There are two issues with global warming/climate change:
1. Is it happening?
2. If it is happening, what should we do?
I can sympathize with debate on the second point. The so-called "precautionary principle" seems to me to be an invitation -- no, an imperative -- to do all sorts of things because there might be a problem. Massive social change should require a slightly higher threshold determination.
So I was surprised and even a bit heartened-- if one can be heartened by such a concession -- by statements on the The Becker-Posner Blog. (And, btw, these guys can hardly be considered wildass liberals -- quite the contrary if anything.) Both heavyweights concede that yes there is a troubling climate problem :
Professor Becker notes
...considerable skepticism about whether man-made activities explain much of the temperature build-up in recent decades, although Posner is right that consensus on this has grown considerably during the past 15 years.
So I agree with him that it is prudent to take actions to reduce the build-up of carbon gases in the atmosphere, but which ones?
Judge Posner states:
I agree there is room for doubt about whether industrial and other human activities are causing significant warming. But I have become more convinced than I was 15 years ago that it is a risk worth some effort to protect against, just as we insure against other risks that may never happen. I would oppose draconian cut backs in energy emissions, but not a modest and sensible program of the type set out in my commentary.
Fair enough and enormous progress, I think, when you compare such concession to a die-hard denier like Michael Crichton. Apparently, he seems to be saying that the problem is a political device. (I haven't read the book, I probably won't as a review from a friend who eats up thrillers says it's tedious and it doesn't matter if I read it ot not -- the book stands as a political broadside that climate change is nothing to worry about.)
To what degree the concession noted above is a significant change for Posner or Becker, I don't know. Nor do I know whether other right-wing intellectuals are also shifting. But as a general rule it is extremely rare for people (especially famous big-names) to admit in public that they have changed their mind at all, so I wonder if this is some sort of indicator of a shift in the establishment psychosphere. If nothing else, the conservatism of Posner & Becker should give pause to those who sneer and smirk that climate change is a globalist plot to, I kid you not, impoverish America.