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Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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Climate-change misdirection play

Republican politicians — and here I am thinking especially of Marco Rubio and Rick Scott — need to stop apologizing for not being scientists. Everybody knows they aren’t scientists, and bringing it up as an introduction to a discussion about something that is only partly scientific in the first place is lame and self-defeating, wastes time and breath and makes a gift of a heckling line to their opposition.

Noted non-scientists Rubio and Scott — the senator and the governor — have opened replies to questions on man-made climate change by confessing the obvious, and nothing they said thereafter much mattered. Once each of them said, “I’m no scientist,” media gaggles mining for audio gold to regale their pals with tweets and giggles had all they needed.

They were at it again Tuesday when, during a Q-and-A with reporters in Miami, Scott was asked repeatedly whether he thought human activity was responsible for climate change, and time and again the governor replied, “I’m not a scientist,” almost as though the phrase had been focus-grouped. If so, it’s time to get a new group.

For openers, GOP officeholders and candidates should know this stuff better, because theirs just now is the heretical position. They have the more difficult position to defend, but it’s not that hard. In short, the evidence is unclear, contradictory and evolving, complicated by the 16-year lull in global temperature change that none of the computer models predicted or can explain.

You don’t have to be a scientist to know that.

But what we do know is if, globally, we followed the recommendations of the International Panel on Climate Change to the letter, we’d shave, at best, a fraction of a degree off the projected temperature rise by the year 2100, and the diversion of resources could wreck the world’s economy, dooming Third World populations to poverty while empowering central governments and hampering individual freedom around the globe.

By contrast, it’s well established that it’s cheaper and more generally beneficial to steer dollars toward coping with the effects of climate change, whatever the source. This is simple cost-benefit analysis, and we count on lawmakers to do it effectively. That’s the answer Scott finally got around to supplying, but it was overshadowed by his gratuitous “I’m not a scientist” disclaimer.

Know who’s not scientists either? Reporters and Democrats, although you’ll never hear them admit it. Instead, they rely on an appeal to authority, most of them having bought into the claim that “97 percent” of climate scientists endorse mankind’s role in — what do they call it now? — climate “disruption.”

The problem with appeals to authority is that when the authority proves to be fraudulent — that is, the relied-upon source simply made stuff up — that’s the ballgame. And that’s where we are on the often-cited “97 percent” claim, which turns out to be a fabrication that lately has begun its overdue and well-deserved unraveling.

Not that those who need it to be true for their world to make sense will easily give it up. Even as news of the swindle began making it into traditional media in the Western Hemisphere — the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed on it Tuesday, a week after the story out of Queensland University broke in the blogosphere and in the Australian press — reports on the Florida governor’s unhelpful evasiveness included self-satisfied references or links to the “97 percent” myth.

Hey, there, non-scientist. Better have a chat with the gullible non-scientist in the mirror. You’ve both been played.