Not about everything, of course, but we do both agree that mandatory recycling laws are mostly pointless (so much for my chances of ever being elected to public office!) and believe it or not we even have some common ground on climate change, and I don’t just mean that we both support replacing payroll taxes with a revenue-neutral carbon tax… although we agree on that too!
At Lakeside yesterday I asked Will this question:
You’ve written that “America needs a national commission… to assess the evidence about climate change.” But there already was one: in 2001 the National Academy of Sciences said that the IPCC report from earlier that year “accurately reflects the current thinking of the scientific community on this issue.” Given that the IPCC’s 2007 report expressed even more confidence, wouldn’t another commission be a waste of time and money?
He said Yes, and then (I have this on tape!) he said that he didn’t want there to be any climate scientists on the commission because they would be biased by their research grants &etc. He wanted a commission along the lines of the 9/11 commission, made up of retired senators and other Good People.
And you know what? I think that’s an awesome idea! Because me and my peeps are convinced that the Good People will agree with us—heck, if we can’t convince the Good People then we’re toast—and George Will and his fellow skeptics are convinced that the Good People will agree with them, and asking the Good People is a cheap way to break the deadlock.
Since deciding on the composition of this commission would undoubtedly be controversial, here’s my undeniably brilliant proposal: Let’s get the 9/11 Commission to do it. Since that commission was formed for a different purpose the odds are that it has no axe to grind one way or the other about global warming, and the commission members’ work on 9/11 seems to have earned them the trust of everyone who isn’t Lyndon LaRouche. (Here is George Will suggesting a panel “akin to the 9/11 commission” to investigate torture.)
And I even have a snazzy name for this new commission: The 2911 Commission.
Their task would be to investigate the science of climate change. If they conclude that the scientific consensus is bogus then I will shut up about the “scientific consensus” and publicly agree with George Will that we should just wait until 2021 to see what happens. (Why 2021? Because yesterday I asked Will about a 1996 quote from Julian Simon—“my guess is that global warming will simply be another transient concern, barely worthy of consideration ten years from now”—and Will’s response was that he thought Simon’s only mistake was that he was off by 15 years.)
But if the 2911 Commission concludes (duh) that there is no reason to doubt the scientific consensus about climate change, then…. well, who knows what might happen then? 🙂
PS. As noted at the beginning, Will and I don’t agree on everything. For example, I think our default position should be to trust the scientific consensus until the 2911 Commission releases their report, and Will almost certainly thinks we should assume that the science is guilty until proven innocent. But that’s small potatoes. The big picture is that we agree!
PPS. If the 9/11 Commission can’t do it and we need to pick names, I nominate Scott Turow.