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    Wash Post Admits Vigorous Scientific Debate on Climate Change

    08/02/2006

    This is from the editorial page of the Washington Post this morning.

    The major outstanding question about global warming is not whether adding large amounts of new carbon to the atmosphere will tend to increase temperatures further. It is how sensitive the climate will be to what mass of additional carbon over time -- and how bad the practical consequences of that sensitivity will be. On this point, there exists vigorous scientific debate. But it's a debate to which congressional committees are laughably ill-suited to contribute.

    Of course they assume that the consequences of global warming are negative, although that itself may be a debatable point.  Yet as Richard Rahn points out in a Washington Times commentary about the dangers of model building

    Nobody, including Al Gore, knows the optimum global warming, and what we should do about it, if anything, because the data and models cannot provide those answers.

    The Washington Post should take its own advice on matters of policy.  If congressional committees are little better than circus clowns in the debate over climate change, it seems irresponsible amid vigorous debates among economists and political scientists about the human costs (foregone economic growth and higher global poverty than would have otherwise been) of carbon restrictions to advocate that legislators act decisively on an issue where no one can reasonably expect them to be as informed as the scientist who studies the issue for a living.