Year 2, Month 11, Day 23: Defund or Defend?

More on the IPCC report, this time from the Washington Post:

Climate change will make drought and flooding events like those that have battered the United States and other countries in 2011 more frequent, forcing nations to rethink the way they cope with disasters, according to a new report the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued Friday.

The report — the culmination of a two-year process involving 100 scientists and policy experts — suggests that researchers are far more confident about the prospect of more intense heat waves and heavy downpours than they are about how global warming is affecting hurricanes and tornadoes. But the new analysis also speaks to a broader trend: The world is facing a new reality of more extreme weather, and policymakers and business alike are beginning to adjust.

It’s late at night in a hotel room in Madison, Wisconsin. I’ve got a big day tomorrow — four hours of classroom teaching and a concert, so I figured I’d get the letter out of the way before I went to sleep. Sent November 18:

As the case of Dr. Richard Muller case demonstrates, a responsible scientist changes his or her mind when confronted with factual evidence. The past few weeks have seen a plethora of studies demonstrating over and over again that the reality of human-caused climate change is no longer deniable. The newly released report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change offers an ominous look at a post-greenhouse-effect future in which extreme weather is the norm, with concomitant effects on agriculture, infrastructure and geopolitics that range from inconvenient to outright terrifying.

Scientific ethics compelled Dr. Muller to revise his opinion once he confirmed the validity of worldwide temperature measurements. Confronted with the same data, conservative politicians would resolve the problem differently — by defunding the IPCC and any other scientific organizations with the temerity to report facts as they are. In Republican politics, electoral exigencies trump the truth, every time.

Warren Senders

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