Hot-headed they may be, but the Thomas Friedmans of our world aren’t exactly “on fire.”
In a recent New York Times op-ed, Thomas Friedman called Republican presidential hopefuls Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann “crazy” because they doubt man-made global warming. But his argument smacks of the desperation of the Cult of Algore as it sinks under the weight of science, Solyndra, and logic.
After beginning with his ad hominem attack, always the refuge of those who know they’re about to lose an argument, Friedman makes one error of logic after another.
First, he argues that Perry’s rejection of man-made climate change is crazy because Texas “is on fire.” In other words, the fact that there is hot weather means that there is man-made climate change. This sort of example, while dramatic, confuses a short-term situation with a long-term phenomenon.
But, while risking committing the logical error of “appeal to authority,” on which more in a moment, I might point Mr. Friedman to a NY Times article from last year in which the author writes, “Of the festivals of nonsense that periodically overtake American politics, surely the silliest is the argument that because Washington is having a particularly snowy winter it proves that climate change is a hoax…” In other words, a brief event does not prove anything about multi-generational trends. The author of that article was one Thomas Friedman who was, to be sure, still arguing for man-made global warming, but using essentially the opposite of his current argument.
Next, Friedman offers a “false cause” along with an unfalsifiable proposition, arguing that instead of global warming, the phenomenon should be called “global weirding” because “the weather gets weird.” In other words, if the weather gets “weirder” than before, Friedman will attribute it to man-made factors. People tend to forget past weather except for the most destructive storms, and so almost any period of “weird” weather will likely strike many as weirder than the past. If he wants to talk about weird, he must use quantifiable data, such as frequency and intensity of Atlantic hurricanes — for which the data show no correlation with atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Now back to “appeal to authority”: Friedman proceeds to say “this is high school physics,”, referring to an article on a website of the far-left organization, ThinkProgress, in which a climatologist explains that a warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor “so the effects of the drought are magnified by higher evaporation rates.”
Beyond the fact that anyone can write anything on a website (and I ask you to check my data below), Friedman has a couple of big problems here. First, he neglects to mention that the same climatologist says just prior to the words he quotes that “We often try to pigeonhole an event, such as a drought, storm, or heat wave into one category: either human or natural, but not both. What we have to realize is that our natural variability is now occurring on top of, and interacting with, background conditions that have already been altered by long-term climate change.” In other words, nowhere in the material that Freidman is using for evidence does his quoted authority actually say that Texas’s troubles are primarily or even substantially man-made.
More importantly, Friedman conveniently ignores the most recent science related to climate change, a story that consumers of “mainstream” media certainly have not heard: New data from NASA satellites show that our atmosphere is trapping much less heat than any of the alarmist models predict, implying much less future warming than Algore and Thomas Friedman would like to scare us into expecting.
As long as Friedman wants to appeal to authority, I might suggest a more credible one: On the same day in which Thomas Friedman’s opinion was printed in the New York Times, Dr. Ivar Giaever, a winner of the Nobel Prize in physics (and who endorsed Barack Obama in 2008), resigned from the American Physical Society following that group’s claim that it is “incontrovertible [that man-made] global warming is occurring.”
His letter to the APS gets right to the point of how science has been perverted by the Carbon Cult: “In the APS it is ok to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible? The claim (how can you measure the average temperature of the whole earth for a whole year?) is that the temperature has changed from ~288.0 to ~288.8 degree Kelvin in about 150 years, which (if true) means to me is that the temperature has been amazingly stable, and both human health and happiness have definitely improved in this ‘warming’ period.” It’s no wonder that Giaever realizes that “global warming has become a new religion,” and that “We frequently hear about the number of scientists who support it. But the number is not important: only whether they are correct is important.”
Friedman is going somewhere with his scare tactic argument, regardless of its obvious weaknesses, somewhere much more expensive than Beverly Hills or Bora Bora and just as unaffordable to most Americans.
After saying that the critics of the economics of green jobs “have a point — sort of,” Friedman finds the magic potion for his particular cult, an idea that can create “green jobs” and reduce carbon emissions. And all it takes is for you to destroy your own standard of living!
There is only one effective, sustainable way to produce “green jobs,” and that is with a fixed, durable, long-term price signal that raises the price of dirty fuels and thereby creates sustained consumer demand for, and sustained private sector investment in, renewables. Without a carbon tax or gasoline tax or cap-and-trade system that makes renewable energies competitive with dirty fuels, while they achieve scale and move down the cost curve, green jobs will remain a hobby.
In other words, “green jobs” will only be competitive if we make driving your car, heating your house, and buying anything that requires transportation to get to the store (which is to say, almost everything you ever buy) much more expensive. Friedman’s plan would make electricity prices “necessarily skyrocket,” to quote Barack Obama from his San Francisco reveries.
It’s a remarkable prescription from a liberal given that this is the single most regressive tax one could propose. Low-income people spend a major percentage of their incomes on food, transportation, and utilities; Friedman’s plan would be devastating for them unless — as the Democrats would no doubt propose – upper income earners then subsidize the higher costs for lower earners, turning climate change into just another method of wealth distribution.
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