Exchange with a Climate Alarmist at R Street: Part II
By Robert Bradley Jr. -- April 19, 2018
“Models, models. Experts, experts. At every step of each Malthusian episode, the latest science is cited as proof of the alarmist position. The Club of Rome studies in the 1970s to Peak Oil studies of recent decades. And the latest climate-model averaging today.”
Why engage with an anonymous climate alarmist (see the exchange yesterday)?
First, ‘mafarmerga” presented serious arguments in the public domain–and identified himself as a professor with peer-review responsibilities in climate science. [Editor update: he has identified himself]
Second, I really like my arguments relative to the opposition. Isn’t it nice that intellectual trends, not only political ones, are going against this latest Malthusian scare? Good for mankind–good for the worldview of economic and political liberty.
Third, going toe-to-toe forces me to better consider opposing arguments and to revisit mine. A scholar must know the different sides of the argument in his or her area of specialty. I want to be an intellectual for the long run–and not a public-policy hack for the short-run who can only offer lawyer-type briefs for a position.
Here are a “Baker’s Dozen” of conclusions I reached from the aforementioned exchange:
- The opposition is very fixated on the natural state of things and fears change. Stasis. If nature is optimal, then the human influence cannot be good, necessarily. This gets to Deep Ecology.
- Human flourishing is secondary for the opposition. Alarmists dress their argument in terms of human impacts–that is their equivalent of ‘greenwashing’–to try to get the attention of the citizenry.
- The well-known global greening argument of CO2 defenders is argued away by a trick: assume all-bad-things from climate change to negate the CO2 fertilization effect. (Note how my cited NYT article of the here-and-now benefits of CO2 fertilization was downplayed. It is the hypothesized bad future that is considered.)
- The Malthusian inheritance. I emphasize the context of climate alarm in the sequence of “consensus” alarms about population, resources, global cooling (yes), and now global warming. The Malthusians don’t want to acknowledge this damning intellectual pattern of the last half-century; yet they are the same folks with the same certainty and the same banner of “consensus.”
- Models, models. Experts, experts. At each step during each Malthusian scare, the latest science is cited as proof of the alarmist position, from the Club of Rome studies in the 1970s to the Peak Oil studies of recent decades. Today, it is the latest climate-model averaging (see #4 above).
- The “argument from authority.” Several times above, “mafarmerga” appeals to the superiority of his expertise to mine. Early on, he resorted to calling me a “denier.” But thanks to the Internet and bottom-line climate scientists such as Judith Curry, “amateurs” such as myself can do pretty well. I also benefit from having had several years of tutelage by the well-known climate scientist Gerald North, who would tell me things that he would not say to his professional and public audiences. (His insinuations about establishment science and honesty were not good–sort of what Climategate taught the world.)
- Climate models!! My opponent is on the record saying that we know the microphysics of climate, the magnitude of SO2 forcing, and the approximate if not precise weighting of natural-versus-anthropomorphic forces—so the models are reliable. Bunk! As I said in my rejoinder, I rest my case.
- He never answered my argument that model-predicted warming is way above real-world warming. (I thought he would bring up ocean delay, to which I would have responded that that is quite in debate too.)
- He never challenged my key fact that climate sensitivity estimates are coming down–very good news indeed.
- Sea level: he did not response to my argument that sea level rise in recent decades is similar to prior decades, suggesting that natural factors are at work.
- He never challenged my reference to and reliance on Judith Curry’s analysis at Climate, Etc.
- He did not want to delve much into the Public Choice and Political Economy side of things, much less energy policy. The fact that even a man-made climate problem could result in a CO2-friendly public policies is a whole other area of debate that he did not want to engage in.
- I readily, happily identify myself. He does not. Why? I do not believe “mafarmerga” was a fake because his arguments were serious. But even if he is misrepresenting himself, his arguments deserve careful evaluation. [Editor update: he has identified himself]
Back to Josiah Neeley and R-Street. He and they should study and debate climate science, not assume climate alarmism. The positive externalities of increased atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide should be acknowleged. The virus of government failure in the attempt to address market failure must be considered.
Bottom line: The “libertarian” case for CO2 regulation conduct by 195 governments is intellectually unjustified and a fool’s errand in the real world.
R-Street needs to step up its game–and question both climate alarmism and forced energy transformation. Like Peak Oil, climatism is proving to be a Malthusian exaggeration.