Tuesday, November 23, 2010

GOP: Boehlert All Wet, Stay Very Skeptical

Nominally Republican former Congressman Sherwood Boehlert hits the op-ed pages of the Wash Post to lecture fellow Republicans about not being sufficiently convinced of climate change. He says that facts are facts and Republicans need to get on board. Let me offer a rebuttal:
Hogwash. Poppycock. Bollocks. And all the rest. Just because Boehlert sat in Congress for a few years and heard every entrenched, pro-government argument for action on climate change, doesn't mean that this is "science that we can't ignore." Boehlert has been a victim of selection bias. Sitting in the government, you are mostly only going to hear the devout climate change, pro-government stance. Skeptics don't get a hearing in Congress or in the establishment science institutions. The truth is there is no scientific consensus on climate change, attested to by the 31,000 scientists that have signed the Oregon Petition. Furthermore, the revelations last year about the dubious scientific methods practiced by the CRU at East Anglia ought to instill even deeper skepticism. But even more so, what is never discussed in the debate is the full extent of the theory of global warming and the scientific basis for each element of the theory. If measured temperatures were definitively increasing, this alone is not justification for drastic corrective policy reaction. Embedded in the theory are really five questions that science needs to answer definitively to justify the unprecendented actions being proposed. The five questions are:
1) Is the planet warming? 2) Did we cause it? 3) Will this have catastrophic effects? 4) Can we reverse the damage? 5) Can we do so without creating other serious problems?

I would argue that science hasn't even given us proof of "yes" on question number 1, but I will concede that point to get on to the more important point that science hasn't even come near addressing questions 2-5. The "yes" to number 2 rests on a very shaky theory and "yes" on 3 and 4 is the rankest speculation. On 5, we also have no idea, but there is very little reason to believe in a "yes". So when you talk about the theory of global warming and the science, you have to talk about the whole theory and the state of the science as it pertains to each question. Viewed comprehensively, the science really is nowhere, it ought to barely register. Until they can delve much deeper and start delivering some concrete answers on 2-5, we ought to give global warming policy initiatives very short shrift indeed.


Post a Comment

<< Home