Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Battle Over What To Think

Though I'm as besotted with dialectics as the next lefty extremist, I can't quite approve of Andrew Revkin's attempt to achieve a synthesis of denialist disinformation and peer-reviewed science:

For many years, the battle over what to think and do about human-caused climate change and fossil fuels has been waged mostly as a yelling match between the political and environmental left and the right.

The left says global warming is a real-time crisis....The right says global warming is somewhere between a hoax and a minor irritant....
The thing is, if someone is yelling that global warming is a "hoax," that person is yelling nonsense. And anyone who hopes to give an accurate account of the debate is obliged to say as much.

Revkin can't bother himself with these minor details, though. He's too excited by the thought that reasonable people are beginning to "urge a move to the pragmatic center on climate and energy," as reasonable people must.

Who are these paradigm-shattering pioneers? Well, there's Newt Gingrich, who was "one of the most polarizing forces in politics a decade ago," according to Revkin (how times have changed!). He's now calling for "curbing carbon dioxide emissions (affordably)."

Who gets to decide what is and isn't affordable? Revkin doesn't say, but I'm guessing the honor'll go to a member in good standing of the pragmatic center.

Next, we have Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, whose self-congratulatory approach to torching strawmen is guaranteed by Nordhaus and Shellenberger to light our path towards a better future.

Last and least, there's Bjorn Lomborg, whose appalling new book I've dealt with here and here. Revkin, who's less compromised by partisanship than yours truly, effectively praises it with faint damnation:
In his short new book, “Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming,” Mr. Lomborg...tries to puncture more of what he says are environmental myths, like the imminent demise of polar bears. (Most bear biologists have never said the species is doomed but do see populations shrinking significantly in a melting Arctic.)
Ah, but are these "bear biologists" pragmatic centrists? To the extent that their views are not in harmony with those of Mr. Lomborg, one suspects that they are not, and pities them.

For those who came in late, here's a quick recap: The "pragmatic center" on climate change is inhabited by Newt Gingrich, Nordhaus and Shellenberger, and Bjorn fucking Lomborg. Or to put it another way, two pathologically dishonest free-market fundamentalists, and a couple of preening bourgeois polemicists who espouse "an ambitious new [!!!] philosophy that isn't afraid to put people ahead of nature and to dream big about creating economic growth."

This, you'll agree, is a group of thinkers who could solve all our problems, had we but world enough and time. My only complaint is that Gregg Easterbrook didn't make the grade.

UPDATE: David Roberts notes that Revkin's gone this route before.

1 comment:

chris said...

Glad we've settled that. Now I won't have to bother asking any real scientists what they think.
Nor, obviously, will Mr. Revkin.
What a maroon!