One problem with being a slacking blogger is that by the time you get around to writing about something, everyone else has already covered it. So I don’t have much new to say about Joel Achenbach’s crucial Washington Post piece on the remaining climate-change skeptics.
Some folks are angry that Achenbach gave the skeptics a microphone and refused to pass judgment on them. Others say that by simply giving the skeptics room to make their case in their own words, he skewers them better than any direct attack could, since these wackjobs discredit themselves.
Matt McIrvin and Brad Delong are in the former camp. John Quiggin and Kevin Drum are in the latter camp. As, I suppose, am I. I never trust my perceptions of these articles in the popular press, though. To folks who have followed the debate, these skeptic outliers look like clowns, yes — we don’t need that pointed out. But what about "normal people"? I have no idea.
One thing I will say: I don’t think it will matter much if the far right’s token scientists are finally and totally discredited (much in the way I don’t think it matters much that conservative intellectuals have abandoned supply-side economics). These token experts are useful but not necessary. The far right has built a completely insulated, impervious alternate media universe (FOX, talk radio, etc.) through which information is filtered. It doesn’t matter if global warming is accepted by all the experts; as long as conservative commentators, radio hosts, and talking heads are willing to spread disinformation — and have we found any limits yet? — the disinformation will keep circulating. If experts could quash this stuff once and for all, it would have happened long ago.
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