Sunday, April 26, 2009

When Science Begets Politics

Thomas Fuller calls himself a liberal skeptic on environmental issues. At, he writes:

Some of the science regarding global warming is settled. The globe has been warming, the greenhouse effect is real, and doubling CO2 will increase temperatures (although we don't know by how much). However, we are still within the normal band of temperatures for the past 10,000 years, warming has not increased for the past 10 years, and it is quite possible that our contributions to greenhouse gases will be swamped by other, greater forces of natural origin, such as volcanoes or sunspots.

The scientific issues that remain will probably not be settled until data collection improves. Only about 11% of the temperature measurement stations in the U.S. meet specifications. There aren't enough measurement stations, especially in the atmosphere, the ocean and in space. I am hoping that Obama's energy program will correct this.

I specifically hope that the CO2 measuring satellite that failed on launch some months back will be speedily replaced and successfully relaunched.

Otherwise, what I conclude from the global warming controversy is that it is similar to other controversies that started with science, but ended with politics.

As for the Obama administration's environmental proposals:

It is the smartest policy initiative to come out of Washington in a long time. This includes the cap and trade policy, which Republicans are cynically characterising as a tax increase, which it clearly isn't.

I think that President Obama's only mis-step is tying the policy so closely to global warming, which evidently reduces Republican support, proving that Republicans are as short-sighted and anti-science now as they were under George Bush. Take the label off the policy and present it as what's right for America for a dozen obvious reasons, and mention that it also buys us insurance against the possibility of future global warming, and it becomes politically palatable.

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