Wednesday, July 02, 2008

WSJ: "Global Warming as Mass Neurosis"

There is a danger of this blog turning into a social commentary on global warming but this Wall Street journal gives us two things: (1) it gives us a US perspective, (2) it links to behavioral economics and the actions of crowds.

This article also throws in a large number of facts and figures that may fly in the face of popular conceptions. For example, that the oceans have seen a slight cooling effect.

Bring on the scientists to counter these data with pro-climate change numbers. As always, economists should endeavor to understand both sides of every argument. Interestingly the term "apocalypse" gets another outing in this article.

Global Warming as Mass Neurosis [Wall Street Journal]


But mother nature has opinions of her own. NASA now begrudgingly confirms that the hottest year on record in the continental 48 was not 1998, as previously believed, but 1934, and that six of the 10 hottest years since 1880 antedate 1954. Data from 3,000 scientific robots in the world's oceans show there has been slight cooling in the past five years, never mind that "80% to 90% of global warming involves heating up ocean waters," according to a report by NPR's Richard Harris.

The Arctic ice cap may be thinning, but the extent of Antarctic sea ice has been expanding for years. At least as of February, last winter was the Northern Hemisphere's coldest in decades. In May, German climate modelers reported in the journal Nature that global warming is due for a decade-long vacation. But be not not-afraid, added the modelers: The inexorable march to apocalypse resumes in 2020.

The author then raises the following interesting question with yet another link to a higher being. Do readers agree with the statement in bold?

If even slight global cooling remains evidence of global warming, what isn't evidence of global warming? What we have here is a nonfalsifiable hypothesis, logically indistinguishable from claims for the existence of God. This doesn't mean God doesn't exist, or that global warming isn't happening. It does mean it isn't science.

Now we get to the economics and the role of global warming as a new economic ideology to counter unbridled capitalism. The author may have a point but so might the alarmists. Where does this blog fit it? This is a great paragraph for many reasons.

The first is as a vehicle of ideological convenience. Socialism may have failed as an economic theory, but global warming alarmism, with its dire warnings about the consequences of industry and consumerism, is equally a rebuke to capitalism. Take just about any other discredited leftist nostrum of yore – population control, higher taxes, a vast new regulatory regime, global economic redistribution, an enhanced role for the United Nations – and global warming provides a justification. One wonders what the left would make of a scientific "consensus" warning that some looming environmental crisis could only be averted if every college-educated woman bore six children: Thumbs to "patriarchal" science; curtains to the species.


The final sentence should raise a few eyebrows. Read the full article to get more of a context.

Global warming is sick-souled religion.


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