Dark Money, Dark Science

Obama Administration

Resolved: Every time someone uses the phrase “settled science” we should all throw a penalty flag. And if this is said by an actual scientist, he should be locked in stocks so that we may pelt him with genetically altered tomatoes. It is not the nature of science to “settle”; there is always doubt; there is always something more to know.

Most non-scientists don’t appreciate this, which makes the myth of “settled science” an easy way to bamboozle the rubes whenever science starts to step on monied toes. The Masters of the Universe don’t have to disprove science when it threatens to cost them money. All they need to do is discredit it enough so that government hesitates to act on it.

A “leading scientist” named Steven Koonin writes in the Wall Street Journal that climate change is not “settled science.” He acknowledges that it is “settled” that climate change is happening, but that since we don’t know precisely how in all details it’s too soon to actually do anything about it.

Let me add that Koonin is a physicist, not a climate guy, who was once chief scientist for BP.

David Atkins writes,

The argument sounds reasonable at first, but it’s absurd on its face. It would be like a doctor refusing to treat a strange new disease because we don’t fully understand all of the effects it might have on the body. It might cause kidney failure and heart failure, or maybe just one, or neither! We just don’t have enough information to treat, so let’s do nothing! Of course, by the time kidney failure occurs it will be too late to save the patient, but oh well.

Of all the cynical arguments against action on climate change, Koonin’s ranks among the most disturbing because it’s so obviously calculated by a very smart person to make a radically irresponsible conclusion just to protect a few entrenched economic elites.

Note also that 2014 is shaping up to be the hottest year on record.

Since Koonin is a physicist I wish someone would ask him about gravity. Science has not settled on an explanation of how gravity works. Until it does, can we walk off cliffs? You first, Steve Koonin.

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  1. Doug  •  Sep 21, 2014 @8:43 am

    Do there’s a forest fire, North of town. The South wind is fanning the flames. It’s growing and accelerating in the tinder-dry brush. Shall we do a study to determine the cause? After all, if it was caused by lightning, it’s a natural event. Therefore we can’t – shouldn’t – mustn’t – interfere with God’s will. On the other hand if the fire was arson, we can dispatch fire crews. Have to do this right.. Let’s wait for more evidence and information. (Do you smell smoke?)

  2. c u n d gulag  •  Sep 21, 2014 @10:27 am

    The only “uncertainties,” are how fast, and how bad, the climate change will be.

    And whether humans can survive – as well as flora and fauna and sea-life as we know it.

    Some things will survive – but probably not humans.

    I don’t understand why the rich and powerful psychopaths and sociopaths don’t care about the world that they’re leaving their children and grandchildren.

    I don’t have any children, but I would like to leave a habitable planet for my niece and nephew, and my friends children, and all children.

    Why don’t they care?

    Oh yeah.
    Never mind.
    They’re rich and powerful psychopaths and sociopaths, and care only for themselves.

  3. Bardi  •  Sep 21, 2014 @11:38 am

    Good one, Doug.

  4. wmd  •  Sep 21, 2014 @12:20 pm

    Vaccination comes to mind immediately. Herd immunity is a valuable thing.

  5. csm  •  Sep 21, 2014 @12:47 pm

    This is the kind of “logic” that would be embarrassing among peers, but the goal here obviously is to say something that sounds right to the rubes.

    And, BTW, no one is supposed to notice this BP-fed scientist might have an agenda having nothing to do with science?

  6. LongHairedWeirdo  •  Sep 22, 2014 @4:18 pm

    ‘Gulag, I always assumed that the fossil fools were aware that climate change was real, but figured each year they were unregulated was more money in the bank, so they could fight regulation with the expected losses of regulatory costs.

    But I’ve seen hearsay about a study that suggests we can make ourselves more carbon neutral cheap. That the amount we’re already going to spend, plus the distributed costs of climate change, is more than the cost of a greener future. Wind and solar are getting better, and Scotland may have found a good way to electrolize (actually, probably “electrolise”) and store hydrogen. (Hydrogen storage could be huge – it means trickles of power could suddenly become much more valuable.)