Free Markets, Free People


Science in the service of politics

We’ve talked about this at other times in the past but there are some examples in a recent Victor Davis Hanson peice that make the point again.  Science is science.  It should not be something in service to anything, especially politics.  It should stand alone and we should deal with its findings as objectively as possible.  Unfortunately, today we have “science” (and yes the quote marks do indicate that what I’m going to note has nothing to do with real science) in the service of politics and for hire to whomever can provide it the most grant money.  It’s become a bit like expert witnesses in court.  Need one to conclude a certain way?  We can find that “expert” for you.

Anyway, there is one particularly egregious example in the VDH piece (at least more egregious than some, at least to me) that I want to note because it has so recently been in the news and used in politics to further an agenda:

The president still talks of “settled science” in the global-warming debate. He recently flew to California to attribute the near-record drought there to human-induced global warming.

There is no scientific basis for the president’s assertion about the drought. Periodic droughts are characteristic of California’s climate, both in the distant past and over a century and a half of modern record-keeping. If the president were empirical rather than political, he would instead have cited the logical reasons for the fact that this drought is far more serious than those of the late 1970s.

California has not built additional major mountain storage reservoirs to capture Sierra Nevada runoff in decades. The population of the state’s water consumers has almost doubled since the last severe drought. Several million acre-feet of stored fresh water have been in recent years diverted to the sea — on the dubious science that the endangered delta smelt suffers mostly from irrigation-related water diversions rather than pollutants, and that year-round river flows for salmon, from the mountains to the sea, existed before the reserve water storage available from the construction of mountain reservoirs.

In other words, government has been lax (no forward planning or construction for the water needs of an expanded population), environmentalists have been extreme (demanding an entire valley be dried up for a mostly useless fish) and the result has been to aggrevate a natural penomenon to disaster levels.

But they will tell you that it has to do with “global warming”, not poor government, not environmental extremism.  What Obama is pushing is pseudo-science, fashioned to support a political position.  There is no reason that this drought should be as severe as it has been.  And again – it isn’t global warming causing the severity.

Remember, this was the guy who promised he’s put science back in the place it belonged.  Apparently that place is the same place he claimed it was before he took office.  As a political tool to push an ideological agenda.  That’s precisely what he was doing in California.

But then, the fact that he lied shouldn’t suprise anyone, given his track record.


Paul Krugman–climate alarmist

Not content to be a political hack, Krugman expands his field of hackery into climate alarmism. 

Commenting on the hot summer, corn and the drought, Krugman says:

But that’s not all: really extreme high temperatures, the kind of thing that used to happen very rarely in the past, have now become fairly common. Think of it as rolling two sixes, which happens less than 3 percent of the time with fair dice, but more often when the dice are loaded. And this rising incidence of extreme events, reflecting the same variability of weather that can obscure the reality of climate change, means that the costs of climate change aren’t a distant prospect, decades in the future. On the contrary, they’re already here, even though so far global temperatures are only about 1 degree Fahrenheit above their historical norms, a small fraction of their eventual rise if we don’t act.

The great Midwestern drought is a case in point. This drought has already sent corn prices to their highest level ever. If it continues, it could cause a global food crisis, because the U.S. heartland is still the world’s breadbasket. And yes, the drought is linked to climate change: such events have happened before, but they’re much more likely now than they used to be.


Facts are indeed an “inconvenient truth” when considering these alarmist screeds.

First, droughts in general, these findings from actual scientists:

Here is Andreadis and Lettenmaier (2006) in GRL (PDF):

[D]roughts have, for the most part, become shorter, less frequent, less severe, and cover a smaller portion of the country over the last century.


Well never mind. 

But those corn prices!  Highest level ever!  And, and … people are going to starve!  We just aren’t going to have enough!

Economist Mark Perry disposes of that nonsense:

First, yields:



Then prices (inflation adjusted):




You’d think a Nobel laureate economist could at least manage that, right?  Research inflation adjusted pricing on a commodity?


Well it depends, I guess, on which hat you’re wearing that day.  Hack or economist.  Krugman continues to wear the first much more often than the second these days.


Twitter: @McQandO