Another round of mendacity (or lunacy) on global warming

George Will’s unspeakably irresponsible musings on climate change this weekend (TPM dissects it with the serious analysis it does not deserve.) prompt the following two reflections:

It was cooler last night than it was twelve hours before, and that was true almost everywhere on the planet. Day after day, anywhere you look, again and again it’s gotten cooler, and it will again tomorrow. Want long-term trends? Check out the temperatures anywhere in the US over the last six months; down, down, down. Same with sea level rise: I was out with my dogs at the shore yesterday, and I could see the sea level going down right in front of me. It’s called ebb tide, and any idiot can see how it refutes climate alarmism. We don’t need no stinking scientists, just go to the beach and watch!

Anyway, if there is any global warming, it’s not man-made, so we shouldn’t do anything about it. This principle presumably will apply to the incoming asteroid, especially because the space mission to blow it up or steer it will entail higher taxes, or (gasp!) deficit spending, classic generational theft. Not to mention the next earthquake: not man-made, not something we should do anything about, like onerous building codes or relief efforts afterwards. Flouting the will of God by interfering with His planetary works surely invites more trouble down the line. Ignoring the lessons of His Will is impious, and probably risky as well.

The most interesting point in Will’s column is his embrace of popular judgment (especially in a population that is even more down with evolution after a century and a half than, um, the Turks are) as a guide to risk analysis. He’s probably aware, as the rest of us are not, of the revolution in biology (I mean what living things do, not what scientists think about it) in the early 20th century. In one country after another (but not everywhere, yet) viruses and bacteria had to step up and start causing diseases previously incited by night air, stepping on cracks in the sidewalk, deficient piety, and all those other causes, because people came to believe they did! Praise be for public opinion; I can almost feel the climate cooling down as the global warming poll numbers drag the atmosphere back into line!

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.