walter russell mead peter berger lilia shevtsova adam garfinkle andrew a. michta
Published on: March 9, 2010
A Good NYT Post on Climate

I’ve done my share of Times-bashing on the climate change issue, so it’s a pleasure to see a thoughtful and sensible piece by Times writer Andrew Revkin.  Unfortunately it’s on the web rather than in the print edition where it might do more good, but Revkin makes some strong points in a post that is well worth the reading.  Essentially, he’s making the point (one familiar to readers of this site) that what we have here is less a science controversy than a policy fight.  The rules are different and a lot of climate scientists and advocates haven’t quite figured that out.

I don’t think Revkin quite gets all the dimensions of the policy failure that the climate change movement has made, but in calling the proposed global system a “Rube Goldberg” like device he’s certainly on the right track.

Anyway, read the whole thing.  If the climate change movement listens to Revkin, we will be well on the road to a more sensible and constructive debate on this issue.

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  • Jack

    Rube Goldberg was known for creating needlessly complex machines to perform simple, mundane tasks.

    As opposed to ‘climate change’, which is, in all honesty, closer to a perpetual motion machine. (A machine, the simpler the better which, it is claimed, produces more energy than is originally input. Basic physics proves this to be impossible. The perpetual motion machine is a myth.)

    Mead’s comments re Revkin’s article confirm a personal observation: reading the NYT leaves the reader less informed and less able to think rationally.

    I would like to add that no matter what one’s desires might be, “a more sensible and constructive debate on this issue” matters not one iota if the science of AGW is in fact wrong.

    First it was “Global Warming”, and then, when the planet didn’t cooperate, re-branding ensued, thus Climate Change! Then it became “The debate is over! The science is settled!” And when that lie was exposed we now need, we are informed, “a more sensible and constructive debate” on the issue. Why have a debate, when the issue is about data and science?

    Climate scientists still refuse to release their data and code, but think a better marketing strategy is the answer.

    The climate data centers of the world still have not released their reasons for ‘data homogenization’, their methods and justifications for ‘data averaging’ and nor have they released the reasons why they have reduced the numbers of temperature stations, especially at higher elevations.

    All the skeptics want is to have all the data, all of the code and to have the reasoning and methods explained. Publicly. Online. Under oath. And it is the skeptics who should be asking any follow-up questions. If there is nothing wrong with the science of global warming, how can this be a problem?

    Anything less than that is a con. Or as Messrs. Mead and Revkin would have it, “a more sensible and constructive debate.”

  • Luke Lea

    Speaking of Rube Goldberg, Cap-and-Trade strikes me as a deeply flawed approach to carbon reduction, even assuming that such reduction is called for. Didn’t Enron manipulate carbon futures back in the day? Once private corporations lay out big bucks for carbon offsets, don’t they have a vested interest in cap-and-trade from that day forward? (Maybe that is supposed to be a feature instead of a bug?) It is also easy to imagine Third World dictators treating these off-sets as bribes to prevent the economic development of their societies.

    But, hey, what do I know? Real economists like Paul Krugman marvel at the theoretical elegance of the cap-and-trade stragegy.

  • Luke Lea

    BTW, you should give your commenters the ability to edit or at least delete and resubmit their comments. Some of us are half-blind, old, and have fat fingers.

    • Walter Russell Mead

      I will pass on the suggestion to the teams of tech wizards toiling away in the imposing computer wing of the GHQ.

  • Steve

    Jack has this nailed. ‘Let’s talk’ is just a fallback strategy.

    A year ago, these people were attacking the character of anyone who stood in their way. Now they want to talk. But they are wolves.

  • Randy


    Can Revkin’s point be further simplified? It boils down to ‘ought’ vs. ‘is’. Science, properly understood, deals with what ‘is’. As such, scientists need to be very, very careful (and humble) about crossing the line into ‘ought’, because ‘ought’ is not purely a science question. That climate scientists and activists think the rules are different leads me to wonder how they continually fail to grasp this.

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