A RINO lectures Republicans

Benjamin Zycher Contributor
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You learn something new every day.  And just a few days ago, I learned from former Republican Congressman Sherwood Boehlert (RINO — NY) that it is high time that the Republicans in the House and Senate get with the program and stop “denying that climate change and global warming are occurring and that they are largely due to human activities.”

After all, that is the learned position of the National Academy of Sciences.  And of “97 percent of the world’s climate scientists.”  And of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a group of “hard-nosed, profit-driven capitalists.”  Etc.

Can it possibly be the case that one of Boehlert’s enemies conned the Washington Post into publishing this bilge under his name?  I rather doubt it; Boehlert apparently is not embarrassed at all by the absence of a single fact in his screed.  Instead, there is an appeal to scientific majoritarianism, an oxymoron if ever there was one.  There is the implicit assertion that deference must be paid to the NAS, as if it is an exalted tribe of disinterested truth seekers devoid of any agenda of their own.  And about those “hard-nosed, profit-driven capitalists”: Does Boehlert really believe that they are not driven to capture the massive subsidies for green energy and the other mirages that capture the fancy of Congress every year?

Boehlert offers nothing on the enormous problems with the surface temperature (proxy) record, or about the curious fact that without exception the periodic revisions always are upward, an outcome that is nothing if not interesting if measurement errors are random.  Nothing about the inconsistencies between the surface record and the weather balloon and satellite records.  Nothing about the utter failure of the models used by the alarmists to predict climate changes past or present, or other important phenomena.  An example: The models predict that there should be a hot spot at about 10 kilometers in elevation; the satellites have never found it.

Nothing about the email scandal at the Climate Research Unit of East Anglia University, that is, about the explicit efforts to “hide the (temperature) decline” and to corrupt the peer review process, among other less-than-salutary revelations.

Note that Boehlert is from New York, a state that would benefit massively from a national policy forcing reductions in CO2 emissions, as the costs would be borne in a heavily disproportionate fashion by red states dependent upon coal-fired power generation.  That is why it is politicians from blue states already using above-average proportions of natural gas and hydro power that have been the driving force behind a cap-and-trade or regulatory CO2 policy, as it would transfer wealth from red states to blue by raising energy costs far more in the former.  That is why, for example, of the eleven states and Canadian provinces in the Western Climate Initiative, most are blue; an amusing exception is New Mexico, because then-Governor Bill Richardson wanted to ingratiate himself with both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama so that he could get a cabinet appointment regardless of who was elected.  How’d that work out, Bill?

Boehlert’s religious belief that the science is settled tells us little about appropriate policy responses.  Would a warmer earth be a bad thing?  If so, what are the costs and benefits of avoiding it?  Would gradual adaptation be a better policy?  Beware (former) politicians invoking the authority of “experts” to justify their self-interested policy preferences, for down that path lies the destruction of both the economy and science.

Benjamin Zycher is a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute.  Email: benzycher@zychereconomics.com.