Monday, March 09, 2009

Among the Global Warming Skeptics

For those of us not able to attend in person the second Heartland International Conference on Climate Change in New York, here is an excellent summation of the first day's keynote addresses by Vaclav Klaus and Richard Lindzen. (Also see here and here).

Bailey always writes well and a couple of his quotes from the first day really resonate:
  • ...many politicians were discussing these more stringent targets "even though their own countries had not fulfilled their relatively modest Kyoto Protocol goals."
  • Klaus confessed that he was puzzled by the environmentalist ideologues' approach to technological progress. They oppose the technological progress that free unregulated markets make possible. On the other hand, environmentalists want to mandate what they call clean technologies.
  • "They want to operate technologies that have only one defect," said Klaus. "They have not been invented." Klaus added, "There is no known and economically feasible a way for an economy to survive on expensive unreliable clean green energy."
  • ...skepticism about man-made global warming does not, by itself, make a good scientist. Nor does accepting global warming make one a poor scientist.
  • Lindzen acknowledged that most of the atmospheric scientists he respects do endorse man-made global warming. He added, however, that most of their science is not actually about global warming.
  • Most of the funding for climate research would not be there were it not for the global warming issue. Lindzen added, "Most science funded under the rubric of climate does not actually deal with climate, but rather with the alleged impact of arbitrarily assumed climate change."
This year's conference has garnered more media coverage than last and, I would suggest, more favorable coverage at that. The very fact that this year's conference is being held is, in itself, vindication that AGW realism is a function of sound scientific, and political, skepticism and not willful denial.

In some respects, it is sad to see the visceral, defensive and often sophomoric reaction some alarmist journalists and blogs continue to have to any attempts to dispute their dogma.

On the other hand, such reactions are acts of political suicide as they strike a strong discord with non-activists. The increasingly shrill rhetoric of alarmism contrasts with the political reality of the present economy situation: AGW is destined to be yesterday's hysteria.

As Brenden O'Neil writes:

  • ...environmentalism remains a largely elitist project, beloved of politicians, priests and prudes keen to control people’s behaviour and curb our excessive lifestyles, and it rubs many ‘ordinary people’ up the wrong way.
  • The psychologisation of climate change denial – even the very use of that term: denial – reveals how utterly aloof and cut off are the environmental elitists from mass society.
  • Psychologising dissent, and refusing to recognise, much less engage with, the substance of people’s disagreements – their political objections, their rational criticisms, their desire to do things differently – is the hallmark of authoritarian regimes.
Sami Wilson and James Inhofe may be the the most vocal politicians questioning AGW, but they will no longer be a minority. All politician's seek re-election. Ultimately, the electorate always cares about the economy, not bogus theories.

I like how this site introduces itself:
  • Quote by H.L. Mencken, famous columnist: "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed — and hence clamorous to be led to safety — by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."