April 18, 2008

The Debate Is Over?

It reflects the state of science on the neocon right that a senior editor of that tendency’s captive science policy organ, The New Atlantis , excuses the failure of the Republican National Committee, given nearly a year’s notice, to field a participant in yesterday’s National Science Policy Debate.
Yuval Levin asked in National Review Online on April 17:

“can anyone think of more than two or three serious questions about science that would be appropriately directed to a presidential candidate?”

Since more than two or three Republican scientists presently serve in Congress, Yuval might have asked them what their strong points may be?  The failure to engage in this much publicized forum is particularly inept given the predictable response- the winners by default had an Op-ed in yesterday’s WSJ.

Worse, there is the rhetorical context of Al Gore’s oft repeated declaration that “The debate is over” on climate change, a contention that flies in the face of science’s continuing struggle to pin down one of the most fundamental variables necessary to the problem’s understanding- the sensitivity of global temperatures to doubling the level of carbon dioxide.  Estimates have been bouncing around with each new study for literally a century—a bona fide scientific debate that shows no sign of flatlining anytime soon :

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