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On the Denialists

On the Denialists

Icebergs in Iceland’s Jökulsárlón lagoon, which is constantly growing as the Vatnajökull glacier—Europe’s largest—melts; photograph by Olaf Otto Becker from his book Under the Nordic Light: A Journey Through Time, Iceland, 1999–2011, which has just been published by Hatje Cantz.

The distinguished economist William Nordhaus has a succinct and useful piece in the latest issue of the “NY Review of Books” that refutes the now mildly famous letter to the Wall St. Journal from 16 scientists from January.  (I am reminded of the famous quote from Erwin Chargaff about James Watson and Francis Crick:  “That… such giant shadows are cast by such pygmies only shows how late in the day it has become.”)  Nordhaus dignifies the Denialists by calling them skeptics in his piece:  Why the Global Warming Skeptics Are Wrong.  (This apparently is being played back on us as the scientific community and the activists who have been trying to respond appropriately to their findings are now labeled “Warmists.”  HT to my correspondent NJCons.)  Real scientists are skeptical about data, hypotheses, models and the like.  This is the hallmark of their profession and their art.  Real scientists, writing in peer-reviewed journals, have no cavil with the underlying phenomena associated with climate change:  the greenhouse effect, anthropogenically produced greenhouse gases, the many indicators of change, the impacts and the implications for our planet.  As Naomi Oreskes established nearly ten years ago, there is indeed a scientific consensus on climate change.  (If you want to know where there is some disagreement and where more science needs to be done, refer to this excellent story, The real holes in climate science from Nature.)

So, in a nutshell, Nordhaus eviscerates the piffle that the Wall St. Journal promulgated.  (Surprise, surprise, surprise, as Gomer Pyle would’ve said, that the Journal is pushing this line.  How could you expect anything else from a paper run by a man of such intense personal integrity and moral probity as Rupert Murdoch?)  But read what Nordhaus has to say.



Bill Hewitt

Bill Hewitt has been an environmental activist and professional for nearly 25 years. He was deeply involved in the battle to curtail acid rain, and was also a Sierra Club leader in New York City. He spent 11 years in public affairs for the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation, and worked on environmental issues for two NYC mayoral campaigns and a presidential campaign. He is a writer and editor and is the principal of Hewitt Communications. He has an M.S. in international affairs, has taught political science at Pace University, and has graduate and continuing education classes on climate change, sustainability, and energy and the environment at The Center for Global Affairs at NYU. His book, "A Newer World - Politics, Money, Technology, and What’s Really Being Done to Solve the Climate Crisis," will be out from the University Press of New England in December.

Areas of Focus:
the policy, politics, science and economics of environmental protection, sustainability, energy and climate change