I’ve had several readers email and say, in a rather despairing tone, “Why did Mitt say that people are contributing to global warming? Doesn’t he know that he’s advancing a lefty hoax?” I’ll be the first to admit that his comments caught my eye as well. And I’ll go further: I wish he hadn’t said it.
But, in the end, it won’t matter.
Before I say why it won’t matter, let me put my own global warming cards on the table. Consider me in the Michael Crichton camp. Read his brilliant lecture at Cal Tech and consider this clarifying statement:
I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.
Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world.
In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus. There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.
Read it again. And again. Memorize it. Crichton goes on to essentially argue that when it comes to phenomenally complex systems (like global climate), predictions are fraught with uncertainty and hypotheses are difficult to test. Could humans be causing global warming? Maybe. Is the globe actually warming? Maybe. Can we do anything about it? I have no idea. Should we enact sweeping economic and cultural reforms to address a crisis that may or may not exist and that we may or may not be able to influence when those same reforms won’t also be enacted by China, India, or virtually any other emerging economy?
Of course not. And that’s why Mitt’s comments are functionally meaningless.
Does anyone in their right mind believe that Mitt Romney will risk our economic growth and our recovery from a recession for half-baked cap and trade schemes? Does anyone think he’d follow Obama administration practices in essentially shutting off our ability to develop new domestic oil reserves? Our nation’s recovery from recession is Mitt’s priority, not following a lefty environmental agenda.
Consider me slightly to the right of my friend Hugh Hewitt’s position on this issue (and Mitt’s). I’m simply not willing to say with certainty that the globe is warming in any meaningful way (I don’t count short-term, tiny fluctuations one way or the other as “meaningful” nor do I trust our ability to track the temperatures accurately) or that humans have caused or contributed to that warming. I think there are reasonable — even strong — arguments to the contrary, but no one on the Republican side is going to enact the left’s environmental agenda. Elect Mitt and that agenda dies. Heck, it’s already dying even with Obama in office.
If pressed, I’d agree with Steven Hayward that Mitt’s statement offered “aid and comfort to a dying agenda.” But I’d say that aid and comfort was so small as to be irrelevant. President Mitt Romney will exploit America’s energy reserves and will not be a tool of the environmentalist left. When Mitt is the nominee, the environmentalist left will oppose him with all the money and rhetoric and organizing tools at their disposal. Doubt me? Read Think Progress’s attack on Mitt’s environmental policy.
In short, Mitt will put our economy first. And that’s the right call.