In the climate change debate, both sides have an incentive to scientize – to argue about the science rather than the resulting value/political/policy propositions.
Those who advocate greenhouse gas reductions believe that the science is clear and compels a particular policy response. Those who oppose greenhouse gas reductions have found great success by arguing over the uncertainty of the science. In the resulting gridlock, we never really get to the political/policy debate, happily ensconced instead in the furious minutiae of hockey sticks and the role of the sun.
Donald Boudreaux sidesteps that tangle and tackled the issue head-on in a piece last week on Reason that says, in essence, OK, I accept the science, now let’s talk about the economic realities of the proposed policy responses.
Being neither an atmospheric scientist nor a former U.S. vice-president, I haven’t the expertise to judge whether or not global warming is a reality or the extent to which humans cause it. Experts who I trust, however, persuade me that science does indeed show that global temperatures are rising and that industrial activity is at least part of the reason. I’m prepared to believe even the possibility that global warming will eventually kill millions of people.
But I nevertheless insist that science does not unambiguously endorse action against global warming. Put differently – and contrary to today’s elite opinion – ignoring global warming is not necessarily a sign of scientific illiteracy or of ideologically induced stupidity.
You don’t need to agree with the guy to applaud him for getting on with the part of the actual debate that matters. (Hat tip Benny Peiser.)