Posts tagged ‘Tonya Harding’

Global Warming Detente?

Though Cathy Young's article has the opposite title, I actually think that the global warming debate is cooling off a bit, with a bit more reason creeping into a debate so far dominated by ideologies as much as science.  More and more voices like this one are starting to be heard:

Mark Kleiman, a professor of public policy studies at UCLA and a
self-identified liberal, noted this recently on his blog. Writes
Kleiman, "To those who dislike a social system based on high and
growing consumption and the economic activity that supports high and
growing consumption and maintains high and growing demand (a dislike
with which I have considerable sympathy), to those who think that the
market needs more regulation by the state, to those who think that
international institutions ought to be strengthened . . . global
warming is a Gaia-send" -- since it justifies drastic worldwide public
action to curb production and consumption. (Gaia, the ancient Greek
goddess of the earth, is a term used by many ecologists to refer to the
earth as a living entity.) While Kleiman sympathizes with
environmentalists, he notes that "their eagerness to believe the worst"
-- for instance, in Al Gore's documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth" --
"is just as evident as the right wing's denialism."

As an
analogy, Kleiman cites many social conservatives' attitude toward the
AIDS epidemic, which has been used to portray sex outside monogamous
heterosexual marriage as fraught with deadly peril and to preach the
message of premarital abstinence. (Kleiman doesn't explicitly say this,
but his comments hint at another abuse of science: Many conservatives
and gay rights activists, for different motives, have exaggerated the
fairly tiny risk of HIV infection from heterosexual sex.)

analogy between AIDS and global warming also extends to attitudes
toward ways to remedy the problem. The religious right, Kleiman points
out, pooh-poohs condoms as a way to reduce the spread of sexually
transmitted diseases because the effectiveness of such a remedy would
undermine the abstinence message. Similarly, those on the left who
embrace environmentalism as their substitute religion don't want to
hear about scientific and technological solutions to climate change --
from nuclear power to geoengineering, the artificial manipulation of
the global environment -- that do not include stepping up regulation
and curbing consumption.

There is a growing number of voices in
the scientific community that reject both denialism and alarmism on
global warming. Roger Pielke, an environmental science professor at the
University of Colorado, calls such people "nonskeptical heretics" --
those who believe that human-caused global warming is a real problem,
but one that can be met in part with technological management and
adaptation. Mooney has come to embrace such a viewpoint as well.

The NY Times actually chimed in on this same topic.  And I for a while have been promoting a skeptical middle ground in the global warming debate.

Update: Increasingly, folks seem to want to equate "skeptic"
with "denier."  If so, I will have to change my terminology.  However,
that would be sad, as "skeptic" is a pretty good word**.  I accept there
is some CO2 caused warming, but I am skeptical that the warming and its
effects are as bad as folks like Al Gore make it out to be (explanation here), and I am
skeptical that the costs of an immediate lock-down on CO2 production
will outweigh the benefits.  That is why I call myself a skeptic.  If
that is now a bad term, someone needs to suggest a new one.

**Though I can't help but be reminded of the great Tonya Harding interview on the Dan Patrick Show, where the famous hubcap-wielder and kneecap-breaker said  "I'm not going to make a skeptical of my boxing career."