The Washington Post has a predictable, propagandistic lead Monday editorial — “Climate change underscored: A new report leaves little room for doubt” — that merits a fisking for the prominence given such admittedly non-newsy, if wildly spun and internally inconsistent, repetitiveness (emphases added throughout):
“CLIMATE CHANGE is occurring, is very likely caused by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems.”
So says — in response to a request from Congress — the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, the country’s preeminent institution chartered to provide scientific advice to lawmakers.
Ah, so — the implication is clear — it is a panel of scientists; wait, not just scientists, but climate scientists, and worthy of description as ‘preeminent’. But, then, the piece continues oddly without elaboration on this hint:
In a report titled “America’s Climate Choices,” a panel of scientific and policy experts also concludes that the risks of inaction far outweigh the risks or disadvantages of action.
Well, as Hoover fellow Paul Gregory notes, prompted by similar slop from the New York Times, “Of the first eight names, only one appears to be a climate scientist. The others are engineers, lawyers, and public policy types”.
But of course, we’re used to these gents being railroad engineers (the IPCC’s chief scientist, Rajendra Pachauri) and anthropology teaching assistants (see the IPCC ‘world’s leading climate scientists’). By the next paragraph, however, surely the reader would begin wondering what is such a panel of scientists doing making these recommendations, which are in fact policy calls?
And the most sensible and urgently needed action, the panel says, is to put a rising price on carbon emissions, by means of a tax or cap-and-trade system. That would encourage innovation, research and a gradual shift away from the use of energy sources (oil, gas and coal) that are endangering the world.
Slippery, slippery. We need not belabor the ‘what if a skeptic trotted out such an ‘expert climate panel’ argument here. It’s just too obvious.
None of this should come as a surprise. None of this is news. But it is newsworthy, sadly, because the Republican Party, and therefore the U.S. government, have moved so far from reality and responsibility in their approach to climate change.
Oh. So it was the Republican-controlled Senate, with 60 and then 59 Democrat Senators, which refused to take up the issue last Congress? No. Just like the opposition in the House, then and now, Senate opposition is bipartisan, and strongly so. Though you’d never know that from reading the hyper-political WaPo:
Seizing on inevitable points of uncertainty in something as complex as climate science, and on misreported pseudo-scandals among a few scientists, Republican members of Congress, presidential candidates and other leaders pretend that the dangers of climate change are hypothetical and unproven and the causes uncertain.
Not so, says the National Research Council. “Although the scientific process is always open to new ideas and results, the fundamental causes and consequences of climate change have been established by many years of scientific research, are supported by many different lines of evidence, and have stood firm in the face of careful examination, repeated testing, and the rigorous evaluation of alternative theories and explanation.”
Climate-change deniers, in other words, are willfully ignorant, lost in wishful thinking, cynical or some combination of the three.
Ah, yes, ‘certainty’, and name-calling to prove the point. But then, as Jacobs, seizing on uncertainty also pointed out:
“The report tells us… the science is far from certain. I quote: ‘How will the climate system respond to increased greenhouse gases? The exact value of “climate sensitivity” – that is, how much temperature rise will occur for a given increase in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentration – is uncertain due to incomplete understanding of some elements of the earth’s climate system.’ Note the wobbly use of language, such as “exact” or “some elements,” to signal that the science is “almost certain.” I can imagine the illustrious committee members searching for appropriate qualifiers that would not let the cat out of the bag.
In fact, climate sensitivity to doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations is fairly summarized as the whole shootin’ match of the climate issue. Computer models on which policy types base their demands (and alarmists their prophesying) assume a climate sensitivity that is vastly greater than the les policy-relevant observations. You might know the latter as ‘reality’.
This group-grope “is not a study of climate science but of risk management”, per Jacobs, although I must add it is one accepting fairly well disproved assumptions (key among them: the climate’s sensitivity), which in itself is highly problematic.
I could go on. Because the Post surely did. But the point is that all of the tired name-calling and hyperventilation gets no more compelling the fifth or fiftieth time it is trotted out. These people demand a terrible imposition on society for no detectable climate impact. Let alone the subjective idea of ‘gain’ (as warming has historically been beneficial, indeed called a ‘climate optimum’.
But outlets like the Washington Post and its editorial board have always had a difficult time with good news. It’s just not news at all. Sort of like the NRC ‘report’ WaPo flogs, as it does each and every such one. Meanwhile, the sky remains just where we left it.