March 15, 2017

JEFF JACOBY: Why are climate-change models so flawed?

‘DO YOU believe,” CNBC’s Joe Kernen asked Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency’s new director, in an interview last Thursday, “that it’s been proven that CO2 is the primary control knob for climate?”

Replied Pruitt: “No. I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do, and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact. So no — I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see. But we don’t know that yet. We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis.”

It was an accurate and judicious answer, so naturally it sent climate alarmists into paroxysms of condemnation. The Washington Post slammed Pruitt as a “denier” driven by “unreason.” Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii called Pruitt’s views “extreme” and “irresponsible” — proof of his unfitness to head the EPA. Gina McCarthy, who ran the agency under President Obama, bewailed the danger global warming poses “to all of us who call Earth home,” and said she couldn’t “imagine what additional information [Pruitt] might want from scientists” in order to understand that.

Yet for all the hyperventilating, Pruitt’s answer to the question he was asked — whether carbon dioxide is the climate’s “primary control knob” — was entirely sound. “We don’t know that yet,” he said. We don’t.

Accepting the unknown is a big part of what makes a scientist, a scientist. Pretending knowledge where there is none to advance a statist agenda is what makes a progressive, a progressive.