“Will Jerry Taylor speak truth to power by frontally questioning that carbon dioxide emissions is an unambiguous negative externality–a global market failure–that government, every government, must address? Or will he speak power to truth by assuming CO2 is a pollutant for which global government (really, an environmental Pope) can provide, as it were, a giant climate safety net.”
In 1998, then climate realist and energy libertarian Jerry Taylor wrote a piece, “Global Warming: The Anatomy of a Debate,” that piggybacked on the late, great Public Choice economist William Niskanen.
The national debate over what to do, if anything, about the increasing concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has become less a debate about scientific or economic issues than an exercise in political theater. The reason is that the issue of global climate change is pregnant with far-reaching implications for human society and the kind of world our children will live in decades from now.
“I could work my way through 49 years of observing sleep disturbances and deprivation, but that is more than the scope of this letter. I am writing because I have witnessed Town of Falmouth officials and members of other boards trivialize symptom reports from people who are stalwart residents of the Town of Falmouth…. Furthermore, all the Wind I neighbors I have examined are passionate about the need for sustainable energy in an effort to reduce fossil fuel dependence.”
The human nervous system is the most sensitive instrument available to date for evaluating the impact of the Falmouth wind turbines on residents who live close to them. The ONLY experts in the discussion are the people who are sensing the sound, vibrations, pressure waves, etc. emitted by the turbines. There is no one more “expert “than these people.…
“’Unaccountable statistics’ [are] statistical goulash that sounds tangy and sophisticated but is actually bereft of substance, and used to make predictions that are almost never accounted for. Any number of ‘scientific’ renewable energy reports, from NREL to Stanford to MIT, are of this kind.”
Kent Hawkins’s post yesterday, “Science, Advocacy, and Public Policy,” defends the scientific method against both political correctness and the misuses of the method, often by people who claim to be scientists. This is a major issue in the current energy and climate debate where exaggeration and bias go hand-in-hand. I wish to add support to Hawkins’s theses in light of some of science’s nuanced complexity.
Here’s how a few mainly twentieth century scientists defined the purpose of scientific inquiry:
“Science is the disinterested search for the objective truth about the material world.”–Richard Dawkins;
“The less one knows about the universe, the easier it is to explain.”–Leon Brunschvicg;
“Theories crumble, but good observations never fade.”—Harlow Shapley.