Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Don’t Reach for That Alarm

New York Times columnist John Tierney offers this worthy reflection on the certitude of continued alarmism in the year ahead, and how something called the "availability cascade" works to perpetuate the conventional wisdom. Sample:

The availability cascade is a self-perpetuating process: the more attention a danger gets, the more worried people become, leading to more news coverage and more fear. Once the images of Sept. 11 made terrorism seem a major threat, the press and the police lavished attention on potential new attacks and supposed plots. After Three Mile Island and “The China Syndrome,” minor malfunctions at nuclear power plants suddenly became newsworthy. . .

Once a cascade is under way, it becomes tough to sort out risks because experts become reluctant to dispute the popular wisdom, and are ignored if they do. Now that the melting Arctic has become the symbol of global warming, there’s not much interest in hearing other explanations of why the ice is melting — or why the globe’s other pole isn’t melting, too.

Happy new year, by the way.

Discussions - 7 Comments

A variation of 'if it bleads it leads'?

Anyway, a sad commentary on our media and on our society who chooses to consume such fair.

That bit about Jonah was delightful and spot on. Is George Bush our current Jonah? To hear environmentalists and the anti-war crowd go on about him one might presume so. Once he has fallen overboard, who will be left to blame? There will be SOMEONE and that is my prediction.

It's not appropriate to misidentify the heavily lopsided near-consensus among climate scientists as "popular wisdom" as though it's simply uneducated conclusions made by your average non-scientist after reading a couple of articles in Time, Newsweek, or hearing a rant from Glenn Beck or John Stewart. If anything, the professional global warming deniers and minimizers appear to be far more popular among average Americans than do the vast majority of climate scientists, who wield sometimes complicated statistics and frequently grim and depressing forecasts. The "don't worry, be happy - everything will be hunky-dory!" message of the deniers and minimizers is like an inviting, warm blanket, and many people with little to no power are more than happy to swallow that comforting message, however far-fetched it is. And, whether it's journalistically responsible or not, the deniers and minimizers tend to get far more printed words and airtime, proportionately speaking, than do those within the scientific majority on the issue.

The massive majority of climate scientists agree with the co-coiner of the phrase 'availability cascade' that "climate change is real and that it presents a serious threat."

Non-scientist activists and wonks at business-first and assorted conservative think tanks are free to think otherwise, of course. But the harsh reality is that both they and those who AREN'T burying their heads in the sand on climate change are far more likely to be adversely effected by global warming in the next 20 years than by a terrorist attack.

Where do you study climatology?

But, is a consensus the truth, even amongst scientists?

That is the real question.

Oh yeah, wasn't the scientific consensus a few decades or so back that the world was on the verge of freezing to death?

That was what I was taught when I was in college, that a new Ice Age was coming and inevitable due to wobbles, or something, in the Earth's orbit. What if man-made global warming stopped the coming ice age?

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