Monday, November 30, 2009

A conspiracy...for what?

Smart take by Matt Yglesias:

What I wonder for those, like Senator James Inhofe and Cato Institute Vice President Roger Pilon, who seem to think these emails prove the existence of a nefarious conspiracy to defraud the public about the evidence for anthropogenic climate change is what’s the purpose of this conspiracy? You can see why, having decided that he really wants to pass a clean energy bill, John Kerry might be well-motivated to fudge the facts around the edges about various things. But what’s the upside for Kerry in taking this issue up in the first place? Or Barbara Boxer or Henry Waxman? How is it that the government of China, which is clearly reluctant to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, doesn’t seem to have any qualms with this science?


It shouldn’t take a genius to note that opposition to the scientific consensus is extremely concentrated among political movements with strong ties to the coal and oil industry. You can easily see where the upside is for them in getting this wrong. But adopting the view that the IPCC is correct really is “inconvenient” from a political point of view. Indeed, even political leaders who accept the basic outline of this climate consensus rarely actually argue in favor of reductions that are sufficiently sweeping to meet IPCC guidelines specifically because doing so is so politically problematic. This just isn’t a “good issue” to take on. But it happens to be a real problem and so, reluctantly, leaders around the world are trying to take it on.

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