Friday, October 3, 2008

Sarah Palin vs. Logic (cause and effect, without the cause)

I wasn't going to post this, but she repeated this argument at the debate last night.

Andrew Revkin at the "Dot Earth" blog, has some analysis on Palin's views on global warming and their potential effects on policy.

If you disagree with the mainstream-liberal position on global warming (global warming is real, is caused by man-made CO2 emissions, and requires urgent public action), there are three positions you can take:
  • The scientific evidence linking CO2 emissions to warming is weak, thus reducing CO2 emissions would have no benefit
  • Global warming is real and is man-made, but we are already too far down the path to stop it now, thus reducing CO2 emissions would be too costly without actually mitigating the negative effects of climate change
  • Global warming is real and is man-made, but it is more cost effective to raise living-standards in the areas that will be hardest-hit (particularly in the developing world) so people are better equipped to handle the effects of climate change (for more on this position, check out the Copenhagen Consensus)
Palin takes a different line of "reasoning":

Couric: Is [global warming] man-made in your opinion?

Palin: You know … there are man’s activities that can be contributed to … the issues that we’re dealing with now with these impacts. I’m not going to solely blame all of man’s activities on changes in climate. Because the world’s weather patterns … are cyclical. And over history we have seen changes there. But kind of doesn’t matter at this point, as we debate what caused it. The point is it’s real, we need to do something about it. And like … Tony Blair had said … when he was in leadership position, he said, “Let’s all consider the fact that it is real.” So instead of pointing fingers … at different sides of the argument as to who is to blame, and if nature just to blame, let’s do something about it. Let’s clean up our world. Let’s reduce emissions. And let’s go with reality.

I don't know if the last sentence is meant to be ironic. There's more to the interview (it's on the Dot Earth post cited above) and it's worth reading. But it's amazing to me that she has staked out a position that doesn't make any sense. She won't acknowledge that man-made CO2 emissions are contributing to global warming. But, as she says, it doesn't matter. Obviously, it does matter. You can't solve a problem if you have no idea what's causing it. That seems self-evident. But just to make this clear, I wrote a short, one-act play to illustrate the point. I call it, "Dr. Palin":

Scene opens in a doctor's office decorated with "Jesus is Lord" and "Hang in there Kitty" posters. A middle-aged man enters.

Man: "Dr. Palin, I've been experiencing chest pains."

Dr. Palin: "Oh, well we can all agree that something needs to be done about that."

Man: "So what do you think it is? Am I having a heart attack or is this just heart-burn?"

Dr. Palin: "Well, it doesn't really matter what's causing your heart pain. What matters is that we both want to treat it."

Man: "You're certainly a maverick, Dr. Palin, and your folksy, hockey-mom nature has really put me at ease."

Curtain opens on a darkened stage.

Narrator: Two days later the man died from a heart attack. Dr. Palin tells herself, "at least I didn't blink."


How about Morgan Freeman for the role of the Narrator?

1 comment:

Gingi said...

Another puzzling point about her stance: if global warming is cyclical, and not man-made, then why do anything about it? Why mess with nature?