- The pseudoscience of Al Gore’s boneheaded movie, which has the oceans rising by twenty or more feet in the next few decades?
- The science that tells us the Earth warmed for a long period but now may be entering a cooling phase, neither era being particularly affected by human activity?
- The science that suggests the real danger is not global warming but global cooling, even a new ice age? That would be far more catastrophic than warming… and if we really can affect the temperature, and we try to lower it when it’s already poised to plummet, we would be slitting our own throats out of sheer ignorance and hubris.
- Or — what about the science that correctly states that we just don’t know what the climate will do over the next twenty years, let alone the next century, nor to what extent the change will turn out to be anthropogenic?
On that last, who alive today could possibly prophecy what power humans will possess in a hundred years to fine-tune the Earth’s temperature and other elements of climate? Maybe we’ll be able to dial in any climate conditions we want… or maybe we’ll be as helpless as we are today.
At the very least, I hope we’ll have general circulation climate models that actually work — replacing the current models, on which all global-warming hysteria rests, that fail miserably even to predict past climate changes we already know about.
The question hurled by the Deeds campaign is, quite frankly, one of the stupidest I’ve ever seen — scientifically. Politically, it may be very astute, as I don’t like McDonnell’s answer. Here’s a compilation of McDonnell’s greatest climate hits:
“I think it’s a real concern, and we need to find ways to be able to reduce [carbon dioxide] emissions,” Mr. McDonnell said in advocating development of technology to eliminate pollutants from coal-fired energy plants….”
“Well, there’s some debate that various scientists are going on in that,” he said. “I think the temperature of the earth, from the science I’ve seen, is going up….”
“Look, it’s not going to affect my policy decisions. What the policy decision needs to be is to find ways that are creative to be able to reduce CO2.”
“I am going to accept the science that’s out there, and the science is that we need to do everything that we can to reduce CO2 emissions in the atmosphere, and that will help,” he said.
This projects weakness, vacillation, and evasion.
Here is what I would have advised him to say when the inevitable bubbled up in debate. This isn’t a real quote, more’s the pity; this is what I wish McDonnell had said, which would have been much more forceful and senatorial than what he actually mumbled:
DEEDS: Do you believe in the science of global warming, Mr. McDonnell?
MCDONNELL: Science is not something you believe in, like I believe in God. Science is a process. If it’s done right, we usually get good answers. If it’s done wrong, we get nonsense answers — garbage in, garbage out.
DEEDS: Stop dancing around the bush! Do you accept the consensus of nearly all scientists that the Earth is warming due to human carbon pollution, and we’ll have a worldwide catastrophe if we don’t immediately cut energy use by 90%?
MCDONNELL: How many things are wrong in that one sentence? First, science isn’t decided by voice vote; a scientific “consensus” would require every reputable scientist in the field to agree with what you just said — and they don’t. There are thousands of highly respected, well-credentialed climate scientists who dispute both the warming — there hasn’t been any global warming in eleven years, since 1998 — and they also dispute that human activity caused the warming in the two centuries before 1998. Some even say we’re headed for a period of serious global cooling; maybe we need more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, not less!
I don’t know which group of scientists is correct. And you know what? Neither do you, and neither does Guru Gore. None of us is qualified to answer that question, because none of us is a climatologist or an atmospheric scientist. And the folks who are qualified to answer are fighting a scientific civil war among themselves.
I passionately believe in the scientific process — all of it, not just when it fits Al Gore’s agenda. And the science is very much in flux right now. Many scientists believe we’re somewhat responsible for global warming — though none believes that as a religion, as your mentor, Al Gore, does. But many scientists believe we’re not responsible and there’s nothing we can do to stop it.
We can, however, cripple our own economy trying to hold back the tides. And I will flatly tell you right now that I am not willing to crash the entire American economy in a futile and arrogant attempt to play God with our atmosphere. I’m focused on creating new jobs, not taxing energy production out of existence. I’m very happy to vote for greatly increased funding in basic climate research, but only if it’s equally available to scientists on all sides of this controversial issue… not if it’s restricted only to those who support the politically correct, convenient conclusion of the anti-energy, anti-business Left.
Dang, how I wish a candidate would respond forcefully and unapologetically on this issue! There is a great, great argument for doing exactly nothing… nothing but pure research for another twenty, thirty years until we have a tremendously better understanding of the basic science than we have now. Who knows? Maybe by 2030 or 2040 there will actually be a real scientific “consensus.”
Cross-posted to Big Lizards…
Recently in the Green Room: