Travel day today, so something light and airy—and incomplete.
President Obama, presumably sacrificing a tee time, went to keyboard and typed these words:
This is a big moment in the fight against climate change—stick it to climate change deniers by adding your name: http://t.co/fkCzkiMhFw
Now you may think the problem lies in the words stick it to climate change deniers, but you would be wrong. Mr Obama is a politician and stick it is political language, and typical language at that. It is the weak man who allows himself to be offended easily. Add to that that it probably wasn’t our dear leader but some staffer or other hack who wrote the tweet, then there is nothing unusual with stick it.
No. The shark jump is in adding your name. Add your name to what? A petition.
Climate science by petition! While global warming has always had a thick dressing of ideology, this converts the matter completely from science to pure politics. What we have here is the triumph of pragmatism and democracy, the disastrous idea that truth can be had by vote, finally applied to science. Here’s the petition pleading:
Deniers and deep-pocketed polluters make it pretty hard to get anything done on climate change—but here’s one meaningful way you can fight them: The EPA is collecting comments on President Obama’s climate plan, and it’s our chance to show public support.
This is one of the decisive moments in the fight against climate change. Collecting comments gives the EPA a chance to see what ordinary people have to say about this important issue. (Don’t worry—they hear from the special interests on every day that ends in Y.)
What ordinary people have to say about global warming is, as far the EPA goes, meaningless. What value is it to collect the opinions of those unaware of fluid physics about the value of that physics? Of course, it is of some use to ask people how potential regulations might affect them, but about the science behind the regulations there is none.
Yet BarackObama.com says
The other side thinks they can win this fight simply by shouting the loudest, and they have a lot of money to back it up. What they don’t have is a whole lot of people—genuine voices standing up for what’s right. And we’ve proved time and again that, when we raise our voices together, we can take on even the most powerful interests.
Forget the canard about money (I’m still waiting for my check from Big Oil), and forget the idea that the people currently in power need to fight “powerful interests”. What is the point of “voices”? Will these voices fix model parameterizations? Will crowd wisdom tell us the proper role of cloud feedback? Should we turn to social media to guess proxy temperature reconstructions?
I’m writing in a hurry and can’t develop the idea, but somehow I’m put in mind of those early sci-fi movies, where groups of concerned scientists and government officials would gather around a table to discuss the alien giant bug crisis. Sleeves were rolled up. Uniforms worn. Discussions ranged. But never once was there the idea of putting ideas to a vote among the populace.
Incidentally, if you add your email (I made one up) to the Science Petition, you are asked to give money to Mr Obama to “help defeat the dirty special interests”. Sheesh.