Update (10/31): While I continue to engage in surreal arguments in the comments section—Scott, I’m profoundly disappointed that a scientist like you, who surely knows better, would be so sloppy as to assert without any real proof that just because it has tusks and a trunk, and looks and sounds like an elephant, and is the size of the elephant, that it therefore is an elephant, completely ignoring the blah blah blah blah blah—while I do that, there are a few glimmerings that the rest of the world is finally starting to get it. A new story from The Onion, which I regard as almost the only real newspaper left:
Update (11/1): OK, and this morning from Nicholas Kristof, who’s long been one of the rare non-Onion practitioners of journalism: Will Climate Get Some Respect Now?
I’m writing from the abstract, hypothetical future that climate-change alarmists talk about—the one where huge tropical storms batter the northeastern US, coastal cities are flooded, hundreds of thousands are evacuated from their homes, etc. I always imagined that, when this future finally showed up, at least I’d have the satisfaction of seeing the deniers admit they were grievously wrong, and that I and those who think similarly were right. Which, for an academic, is a satisfaction that has to be balanced carefully against the possible destruction of the world. I don’t think I had the imagination to foresee that the prophesied future would actually arrive, and that climate change would simultaneously disappear as a political issue—with the forces of know-nothingism bolder than ever, pressing their advantage into questions like whether or not raped women can get pregnant, as the President weakly pleads that he too favors more oil drilling. I should have known from years of blogging that, if you hope for the consolation of seeing those who are wrong admit to being wrong, you hope for a form of happiness all but unattainable in this world.
Yet, if the transformation of the eastern seaboard into something out of the Jurassic hasn’t brought me that satisfaction, it has brought a different, completely unanticipated benefit. Trapped in my apartment, with the campus closed and all meetings cancelled, I’ve found, for the first time in months, that I actually have some time to write papers. (And, well, blog posts.) Because of this, part of me wishes that the hurricane would continue all week, even a month or two (minus, of course, the power outages, evacuations, and other nasty side effects). I could learn to like this future.
At this point in the post, I was going to transition cleverly into an almost (but not completely) unrelated question about the nature of causality. But I now realize that the mention of hurricanes and (especially) climate change will overshadow anything I have to say about more abstract matters. So I’ll save the causality stuff for tomorrow or Wednesday. Hopefully the hurricane will still be here, and I’ll have time to write.