Climate Realism

February 24, 2013 | By More

Even with the Kyoto Protocol due to expire at the end of this year, Obama persists in giving
highest priority to climate change policy post re-elected. Does the U.S. really want to lead the
world in committing economic suicide? It pays to look at the rapidly disappearing scientific
rationale for trying to mitigate a putative future global warming.

In an essay “Why the Global Warming Skeptics are Wrong” in the New York Review of Books
of Feb. 22, 2012, Yale professor William D. Nordhaus attempts to counter the arguments of
a group of 16 prominent scientists who published an essay, “No Need to Panic about Global
Warming” in the Wall Street Journal on Jan. 27, 2012.

  • Two crucial points may have been overlooked in the debate:
  • Evidence for anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is problematic.
  • A modest warming is likely to be beneficial—not damaging.

First, some background: I have known Bill Nordhaus for about 40 years; he certainly is no wild-
eyed alarmist, but rather a highly respected specialist in environmental economics. Through
his association with the U.N. climate-science panel, he is familiar with the main arguments
supporting the IPCC’s contention that human activities, mainly rising carbon dioxide levels
from energy generation, have been responsible for much of past warming. He does not
question this IPCC claim; however, I have no reason to believe that he supports any of the
drastic CO2-mitigation schemes—be they carbon sequestration or alternative “green” energy
projects—or that he has illusions about the efficacy of the Kyoto Protocol or similar measures
of international control.

So I will simply try to address questions Prof. Nordhaus posed in his NYRB essay, to which I
responded in a (Aug. 16) letter in the NYRB. I wanted my response to reach NYRB readers,
typically liberal academics, lawyers, and teachers.

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