Am I the only one who finds Republicans "views" on global warming to be maddening?
My complaint may be idiosyncratic, but I couldn't care less what the candidates "believe" about the climate system. I don't trust any of them to parse the science, and the chance that any one of them knows enough to teach me something is pretty much nil.
All I want to hear is what policies, if any, they are going to advocate in response to global warming.
Mitt says he believes that the world is warming, and that humans are contributing to this warming. Huntsman says, as far as I can tell, we should put our trust in the 95% of scientist who evidently agree on AGW. Perry says that the evidence is unclear.
None of these positions say anything about what a President would do to us in the name of Global Warming Climate Change.
Which is all I want to hear, thanks.
Also frustrating is the candidates' inability to get away from the AGW "consensus" canard. "Consensus" is a political notion. As in, "currently, there is a consensus among likely voters that Obama should not be reelected." Science, on the other hand, is determined by facts, and proofs.
Try this exercise. Below is a list of hypotheses, all of which have to be true to justify government action related to AGW. How far down this list can one go and still credibly claim that there is an " expert consensus"? How about "settled proof"?
- The Earth's climate is warming.
- Human activities are contributing to Earth's warming through the emission of green house gases.
- GHGs cause a majority of observed warming.
- Reasonable forecasts of future GHG emissions (absent government intervention) will cause additional warming, the net effect of which will be very harmful to human life.
- Initiatives to prevent some AGW are feasible, and the cost of these initiatives is less than the cost of the warming prevented, and of the costs of mitigation of warming effects.
- Government is able to effect such initiatives in an effective manner, and without excessive costs.
To answer my own question, I suggest that "consensus" and "settled proof" both stop after #2. One might be able to argue reasonably that consensus extends to #3.
Clearly, though "settled proof" does not extend to #3 and #4.
It is here that heart of the AGW debate lies. The single key variable in AGW science is "climate sensitivity," defined as the amount of warming that will occur with a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere. (A general rule of thumb is that atmospheric CO2 will about double in the 21s century.) The gist of the issue is that a doubling of CO2 will only add about 1 degree C to global temps absent any interaction (positive feedback) effects in the atmosphere. No one claims that an increase of 1 degree C over a century would be terribly alarming. The alarmists believe/expect/project that sensitivity will be far more than 1x (1 degree). Among alarmists, sensitivities of 3x or 4x are commonly projected. But credible estimates of sensitivity are all over the map, including some less than 1x. Know one knows.
I'd be intersted to hear someone claim that either #5 or #6 is either fact or consensus. The "experts" for these issues have to include taxpayers, and their interest level in interventionist policies of this ilk, I beleive, have been pretty steady -- against.
So I'd love to hear republican candidates turn any question about AGW to what they would do about it. And if one has to comment on the science, I'd be delighted to hear a bit more precision than what has been offered so far. As in, "while the planet may be warming and we may be contributing somewhat to that, there is no settled science in the arena of climate science that matters, climate sensitivity, and so no one knows if the change is large or problematic or addressable.
This would be sharp, and clear.