Manzi vs Levin, Ctd

Manzi responds once more to Andy McCarthy:

If [me and Andy] end up opposing many of the same policies, why, then, don’t I just quiet down? There are two ways to answer that.

The first is that we all have our jobs to do. The job of a writer is to do his best to write things that he believes to be correct. This has been my motivation (as far as it is possible to know my own mind) in writing what I have on the topic. One implication of trying to reason forward from facts to conclusions in this specific case is that the current scientific evidence about the level of climate change threat does justify some actions: primarily, in my view, investing in “break-glass-in-case-of-emergency” geo-engineering technologies, so that we have options available to us in the unlikely event that climate change turns out to be much worse than currently anticipated. Another is that if future scientific evidence of a more severe threat from global warming comes to light, then one should respond to that information rationally by changing policy preferences, and not view this as some kind of philosophical defeat.

The second answer is the more tactical. Though this has not been my motivation, it is my view that by attacking the scientific process, conservatives have needlessly disadvantaged themselves in achieving their desired policy outcomes.

First, it has prevented conservatives from rolling the ball downhill from widely-accepted scientific findings to the policy conclusion that the costs of emissions mitigation don’t justify the benefits – which would put climate policy advocates in the position of arguing that the science is wrong, or that it is suddenly changing, or that we ought to do give up trillions of dollars for what is in effect a massive foreign aid program, or whatever. And second, it takes away what seems to me to be a position in reaction to proposals for new carbon taxes or cap-and-trade that normal voters would see as natural and believable coming from a Republican / conservative politician: Problem exists; solution costs too much.

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