Following Up: Climategate

Friday, June 24, 2011

Ron Bailey, Reason magazine science correspondent and former global warming skeptic, gives his view of why Republican presidential candidates are arguing over the science of, not just the solutions to, climate change.


Ronald Bailey

Comments [15]

amalgam from NYC by day, NJ by night

Ridiculaous. Climategate was NOT a scandal. Period.

Secondly, people are not very informed on the benefits provided the economy by switching from a fossil fuel-based economy to a clean, renewable version. Let's get with it.

Google: delay on renewables will cost U.S. trillions, over million jobs;content

Jun. 30 2011 04:46 PM
gary from queens

To Amy,

"Gary" and the last caller are one in the same. I posted because my views took longer than the 30 seconds i was given.

Callers to the Lehrer show are treated no differently than the way the dumbed-down, short attention-span programs on talk radio or cable TV treat their callers. We are considered background scenery for the host. Just to demonstrate that the host is a populist, and responsive to his listeners.

In reality, that is not the case. Calling into the show doesn't result in a conversation. The caller has about 15 seconds to utter a comment or question, before Brian or the substitute host, hits the hangup button. He does this while the caller is about to take a breath in mid sentence, or waits to rebut the slant that the guest offers.

So if you want real intelligent discussions, don't listen to Lehrer or WNYC, where they reserve 10-15 minutes to discuss climate change, or any other important public policy issue. Listen instead to WKRLA over the internet. From 3PM to 9PM EST, you will hear the Michael Medved Show followed by Hugh Hewitt.

It doesn't matter if you agree or disagree with them. Medved only accepts callers who disagree with him, and will sometimes engage with that caller for 20-30 minutes, if the caller sounds intelligent. Both hosts have had interviews and debates lasting 3 hours---the full length of their shows.

Listen to programs that treat you, the listener, with respect. Not as a prop.

Jun. 24 2011 12:28 PM
Amy from Manhattan

gary & the last caller both mentioned the economic costs of mitigating global climate upset, but the costs of doing nothing would be far higher. We're already seeing some of the effects.

To Scott: there isn't a single authority figure, but the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change studies the situation on an ongoing basis & has issued 4 Assessment Reports. Their website ( has links to the information they base their assessments on--& there's a lot of it.

Jun. 24 2011 11:38 AM

As to why climate change deniers have achieved such traction, it probably comes down to how our vaunted free (but carefully bought in many cases) press handles reports on climatology, especially global warming. Also, our second great communicator in the WH doesn't communicate very often, very much, or, alas, very well to the American people about this topic.

This American Life on Jan. 14 of this year had an interesting segment on how difficult it is to counteract propaganda spewing, from FOX in this instance, with actual facts. All the segments are interesting, but it's the Second Act:

"Act Two. Climate Changes. People Don't.

As adults battle over how climate change should be taught in school, we try an experiment. We ask Dr Roberta Johnson, the Executive Director of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, who helps develop curricula on climate change, to present the best evidence there is to a high school skeptic, a freshman named Erin Gustafson. Our question: Will Erin find any of it convincing? (14 minutes)"

Jun. 24 2011 11:09 AM

Holy Cow: a Libertarian calling for a new tax, because people don't always act in their own best interests. Ayn Rand would weep. I almost fell off my seat laughing. Still, a good example of how ridiculously hypocritical their "philosophy" of self interest is.

Jun. 24 2011 11:07 AM

The guest did not mention that the institute, with its limited resources, was inundated with requests for climate data mostly being harassment and waste of their time.

Jun. 24 2011 11:02 AM
gary from queens

With respect to climate change, both scientific and popular consensus has shifted a bit. In the last 5 years, there was a drop from 77% to 66% among those who consider global warming a significant issue. Still, at least one declared candidate I know was an early skeptic.

What is the skeptic's position on it anyway? Basically, we're indeed in a warming phase for the last century, which may be ending. At any given time, the earth is either in a cooling or warming period. Greenhouse gases have an effect on climate warming. But its significance in relation to other factors is in dispute. Conservatives opposed the EPA policy to treat CO2 as a toxin, because it is not toxic to animal life. It's considered dangerous based solely on the catastrophic scenario of the 'warmists'.

Studies show that if every nation adopted "kyoto-like" measures, it will stem the increase in warming over the next 50 years by a small fraction of of a degree. That would be insignificant. What conservatives argue is that it would disproportionately hardship the poor the world over, needlessly suppress economic expansion, which in turn will delay scientific advances in alternative (to fossil fuel) energy technologies---the very thing that will ultimately reduce greenhouse emissions, and presumably save civilization. The same reasons why conservative oppose Cap & Trade legislation.

That's the simplist distillation. The debate is NOT about who "believes in global warming." The dispute is between those who favor the catastrophic scenario, versus those who believe the situation is either not catastrophic, or else that the solutions which the catastrophic crowd suggests will be ineffective or counter-productive.

Jun. 24 2011 11:01 AM
Steve S from Jersey City

Comment on Merchants of Doubt and why the same 'scientists' that denied tobacco's health consequences are behind the denial of global warming; funded by effected industries.

Jun. 24 2011 11:01 AM

Interesting that a prior global warming skeptic, now accepting the weight of evidence proving there is global warming, but a solutions critic, is the guest to deal with a misleading comment about "Climategate" from a previous conservative guest.

Not only to comment but to say, well, yes 5 investigations found no problems with the evidence, but, hey, they didn't go far enough into the details of the reports?


Who selected this guy?

I do agree that cap and trade will not work and is offered only placate the MOTU's and give them yet another way to play the markets.

I agree that a carbon tax (but one with rebates to the less well off among us) may work.

Jun. 24 2011 11:00 AM
geo from astoria

Why do we even listen to politicians telling us about the environment?

We have scientists and experts telling us the facts about what is going on.
These are facts not opinions.

How do Republican politicians get away with declining scientific facts?

Jun. 24 2011 10:57 AM
Dorothy from Manhattan

Carbon dioxide is "natural." So is cholesterol. It occurs naturally in the body. I wonder if Michelle would be willing to chow down on a pound of lard or butter each day washed down by a milk shake and a couple of donuts.

Jun. 24 2011 10:56 AM
Dan from Brooklyn

I'm confused about Bailey's description of the Climategate scandal: He says that the University of East Anglia data came in response to the Freedom of Information Act. But the University of East Anglia is in Britain, and the FOIA is a U.S. law. Does Britain have an analogous law?

Jun. 24 2011 10:55 AM
StephenS from Jersey City

Why is University of East Anglia in England subject to the Freedom of Information act?

Jun. 24 2011 10:55 AM
Jawahar Desai from Lincoln Park, NJ

I would like to ask Rep. Michelle Bachmann: would she be willing to walk into a nuclear reactor without a protective suit? After all, Uranium is also "natural" and found "in the Earth", just like CO2 !!!

Jun. 24 2011 10:53 AM

One area on the topic that has not gotten much attention is how people assess the veracity of global warming/climate change as opposed to just the conclusion they reach from that assessment.

Some examples: do they base their assessment on what some "authority figure?" If so, whom do they qualify as an "authority figure?"

Is their assessment based on local weather events? weather events elsewhere?

Is their assessment based on side effects of warming?

With all of that, what does current science indicate as what should be the basis for an assessment?

Jun. 24 2011 10:32 AM

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