Jacoby On Warming

Today Jeff Jacoby pens his fifth colum in eight months on climate change. [December 24, 2006 (Climate Of Fear); February 7, 2007 (Chicken Little and Global Warming); April 15, 2007 (Doubting Doomsday); August 15, 2007 (Hot Tempers On Global Warming); August 19, 2007.] His disdain for warming theorists goes back much longer (here's an example from 2002). So it's telling that his material is so weak after all this effort.

Jacoby's evidence today against global warming consensus consists of:

--The Fred Singer petition, signed mostly by retired or non-practicing scientists, and some non-scientists, which merely questions whether the reality will be as horrific as the models currently predict;

--NASA administrator (since 2005) -- and non-climatologist -- Michael Griffin's one-time comment that we shouldn't worry about global warming, for which Griffin was denounced by NASA's top climate official;

--One survey, conducted in 2003, purporting to show skepticism among environmental scientists, which was rejected for publication and generally discredited because the web-based survey mechanism did not verify that the participants were actual scientists. (Interestingly, Jacoby cites the survey's finding that 34 percent responded that global warming might prove beneficial for some societies. This is actually a surprisingly low number, taken by some as evidence that non-experts took the survey: most serious climatologists agree that large sections of Russia, for example, are likely to benefit significantly from global warming, at least in the near-term.)

If Jacoby is going to keep at this topic, he needs to do so in a serious manner, not by citing the rare outlier. He needs to stop trying to find evidence that conflicting opinions exist -- of course they do -- and start presenting an argument for why we should listen to those arguments rather than those of the overwhelming majority of those who have studied the issue.

Surely, if nine oncologists tell Jacoby that he needs a growth removed, and one tells him that the evidence of malignancy was not as strong as the others suggest, he would demand a strong argument for listening to the one over the nine. And he would demand better than what he is offering for why we should ignore calls for action on climate change.

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