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Politics & Policy

Jerry Brown’s ‘Facts’

Governor Jerry Brown declared on Meet the Press this morning that Senator Ted Cruz is “unfit” to run for president. Leave aside for the moment the extraordinary illiberalism on the left that causes not an eyelash to flutter these days. What? Those who differ on public policy are unfit for office?

The gravamen of Brown’s complaint is that Cruz said that the science doesn’t support “many of the alarmists” on climate change. Brown exploded: “That man betokens such a level of ignorance and a direct falsification of the existing scientific data. It’s shocking and I think that man has rendered himself absolutely unfit to be running for office.” It made me think of this concession, in the New York Times, from last February, after President Obama had blamed California’s drought on climate change. 

In delivering aid to drought-stricken California last week, President Obama and his aides cited the state as an example of what could be in store for much of the rest of the country as human-caused climate change intensifies.

But in doing so, they were pushing at the boundaries of scientific knowledge about the relationship between climate change and drought. While a trend of increasing drought that may be linked to global warming has been documented in some regions, including parts of the Mediterranean and in the Southwestern United States, there is no scientific consensus yet that it is a worldwide phenomenon. Nor is there definitive evidence that it is causing California’s problems.

In fact, the most recent computer projections suggest that as the world warms, California should get wetter, not drier, in the winter, when the state gets the bulk of its precipitation. That has prompted some of the leading experts to suggest that climate change most likely had little role in causing the drought.


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