Yale's Nordhaus on 'Why Skeptics Are Wrong'

Panning Authors of WSJ ‘No Need to Worry’ Column

Economist William Nordhaus rebuts skeptics’ six key points … and roundly rejects WSJ column built in part, he says, on misleading readers on his own research and on discrediting climate scientists.

It’s the way things go in the climate change arena, an ongoing dialogue that has lots going for it notwithstanding the seemingly endless merry-go-round nature of some of the back and forth.

In this case, it all started not even two months ago with that much-discussed/much-ballyhooed/much-contested Wall Street Journal “No Need to Panic” column by 16 scientists with views near-and-dear to those long held by the Journal‘s editorial page.

Which is to say not at all simpatico with the 38 climate scientists who followed on the Journal‘s page with their across-the-board rebuttal.

And then it was Cornell geological sciences professor Louis Derry who, with the luxury of more space, providing more ammunition for those finding fault with the original column.

And then came the rebuttal of the initial rebuttal.

You with us? You need to be, for this all makes for good reading.

And the icing on the proverbial rhetorical cake, at least for now, comes in a highly readable “Why the Global Warming Skeptics Are Wrong” analysis by Yale University economics professor William D. Nordhaus, whose research was among the works cited — inaccurately, he says — in the 16 “skeptics’” original column.

Nordhaus in this feature in the New York Review of Books*  identified “six key issues” raised in that initial WSJ column, adding “My response is primarily designed to correct their misleading description of my own research; but it also is directed more broadly at their attempt to discredit scientists and scientific research on climate change.”

The six issues Nordhaus identifies and refutes:

  • Is the planet in fact warming?
  • Are human influences an important contributor to warming?
  • Is carbon dioxide a pollutant?
  • Are we seeing a regime of fear for skeptical climate scientists?
  • Are the views of mainstream climate scientists driven primarily by the desire for financial gain?
  • Is it true that more carbon dioxide and additional warming will be beneficial?”

Think you’ve read enough about that initial column? You haven’t. Not until you complete the circle with a read of Nordhaus’s column.

You’ll be well-rewarded for your effort.

*  A typo was corrected in this reference in an edit on March 11, 2012.

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