Fire-Ready-Aim: Not the basis of sound policy

The Houston Chronicle has an interesting editorial on the issue of developing global climate change policy. It looks at the long history of predicted environmental scares — from Malthus’ food shortages, to the ‘coal panic’ in the late 1800s, to Paul Ehrlich’s ‘population bomb’, to the Club of Rome’s mineral shortages, to the global cooling panic in the 70s — as the author notes, the world and humanity have soldiered on in each case and the forecasts have been forgotten, revised, or replaced with new fears.

The latest of these is concerns is, of course, global warming and the author delves into that issue as well

Dire predictions about the future of prosperous capitalist living
remain trendy, despite decades of well-documented exaggeration. Al Gore
claims a consensus in regard to his "planetary emergency" of global
climate change from fossil-fuel burning. The science is "settled," the
editorial page of Science magazine claimed last year. And note the
title of a recent conference at the Baker Institute at Rice University:
"Beyond Science: The Economics and Politics of Responding to Climate
Change."

The rest of the editorial is worth reading because it provides some valuable perspective on the history of humanity’s infatuation with predicting our impending demise and comes away thinking that our predictive abilities in that realm are not all that good. Working from that finding, it just might make sense to ‘re-open’ the arbitrarily closed debate on the issue of climate change, because

as columnist George F. Will has observed in reference to climate
science, "People only insist that a debate stop when they are afraid of
what might be learned if it continues." …

It is high time for an open debate over the human influence on climate
given that the federal government — after nearly 20 years of debate —
is still considering whether to enact mandatory limits on greenhouse
gas emissions. If the science behind climate alarmism is weak or
weakening, this should not be hidden from the public in a rush to enact
legislation. Fire-ready-aim is hardly the basis of sound public policy.

02. April 2008 by
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