An Open Letter to Climate Change Denialists

Dear Climate Deniers:

From the point of view of the blog, it’s good news that you have found us — it means that we’re reaching readers who are well outside our usual circle of friends and acquaintances.  And we also welcome dissenting views, even when we think they’re unfounded, so you folks are welcome to keep on posting comments.

I continue to think that you’re absolutely wrong — about as wrong about climate change as Chamberlain was about Hitler’s benign intentions when he announced “peace in our time.”  If you want to see my reasons in some detail, you might look at this paper.

It’s obvious, however, that there’s no point in debating the science with you — if you’re not convinced by a virtually unanimous consensus from the world’s leading scientists, you’re not going to be convinced by a group of legal scholars. You might, however, give some further thought to the issue of uncertainty.  You’re taking a huge gamble. There are three possibilities:

1. The scientists are wrong: climate change isn’t real, isn’t caused by humans, or can’t be restrained by any practical policy.

2.  The scientists are right.

3.  The scientists are wrong because climate change will be much worse than they predict, so the need to act is far more urgent.

You may think that #1 is the most likely answer.  But are you willing to bet the lives and welfare of your descendants that #2 and #3 have zero probability, like the odds that the earth is flat? Are you completely certain about that? In my view, “yes” just is not a responsible answer.

This is not to say that there is no reasonable ground for dispute about climate policy.  Although I disagree with economists like Nordhaus who feel we should go slowly with mitigation, they are certainly well within the mainstream.  That’s where the debate should be taking place.


Dan Farber