Last week we warned the climate denial (and dehumanization) playbook is being adapted as a tool to oppose coronavirus mitigation efforts. Despite strong public approval of public health experts, March 2020 coming in as the 423rd consecutive warmer-than-average month, and mainstream outlets recognizing the importance of heeding scientists’ warnings, the cries from those who want to sacrifice the lives of the vulnerable for “the economy” have only grown louder.
Take this post from WUWT, by industry-funded CFACT’s Paul Driessen and U-Delaware's David Legates. The post actually does acknowledge that the COVID-19 models are revising death estimates downwards because of actions taken, but then very cool-y argues that the Fauci-Birx team’s evidence-based approach to “ChiCom-WHO coronavirus” should be replicated by the climate modelling community and “be verified against real-world evidence?”
Yes, of course they should. And while Driessen might know better, Dr. Legates almost certainly does. In fact, even the proprietor of the blog on which this nonsense was posted knows that!
Because former TV Weather Personality, turned climate denial blogger, turned Heartland fellow Anthony Watts certainly earned his paycheck yesterday, when he took a great big step up from his own blog with an op-ed in the Shen Yun cult’s Trump-loving, Q-Anon conspiracy-theory-peddling Epoch Times.
With a headline promising to explain “Why climate models are less accurate than you think,” Watts overplayed the significance of a recent PNAS study about improving how climate models treat black carbon (soot). According to Watts, “flaws in existing climate models are equivalent to saying that every grain of sand on the beach is exactly the same size, shape, and composition, or that snowflakes aren’t unique.”
Apparently climate models won’t be precise enough for him until they capture the unique beauty of each individual snowflake. (This would fall into Dr. Cook’s “impossible expectations” technique for denial, placing unreasonably high standards on what science can say or do.)
Regardless of how Watts describes the study, what the study shows is climate modelers doing exactly what Driessen and Legates called for, using real-world evidence to improve the precision of models and refine their results.
Unfortunately, deniers are willing to move right past the details of whether or not the models are right, and instead just start arguing it doesn’t matter what the models say. The economy is more important than public health, and we should just let people die.
That might sound harsh, melodramatic or hyperbolic. If anything, it’s understating things.
In an op-ed at the Wall Street Journal, George Gilder says quite explicitly that “the demands of health-care experts are not greater than the demands of the economy” and that while the elderly should stay home, everyone else should get back to work “even if some of us die anyway.” And it’s not just pundits, but people with power talking like this. Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick told Tucker Carlson that he and other grandparents were willing to die so their grandchildren could get back to work.
At the Koch’s RealClearPropaganda, Joel Kotkin warns that a President Biden could declare a “climate emergency” and institute policies similarly drastic to what’s happening now, which would be bad because experts were sometimes wrong about some things in the past. Fantastic reasoning!
Then as always, the JunkScience man who’s made a career out of helping industries kill their customers, from cigarettes to coal, has the most revealing take. Steve Milloy did a little “back-of-the-envelope” cost-benefit analysis for the lockdown to see how much we’re spending to keep people alive. Spoiler alert: a reasonable amount relative to other public policies.
But the point isn’t how much a life is worth in money. The point is that’s not a valid metric. The government can print more money. It can’t print doctors, nurses, or your loved ones.
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