The Best Defense….

Ann cautions about downplaying the findings that the IPCC report erred in predicting the melting of Himalayan glaciers by 2035, and in the resistance of researchers to respond to FOIA requests from a climate skeptic site.

She’s right.  We shouldn’t downplay the reports: instead, we should ridicule them. 

So the glaciers won’t actually melt by 2035 — just suffer irreparable damage by then.  Wow!  How much should I flagellate myself?  This obviously trumps the continual burying of science by climate skeptics, the rewriting of government reports by Bush administration officials, and the continual hyping of junk science of climate skeptics.

The way to respond to these “problems” is to go on offense and attack the skeptics.  Pachauri’s actions were inexcusable, but they were also irrelevant to the broader picture.

I would suggest something like this as the default reaction:

Well, I’m certainly glad that climate skeptics finally believe that scientific validity should be a basis for public policy — a position they have previously rejected.  Why don’t we agree to administer punishments to all those who have played fast and loose with the science — in proportion, of course, to the egregiousness of their errors.  Maybe Pachauri — who has spent his life working in this area and has done a superb job leading IPCC until now, should get a couple of minutes in the stocks.

In comparison, Philip Cooney, who was lawyer and lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute, edited out science in official government reports during his tenure at CEQ, and is now working for ExxonMobil, should get, oh, 15 years in San Quentin.


You can find Stephen Colbert’s biography of Cooney here.

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Reader Comments

2 Replies to “The Best Defense….”

  1. We should not ridicule skeptic for being skeptics, but their opposition to taking reasonable steps to mitigate any harm from CO2 emission is not reasonable. I am a scientist, and recent law school graduate, and I have read the IPCC reports. Many of the IPCC reports scientific conclusions are based on model results incorporating assumptions which may or may not be true. Models are inherently subject to systematic errors. However the hard scientific results do highlight a number of alarming unprecedented trends. Though the probability of the harms predicted from CO2 emissions are not known with certainty, and skeptic often discount these impacts as improbable, the magnitude of the impacts are so severe and widespread on human populations that not taking some actions to reverse evenly extremely improbable impacts is unreasonable. I think that merely stating that the sources of CO2 emissions have high social utility does not override the magnitude of the harm that would occur should the models prove to be true even if the probability of this occurring were small. Why not apply game theory or economic risk theories to see if the no action alternative in the face of the inherent uncertainties of IPCC model and the magnitude of the modeled outcome would be rational.

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Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic – Land Use, the Environment and Loc…

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