Award-winning science writer Matt Ridley this week published an essay full of uncommon common sense titled “My life as a climate lukewarmer.”
In general, I would describe a ‘lukewarmer’ as someone who:
- Thinks anthropogenic climate change is real but very far from being a planetary emergency.
- Takes due notice of the increasing divergence between climate model predictions and observations and the growing body of scientific literature challenging IPCC climate sensitivity estimates.
- Regards the usual pastiche of remedies — carbon taxes, cap-and-trade, renewable energy quota, CO2 performance standards — as either an expensive exercise in futility or a ‘cure’ worse than the alleged disease (depending how aggressively those policies are implemented).
- Is impressed by — and thankful for — the immense albeit usually unsung benefits of the CO2 fertilization effect on global agriculture and green things generally.
- Recognizes that poverty remains the world’s leading cause of preventable illness and premature death.
- Understands that plentiful, affordable, scalable energy (most of which comes from CO2-emitting fossil fuels) is essential to poverty eradication and progress towards a healthier, safer, more prosperous world.
For too long many in the GOP have been hoodwinked by folks like Al Gore, Greenpeace, and the UN climate glitterati into believing the key issue is whether climate change is “real.” Gore et al. would have us believe that if we accept the reality of climate change, we must also agree that global warming “threatens the survival of civilization and the habitability of the Earth,” hence that our only moral choice is to embrace their agenda of coercive de-carbonization via centralized eco-energy planning.
Consequently, many GOP politicians and activists assume that to defend the economy and oppose regulatory excess, they must deny, or at least question whether, there is any evidence linking the long-term rise of greenhouse gas concentrations with the (moderate and non-alarming) increase in global temperatures since the 1880s.
That, alas, is exactly what the warming movement wants its opponents to say, not only because it makes them look “anti-science,” but also because it tacitly affirms the alarm narrative. As if all we have to do is assent to the virtual tautology that rising greenhouse gas concentrations have a greenhouse (warming) effect, and we are compelled to concede every important scientific, economic, and moral point in a very complex debate.
Ridley’s essay sketches a coherent alternative to the alarm narrative of the left. In so doing, it also outlines an alternative to the muddled thinking on the right that makes GOP politicians cringe and flail when confronted with a silly sense of Congress resolution like that sponsored by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) in the Keystone XL Pipeline debate.