Having graciously corrected the world's historians on a few elementary points, Jonah Goldberg shifts his attention to climatology and solar physics.
From his God's-eye view, the ant-like labor of climate scientists -- as they rush to and fro, saying this and that -- is both confusing and suggestive. Confusing, because Goldberg doesn't understand it. Suggestive, because this implies that they're trying to hide something.
Simply put, there's a new finding about sunspots, and it has something to do with climate. Don't bother asking Goldberg to explain any of this, though.
What is the significance of all this? To say I have no idea is quite an understatement, but it will have to do.Ideally, scientists would respond to Goldberg's honest confession of cluelessness in kind, by conceding that they don't understand their pet subjects much better than he does. But instead, they insist on trying to interpret data in ways that strike Goldberg as counterintuitive.
[W]hat I find interesting is the eagerness of the authors and the media to make it clear that this doesn’t have any particular significance for the debate over climate change.It's not that these scientists are dishonest, necessarily. It may just be that they're a little too close to the issue. What's needed is an outside opinion, preferably from someone who doesn't know the first goddamn thing about climatology, and therefore remains untainted by its rules of entry and its pompous language games.
It's more than a little pathetic, the way these scientists try to hide their sloppy thinking from the blazing searchlight of Goldberg's intellect:
“Global warming is a long-term trend, Dr. Meehl says....This study attempts to explain the processes behind a periodic occurrence.”A scientist might try to argue that sunspots are indeed cyclical, while global warming is a trend that represents a marked departure from natural cycles. But look here: If sunspots are periodic occurrences, and have something to do with climate, then why shouldn't global warming, which also has something to do with climate, also be periodic, and therefore natural, and therefore not worth worrying about, probably?
This overlooks the fact that solar cycles are permanent “periodic occurrences,” a.k.a. a very long-term trend.
I mean, who you going to believe: A guy whose career depends on seeming to understand climate, or a guy who admits that he knows nothing about climate at all, and therefore has no other concern than strict accuracy?
Which is not to say that man-made pollution has played no role in planetary warming. But the important question to ask here is, how does this fact make Jonah Goldberg feel? Do you honestly think Goldberg would enjoy feeling guilty, or worrying about the world we're leaving for our children, supposing for the sake of argument that he were capable of doing so?
Consider his plight: The poor man can't even go shopping without imagining people attacking him for "frying the earth" by using the wrong type of bags. As if it were possible for individual choice to have some sort of aggregate effect! And all the while, the sun is roaring in the sky, sending glad tidings into our very bones, and the establishment scientists, like, can't even grok it, man!
Which means that they're ingrates. Because the sun is, on the whole, a good thing, and worthy of our notice:
[P]ay no attention to that burning ball of gas in the sky — it’s just the only thing that prevents the planet from being a lifeless ball of ice engulfed in darkness.I'm not so sure about this. Who told him that the sun is "a big burning ball of gas," and what makes his source credible? Heraclitus said the sun is the size of a man's foot, and forms anew daily. Who is Goldberg to gainsay tradition? Furthermore, the global-warming skeptic Ian Plimer, who happens to be the World's Most Respected Geologist, suggests that the sun is made of iron. Can Goldberg prove it isn't, without resorting to hearsay and prattling about so-called "consensus"?
And if the sun were to go out, would the earth truly become "a lifeless ball of ice engulfed in darkness," or could we rely on innovative free-market solutions -- including nuclear power -- to help us adapt and thrive? And what about the planet's internal heat, as evidenced by volcanoes? Honestly, this sort of alarmism infuriates me.
After directing the attention of solar physicists to certain intriguing qualities of the sun, Goldberg goes on to quote Richard Lindzen (who's from MIT!) to the effect that the climate is not getting warmer. Oddly enough, Lindzen has also "criticized widely publicized assertions by other skeptics that variations in the sun were driving temperature changes in recent decades." Which means that Goldberg is such a ludicrous fucking dilettante that he can't even be bothered to pay serious attention to the preeminent scientist on his side of the "debate."
So what professional advice does Goldberg have for people who've spent their lives researching phenomena of which he is content to remain inexpressibly ignorant?
[M]aybe we should study a bit more before we spend billions to “solve” a problem we don’t understand so well.Notice Goldberg's humility: Instead of attacking scientists for their pretensions, he's careful to point out that he, too, does not know quite as much as he should.
It's the human condition. We see through a glass, darkly...so you may as well wrap Goldberg's fetid underpants around your head a few times, and go play in traffic.