Judith Warner’s Scientific Consensus

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Judith Warner writes in the New York Times Magazine (okay, in last’s week’s–I’ve been meaning to get to it), “It would be easier to believe in this great moment of scientific reawakening, of course, if more than half of the Republicans in the House and three-quarters of Republican senators did not now say that the threat of global warming, as a man-made and highly threatening phenomenon, is at best an exaggeration and at worst an utter ‘hoax’ . . .” (emphasis added). The rest of the article proceeds to treat the view that global warming is exaggerated as a threat as identical in merit to the views that it does not exist and that it is not man-made. All of these views are “anti-intellectual,” “antiscientific,” and a rejection of “mainstream climate science.” Even having second thoughts about whether the major legislative proposals to address global warming can pass a cost-benefit analysis is so treated.

I’m not an expert on this topic by any means–and have no reason to think that Warner is, either; certainly none provided by this article–but my impression is that there is both more evidence for, and more scientific consensus behind, the view that mankind has significantly contributed to global warming than the view that this warming is likely to cause catastrophes. (I think even people who, unlike me, deny that global warming exists or that mankind has significantly contributed to it, would concede this point.) If this approach to the debate–bulldozing over distinctions, bullying opponents–is the intellectual, scientific thing to do, I’ll pass.