Slate Editor Weisberg Second-Guesses the Potential of Climate Change Catastrophe

April 6th, 2009 11:01 PM

Remember when the alarmists were taking the premise that anthropogenic global warming was more of a threat to the planet than just polar bears and penguins, but also sea levels and catastrophic weather patterns?

Jacob Weisberg, the editor in chief of the Slate Group and author of "The Bush Tragedy," presents seven things taken for granted that might not be completely correct in a column for the April 13 issue of Newsweek.

"A lot of premises have turned out to be wrong lately," Weisberg wrote. "I'm not talking about evanescent bits of conventional wisdom, but about overarching assumptions that were widely shared across the political spectrum."

Weisberg points to errors in judgment about the failure of the Soviet Union, terrorism, Iraq and the U.S. financial system.

"So at a moment when everything we once assumed is suddenly up for discussion, it's worth asking: what other big stuff could we be wrong about?" Weisberg wrote. "I'm looking for issues where the received wisdom may be entirely correct-but merits a stronger dose of skepticism than it usually gets."

Weisberg brought up several topics, but one that was most striking was the possibility that climate change might not create the end of the world scenarios as some have purported:

Climate change will be catastrophic.

We all know civilization is doomed if we don't reduce carbon emissions, right? The physicist Freeman Dyson disagrees. Dyson doesn't dispute that human activity is causing warming. But he challenges the consensus that warming will be catastrophic. In a New York Review of Books essay, Dyson wrote that warming "is mostly making cold places warmer rather than making hot places hotter." Carbon emissions could make the earth more fertile and prevent harm from global cooling, which isn't caused by humans. And if it really turns out that there is a serious problem, genetically engineered carbon-eating trees might fix it. (Might.)

Although it's not an outright dismissal of the anthropogenic global warming theory, it is a refreshing change from the usual gang of alarmist rhetoric coming from the likes of former Vice President Al Gore and NASA scientist James Hansen.