Wednesday, May 7, 2014

global warming (err, climate change) revisited...again

This is a very frustrating topic for me.

First, "it" could be true. Markets struggle to handle negative externalities like pollution, given the natural limits/absence and artificial creation of regimes without enforceable property rights.

But "it" requires a number of conditions:

a.) significant global warming exists (or its non-falsifiable-in-practice cousin, "climate change");
b.) it is anthropogenic in cause;
c.) it will result in significant net costs; and
d.) we can implement public policies that will be ethical and practical (I love the title of this link!) in response.

Second, "it" is generally being promulgated by people with a clear ideological bias in favor of the environment (vs. the economy and poor people) as an end-- and in favor of government solutions (vs. voluntary, market) as a means to those ends. They critique some evidences, ideologies, and faiths-- and then they ask us, with no apparent sense of irony (and awareness?), to embrace their particular mix of science, ideology, and faith. Of course, ideology cuts two ways on this issue. But it'd be helpful if those with the "pro" ideology would apologize for their gross errors in this arena. And that takes us to the next point...

Third, "it" is generally being promoted by people who have "cried wolf" before on a range of environmental and resource issues. They ask us, with no apparent sense of remorse for their past sins (it is tough to repent of embarrassing mistakes!), to again take faith-filled position on their matters of faith, when they have been woefully and painfully wrong in the past.

Finally, their views are advertised by people who are sloppy with all sorts of things-- further diminishing the credibility of their position. Check out this front-page effort from USA Today (as reprinted in today's C-J). Among the problems:

a.) a conflation of GW with CC;
b.) no recognition/question of our ability, in practice, to measure and test CC;
c.) a conflation of GW and AGW;
d.) a conflation of weather (including "recent experience") and climate;
e.) whether correct or not, meterologists are not usually included among "climate scientists" (unless, apparently, they largely agree with the latter); and
f.) acting as if the size of the report matters (scientists on the other side have a 1000+-page document if that matters; they're just trying to kill more trees, right?!)
f.) promoting the predicted costs with hyperbole, while ignoring or downplaying the predicted benefits. 

Maybe the public is gullible to swallow poorly-formed arguments-- and the ends are sufficient to justify the means (crappy arguments). But if the advocates really believe they're on such solid ground, you'd think that smart, conscientious folk would work a lot harder to get their logical and rhetorical ducks in a row. When they don't, it further undermines their credibility. Too bad-- for Truth or at least their look.


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