Surprisingly, I have found nothing to disagree with in R. Pielke Jr.’s op-ed piece in the Financial Post. Have you?
As you might expect, he doesn’t manage to quite come around to the point that the worst-case outcomes deserve more weight, in a cost-benefit risk analysis, than the best-case outcomes.
So while he agrees that uncertainty does not call for inaction, he doesn’t go so far as I do, to claim that the less we believe the models, the more vigorously we should act.
That said, he didn’t say anything I disagree with, and it appears he has, without crediting James especially, absorbed the impact of the discussion about “consistency with models” correctly. I think that his point about that is sound.
The appropriate moral behavior in this context is only obvious, though, if you think democracy is sound and functional and capable of rationally weighing ideas. In the best of worlds this process is necessarily imperfect. At present, we are faced with organized and funded people who cherry-pick any possible indication that concerns about AGW are overblown.
We can’t win. If we react in a balanced way, the public splits the difference and moves to a muddled and inadequate response. If we cherry pick in the other direction, we become “the extremists on the other side”.
It is very difficult for a balanced view based on reason to fight an unbalanced view based on polemics, the more so the more nature indicates consequences that don’t seem intuitive.
While I may have some objections to what RP Jr doesn’t say, surely expecting those blanks filled in, in the FP these days, is wishful thinking. But what he says in the op-ed seems correct.