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Walker Leads the Field, Survey Finds | Main | AoSHQ Podcast: Guest, Sean Davis
February 13, 2015

Rand Paul Says Something Not Terribly Objectionable About the Environment

I'll just post this quick to make a Strong Form/Weak Form comparison.

The Strong Form of AGW-skepticism is that human activity does not influence the climate.

The Weak Form AGW skepticism is that human activity may influence the climate, but the extent to which it does so has never been established by reliable science, making this a plausible speculation, not an established fact.

The Weak Form may then pay some lip service to anti-pollution efforts and add something like, "All things being equal, it's probably a good idea to try to limit the quantity of pollutants we're producing."

I remember in 2008 Tim Pawlenty was basically disqualified from consideration as a candidate because he offered up some soft soap lip service to the possibility that CO2 is a greenhouse gas (it actually is, by the way), and as governor he approved spending some money to study environmental impacts, which is, when you think about it, the very smallest amount of money or effort one could possibly spend on this thing, but which also immunizes you (to a small-dollar extent) from charges that you "Hate the environment."

Rand Paul is not my candidate, and I am definitely an AGW denier (not a skeptic, a full-on denier), but there's really nothing terribly wrong with minor statements like this and if we keep being ridiculous about always insisting on the very strongest Strong Form restatement of our principles, we shouldn't wonder when only 20% of the country is prepared to agree with us about them.

Let me point something out: People insist on the strongest of Strong Form restatements because they want to know, without wondering, that Candidate X will be with them on a particular issue, 100%, no doubt about it.

That's understandable, but do bear in mind when one insists on that level of 100% iron-clad I Am With You Come Hell Or High Water guarantee, one is absolutely forbidding them from making any play whatsoever who might have more "concerns" about the issue.

A 100% airtight guarantee to one voter is a 0% pitch to another.

It should also be noted that these demands for perfect no-wiggle-room assurances descend into falsehood for ideological purposes: For example, again, it is not seriously contested by anyone that CO2 is indeed a (weak) greenhouse gas, and that some unknown quantity of excess CO2 in the atmosphere would have some kind of impact on the climate.

Further, it is likely that the current level of excess CO2 pumped into the air by man-made activities has already impacted the climate, to a small (unknown) degree, and of course not necessarily for "the bad," as Climate Sillies insist.

But to demand people say things that are not true, like that CO2 isn't a greenhouse gas, and that there is no greenhouse effect at all (look at Venus), or that no quantity of CO2 could possibly disturb the climate, is just dumb.

We don't need Rand Paul to swear on a pack of Bibles to things which everyone knows are false just to establish his ideological bona fides.

Falsehoods should never be part of one's ideology, nevermind a central, litmus-test part.

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posted by Ace at 02:00 PM

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