A Predictably Liberal Take on Global Warming

By Conor Clarke

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Jim Manzi slaps me with two charges of being a predictable liberal and one (implicit) charge of being insufficiently familiar with the blogging oeuvre of Jim Manzi. Your honor, I'd like to contest one of those charges. Manzi says I claim the science "now says things will be even worse than we previously thought," as a way to "inflate the analyzed costs of global warming." I think that pretty adeptly misses the point of my last post, so let me try making it again.

Once more: I don't think making a compelling case for regulating carbon emissions requires cherrypicking the most apocalyptic warming estimate. (The cherrypicking is sufficient but not necessary.) Even if we maximize the shared space of factual agreement -- by looking at the uncontroversial 2007 IPCC report -- it's fairly easy to find a compelling case for regulating emissions. That case doesn't rest on the prediction of a world in which Manhattan is underwater and global output -- much less American output -- falls by 10 or 15 percent. The case for regulation rests on those things happening to developing nations that are (1) less responsible for and (2) less able to adapt to climate change.  

Is that a predictable, moralistic, high-horse liberal crusade? Yup. But, happily and naturally, being predictable doesn't imply being wrong. And I don't even get the sense that Manzi thinks the crusade is "wrong." He just thinks it's "not as obvious" as I suggest. Well, inquiring minds can decide for themselves. Here's a link to the latest IPCC report. Give it a read.


Picture of some predictable liberal via Wikimedia Commons.
 

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2009/06/a-predictably-liberal-take-on-global-warming/20235/