Krugman (Hating good government) reminds us (again) that, politically, scientific evidence doesn't much matter:
It’s now official: 2014 was the warmest year on record. You might expect this to be a politically important milestone. After all, climate change deniers have long used the blip of 1998 — an unusually hot year, mainly due to an upwelling of warm water in the Pacific — to claim that the planet has stopped warming. This claim involves a complete misunderstanding of how one goes about identifying underlying trends. (Hint: Don’t cherry-pick your observations.) But now even that bogus argument has collapsed. So will the deniers now concede that climate change is real?
Of course not. Evidence doesn’t matter for the “debate” over climate policy, where I put scare quotes around “debate” because, given the obvious irrelevance of logic and evidence, it’s not really a debate in any normal sense. And this situation is by no means unique. Indeed, at this point it’s hard to think of a major policy dispute where facts actually do matter; it’s unshakable dogma, across the board. And the real question is why. ...
... the fact is that we’re living in a political era in which facts don’t matter. This doesn’t mean that those of us who care about evidence should stop seeking it out. But we should be realistic in our expectations, and not expect even the most decisive evidence to make much difference.
Of course, agreeing that the world is likely getting warmer is different than agreeing about what we should do about it. There is a wide range of reasonable policy goals (from adaptation to mitigation) and alternatives (do nothing to a carbon tax equal to the social cost of carbon). It would be great to be able to have a conversation about goals and alternatives instead of debating the science based on opinions.
This is from 2003:
Environmental Defense today praised Senator John McCain (R-AZ) today for pledging to soon secure a Senate vote on an extremely affordable version of the McCain Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act containing a first phase of greenhouse gas pollution reductions. The Act is the first proposal for a bi-partisan and comprehensive national policy to cut the greenhouse gas pollution disrupting the Earth's climate. The measure, co-sponsored by Senators McCain and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), was discussed during today's Senate Commerce Committee hearings on climate change, chaired by Senator McCain. ...
This fall's vote on the measure will give Senators the chance to halt the waffling and delay on climate change and participate in a real debate about the only thing that counts on climate policy -- getting greenhouse gas pollution to go down, not up.
How did we from there to here?