Nordhaus on Doubt Mongers
March 4, 2012
For those who believe there is no organized, well-funded campaign to place doubt in the minds of the general public about climate change, look at another Yale scientist’s recent piece in the New York Review of Books. William O. Nordhaus points out that Big Tobacco fought a successful battle for decades to convince the public that cigarettes were not a health hazard. As he notes, “One of the worrisome features of the distortion of climate science is that the stakes are huge here—even larger than the economic stakes for keeping the cigarette industry alive. Tobacco sales in the United States today are under $100 billion. By contrast, expenditures on all energy goods and services are close to $1,000 billion. Restrictions on CO2 emissions large enough to bend downward the temperature curve from its current trajectory to a maximum of 2 or 3 degrees Centigrade would have large economic effects on many businesses. Scientists, citizens, and our leaders will need to be extremely vigilant to prevent pollution of the scientific process by the merchants of doubt.” Peter Gleick’s vigilance has cost him dearly.