Krugman: "difficult to get a man to understand [climate] when his salary depends on not understanding"

Krugman hits another home run: “An economist, a lawyer and a professor of marketing walk into a room. What’s the punch line? They were three of the five “expert witnesses” Republicans called for last week’s Congressional hearing on climate science.”

But the blockbuster came from one of the two climate scientists House Republicans had invited to testify. One of the (handful of) climate scientists skeptical of global warming testified to Congress that his right-wing-funded research found the same global warming other scientists have repeatedly found. Reality-deniers predictably flipped on their moments-ago hero:

Just a few weeks ago Anthony Watts, who runs a prominent climate denialist Web site, praised the Berkeley project and piously declared himself “prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong.” But never mind: once he knew that Professor Muller was going to present those preliminary results, Mr. Watts dismissed the hearing as “post normal science political theater.” And one of the regular contributors on his site dismissed Professor Muller as “a man driven by a very serious agenda.”

But Krugman’s not gloating because “I was wrong when I said that the joke was on the G.O.P.; actually, the joke is on the human race”:

For years now, large numbers of prominent scientists have been warning, with increasing urgency, that if we continue with business as usual, the results will be very bad, perhaps catastrophic. They could be wrong. But if you’re going to assert that they are in fact wrong, you have a moral responsibility to approach the topic with high seriousness and an open mind. After all, if the scientists are right, you’ll be doing a great deal of damage.

But what we had, instead of high seriousness, was a farce: a supposedly crucial hearing stacked with people who had no business being there and instant ostracism for a climate skeptic who was actually willing to change his mind in the face of evidence. As I said, no surprise: as Upton Sinclair pointed out long ago, it’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.

Posted by James on Monday, April 04, 2011