I have been invited to present testimony for this hearing. I have been specifically asked by the minority (Republicans) to discuss how we can go about responding to the climate change issue in the face of uncertainty, dissent and disagreement.
The hearing is set for November 17 and is called “Rational Discussion of Climate Change: the Science, the Evidence, the Response.” Let me be the first to say that in some quarters and public forums, the response to this latest Judith Curry news is not likely to be rational.
Let me also be the first to say that House Republicans are likely mistaken if they think they already know what Judith Curry is going to say.
The population issue has bubbled to the surface this year, with Fred Pearce calling concerns of population growth a “green myth” and Philip Longman, more recently in Foreign Policy magazine, warning about a planet of graybeards.
It’s nearly impossible to discuss population without mentioning Paul Ehrlich’s role in the debate, and usually he comes out not looking so good. But in an interesting twist, one demography researcher argues that maybe Ehrlich’s dire predictions didn’t happen because…well…policymakers took them seriously. Here’s the thrust of the argument:
Alarmism is useful when it grabs the attention of policymakers and a public that is overloaded with information, but it is also risky. Both Pearce and Longman take jabs at Paul Ehrlich because his “population bomb” never exploded. What they fail to note is that Ehrlich’s predictions could have proven right, except that he was successful at scaring a generation of policymakers into action. Funding towards population programs increased greatly in the wake of such research.
A counter argument to this was made in 2009 by Daniel Drezner:
Ehrlich’s book committed a triple sin. First, he was wrong on the specifics. Second, by garnering so much attention by being wrong, he contributed to the belief that alarmism was the best way to get people to pay attention to the environment. Third, by crying wolf so many times, Ehrlich numbed many into not buying actual, real environmental threats.
What do you think?
Despite the lull in action, the climate wars show no sign of abating. Personally, I like Bart’s “way of harmony,” but if this is truly a street fight, then more likely we’ll end up with the political and rhetorical equivalent of scenes like this.