[N.B., now that the dire predictions of global warmists are proving to be less than accurate, the Church of Anthropogenic Global Warming now uses “climate change” in place of their long-trumpeted “global warming” but it’s all just sleight of hand.]
Freeman Dyson is smarter than you or I. Heck, he’s probably smarter than you and I put together. So, when he speaks on the subject of global warming/climate change, even in something so brief as a review of a couple of books, he’s worth listening to, at the very least. For example, writing about A Question of Balance: Weighing the Options on Global Warming Policies, by William Nordhaus:
For the benefit of those who are mathematically illiterate or uninterested in numerical details, Nordhaus has put a nonmathematical chapter at the beginning with the title “Summary for the Concerned Citizen.” This first chapter contains an admirably clear summary of his results and their practical consequences, digested so as to be read by busy politicians and ordinary people who may vote the politicians into office. He believes that the most important concern of any policy that aims to address climate change should be how to set the most efficient “carbon price,” which he defines as “the market price or penalty that would be paid by those who use fossil fuels and thereby generate CO2 emissions.” He writes:
Whether someone is serious about tackling the global-warming problem can be readily gauged by listening to what he or she says about the carbon price. Suppose you hear a public figure who speaks eloquently of the perils of global warming and proposes that the nation should move urgently to slow climate change. Suppose that person proposes regulating the fuel efficiency of cars, or requiring high-efficiency lightbulbs, or subsidizing ethanol, or providing research support for solar power—but nowhere does the proposal raise the price of carbon. You should conclude that the proposal is not really serious and does not recognize the central economic message about how to slow climate change. To a first approximation, raising the price of carbon is a necessary and sufficient step for tackling global warming. The rest is at best rhetoric and may actually be harmful in inducing economic inefficiencies.
If this chapter were widely read, the public understanding of global warming and possible responses to it would be greatly improved.
Indeed. Of course, the several assumptions (apparent assumptions; I have not yet got my hands on a copy) of the Nordhaus comment above are large assumptions indeed, but the public’s understanding of the costs of dealing with carbon dioxide–whether such a thing needs to be done or not–would indeed be a great step forward in opening the dialog on “climate change” to other than True Believers in AGW (more rationally known as Reality-Based Fantasists, IMO).
But it is the assumption Dyson makes that is truly frightening. He’s a really, really smart man, but it looks like he misses the critical factor in his approach to the material above. To repeat:
For the benefit of those who are mathematically illiterate or uninterested in numerical details, Nordhaus has put a nonmathematical chapter at the beginning with the title “Summary for the Concerned Citizen.” This first chapter contains an admirably clear summary of his results and their practical consequences, digested so as to be read by busy politicians and ordinary people who may vote the politicians into office.
The “busy politicians” and the “ordinary people who vote them into office” are both likely to be not only mathematically illiterate but functionally illiterate as well. Heck, neither of those facts matter, because neither class would read it anyway, even if they could read or understand the book–or even Dyson’s review of it. And there lies the crux of the problem: politicians only listen to their flappers (review your Swift for the reference) and “ordinary people” are brain-sludged (not brainwashed) by the Mass Media Podpeople’s Hivemind and self-lobotomized to the point that they’d never even pick the book up.
Or any other book that might challenge them beyond the level of People Magazine or Sports Illustrated.
The second book reviewed in the Dyson article is, Global Warming: Looking Beyond Kyoto, Ernesto Zedillo, ed. Although it, too, suffers from the same “It’s not People Magazine or Sports Illustrated” lack of appeal to ordinary citizens, it nevertheless sounds rather interesting to me. *heh* (Yeh, you’ve picked up on the fact that I don’t read People Magazine or Sports Illustrated, right?) For example, as Dyson notes,
Zedillo in his introduction summarizes the arguments of each contributor in turn. He maintains the neutrality appropriate to a conference chairman, and gives equal space to Lindzen and to Rahmstorf. He betrays his own opinion only in a single sentence with a short parenthesis: “Climate change may not be the world’s most pressing problem (as I am convinced it is not), but it could still prove to be the most complex challenge the world has ever faced.”
Later in the article, Dyson gets to the meat of the review,
All the books that I have seen about the science and economics of global warming, including the two books under review, miss the main point. The main point is religious rather than scientific. There is a worldwide secular religion which we may call environmentalism, holding that we are stewards of the earth, that despoiling the planet with waste products of our luxurious living is a sin, and that the path of righteousness is to live as frugally as possible. The ethics of environmentalism are being taught to children in kindergartens, schools, and colleges all over the world.
Should we be environmentally responsible? Yes, of course we should, for any number of reasons. But the Church of Anthropogenic Global Warming, in attempting, with great success, to shut down all dialog, all debate on its dogma is performing a serious disservice to everyone. Heck, the pagan religion they practice is not even well-qualified as religions go: “redemtion” in the Church of AGW means essentially killing off most of mankind. In that, AGWers are hardly better than Islamics.
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