The Mainstream’s Narrow View of Science and of Harm


The Newport Daily News had an interesting article on Saturday that is unfortunately not online.  Basically, staff writer Sean Flynn conveyed the key points that U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and some other climate-alarmist activists made at a local event about “climate change,” and I can’t help but think that any numerate reader with even a little skepticism about the alarmism would long for some context or contrary views.

For instance, we’re apparently supposed to be alarmed that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air went from 0.00028 to 0.00040 over more than 100 years.  Apparently, we know for certain that it’s never been over 0.00030 before.  Putting aside questions about how they know that for certain (and what assumptions may have been made to arrive at that number), it’d be nice to know the level at which doomsday is expected.

The article piles on numbers as if doing so proves the argument, but it only raises more questions.  For instance, if the only reason we haven’t seen the much-alarmed global warming has been that the ocean has absorbed the heat (“the equivalent of 3 1/2 Hiroshima atomic bombs being detonated in the oceans every second”!), how much more can it absorb.  If there are isolated examples of fish moving away from different parts of the ocean or sea animals struggling, aren’t there examples of fish moving to new parts of the ocean and other animals thriving?

But the interesting part of the article is this, which I’ve heard before but never really thought much of:

But fossil fuels have an unfair economic advantage when competing with other sources of energy because the companies that sell and use coal, petroleum and natural gas to produce energy do not carry the cost of the harm they do in their overall production costs, Whitehouse argued.

What I wonder is what other industries are wickedly securing this secret subsidy.  Could Hollywood and pop music survive, for example, if we instituted a social-harm tax to cover the costs to society of people behaving in the destructive ways that the greedy entertainment corporations have glorified over the last 40 years?  Perhaps the children of single mothers should receive payments from every company that has profited by advancing the deterioration of our society.

I suspect we won’t hear much concern about such things, though, because profiteering politicians like Whitehouse themselves profit from the suffering.