Promoting his 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth Al Gore claimed that “the debate in the scientific community is over.” And in his movie he asserted global warming had become a “moral” demanding government action now. Well someone forget to tell the scientists. The Los Angels Times, New York Times, Washington Post, and Christian Science Monitor all have published articles recently about a global warming debate raging in the scientific community. Quoting University of Colorado at Boulder environmental policy expert Roger Pielke, the LAT reports:
Pielke’s analysis, published last month in the journal Natural Hazards Review, is part of a controversial movement that argues global warming over the rest of this century will play a much smaller role in unleashing planetary havoc than most scientists think.
His research has led him to believe that it is cheaper and more effective to adapt to global warming than to fight it.
Instead of spending trillions of dollars to stabilize carbon dioxide levels across the planet — an enormously complex and expensive proposition — the world could work on reducing hunger, storm damage and disease now, thereby neutralizing some of the most feared future problems of global warming.
And Pielke is not alone. The NYT reports economist Jeffrey Sachs wrote in the Scientific American:
Even with a cutback in wasteful energy spending, our current technologies cannot support both a decline in carbon dioxide emissions and an expanding global economy. If we try to restrain emissions without a fundamentally new set of technologies, we will end up stifling economic growth, including the development prospects for billions of people.
All of this is extremely grating on the ears of carbon cap fundamentalists like Climate Progress‘ Joseph Romm who clings to draconian cuts in emissions that will stagnate growth in the developing world and cripple the U.S. economy. Romm did admit to the Christian Science Monitor: “This is one of the two or three central debates in the climate issue.”
One of two or three debates? But Al Gore has been telling us all debate is over, that this is moral issue, and that we must act now. So which is it? Are there legitimate scientific uncertainties and policy trade offs that must be resolved? Or should we do whatever Gore’s $300 million ad campaign tells us to because all debate is over?