Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Exaggerations in the climate debate help no one

This article in the NY Times highlights a problem with the climate change debate: the tendency on both sides to engage in broader statements than the evidence warrants. Al Gore had to pull a slide blaming everything except meteor showers on global warming after the experts he based it on said he had misrepresented them considerably. Conservative pundit George Will is under fire for a dismissive column that some experts say misstated his evidence. The article notes that President Obama has also overreached the evidence.
COMMENT: It's nice to see a balanced article on this from the NYT, which appeared at times (no pun intended) in the last election campaign to treat anything from the Obama organization as akin to the Sermon on the Mount, only more authoritative. It points up something I've been trying to say along - that climate change is a complicated subject. Reducing it to viewgraphs, while sometimes necessary, is not an excuse to oversimplify, mislead, present footage from The Day After as the real thing (as Gore did), or exaggerate even the worst-case scenarios in the service of getting the message across. This is the climate of the planet Earth we are talking about, not a home thermostat. Sweeping declarations from anyone are suspect.

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