I thought that Max Boot’s analogy between the conventional wisdom on climate change and the pre-war intelligence on Iraq’s WMD’s was an apt one. But I’m not sure why he concluded from this that conservatives should abandon their skepticism about efforts to “fight” climate change by curtailing CO2 emissions. It seems to me that one should logically draw the opposite conclusion—namely, that we ought to be wary of the “consensus” of “experts” on matters where the uncertainty is large, the stakes are high, and political pressures are at work.
In this respect, the latest IPCC Summary for Policymakers doesn’t really do much to change the picture. (These summaries have tended to offer a rather skewed representation of the actual reports they purport to summarize, as the Wall Street Journal reminds us.) The latest summary hardly even qualifies as news: it merely reiterates the “consensus” that human activity has contributed to an increase in the atmospheric levels of various greenhouse gases, and that such increases are correlated with climate change. Whereas previous IPCC reports told us that a causal relationship was simply likely, now we are told that it is almost certain. The question is, precisely what kind of causation is almost certain?