The Corner

Science & Tech

If the World Is Really at Risk, Not Debating Climate Change Is Folly

We are told continually that the risk of climate change is biblical — so dangerous that it will lead to a calamity worse than (as the City of Berkeley declared recently) the Second World War.

Such beyond-hyperbole statements are par for the global-warming-hysteria course. But here’s the thing: It makes reasonable people dubious about climate-change scientists’ assertions, the phenomenon’s current supposed manifestations, and the predicted future consequences of climate change.

Add to this the snobbish “I won’t debate” tactic of these same scientists, who bemoan the public’s lack of acute alarm — but also refuse to engage with that same public in open discussions with skeptics to persuade us that their dire warnings require heeding.

Here’s a case in point, published at the Scientific American website. From, “Why I Won’t Debate Science,” by Kate Marvel:

Climate denial is like bad science fiction: there’s no internal logic, the characters aren’t compelling, and you can see the scary things coming from miles away.

So, if we’re being asked to debate things that are essentially fictional, we should respond in kind. Not by misrepresenting the science — that’s too important to mess with.

But I’m happy to debate fiction, if we’re honest that that’s what we’re doing. I happen to believe very strongly that it was a stupid idea to send Frodo into Mordor with the ring. I also feel that Killmonger had a point, Holden Caulfield is insufferable, and Jane could have done much, much better than Mr. Rochester.

Good grief, if we face total calamity by the end of the century, why in the world wouldn’t you debate the science and curative proposals? If civilization is really at risk, how can you not pursue every opportunity to persuade the public — even if you think it is beneath you?

I am agnostic on this question. I certainly don’t think that the entire controversy is a hoax. But I have also seen so much exaggeration and outright lying by global-warming hysterics that I am not willing to just obediently accept what “the scientists” claim is happening, why, and what to do about it.

In fact, I find Bjorn Lomborg to be the most reasonable voice in this entire controversy. Lomborg believes that man is indeed accelerating climate change, but he also thinks that increasing economic prosperity to allow us to cope with the potential consequences is the better course than what he sees as ineffectual draconian efforts to reduce carbon output.

But my mind remains open. I would be really interested in a debate by learned scientists on this issue from both sides, people who could effectively challenge each other’s assertions and engage in informed rejoinders.

Or to put it another way, I am open to persuasion. But the above-the-fray attitudes of people such as Marvel push me in the other direction. Indeed, their attitude raises the acute suspicion in my mind that the real reason they remain aloof isn’t because their hypotheses are undebatable, but precisely because they are.

Most Popular

Film & TV

Netflix Debuts Its Obama Manifesto

This week’s widespread media blitz heralding Netflix’s broadcast of its first Obama-endorsed presentation, American Factory, was more than synchronicity. It felt as though U.S. publicists and journalists collectively exhaled their relief at finally regaining the bully pulpit. Reviews of American Factory, a ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Capital versus Tucker Carlson

Advertisers do not advertise on Tucker Carlson’s show to endorse the views of Tucker Carlson. They advertise on his show for the same reason they advertise elsewhere: a captive audience — in Tucker’s case, the second-largest one in cable news — might spare thirty seconds of attention that will, they hope, ... Read More

Jussie Smollett Jokes Declared Off-Limits

The Jussie Smollett story has been declared not fit for jokes. "It's a straight-up tragedy," declares the co-creator of a Comedy Central show, South Side, set in Chicago. Bashir Salahuddin, a former Jimmy Fallon writer, says “The whole situation is unfortunate. Particularly for the city, there’s bigger ... Read More

Is AOC Politically Powerful?

I recently watched two voices I respect disagree vehemently about whether Alexandria Ocasio Cortez is politically powerful or not. The first observer pointed out that she’s one of 435 House members and 235 House Democrats. She can introduce big pieces of legislation like the Green New Deal, but they’re not ... Read More