The Economist on Climate Change

This column was going to be called "Dishonest Economist" (it sort of rhymes) but I thought that was too provocative. The 5th February edition of the Economist has a story
Hotting Up (subscription required) subtitled "The debate over global warming is getting rancorous". The first thing wrong is the subtitle, because its wrong. The debate isn't getting more rancorous - in fact if anything it does seem to be settling down to the consensus view. But the Economist doesn't like that, so it is pretty well resorting to the old favourite, stir up confusion and retreat in a cloud of ink. I think this is because climate change doesn't fit into their worldview - it would complicate their lives so much if they had to take account of climate externalities, so they would rather hope and argue that there is no problem.

Beginning the article with a quote from the egregious Crichton (you get 1 point if you can spot the joke there, other than Crichton of course) is the next mistake (or perhaps a pointer - are they trying to tell us that their article is a potboiler?).

Continuing, the article says very little for a while, before supplying a nice quote from Trenberth over the Landsea affair: politics is very strong in what is going on, but it is all coming from Landsea and colleagues. He is linked to the sceptics. I'd like to know what T means by that: does he mean the Michaels paper, or something more?

Overplaying MM05 comes next (sigh) followed by a misleading section on the failed Castles and Henderson critique - they don't even mention the IPCC rebuttal.

However, there is quite a nice section on what was wrong with the Climate Change section of Lomborgs "Copenhagen consenus" project.

All in all, a bit of a waste of pages in the paper. Disappointing.


Anonymous said...

I have not read the article (no subscription). One of the few funny things in Crichton's book is that the Economist is part of the liberal media promoting global warming. On page 444 he wrote that the cover story of the Economist was: "Climate Change Rears Its Ugly Head". Only in Fantasyland.

higb said...

I've been watching this by way of Technorati for a few days. The first day I did the search, I found ten links that were on Crichton and global warming: five accepting the proposition, and five rejecting.

This is my reaction, take it with a grain of salt (or try such a search yourself), but:

1) I found those who reject global warming tend to be "hardliners" in the sense that they didn't want to see any remedies discussed. (Not even simple, easy, ones.)

2) The rejection of global warming was often tied to a political conservatism, and a mistrust of "environmentalists."

3) The most worrying sub-thread was that a few religious blogs took up the task of promoting Crichton and disproving global warming. Is (American Protestant) religion becoming anti-science?

So, while I agree that science is becoming more comfortable with its concensus, I think the debate is "Hotting Up" - fueled by what looks like an anti-science contingent.