16 December 2009

Sarewitz and Thernstrom on the CRU Emails

Dan Sarewitz of ASU and Sam Thernstrom of AEI have an excellent op-ed on the CRU emails in today's Los Angeles Times. Here is how they begin:
As two scholars with different political orientations but common concerns, we have each worked to challenge conventional wisdom that has undermined public understanding of the climate change problem. Many Republicans have been too reluctant to acknowledge strong evidence of human-caused warming and the need for prudent policies that could reduce its harmful effects. Democrats have let their own political judgments and values infect climate science and its interpretation, often understating the uncertainties about the timing and scale of future risks, and the tremendous costs and difficulties of effective action.

Yet both parties have agreed, although tacitly, on one thing: Science is the appropriate arbiter of the political debate, and policy decisions should be determined by objective scientific assessments of future risks. This seductive idea gives politicians something to hide behind when faced with divisive decisions. If "pure" science dictates our actions, then there is no need to acknowledge the role that political interests and social values play in deciding how society should address climate change.
Read the whole thing, and please feel free to come back and discuss. I'll call any discussion to the attention of Dan and Sam, and maybe pique their interest in participating.