Schelling: Wall Street Journal op-ed page, 2/23/06

I don't have access to the WSJ, but via mt on sci.env I find a suggestion that they may have seen the light on Global Warming:

"I find the case for prospective greenhouse warmingto be almost beyond doubt. ...

"In the two major unspecialized scientific journals, Science and Nature, one has to go back about a decade or two to find serious doubts about the basic science, Rarely is there such scientific consensus as there is on whether the greenhouse effect is real..."

"I'd buy insurance. I'd do it prudently and without great alarm. Yet!"

More like this

Commenting on my own post; how gauche. Anyway, the full text of the op-ed is available here.

The WSJ link seems to not actually be a link.

[Steve - thanks for pointing that out. It looks like the blog software xforms things for me unless I put the URL in quotes, wot I have now done, so it should be fixed. Oh, and welcome as commenter #1 !]

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 25 Feb 2006 #permalink

Unfortunately, the editorial staffs at both Science and Nature have become politicized on the issue of global warming, as can be seen from their reception of Bjorn Lomborg. Among science journalists as well as climate scientists, it is now a matter of ideological conformity inforced by peer pressure: if you want to bask in the good opinion of your colleagues (and who doesn't?) then don't question the way in which the "issue" of global warming is being framed in the press. Yet as far as the public is concerned, the real question has never been whether global warming is real, or even whether it is being driven by the burning of fossil fuels. Rather the question is what, if anything, can we do about it?

[This is perhaps promising. You are asserting that everyone is now convinnced that GW is caused by human CO2 emissions; and that we should give less priority to that issue, and instead concentrate on responses! I would agree. Do let me know when you've convinced the likes of Prez Bush, though -W]

Given that we live in a fossil-fuel based civilization that is rapidly expanding in numbers, the answer appears to be not very much. Nobody proposes that we go back to a civilization based on animal power, and it is impossible to imagine how our wholesale dependence on fossil fuels can end, since there is little prospect of that happening within the foreseeable future. Barring a deux ex machina, it is a forgone conclusion that CO2 emissions are going to continue to rise inexorably in the decades ahead, likely at an even more rapid pace than they have in the past. To believe otherwise is wishful thinking.

Does this mean the end of civilization? Far from it. Depending on how severe global warming turns out to be, it could mean a long period of adjustment. In the worst case scenario that might include wholesale shifts in population toward the northern latitudes, occurring over a period of many decades or even centuries. Big deal. Migration and resettlement have been a recurrent theme in human history since we came out of Africa. Homo adaptus might be an even better name for our species than homo sapiens.

Luke Lea

[I think you are too pessimisitic about possible CO2 reductions, and too optimistic about possible effects. Once upon a time, people wandered where they would. Now we have borders and big fences. I understand there is a big fence in the S of the US, for example. Meanwhile, I'm still on the science not the impacts -W]