Only Advisers

Through the magic of Twitter, I was having yesterday an interesting conversation with a Greenpeace member in New Zealand. However, the magic of Twitter is limited to 140 character bites so here I am trying to give a little bit more depth to the interaction.

Off the bat my Kiwi friend dismissed any arguments from scientists that are not on the "approved scientists list" or rather that are in the "forbidden list" for whatever reason. 

One such case is Richard A. Muller. The reason for "banning" him is that he is purportedly paid by the Koch brothers.

I wonder if being paid by a government agency makes a scientist automatically more credible... 

Well, I've just read his book, Energy for Future Presidents and his conclusions hardly match those of an official "denier." In particular, in this book he categorically concludes that: 

1. Global warming is real. 
2. Global warming is caused almost exclusively by CO2 in the atmosphere. 

Were the Koch brother's censors asleep at the wheel?

So, maybe the reason he is considered a heretic in the green fringe is another one.

Yes, if you continue reading his book, you'll notice that he is a believer in nuclear energy (just like James Hansen, James Lovelock and many other scientists) and is not a particularly vocal promoter of "renewables" or, God forbid, electric vehicles. 

So maybe that is the problem with Muller. Is it that to be considered a "credible scientist" you have to accept both that global warming is real, plus preach that renewables are the one and only solution?

I don't know.

Then my Kiwi friend also dismissed off the bat Alex Epstein because "he is not a climate scientist." So, in other words, for somebody to have an opinion in the climate discourse he has to be vetted by the IPCC or at least by Rep. Raul Grijalva? 

Hmmm... here we part ways. I see it differently: scientists should be advisers but under no circumstances should they lead "climate action."

Why? Because "climate action" is not fully, or even primarily a scientific endeavor. No, "climate action" would be a scientific, economic, political, engineering, psychological, etc., issue.

Scientists' views tend to be narrow and thus they cannot fully appreciate the implications and complexities of significantly reducing our fossil fuel consumption.

Lots of common sense, engineering, R&D, political wrangling, psychology (say, for "curing" irrational nuclear fear), compromises, money, entrepreneurs, etc., would be needed to actually begin reducing our CO2 emissions in a gradual way that doesn't kill the patient in our haste to save it. 

Also, "nothing is all good or all bad" and as Alex Epstein (who is not, repeat,  a "climate scientist") states: fossil fuels do much more good than harm. We don't need to be scientists to appreciate this. Or do we? 

So, in summary, climate science might (or might not) be settled but "climate action" would require all sectors of society to be involved and participating. To state that we should blindly follow "scientific consensus" is at the very least irresponsible and at the worst could be altogether dangerous. 

So no, we won't stop making questions or demanding answers in the climate discourse. 

Thank you.


Ed Darrell said…
Were you quoting Muller as a heretic, or since he recanted the heresy?

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