Cheap Seats 2019
Opportunity Knocking - 03/20
By Rich Trzupek
It’s sad, but the nature of public discourse today is becoming more and more about preventing public discourse. As much as people often say they want to “have a conversation” about contentious issues, most really don’t. They want to stifle debate, not encourage it. Terms like “hate speech,” “dog whistle” and “denier” are routinely used in the effort to muzzle those who dare to disagree.
The proposed Presidential Committee on Climate Security, which we’ll short-hand to PCCS, is just the latest example of the trend. The people and organizations that use the term “denier” to belittle anyone who disagrees with some portion of climate change orthodoxy are apoplectic about the formation of such a committee. One cannot help but wonder why.
If the science is so abundantly clear that the climate is changing almost entirely because of human activities, that those changes are so terrible that extreme measures are called for – damn the cost – and that the United States can unilaterally implement mitigation that will have a meaningful and measurable effect, then I would think those who believe all of the above would welcome the creation of the PCCS. It would provide them with a unique opportunity to prove how certainly the “science is settled” with respect to those diverse aspects of climate change I have described.
There is no shortage of people who have zero or close to zero understanding of climatology, physics, atmospheric chemistry, thermodynamics and the economics of emissions reductions who are ready to weigh in on climate change with all the certainty of scientists who were sure that a mysterious substance named “phlogiston” was responsible for the phenomenon we call combustion. In the late 18th century the great French chemist Antoine Lavoisier definitively proved that phlogiston theory was so much hooey. His willingness to question the conventional wisdom of his day may or may not have contributed to having his life and torso cut short by the mob and the guillotine in 1794.
Climate change alarmists rush to quote anyone who agrees with them as experts, such as the 58 military veterans who signed a petition belittling the proposed formation of the PCCS. If any of those vets understand more about climatology, physics, atmospheric chemistry, thermodynamics and the economics of emissions reductions than yours truly, I’d love to know it. There is no doubt in my mind that none of them understand any of those issues to a degree that even begins to approach that of climate-change skeptics and professional climatologists like Dr. Roy Spencer and Dr. Judith Curry.
I’m sure the vets are well-intentioned and while I’m certain that they are fully qualified to weigh in on questions like “if sea levels rise by X amount, will that affect our naval bases?” But are they experts in the incredibly complicated climate models that are used to predict disaster? Are they experts in all the complex physics and thermodynamics at play? Do they understand the tremendous cost of radical forms of mitigation like eliminating fossil fuels? I don’t’ think so. So, thanks for your service guys, but please don’t use your position to give credence to science you do not personally understand. If you choose to trust alarmists like Michael Mann and Gavin Schmidt, that’s your right, but that’s all you’re doing: choosing to believe, which is much different than knowing.
Alarmists have boxed themselves into a corner by belittling the PCCS concept. On the one hand, we are to believe that their case is so incredibly strong that it should be accepted by everyone without question. On the other hand, given the opportunity to show how settled the science supposedly is, they decline to do so. Presumably either: 1) they are unable to boil down the complex aspects of climate science to terms laymen can comprehend, meaning they are lousy teachers, or; 2) the public is incapable of understanding, meaning we’re all a bunch of idiots.
Some have likened climate-change skepticism to belief in a flat-earth. Should the government sponsor a debate about the concept of a flat earth? Well, if there were sufficient flat-earth belief out there so as to block desperately needed action to prevent global catastrophe, hell yes! Not only should we have that debate in those circumstances, scientists would be lining up in droves to destroy the flat-earthers. There are so many easily accessible, understandable proofs that the earth is spherical – proofs dating back to ancient Greece by the by – that the debate would be a slam dunk victory for reason and sound science.
If climate change alarmists are certain that their evidence is as strong and compelling as all of the evidence demonstrating the earth is not flat, why would they not embrace the opportunity to do so on the big stage? After all, the fate of the entire planet is supposedly at stake. Wouldn’t a reasonable, responsible scientist take advantage of an opportunity like this one to save it?