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Asking the Right Question on Climate Change
(U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Robert M. Trujillo)
(U.S. Air Force)

Asking the Right Question on Climate Change

Irwin M. Stelzer

Ask yourself whether Donald Trump is right that global warming is a “hoax,” or whether progressive greens are right that the science supporting it is “settled,” and you will be asking the wrong question. Both sides have strong political reasons for taking their positions, which do not conduce toward unbiased conclusions. Trump’s political incentives for dismissing the mounting although still inconclusive evidence that the globe is warming are strong indeed—think West Virginia et al. For their part, Democrats cannot help but be tempted by the opportunity for government expansion that acceptance of the global warming thesis and their proposed solutions entail.

Since we can’t be certain that the globe is warming, and we can’t be certain that it isn’t, we are in the position of a homeowner deciding whether to buy fire insurance. Ask yourself whether your home will burn down, and you will be asking the wrong question. Ask yourself whether there is a possibility that your home will burn down, and you will be asking the right question, the answer to which is “yes.” From this it follows that buying insurance against the probability of such a catastrophe is a good idea.

Similarly, ask yourself whether the globe is warming, and you would have to confess that you do not know with certainty. Ask whether there is a possibility that the globe is warming, and the answer is of course “yes.” And because we cannot dismiss the possibility that we are facing a change in our climate, prudence counsels that we do something. The obvious next question is: What?

Read the full article in The American Interest.

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