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NYT’s Justin Gillis equates science of eclipse with global warming science

New York Times: From Bad to Worse (intellectual polarization in the Age of Trump)

By Robert Bradley Jr. — August 21, 2017

Justin Gillis: Eclipse Science to Climate Science

For those of us in the climate change debate, postmodernism and Nancy MacLeans are just about everywhere. The science is settled and thus the only real questions are why is there the evil of dissent. There can be no debate so don’t ask Al Gore or Michael Mann or Gavin Schmidt to debate. (On Stossel several years ago, Schmidt refused to engage with Roy Spencer so John interviewed them separately!)

Back to the New York Times print edition of yesterday, August 20, 2017. Justin Gillis’s article. “Should You Trust Climate Science? Maybe the Eclipse Is a Clue” remarkably equates the certain science of solar movement with climate models.

“Thanks to the work of scientists,” he writes, “people will know exactly what time to expect the eclipse.” And so we “respond to scientific predictions all the time, even though we have no independent capacity to verify the calculations. We tend to trust scientists.”

But when it comes to the science of man-made climate change, “we have largely ignored the scientists’ work.”

For years now, atmospheric scientists have been handing us a set of predictions about the likely consequences of our emissions of industrial gases. These forecasts are critically important, because this group of experts sees grave risks to our civilization. And yet, when it comes to reacting to the warnings of climate science, we have done little.

“Why?” Gillis provides the narrative of self-interested evil.

Sheer inertia is one of many reasons…. But a bigger reason is that these changes threaten vested economic interests. Commodity companies benefit from exploiting forests. Fossil-fuel companies, to protect their profits, spent decades throwing up a smoke screen about the risks of climate change. Most of them now say they have stopped funding climate denial, but they still finance the careers of politicians who say they are skeptical of climate science and who play down the risks.

Six Questions for Gillis

If this science is really settled, then tell us about:

  • Climate models and predicted warming.
  • The magnitude of sulfur dioxide cooling in relation to carbon dioxide warming for the net effect.
  • The feedback effects of clouds to enhanced warming
  • The relative strength of natural variability versus the enhanced greenhouse effect.
  • Sea level rise fifty or one hundred years ago versus today.
  • The likelihood of a (moderated) future Ice Age or Little Ice Age in light of the enhanced greenhouse effect.

And this is just the physical science. There are many other questions about climate economics and public policy that surely would inspire a fair-minded Justin Gillis to want to explore the unsettled science that is there.


Make no mistake. The intellectual polarization in the Age of Trump is widening. Progressives are all in, and intellectual norms and fair dealing are victims. Whether it is Michael Mann in climate science or Nancy MacLean in social science or Justin Gillis in the media, the ends justify the means.