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Middle Ground On Global Warming?

(AP/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service )
Andrew Revkin of the New York Times writes that a third front has opened in the global warming debate, a topic Public Eye readers will recognize as one of our longtime obsessions. The "usually invisible middle," it seems, has become increasingly frustrated with the debate between the two traditional sides (which see warming as either "a human-caused catastrophe or a hoax") and is now making its voice heard. Those in this new camp, Revkin writes, "agree that accumulating carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping smokestack and tailpipe gases probably pose a momentous environmental challenge, but say the appropriate response is more akin to buying fire insurance and installing sprinklers and new wiring in an old, irreplaceable house (the home planet) than to fighting a fire already raging."

He also gets a nice quote from Carl Wunsch, a climate and oceans expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Climate change presents a very real risk," says Wunsch. "It seems worth a very large premium to insure ourselves against the most catastrophic scenarios. Denying the risk seems utterly stupid. Claiming we can calculate the probabilities with any degree of skill seems equally stupid."

Many bloggers are celebrating Revkin's article and, with it, the possibility of a considered, reasoned debate about an issue that tends to inflame passions. (One calls it "An article I've been waiting years to blog.") But others are sticking to their guns. "What bothers me about the whole 'middle way' on this issue is that if the problem is truly reaching crisis proportions, the 'moderates' are mitigating any action that needs be taken NOW!," writes "Rocker." And then there are the cynics – or, perhaps, the realists. R. Pielke Jr. is one of them. "I fully expect that many of the usual suspects on the extremes of the debate (both sides) will respond to this story by saying that they've been in the middle all along," he writes.