The Climate Debate Progression
Finally, the climate debate tip is right in front of us, and a predetermined outcome in view. The climate science "skeptics" have held sway over the media for decades but at long last seem to be running low on intellectual ammo, if not credibility. And the 'silent majority' of scientists are speaking out publicly and boldly: a sign of positive rational change. The ghost of Galileo (pictured) smiles down from heaven as the tower is unlocked. Take the recent example of Naomi Oreskes (see her often cited paper Beyond the Ivory Tower: The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change) who has written an op ed piece for publication in the Wall Street Journal and another, in greater depth, in the Los Angeles Times, which stated: "To be sure, there are a handful of scientists, including MIT professor Richard Lindzen, the author of the Wall Street Journal editorial, who disagree with the rest of the scientific community. To a historian of science like me, this is not surprising. In any scientific community, there are always some individuals who simply refuse to accept new ideas and evidence. This is especially true when the new evidence strikes at their core beliefs and values." We especially enjoyed her analogy to the scientific consensus process around plate tectonics. Highy recommended reading. Now back to our progression.
Economics is the next-most convenient way to confuse and alienate the public about climate issues. By the fall of 2006, expect an outpouring of economic gloom and doom studies from experts at the usual Think Tanks matched perhaps by a few "can do" economic impact studies. And, expect a much confused print and broadcast media: offering up a "he-said", "she-said" dichotomy devoid of meaning.
And if "the dark science" debate does not do the job, Halloween will be the perfect time to scare people with the prospect of higher heating bills: carbon tax tooo scary; mandatory transportation efficiency tooo scary.
Economic debate and energy bill fear mongering do not mark the end of the progression. Like all good stories, there will be sub-plots with mysterious outcome. One such thread is the leadership effect of companies like Wal-Mart, GE, Intel, and BP. Business is capable of teaching government to lead in the right direction, at least, pointing out that conservation of resources drives green design and can benefit the economy.
If global geopolitical conflicts continue to amplify, oil prices are predetermined to become increasingly volatile as well. The price signal (carbon tax- and regulatory-mandate driven economic impacts) will be masked by the global noise in oil price fluctuations. Economists are as incapable of adding precision to geopolitical variables as anyone else. At the end of the modeling run, then, it comes down to human instinct: the final driver of every tipping point. Economic modelling will be over-run by the noise of reality.