The Climate Skeptic
By Arnold Kling
The modelers begin with certain assumptions about climate that they build into the model. For example, the computers themselves don’t somehow decide if CO2 is a more important forcing on the climate than solar activity – the modelers, by the assumptions the feed into the model, decide these things. The models return the result that CO2 is the most important driver of climate in the coming century because their programmers built them with that assumption, not because the model somehow sorts through different inputs and comes up with the key drivers on its own.
There are conservatives and libertarians who believe in CO2-caused global warming. As far as I know, there are no liberals who are skeptics. I wonder why this is the case. Possibilities:
1. Nobody has good information, so they choose the belief with the least psychic costs. The psychic cost of skepticism is high for a liberal, because your friends are all believers. The psychic costs are not so high for libertarians and conservatives, because some of your friends are skeptics.
2. If you are liberal, you tend to hate oil companies, car companies, and (other people’s) high-carbon lifestyles, anyway. You tend to like government exercising its authority over markets. So if you were wrong about AGW, you would not be particularly sorry about having made a mistake. If you are a libertarian or a conservative, you prefer free markets, so you are more receptive to skeptical arguments about global warming.
3. Climate skeptics have been bought off by Big Hydrocarbon. That seems to me to be the least plausible hypothesis. The best strategy for Big Hydrocarbon would be to buy off a diverse set of pundits on the left and the right. My guess is that the author of the Climate Skeptic blog is not being paid by Big Hydrocarbon. Neither am I.
4. Libertarians and conservatives have some sort of genetic defect that makes us unable to understand/accept climate science. I’m not sure what that would be, exactly. But in economics the belief in the macro-econometric models of the 1960’s tends (or tended) to be higher among liberals than among conservatives. I think that liberals have a genetic defect that allows them to believe that they can model complex systems effectively, while conservatives and especially libertarians see limits to knowledge.