Post by Dr. Ryan Maue
Distinguished MIT Professor Dr. Kerry Emanuel, who has waded gradually — but head-first into the politics of climate change, showed up on NPR’s Talk of the Nation last Friday to expound upon his previous LA Times interview/opinion editorial. As a refresher on January 6, Emanuel uniquely declared his particular political allegiance in the article, something very few scientists in any field dare do (see John Tierney’s piece on Social Psychologist liberal bias). As a lifelong Republican, Emanuel admired Reagan, opposes gay marriage, backs a strong military, yet voted for President Obama. [See WUWT Cambridge Conservative…] Why do we need to know any of this quite personal information? Simple: using his self-ascribed conservative credentials and the helpfully crafted straw-man argument encapsulated in the headline “Scientist proves conservatism and belief in climate change aren’t incompatible”, Emanuel could position himself as a unique entity in the field — a Republican that supports doing something about climate change. In the follow up interview on NPR entitled “Take the
Science Politics out of Climate Change”, Emanuel accomplishes the exact opposite: he applies a “litmus test” to political candidates based upon their “belief” in climate change:
Prof. EMANUEL: My feeling is that at this point in history, if a politician simply denies that there’s any human influence in the climate, in face of all the evidence, it so much casts doubt on that person’s ability to weigh evidence and come to a rational conclusion that I can’t see myself voting for such a person, no matter what they say about other issues.
Aside from Dr. Michael Mann who launched a preemptive broadside attack [October 8 Washington Post editorial] on the incoming GOP Congress prior to the November election tsunami, which has subpoena power, it is unusual for an internationally renowned and well-respected scientist in any field to publicly declare their political ideology AND then turn around and ask that we delicately separate politics and science when we consider policy prescriptions on global warming action. If you indeed do that with this interview, one can find much scientific agreement between Emanuel and another outspoken scientist Dr. Judith Curry.
Read the NPR transcript or listen to the interview with Dr. Kerry Emanuel.
In my opinion, climate science has been mixed with politics since Al Gore declared that the “debate was over”. Furthermore, when the policy prescriptions are indistinguishable from the economic platform/goals of the left, it is very difficult to gather much in the way of bipartisan energy to legislate — especially from a recession-weary populace that wants to see government shrink. Did anyone in the media or on the left ever figure out the Tea Party. No.
Prior to the election of number 41, fellow Massachusetts conservative Scott Brown, President Obama and the Democrats completely controlled the Senate with a filibuster proof 60-votes, had a supermajority in the House, and could literally pass anything they wanted — assuming they stuck together. The problem was that so-called moderate or blue-dog Democrats from coal producing states looked at the economic destruction on the horizon from the “necessary bankruptcy” of that industry, and balked at passing Nancy Pelosi and Henry Waxman’s House bill. Currently, other Senators are looking towards 2012 and in no way want the burden of a climate change vote around their neck. Alas, Obama and the EPA are trying to implement new rules in spite of bipartisan opposition.
The November 2010 elections ended the dream of (federal, not state) cap-and-trade — and what did liberals get out of the last two years for their faithful and America: a failed stimulus bill, 9%+ unemployment, exploding deficits as far as the eye can see, and a health care law that is on life support without a Supreme Court ruling. But don’t take it from me, Joe Romm at the ClimateProgress does an excellent job summarizing: “The Failed Presidency of Barack Obama Part 1 and Part 1.5 and Part 2. Odds are in November 2012, part 3, 4, or 9 will be forthcoming.
Joe Romm laments, “The country can only contemplate serious environmental legislation when we have the unique constellation of a Democratic president and [large] Democratic majorities in both houses, an occurrence far rarer than a total eclipse of the sun.”
Note: this post is an analysis of the politics of climate change which has been inextricably linked with the actual science. No personal attacks will be tolerated!