Emily Holden is a well-trained rhetorician. In her Politico article “Climate change skeptics run the Trump administration,” she writes of President Trump and his appointees’ “disbelief in the scientific evidence for climate change,” which of course is spin in multiple ways.
Holden depends from the start on the fact that skepticism of “climate change” is now widely considered anti-scientific. Yet as the philosopher of science Robert K. Merton wrote 80 years ago, “Most institutions demand unqualified faith; but the institution of science makes skepticism a virtue.”
She could have written of the skeptics’ “belief in the scientific evidence against dangerous manmade global warming,” but that would let the cat out of the bag—that there is scientific evidence supporting a view contrary to hers. No, no, too much danger in that.
And of course specifying “dangerous manmade climate change” would concede that it’s possible to believe in climate change (as does every significant skeptic of dangerous manmade global warming) without believing in dangerous manmade global warming.
It would also reveal that the seemingly neutral “climate change” is code-speak for
- one specific type of climate change, namely, an increase in global average temperature (but there’s much more to climate than that),
- and one particular cause of that, namely, human activity (but empirical evidence increasingly shows that when you’ve controlled for solar, volcanic, and ocean current variability there’s no warming left to blame on carbon dioxide),
- and one specific implication of it, namely, danger (but the increase in global average temperature that might come from doubled atmospheric CO2 concentration is at most a small fraction of the typical difference between nighttime low and daytime high or winter low and summer high in any given location around the world, would expand cultivable regions poleward and lengthen the growing season, and the increased crop yields due to CO2 emissions makes food cheaper around the world),
- indeed, danger so great as to justify spending $70 to $140 trillion from now to the end of the century on efforts to reduce CO2 emissions only enough to prevent at most 0.3ºF in the year 2100—an amount too little to affect any ecosystem of human wellbeing.
But of course belief in “dangerous manmade global warming” is very difficult to support empirically—that is, scientifically—so Holden just wraps it all up in that vague and innocuous phrase “climate change.” Though not for her scientific understanding, she should get an award for her marketing skills—except that most mainstream reporters who touch on the subject do exactly the same, making it unexceptional.
Rhetoric aside, Holden warns that Trump’s “climate change skeptics” “are already having an impact in abandoning former President Barack Obama’s attempt to help unite the world against the threat of rising sea levels, worsening storms and spreading droughts.”
But there’s good evidence that the rate of sea-level rise, which has occurred since the end of the Ice Age some 18,000 years ago, has not accelerated during the period of allegedly human-induced global warming, according to one of the world’s leading experts on sea level, Niklas Mörner.
And the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—the hotbed of global warming alarmism—specified in its 2012 special report on extreme weather that it’s not possible to draw a causal relationship between global warming and any increase in the frequency or intensity of extreme weather events, and indeed there has been no such increase.
But Holden has more beefs. Trump and his advisors have “kicked scientists off advisory boards, repudiated the Obama administration’s greenhouse gas regulations and made the U.S. the only nation on Earth to reject the 2015 Paris agreement on global warming.”
But there are still scientists on the advisory boards. What the Trump Administration did—e.g., at the Environmental Protection Agency—was to decide that scientists whose work is funded by a given agency can’t serve its advisory boards. That’s common sense to prevent conflicts of interest.
The Obama Administration’s greenhouse gas regulations, like the Clean Power Plan (on which, in unprecedented action, the Supreme Court put a stay even before Obama left office), would have had no significant effect—indeed, far too small to measure—on global average temperature, though they’d have cost the American economy hundreds of billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs while driving electricity prices skyward. Repudiating such policies is smart.
Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris agreement also made sense. Even assuming the warmists’ own estimates of how much warming comes from adding CO2 to the atmosphere and how much CO2 implementing the Paris agreement would keep from being added to the atmosphere, full implementation would prevent at most 0.3ºF of warming by the year 2100, at a cost of roughly $23.3 to $46.6 trillion per tenth of a degree. Is it any surprise that the author ofThe Art of the Deal thought that was a bad deal?
And most of the other countries that signed onto the Paris agreement made no commitment to reduce their CO2 emissions. They’re in it largely to become beneficiaries of the intended $100 billion per year global climate fund that would transfer money from developed to developing nations.
The real news is that the Trump Administration isn’t held captive to the exaggerated fears of climate alarmists. That’s good news for America, and good news for the world.