Global Warming, Science, and Public Policy

Another good one from Steven Horwitz.

This is a fantastic and brief read.

In short, he makes two points:

1. You can concede that global warming is happening, and still have a legitimate disagreement over the popularly prescribed solutions. Disagreeing on the latter does not make one a “denier” or in any way anti-science.
2. The entire global warming/climate change/climate volatility debate spans two separate fields: science and social science.

Global Warming Is about Social Science Too – The Freeman: Both sides in the debate over global warming are known for calling their opposition all kinds of derisive names. Perhaps the worst is “denier” to describe those who allegedly deny that global warming is “real.” The echoes of Holocaust denial are indeed offensive, particularly because the debate over global warming often conflates science with social science. This matters because one could accept that science has established global warming but still reject for social scientific reasons the claim that the policies normally associated with environmentalism are the proper way to address its effects. Does that make one a “denier?” It is that question I hope to answer indirectly below.

I’m open to the idea that global warming is happening. I’m open to the idea that humans are at least partly to blame. I’m not completely convinced that it would be on-net bad (thought it could be). And I’m very skeptical of most of the claimed solutions we’ve seen so far. I’m also very skeptical of those who claim to be 100% sure of the answers to any of these questions.

And the last two weeks Matt Ridley has had to must-read columns on confirmation bias:
The Benefits of Scientific Rivalry – WSJ
Matt Ridley on Confirmation Bias and Global Warming – WSJ

Related links:
Lomborg On Feel-Good Environmentalism
Could Eating/Buying Local Be Bad For The Planet?
It’s Not A Delicate Balance

  • klem

    “This matters because one could accept that science has established global warming but still reject for social scientific reasons the claim that the policies normally associated with environmentalism are the proper way to address its effects. Does that make one a “denier?”
    My experience says, yes that makes one a denier. If you stray in any way from the alarmist herd, you are labeled a denier. If you questions the opinion of the herd, you are a denier.
    Climate alarmism is a kind of faith. I find that the terms denier and heretic are entirely interchangeable.