The NY Times has a long feature appraising the science, economics, and politics of carbon dioxide and climate change. The most surprising bit is this:
Climate-change contrarians do not accept these numbers.
The Internet has given rise to a vocal cadre of challengers who question every aspect of the science — even the physics, worked out in the 19th century, that shows that carbon dioxide traps heat. That is a point so elementary and well-established that demonstrations of it are routinely carried out by high school students.
However, the contrarians who have most influenced Congress are a handful of men trained in atmospheric physics. They generally accept the rising carbon dioxide numbers, they recognize that the increase is caused by human activity, and they acknowledge that the earth is warming in response.
But they doubt that it will warm nearly as much as mainstream scientists say, arguing that the increase is likely to be less than two degrees Fahrenheit, a change they characterize as manageable.
Among the most prominent of these contrarians is Richard Lindzen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who contends that as the earth initially warms, cloud patterns will shift in a way that should help to limit the heat buildup. Most climate scientists contend that little evidence supports this view, but Dr. Lindzen is regularly consulted on Capitol Hill.
“I am quite willing to state,” Dr. Lindzen said in a speech this year, “that unprecedented climate catastrophes are not on the horizon, though in several thousand years we may return to an ice age.”
That is a more thoughtful discussion than I ever would have expected. They also include unexpected balancers such as this:
But these modest efforts [to reduce energy consumption] are being swamped by rising energy use in developing countries like China, India and Brazil. In those lands, economic growth is not simply desirable — it is a moral imperative, to lift more than a third of the human race out of poverty. A recent scientific paper referred to China’s surge as “the biggest transformation of human well-being the earth has ever seen.”
Growth is good!