Never imagining ever having an occasion to reference anything posted in The New York Times as evidence of climate sanity, an April 28 article brings gleeful tears of hope to these jaded eyes.
Titled “Climate of Complete Certainty,” the gray lady’s new op-ed writer Bret Stephens observes in his first-ever column entry, “We live in a world in which data conveys authority. But authority has a way of descending to certitude, and certitude begets hubris.”
We then “respond to inherent uncertainties of data by adding more data without revisiting our assumptions, creating an impression of certainty that can be lulling, misleading and often dangerous.”
Referring most particularly to climate science politicization, Stephens wrote that “Demanding abrupt and expensive changes in public policy raises fair questions about ideological intentions. Censoriously asserting one’s moral superiority and treating skeptics as imbeciles and deplorables wins few converts.”
Wall Street Journal writer Holman Jenkins, Jr. featured Stephens” New York Times article (although not my name) in a May 3 editorial titled “Climate Editors Have a Meltdown.” Commenting upon his former Wall Street Jornal colleague’s admission of less certainty about scientific “data,” Jenkins reminds readers that in the 1980s when climate alarms were first being sounded, reporters understood the speculative basis of computer models.
He recalls that, “We all said to ourselves: Well, in 30 years we’ll certainly have the data to know for sure which model forecasts are valid.”
But that hasn’t happened. Jenkins reflects that now, more than 30 years later, the U.N.’s most recent 2014 IPCC summary report claiming with 95 percent confidence that humans are responsible for at least half of the warming between 1951 and 2010 continues only to be “an estimate of an estimate.”
A larger unsettled question remains to be “how much warming should have taken place” if those failed climate models had been correct. As for that “95 percent confidence,” in 2013 the IPCC actually “widened its range of uncertainty in the direction of less warming.”