In case you missed it, it’s hot. Really hot. Many parts of the world are recording record or near-record high temperatures. Not surprisingly, much of the debate in the public square is a fight between those who want to declare an emergency and those who don’t. That’s an interesting debate, but it doesn’t get to the essence of the debate and the questions of greatest consequence.
A fundamental principle of critical thinking (and journalism ethics) isn’t just getting the facts right but getting the right facts. It’s easy for Climate Alarmists or Climate Atheists to hijack the argument by cheery picking a few facts that make climate change sound really scary or not scary at all.
The economy or the climate? Why not both?
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As I argue today at The Dispatch, one of the best venues to debate reality-based and evidence-based conservatism, the cherry picking approach misses the point. The key “right facts” in the climate debate are: 1) It’s real (the risks are greater than zero) and, 2) Regardless of how you define risk, economic cooling won’t stop global warming.
Here’s the kicker:
When conservatives fail to think critically or scientifically about climate, the problem is not that they fail to see the flaws in the other side’s argument but that they fail to see the strength of their own argument. Acknowledging that the world is getting hotter gives us the opportunity to make the case for economic freedom.
We’ve made the case for economic freedom extensively in our annual Free Economies are Clean Economies reports, which show that free economies are almost twice as free as less free economies. Punishing and stifling innovation will cool the economy and make the world hotter by delaying the development and deployment of lower-emissions technologies.
There’s a lot more to unpack which we’ll continue to do at C3. Accurately estimating the severity of the risk, for instance, obviously matters a great deal – and intellectually honest scientists will never depict those estimates as “settled” and immune from modification – but one game changing “right fact” is that climate change (i.e. the connection between human produced CO2 and warming) isn’t a hoax.
Acknowledging this shouldn’t trigger an ontological shock for conservatives when the debate about policy and tradeoffs overwhelmingly favors a center-right response. Public focus on extreme weather and heat waves shouldn’t be a problem for conservatives but an opportunity to win the argument about what to do next.