OLYMPIA — The Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee hosted a global warming skeptic on Tuesday who testified for more than an hour that it’s a bunch of hooey.
Don Easterbrook, an emeritus geology professor from Western Washington University, told lawmakers that there is no global warming, that the Antarctic ice sheet is not melting, sea levels are not rising and severe storms are not increasing in frequency.
And one more: “CO2 cannot possibly cause global warming. The reason is because there is so little of it. It is a trace gas,” Easterbrook said. “If you double nothing you still have nothing.”
The Times article continues,
Easterbrook was invited by the panel’s chairman, GOP Sen. Doug Ericksen, of Ferndale, who has said he has doubts about climate change himself.
Ericksen’s committee recently stripped language out of a bill, requested by Gov. Jay Inslee, that asserted the state was experiencing a series of problems because of climate change. Inslee has testifed that there’s no debate about the science and that Washington should become a leader in dealing with climate change.
Democrats on the committee questioned Easterbrook’s statements.
With all due respect, it would appear that Sen. Ranker clearly does not understand the role of peer review, nor the role of science in getting at the truth. WE would hate to think he would prefer not to let inconvenient facts get in the way of landmark public policy.
Sen. Ranker asked Dr. Easterbrook why the overwhelming body of peer reviewed articles support anthropogenic global warming. The reason, which Easterbrook chose not to provide, is that government grants, and career advancement in certain fields of research, only support the pursuit of "politically correct" results.
Peer review does not guarantee the truth. Done right, it can sometimes help. But it can also go horribly wrong. Scientists are just as prone to cling to dogmatic beliefs, and are just as prone to corruption as anybody else. Science goes to hell when it becomes politicized.
Anthropogenic climate change has become extremely politicized, and belief in the scientific research seems to fall along party lines. An abstract describing a research paper at The Cultural Cognition Project at Yale Law School describes an interesting behavior:
The conventional explanation for controversy over climate change emphasizes impediments to public understanding: limited popular knowledge of science, the inability of ordinary citizens to assess technical information, and the resulting widespread use of unreliable cognitive heuristics to assess risk. A large survey of U.S. adults (N = 1540) found little support for this account. On the whole, the most scientifically literate and numerate subjects were slightly less likely, not more, to see climate change as a serious threat than the least scientifically literate and numerate ones. More importantly, greater scientific literacy and numeracy were associated with greater cultural polarization: respondents predisposed by their values to dismiss climate change evidence became more dismissive, and those predisposed by their values to credit such evidence more concerned, as science literacy and numeracy increased.
We suggest that this evidence reflects a conflict between two levels of rationality: the individual level, which is characterized by citizens’ effective use of their knowledge and reasoning capacities to form risk perceptions that express their cultural commitments; and the collective level, which is characterized by citizens’ failure to converge on the best available scientific evidence on how to promote their common welfare. Dispelling this “tragedy of the risk-perception commons,” we argue, should be understood as the central aim of the science of science communication.
With that in mind, The Washington Policy Center renders this opinion:
A bipartisan majority passed the Governor's climate legislation today in the State House, sending it to Jay Inslee's desk for his signature. The bill enjoyed bipartisan support in the Senate as well.
The reason so many legislators crossed the aisle to support it, is that it included a measurement of environmental effectiveness. Previous climate legislation simply adopted the latest politically trendy option without an up-front assessment of potential effectiveness.
The Governor's climate bill, on the other hand, required an analysis of the various potential climate strategies including "the effectiveness in achieving...emission reduction objectives, including the cost per ton of emission reduction." This echoes a proposal we've offered in the past in our Environmental Priorities Act, which would "ensure the state spent its scarce resources on approaches that yield the greatest environmental benefit." It is an approach used in the past by the Natural Resources Defense Council to find the best ways to reduce carbon emissions.