The Corner

Just The Science, Please

From the London Spectator:  

If a tabloid used a single spell of cold weather to try to pooh-pooh the theory of global warming, it would rightly be accused of unscientific nonsense. Yet Sir John Beddington, the government’s scientific adviser, has proposed that the government do the same in reverse. In a report entitled ‘International Dimensions of Climate Change’, he calls upon the government to use weather-related disasters as ‘policy windows’ to push through unpopular policies to cut carbon emissions.Every time there is a flood in Bangladesh, in other words, we can expect another couple of pence of duty on a litre of unleaded.

Sir John Beddington’s job is to advise on science. Instead, he appears to have appointed himself minister for propaganda. Even the Met Office accepts that individual meteorological events cannot be attributed to climate change. Drought and tempest were with us before industrial civilisation — though to read Sir John’s report it might be easy to imagine they were not. On half a dozen occasions he brings up the subject of Hurricane Katrina as supposed evidence of climate change. He must know that Katrina was far from the strongest storm to hit the US coast — it was only category three out of five by the time it landed, and there have been 15 stronger ones in the past 100 years, the strongest back in 1935 — but it struck a particularly vulnerable city.

The destruction caused by bad weather is only partly a function of the weather itself. Human disasters are more often caused by too many people living in one place with poorly engineered defences. Improve those defences, and lives can be saved. That is a subtlety lost on Sir John Beddington. Britain has no end of green pressure groups, but only one chief scientific adviser. He would better earn his £165,000 a year by sticking to his remit.

Most Popular

Film & TV

Why We Can’t Have Wakanda

SPOILERS AHEAD Black Panther is a really good movie that lives up to the hype in just about every way. Surely someone at Marvel Studios had an early doubt, reading the script and thinking: “Wait, we’re going to have hundreds of African warriors in brightly colored tribal garb, using ancient weapons, ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Science & Tech

Set NASA Free

The Trump administration has proposed shifting the International Space Station from a NASA-exclusive research facility to a semi-public, semi-private one. Its plan would nix all government funding for the ISS by 2025 and award at least $150 million per year to NASA to help with the transition. This would be a ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More