May 5, 2017


Climate-Change Activists Are the Real Science Deniers (Oren Cass,  May 1, 2017, National Review)

This shift in focus from the basic science of climate change to its public-policy implications has been a disaster for climate activists, exposing the flabbiness at the core of their position. Softened by years of punching down at their opponents' worst arguments, they became addicted to asserting that "science says so," and they are now lost when it doesn't.

When Sanders, back in the Senate, questioned Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt during the latter's confirmation hearing to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, it was the interrogator who couldn't keep his facts straight. Pruitt asserted that "the climate is changing, and human activity contributes to that in some manner," explaining that he had inserted the caveat ("in some manner") because "the ability to measure, with precision, the degree of human activity's impact on the climate is subject to more debate." Pressed by Sanders, he stated again: "The climate is changing, and human activity impacts that."

Pruitt wanted to discuss "the job of the [EPA] administrator," which he noted was "to carry out the statutes passed by [Congress]." He also agreed that the "EPA has a very important role at regulating the emission of CO2." But Sanders was determined to show that Pruitt rejected the scientific consensus, even if this meant falsifying the contents of that consensus.

Sanders claimed that "97 percent of the scientists who wrote articles in peer-reviewed journals believe that human activity is the fundamental reason we are seeing climate change." That is wrong. A survey-of-surveys published last year in Environmental Research Letters reported that prior surveys had found 78 percent of scientists agreeing that "the cause of global warming over the past 150 years was mostly human," 82 percent agreeing that "human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures," and 85 percent agreeing that "anthropogenic greenhouse gases are the dominant driver of recent global warming." Of course, even among those expressing agreement about the "significant" or "dominant" human role, debate would presumably have emerged about whether natural factors accounted for 0, 10, 25, or 50 percent. [...]

[I]n fact, scientists and economists hold widely varying views on the costs that climate change has caused and will cause. Surveys of scientists rarely address social consequences or policy implications. When President Obama tweeted that "Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous," even Salon had to acknowledge he was wrong to say "dangerous." Only half of the economists surveyed by NYU's Institute for Policy Integrity in 2015 believed "immediate and drastic action is necessary" on climate change; only 56 percent said that "if nothing is done to limit climate change in the future" it would be a "very serious" problem for the United States; only 41 percent believed "climate change is already having a negative effect on the global economy." [...]

At least one might assume that reasonable minds could be allowed to differ on the ultimate question of how well society is likely to cope with the effects of climate change -- a political, social, and economic question several degrees removed from anything resembling a scientific consensus. Not so. I addressed these issues in a recent Foreign Affairs essay, in which I called the IPCC "the gold-standard summary," cited it repeatedly, and adopted its estimate that temperatures could rise by 3 to 4°C this century. My essay further embraced the Obama administration's "Social Cost of Carbon" analysis and adopted its high-case model for economic cost. But the essay argued that the likely impact of all this was "manageable" rather than "catastrophic." Mann decried it as "#Koch climate denial propaganda." Eric Holthaus, meteorologist and host of the podcast Our Warm Regards, called it "a master class in modern climate denial."

The most important thing is that the Left's warming hysteria gives conservatives an easy opportunity to enact good economic policy, taxing consumption, forcing innovation and defunding undemocratic petro-states.

Posted by at May 5, 2017 6:14 AM