The following was originally posted on Tuesday, March 25, 2003 at 1:16 AM.
Just in Case the Environmentalists Are Right for Once …
Global warming is a particularly knotty problem for several reasons. First, it is even more complex than most other scientific controversies and requires a very broad range of experts. Second, for the past few decades there has been a belief in some quarters that industrial civilization is a Crime against Nature and we must be made to pay. Third, once every blue moon or so, those people get something right (they were right about lead — which can cause brain damage and voting for Democrats). Fourth, the belief in the environmentalist faith tends to be cumulative; acceptance of dubious ideas ideas on acid rain etc. is used as a precendent for accepting other dubious theories. This means if the GW hysteria is wrong we can't let them get away with assuming it is indubitable. On the other hand, if they turn out to have some proof and are resisted anyway that could also be used as a precedent. Fifth, the extreme complexity means it is possible to gerrymander the expert advice. We might have theorists telling us the statistics prove the case and statisticians telling us the theory is solid. We can also have people summarizing things by telling us the truth, the half truth, and nothing but the truth.
I doubt if it is possible for the average citizen (or even the average on-line addict) to make an informed decision. The best we can hope for is trying to eliminate so-called “experts” who are using this as an excuse for an anti-industrial revolution. The good news is we have a method.
If the worst-case analysis is even close to truth, that can be used to push through nuclear energy schemes. If every government has a set policy of using nuclear energy as an alternative to regulation, the environmentalist wackos will back off from their most extreme claims and maybe real experts will be able to decide. If they back off we'll know it was a bluff and if they continue anyway we'll know they're sincere.
The political problems involved in deregulating nukes are minute compared with the regimentation needed to suppress fossil fuels. In any case, the political problems are due to the fact that the People think the Experts oppose nuclear energy and the Experts think the People oppose nuclear energy.