Climate “Consensus”: Everyone Should Appeal to Authority, Except for Us

by William Yeatman on February 2, 2012

in Blog

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Last week, 16 scientists published an oped in the Wall Street Journal about how global warming isn’t a big deal. Yesterday, 38 scientists published a letter in the same paper, about how global warming is a big deal. Tomato, tamato.

Personally speaking, global warming is the last of my concerns. This is the predominate view among Americans. So my eyes glazed over the science squabbles in the two letters. I did, however, find it interesting that the second letter, representing the “consensus” view, contradicted itself.

The 38 scientists concede that their 16 peers are no doubt brilliant in their respective fields, just not in the field of climate science. The 38 scientists then claim that they specialize in climate science, so their conclusions are more trustworthy. Here’s the “consensus” argument, condensed:

You published “No Need to Panic About Global Warming” (op-ed, Jan. 27) on climate change by the climate-science equivalent of dentists practicing cardiology. While accomplished in their own fields, most of these authors have no expertise in climate science… Climate experts know that the long-term warming trend has not abated in the past decade. In fact, it was the warmest decade on record.

The letter is an appeal to authority. So it is surprising that the 38 scientists conclude their letter by making a sweeping conclusion in economics, a discipline in which they profess no expertise. They write,

In addition, there is very clear evidence that investing in the transition to a low-carbon economy will not only allow the world to avoid the worst risks of climate change, but could also drive decades of economic growth. Just what the doctor ordered.

Quite contrary to what these 38 scientists would have you believe, there is no “clear evidence” that going green would “drive decades of economic growth.” In fact, the evidence suggests the opposite—that “investing in the transition to a low-carbon economy” will slow economic growth for decades. Energy is fundamental to every act of economic production; green energy is expensive and intermittent; by adding renewables to the global energy portfolio, the cost of economic production increases.

To meet the United Nations recommended greenhouse gas emissions reductions—which are endorsed by the climate “consensus”—the International Energy Agency estimates that the world would have to build 30 new nuclear power plants, 17,000 wind turbines, 400 biomass plants, two hydroelectric dams the size of China’s Three Gorges Dam, and 42 coal fired power plants equipped with still-experimental systems to sequester their carbon-dioxide emissions underground each year from 2013 to 2030. The price tag? $45 trillion. By propagating the all-gain-no-pain green jobs myth, these 38 scientists run afoul of the economic consensus that there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Lawrie Ayres February 4, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Over at WUWT Christopher Moncton gives a detailed account of the cost of doing something about Climate Change and the cost of attending to problem if and as they arise. The latter is by far the most cost effective. Besides the 38 have not identified what the problem caused by an increase in temps will be. Since the world survived the last warm period, the Medieval Warm Period, in amazingly good shape one wonders what the hype is about. The recent cold in Europe seems a much worse fate than a little warming in any case. Why do people gravitate to the equator for their holidays unless it is to grab some more sun and the associated warmth.

The 38 belong to a group who are in imminent danger of becoming irrelevant and losing their grant money. They backed the wrong horse and took us for a ride.

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