Jeff Sachs believes: "Climate sceptics are recycled critics of controls on tobacco and acid rain"
Merchants of Doubt, a new book by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway set for release in mid-2010, will be an authoritative account of their misbehaviour. The authors show that the same group of mischief-makers, given a platform by the free-market ideologues of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page, has consistently tried to confuse the public and discredit the scientists whose insights are helping to save the world from unintended environmental harm.
Today's campaigners against action on climate change are in many cases backed by the same lobbies, individuals, and organisations that sided with the tobacco industry to discredit the science linking smoking and lung cancer. Later, they fought the scientific evidence that sulphur oxides from coal-fired power plants were causing "acid rain." Then, when it was discovered that certain chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were causing the depletion of ozone in the atmosphere, the same groups launched a nasty campaign to discredit that science, too.
Later still, the group defended the tobacco giants against charges that second-hand smoke causes cancer and other diseases. And then, starting mainly in the 1980s, this same group took on the battle against climate change. . . .
Sachs pretty much loses all credibility here, because there are plenty of scientific studies that disagree with his claim here on secondhand smoke. Much of the debate here is over whether there is actually an externality since the store or restaurant owner has an incentive to give their customers what they want (see my book Freedomnomics).
whether it is companies that don't want to pay the extra costs of regulation, or free-market ideologues opposed to any government controls. . . .
We are now at 7 paragraphs, 410 words and we still don't have any specific responses to the objections.
The latest round of attacks involves two episodes. The first was the hacking of a climate-change research centre in England. The emails that were stolen suggested a lack of forthrightness in the presentation of some climate data. Whatever the details of this specific case, the studies in question represent a tiny fraction of the overwhelming scientific evidence that points to the reality and urgency of man-made climate change.
1) Not clear it was hacking versus a whistle blower.
2) As I have written in my own editorial pieces, there are problems with other data. Data not being made available to other scientists. Questions about whether there were biases in how it was collected.
3) Not much of a response.
The second issue was a blatant error concerning glaciers that appeared in a major IPCC report. Here it should be understood that the IPCC issues thousands of pages of text. There are, no doubt, errors in those pages. But errors in the midst of a vast and complex report by the IPCC point to the inevitability of human shortcomings, not to any fundamental flaws in climate science.
There were a lot of errors in the IPCC report.
The rest of Sachs' op-ed then goes back to personal attacks.