Samuelson On Climate Change Epilogue: A Telling—And Irresponsible— Rebuttal


As one of the commenters to the recent post here about Washington Post op-ed columnist Robert Samuelson’s clear-eyed assessment of climate change hucksterism noted, Samuelson’s analysis isn’t exactly a bolt from the blue. Such inconvenient truths are seldom articulated in the mainstream media, however. (A similar article turned up in, of all places, The Huffington Post, which usually favors climate change fascists calling for the arrest of people like Samuelson and other critics whose blasphemy is ensuring the end of the human race.) Samuelson’s column prompted this Washington Post Letter to the Editor from Peter Hildebrand, who is director emeritus of the Earth Sciences Division of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. It caused me to spit out my morning coffee yesterday:

In his defeatist op-ed concerning climate change, “Can we set the planet’s temperature?” [Dec. 28], Robert J. Samuelson sold short human abilities for scientific understanding and for creative innovations that change and improve how we live. As the Paris climate accord notes, we have solid scientific understanding of our options for limiting Earth’s rising temperature, and, with this knowledge, we can set a path for achieving these goals.

Mr. Samuelson failed to realize that we are already in a second Industrial Revolution, an energy revolution, that will be as unstoppable and positive as the first one. The switch to a largely renewable energy mix is already underway, driven as much by economic opportunity and technological innovation as by a social imperative based on scientific understandings. Mr. Samuelson also failed to note that in order to ensure that our grandchildren have the comfortable life they deserve, this energy revolution is critically needed. We need to embrace and support this revolution, not fight it.

That’s some rebuttal, isn’t it? Samuelson presents facts that persuasively suggest that that the measures “agreed on” in Paris are based on speculation, unwarranted belief in inadequate energy alternatives, and unrealistic projections, and this climate change advocate, presumably a scientist, responds with, essentially…

1. Don’t be such a Gloomy Gus!

2. We can do anything if we set our minds to it!

3. “We can set a path for achieving these goals” or in other words,

4. “The switch to a largely renewable energy mix is already underway,” which in no way explains how fossil fuels are going to be replaced in time to meet these goals. This is roughly the same as saying that the transition to world peace is already underway, or that the human race’s evolution to  a species that will live for centuries is underway.

5. “This energy revolution is critically needed” so, an intelligent advocate implies, we should make policy as if it’s here already.

The letter has no substance, just cheerleading, bravado, false certitude and obfuscation. This is what the climate change lobby, including all of its political members like President Obama, have been feeding the gullible and ignorant public through the equally gullible, and also biased, news media for over a decade now. The irony is that this kind of empty advocacy is exactly like the Bush Administration’s hyping of WMD’s as a rationale for invading Iraq.

Oh, they believed the WMD’s were there (and they wanted to believe), but they had inadequate proof to justify their policies, and because they really wanted support for those policies, they used bluster and double-talk to substitute for hard, substantive, reliable facts.

Is it lying? Not exactly. It is irresponsible, however. And it is infuriating to see the very same group of ideologues who have screamed “Bush lied!” embracing the  tactics and fallacies they have derided to justify climate change advocacy using guesses, hopes and confirmation bias.

After decades of climate change debate and research, an informed advocate like Hildebrand should be able to concisely rebut Samuelson, or, in the alternative, have the integrity to admit that the economist has a valid point. Since Hildebrand can do neither, he concocts rhetorical fog to feed to the Post’s mostly climate change-receptive liberal readership, confident that it will be sufficient to put their minds at ease.

It works, too.


8 thoughts on “Samuelson On Climate Change Epilogue: A Telling—And Irresponsible— Rebuttal

  1. There are several ways someone can become emeritus — it can be a mark of distinguished service … or it can be conferred automatically on anyone who retires at a given rank … instead of, say, a gold watch and a handshake.

  2. My take on his letter was that the energy revolution is already underway and is unstoppable. Great! Mission Accomplished! Let’s just sit back and watch it fix itself.

    Of course, that attitude relies on market forces that play out without deliberate human intervention, which is probably not what he had in mind.

  3. Agreed, that he can’t or won’t answer with some substance is signature of many boosters. What bothers me is that he was a director who would have explained complex space things for the general public, a position for clarity and transparency. This response is just sputtering and calling on pie in the sky.

  4. One of the great concerns for me in the ‘save the world’ push is environmental. It is the fact that in so many minds Alternative = Environmentally Friendly, without ever looking into the physics and engineering.

    My pet love/hate is wind turbines. Just because they don’t blow smoke out of their arse (that’s an Aussie ass y’all!) doesn’t mean they are environmentally friendly. How can anyone believe that you can draw Terra-Watts of energy out of our weather system without having an environmental impact?

    I love wind turbines, they are beautiful technological masterpieces. I hate wind farms and the idea that we should try and provide for our energy needs by sapping the life out of our environment; especially whilst blindly claiming we are doing something wonderful to protect it.

    I admit to having said this on Ethics Alarms before so I trust you will forgive me doing a re-run. Yes, it’s an ethics issue, amongst others, and so valid to comment here!

  5. This guy’s letter could be boiled down to “Yes we can!” The authentic American gibberish used by the first Obama campaign.

  6. This is what NASA (except for Jet Propulsion Labs) has descended to. It has fallen from an historic, mission oriented team that successfully put men on the Moon to a government white elephant; feeding off its past glories, trying to justify its existence with side issues that have no bearing on manned space travel (but are politically correct!) and occasionally spouting off with big plans that are doomed to the scrap heap from conception. It’s time to give manned space exploration back to the Air Force (who had it first and should never have lost it) and disband NASA entirely. It’s mission was essentially over in 1972 and its maintenance since then a waste of taxpayer money.

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