"Conservative" Scientists Take on Climate Change Deniers?
Whenever the old stream media report on someone who is supposedly "conservative" but who nevertheless agrees with them, you can be pretty sure a snow job is coming.
On January 6, Neela Banerjee reported (in the Seattle Times and elsewhere) about conservative scientists who nevertheless . . . wait for it . . . believe in climate change. Wow! (Of course, "believe in climate change" is the confusing euphemism for believing that we are catastrophically altering the natural climate -- which always changes -- and that the only solutions involve increasing the power of the federal government and the UN. But never mind that for now.)
Banerjee tells us about scientists, such as "politically conservative" Kerry Emanuel, from MIT, and various evangelical and Mormon scientists who believe that we're harming the global climate and that a political solution is needed.
The appropriate response, surely, is: So what? There are a number of evangelicals who are pro-life and defend heterosexual marriage (the conservative litmus tests Banerjee mentions in the story), who also think we're altering the climate. It's not clear why these issues would always be bundled together. And there are Republicans worried about climate change. On the other side, there are liberals who doubt the intellectual orthodoxy on the climate issue. The world is an interesting place. Not everybody thinks the same thing.
Of course, the point of the story is something like this: "See, even Republican, evangelical, and Mormon scientists 'believe in climate change,' so any conservatives still doubting the official line are really really on the fringe."
I'm familiar with Professor Emanuel's work, and think he's a fine fellow. But interestingly, the reason he says he became convinced of "climate change" was a correlation with hurricanes:
Yet, as analyses of climate data advanced through the 1990s and Emanuel found a relationship between hurricanes and climate change in his work, he came to see a link between greenhouse-gas emissions and climate change.
There's one problem: there's no evidence of such a relationship.
Stories like this one are quite common. They report on a "conservative" or a "Christian" who has "grown" over the years, and now agrees with all reasonable people on some or another issue. Unfortunately, as seems to be the case with Emanuel and hurricanes, such "conservatives" often get with program about fifteen minutes after the program has changed.
And it usually turns out that the featured individuals are not all that conservative. If you read to the very end of the story, you'll learn this:
Although more scientists are pushing back against climate-change denial, Emanuel is not convinced it can help, given corporate interests and the weight of the GOP arrayed against them. All this is making him reconsider his political loyalties: For the first time in his life, he voted for a Democrat, Barack Obama, in 2008.
"I am a rare example of a Republican scientist, but I am seriously thinking about changing affiliation owing to the Republicans' increasingly anti-science stance," he wrote in an e-mail. "The best way to elevate the number of Republican scientists is to get Republican politicians to stop beating up on science and scientists."
Voting for Obama and conflating reasonable skepticism of politicized science with "beating up on science and scientists"? That doesn't sound very conservative to me.
So, boiled down to the facts, we've got a story about some scientists who are sometimes conservative on some issues, and who have sometimes voted for Republicans (and sometimes not), who also think we're harming the climate. This is news?