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Finally, climate skepticism we can believe in

by: Eric B.

Sat May 24, 2014 at 12:55:39 PM EDT


Ken Braun lays out a very reasonable case for skepticism about climate change. The problem is that it's not climate change as it is understood by the world's scientific community to be taking place on Planet Earth.

If climate scientists believe the planet is in peril, then they owe it to their cause to denounce climate alarmists who burn our cash on bogus solutions. Otherwise, the advice they’re giving us is this: “The town is ablaze right now, but please waste billions of dollars and hours building wind-powered fire trucks.”

The case he lays out is that Brookings Institute says that wind and solar are poor energy alternatives to natural gas and nuclear power, therefore we should be skeptical of the idea that the climate is getting warmer.

And, we should be skeptical that the clmate is getting warmer, because climate doesn't get warmer. Climate changes. What's getting warmer is the atmosphere (and the surface, and the oceans), and by doing so energy is being added. How is that energy imbalance corrected? By changes in climate patterns. Hence, global warming segues into climate change ... or to put it in terms tha have more immediate meaning, climate volatility.

In fact, no one who understands climate change has ever argued that the Earth is in peril or that anything is going to get so hot that rocks melt. They have argued that by adding heat-trapping gas to the atmosphere, we are inducing changes to our climate patterns that make the assumptions upon which human society is dependent -- where to live, as free from extreme weather as is possible; where to grow food, having an idea where the rains and snows will fall every year -- possibly null and void.

Now, if you want to apply Ken Braun's argument to what people are concerned is going to happen, it lays like this: Ken Braun is skeptical that the climate is changing, because the world's climate science community isn't, based on a paper published by the Brookings Institute (a paper that endorses a carbon tax, an idea actually favored as the most likely to be effective by most climate scientists), calling for greater reliance on nuclear power and natural gas and isn't denouncing environmentalists who are concerned about how fracking is conducted.

It's a looney bird argument. If you want to be nicer about it, you can just call it an essay-length non-sequitur sprinkled liberally with straw men. It's also one that ignores that the energy market has spurned nuclear energy almost everywhere except countries where the power plants were built mostly as a public investment (France's energy policy came courtesy one of its post-war communists!), and overlooks the fact that people don't object to fracking because they don't actually think climate change is a serious problem but because they have concerns that the chemicals and methods used in fracking may pollute sources of drinking water. Or that even if you are wrong in thinking that wind and solar can tomorrow replace every other source of energy (again, who has ever argued such a thing?), that you still might be correct in identifying the problem.

What we have here is yet another instance where someone doesn't call himself a skeptic because he is skeptical of the actual science (Braun never mentions the science of climate change), but because he doesn't like the people who are talking about it.

Eric B. :: Finally, climate skepticism we can believe in
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