It’s been a tough year for political elites, here and around the world, what with the passage of Brexit in June in Britain, the repudiation of Colombia’s Nobel Peace Prize recipient in the October FARC referendum and the defeat of America’s Nobel Peace Prize recipient’s preferred candidate in the November presidential election.
Not all the consequences are clear. But one thing seems true: The election of Donald Trump has put the kibosh on two projects long pursued by American elites, the entitlement reform sought by conservative elites and the measures to address climate change sought by liberal elites.
He’s on particularly strong ground on climate change. Global warming alarmists proclaim that their dire scenarios are certain to occur, and they would be clearly right if the only thing affecting temperatures were carbon dioxide emissions. But many other things (e.g., the sun) affect climate, as well, and the interactions among them and their differing effects are not fully understood, as the failure of climate scientists’ models to explain past observations shows.
Liberal elites tell us that “the science is settled” and that people must have faith in their predictions. But science is never settled. Scientists produce theories and test them against observations. When Albert Einstein announced his relativity theory in 1905, he didn’t ask people to have faith. He claimed that his theory would do a better job than Isaac Newton’s of predicting observations in a solar eclipse in 1919.
It is religion, not science, that demands that people have faith in things that otherwise seem unlikely, brands those who do not as “heretics” and “deniers,” requires participation in repeated rituals (recycling, anyone?), and permits sinners to purchase indulgences (carbon offsets for Al Gore’s private jet).
The sensible thing to do about possible climate change is to learn more, to fund research (and not just by believers in the alarmist faith), to think seriously about how to mitigate possible bad effects — and to take advantage of possible good ones. (I grew up in Michigan, where I would have been happy to experience a little warming.)
In the meantime, we are not going to be bound by the Paris climate agreement and we are not going to phase out fossil fuels. We may even stop harassing “heretics” and “deniers,” at least for the next four years.