Compare and contrast the very able in-house editorial writers of the Wall Street Journal and any other given daily newspaper--take the New York Times if you like. I guarantee you any objective analysis of the writing, to say nothing of the actual merit of the ideas expressed, will come out in favor of the WSJ's Daniel Henninger, Holman Jenkins, Bret Stephens and the rest.
All policy salesmanship naturally defaults toward the proposition of huge benefits and negligible costs (i.e., free lunchism). Isn't that where Al Gore is today?It seems to me that the climate of opinion surrounding climate change is beginning to change.
Mr. Gore notes that he has poured his own money into two climate action nonprofits, but, whatever his self-felt motives, aren't these nonprofits functionally propaganda arms (i.e., advertising) that benefit his for-profit investments?
The truth is, evidence of man's impact on climate remains maddeningly elusive, in part because man's impact on climate is so small as to be hard to disentangle from natural variability. This is not Mr. Gore's position, of course. If anything, however, the case for action has become less closed since he pronounced it closed in 1989, if only because of the huge sums and manpower poured into the subject to little avail.
In retrospect, a significant moment was the falling apart or debunking of two key attempts seemingly well-suited to clinch matters for a scientifically literate public. One, the famous hockey stick graph, which suggested the temperature rise of the past 100 years was unprecedentedly steep, was convincingly challenged. The other, a mining of the geological record to show past episodes of warming were sharply coupled with rising CO2 levels, fell victim to a closer look that revealed that past warmings had preceded rather than followed higher CO2 levels.
These episodes from a decade ago testified to one important thing: Even climate activists recognized a need for evidence from the real world. The endless invocation of computer models wasn't cutting it. Yet today the same circles are more dependent than ever on predictions made by models, whose forecasts lie far enough in the future that those who rely on them to make policy prescriptions are in no danger of being held accountable for their reliability.
For a while the media could patch over the scientific shortfall by reporting evidence of warming as if it were evidence of what causes warming. Inconveniently, however, just as temperature-measuring has become more standardized and disciplined and less reliant on flaky records from the past (massaged to the Nth degree), the warming trend seems to have faded from the recent record.
As in, people aren't willing to give up Western Civilization in the vague and vain hope that it may forestall some far off future, unproven, and ridiculous prophecy of doom.
(h/t Scott L.)
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