So why didn’t climate-change legislation get through the Senate? Let’s talk first about what didn’t cause the failure, because there have been many attempts to blame the wrong people.I hesitate to use such strong language, I see only 3 choices. is he REALLY stupid, does he live entirely in an echo chamber, or is he lying on purpose?
First of all, we didn’t fail to act because of legitimate doubts about the science. Every piece of valid evidence — long-term temperature averages that smooth out year-to-year fluctuations, Arctic sea ice volume, melting of glaciers, the ratio of record highs to record lows — points to a continuing, and quite possibly accelerating, rise in global temperatures.
Nor is this evidence tainted by scientific misbehavior. You’ve probably heard about the accusations leveled against climate researchers — allegations of fabricated data, the supposedly damning e-mail messages of “Climategate,” and so on. What you may not have heard, because it has received much less publicity, is that every one of these supposed scandals was eventually unmasked as a fraud concocted by opponents of climate action, then bought into by many in the news media. You don’t believe such things can happen? Think Shirley Sherrod.
Did reasonable concerns about the economic impact of climate legislation block action? No. It has always been funny, in a gallows humor sort of way, to watch conservatives who laud the limitless power and flexibility of markets turn around and insist that the economy would collapse if we were to put a price on carbon. All serious estimates suggest that we could phase in limits on greenhouse gas emissions with at most a small impact on the economy’s growth rate.
So it wasn’t the science, the scientists, or the economics that killed action on climate change. What was it?
The answer is, the usual suspects: greed and cowardice.
It's obvious to anyone who reads even part of the right's discussion that his points
1. "we didn’t fail to act because of legitimate doubts about the science."
2. "Nor is this evidence tainted by scientific misbehavior."
3. "Did reasonable concerns about the economic impact of climate legislation block action?"
Are complete high-proof horse puckey. As per my discussion of the topic, and a dozen others, Climategate has successfully damaged not only the credibility of Climate Science, but that of science as a whole.
- We should doubt the science because science to be believable must be predictive and climate science doesn't predict squat.
- The contribution of humans to climate change is completely unknown (natural climate variation is huge).
- The scientific misbehavior of Climategate was huge, and the inquiry panels were a joke.
- MacArthur genius grant economist Kevin Murphy has said (in my earshot) that it's econ 101 that acting on climate change now is economically stupid, unless we're really worried about catastrophe real quick here. Roughly the same position as Bjorn Lomborg.
A significant portion of Americans believe that the government is incompetent at everything it does, and primarily serves special interests, and so they expect climate change legislation to do the same thing. Overall, that skepticism seems real smart, unless you have the brains of a starfish, or you're a political hack trying to sell the big lie.
Further evidence in this direction is strangely provided by Eric Falkenstein, who has a lovely piece up on the well known bad science supporting Relativity:
While one discussant mentioned that the experiment had higher standard error than could have proved this, the next discussant said all measurement issues were addressed appropriately, and claims Eddington engaged in fraud are pure myth. In the end, one discussant states, this is how real science is done: testing theories against reality.
I agree this is how real science is done, but contra the discussant, it was a bogus confirmation of Einstein's theory, tendentious cherry picking of what to leave in, what to leave out. The fact that the theory was correct does not change this, and it's very tempting to use hindsight to give the scientists involved the benefit of the doubt, especially when something is generally accepted. Deferal to conventional wisdom has some logic to it, but when you look at the past and note how many important beliefs were clearly untrue, there are probably many common scientific beliefs today that are untrue (unless, somehow now we finally have everything right).
To recap the issue, in 1919, Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity was only a few years old, yet academics were eager to put the nightmare of World War I behind them, and show the common bond of the old adversaries. Proving the German’s theory correct was so desired that it suggests that scientists are as objective as the rest of us. The null hypothesis, set up by standard Newtonian Physics, was that there should be a 0.85 arc-second deflection in light from stars behind the sun, while Einstein predicted a 1.7 arc-second deflection.
English physicist Arthur Eddington was a WorldWar I pacifist, and so had a predisposition to mend the rift between German and English academics. He made a trek to the island of Principe, off the coast of West Africa, one of the best locations for observing the eclipse. He used a series of complex calculations to extract the deflection estimate from the data, and came up with an estimate of 1.6 arc-seconds. Data from two spots in Brazil from that same eclipse were 1.98 and 0.86, but Eddington threw out the 0.86 measurements.
Monkeybrains theory says:
Anyone supporting high-status positions, in or out of science (Climate Science, Relativity, any consensus) needs their credibility downgraded. Monkeybrains wish to be high status, and wishes alter observations, not just conclusions. Previously someone in the GMU-o-sphere made this point about conservative/libertarian academics, but I can't find the article off-hand. This is mildly in conflict with the Hansonian position of accepting the status quo...but it needs to be on the map.