Posted on | November 14, 2007 | 21 Comments
I was, by coincidence, in the midst of reading Bjorn Lomborg’s book this week when Andrew Revkin’s New York Times piece on the sloppy center came out. There is much to like about the book, and much to disagree with (more on that later, when I’ve finished it). But the most important thing is that you’ve got someone here who embraces mainstream science, but comes up with a different policy response. Ditto Newt Gingrich, who has some interesting comments in the videos linked near the bottom of Revkin’s story.
The criticism of Revkin’s piece has been predictable. But I think he’s doing an extraordinarily valuable service here. Journalism gravitates toward the extremes, the loudest voices of the members of the climate wars tribe. In capturing the headlines, that creates this false picture in the public mind, I think, of the nature of the climate debate. It is an orthogonal example to the way Revkin’s “tyranny of the news peg” is typically used, but it’s just as relevant in this case. On the right, journalists look for people who question the science. On the left, we look for people who proclaim a coming doom. The result is a paralyzed discourse, which Revkin delightfully describes as “a world where energy and environmental policies are still forged mainly in the same way Doctor Dolittle’s two-headed pushmi-pullyu walked. (It didn’t move much.)” (If you’re reading, Andy, 10 points for that one!)
That views other than the typical caricatures exist and are worth hearing seems entirely much for those entrenched in the tribal warfare. Predictably, for example, David Roberts went apeshit. It’s much easier to poke holes in Chris Horner’s embarassing repetition of the global cooling myth, or criticize Al Gore’s use of Hurricane Katrina in his movie. But that’s becoming a pretty tired and unproductive sort of discussion.