A couple of weeks ago, it came out that the Royal Society had hired space for an event being run by the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF). The event turns out to be a lecture by Matt Ridley, who I have written about before (I’ve also written about the GWPF before too).
It appears that, despite pressure to cancel the event, the Royal Society is allowing the event to go ahead. Apparently, instead of cancelling the meeting,
Greg Laden, has responsed positively to this, suggesting that the Royal Society is putting the GPWF on notice. Possibly, but I think the Royal Society is making a mistake. I think they’re falling into the same trap into which I fell when I first started discussing this topic.
I naively thought that a solid explanation of someone’s error would either convince them they were wrong, convince others that they were wrong, or – possibly – both. I have since found that such an outcome is extremely unlikely, if not virtually impossible. Most who present scientifically incorrect arguments are unlikely to be convinced of their errors, especially if their errors have been highlighted many times in the past (as is the case with Matt Ridley). Also, as long as they sound convincing, most who accept their arguments are unlikely to change their minds.
Even if some expert scientists do attend the meeting to keep check on the accuracy of what is said, I doubt it will have a positive outcome. Either they will be ineffective and the GWPF will be able to imply that they had a meeting “hosted”, or maybe even “endorsed”, by the Royal Society, or they will try to counter what is presented at the meeting, and the GWPF will complain about being censored and will probably suggest that the Royal Society is behaving unscientifically. The GWPF will manipulate it, whatever happens. You may notice that I haven’t considered the possibility that what will be presented will actually be scientifically accurate. Well, that’s because that would be silly.
I’m not suggesting that the Royal Society should go ahead and cancel the event, as that would be manipulated by the GWPF too. I don’t actually think that there really is a positive way out of this at this stage (the meeting is in 2 days times). However, given their past encounters with the GWPF, you would think that they would have thought twice about hosting the event in the first place. Maybe they think that they can effectively counter any misrepresentations, but I suspect that they don’t fully appreciate how manipulative the GWPF can be. I may well be wrong, and would be perfectly happy if it turns out that I am.
Anyway, since I’m discussing the GWPF, I might as well advertise a recent paper about the structure of the climate debate, by one of their Academic Advisors. It’s actually mostly quite sensible. I’m not quite as optimistic that climate change is a relatively small problem that can easily be solved and it, of course, tries to portray the author as part of some sensible middle, which – given their association with the GWPF – is clearly nonsense. However, I largely agree with the basic suggestion that [f]irst-best climate policy is a uniform carbon tax which gradually rises over time.
This is getting rather long, and it’s about all I had to say. Comments welcome.