Sarah Palin in the Washington Post

Our parent publication, the Washington Post, today published an opinion piece from Sarah Palin -- former governor of Alaska, former running mate of Sen. John McCain, and foreign-policy interest of mine -- on the subject of the international climate change treaty being worked out in Copenhagen.

I wouldn't recommend reading it, but for those whose curiosity is piqued, here is a boil-down of the boilerplate: the ClimateGate emails show there's no consensus on anthropogenic global warming; changes in Alaska's climate are due to "natural, cyclical environmental trends"; the costs of cap-and-trade outweigh the benefits; the Copenhagen agreement will be "party to fraudulent scientific practices"; the president should boycott.

In essence, Palin critiques politicized science with, erm, some very politicized science. Take, for instance, this nugget:

As governor of Alaska, I took a stand against politicized science when I sued the federal government over its decision to list the polar bear as an endangered species despite the fact that the polar bear population had more than doubled. I got clobbered for my actions by radical environmentalists nationwide, but I stood by my view that adding a healthy species to the endangered list under the guise of "climate change impacts" was an abuse of the Endangered Species Act.

What's missing here is the recognition that a broad range and vast number of different scientists -- zoologists, biologists, etc., and not all "radicals" either -- concurred that polar bears were threatened; recognized that in some cases the populations would wax and wane, but that they would ultimately wane; and decided to list the animal as endangered. The reason wasn't "climate change." The reason was that polar bears might go extinct. 

But, in Palin's reading, the polar bear researchers must be drinking the same water as the climatologists, since, in both cases, thousands of scientists from different specialties differ on details but concur on the trend -- or, more importantly, the threat it might pose. 



Is Tamiflu worth it?


Research published in the British Medical Journal says there is no public evidence that Tamiflu reduces complications associated with influenza. Researchers attempting to review data about the Roche produced drug -- dubbed "our best line of defence" against swine flu by the British health secretary -- found the Swiss laboratory wouldn't permit public access to the studies on the drugs.

Tamiflu might shorten influenza suffering by a day or so they said, based on information in the public domain, but it's not clear that chances of serious complications, like pneumonia, would be affected by Tamiflu. Such meager results mean it might not be worth confronting the side-effects, which include: "insomnia, nausea, bad dreams, abdominal pain, headache and a rare neuropsychiatric disease that caused some users to attempt to harm themselves."

This is understandably a problem for the governments around the world who have stockpiled huge quantities of the drug to prescribe for H1N1, contributing to Roche's estimated $2.65 billion in revenues this year from Tamiflu. In a very entertaining, but not too enlightening analogy, a Brit scientist tried to explain the situation policy makers now find themselves in when deciding to use the drug:

But I suppose that once you've gone and bought lots of doses, then it's a bit like the situation with gun control in the US. If you have a gun in the house, it is much easier to use it. But it does not mean it's the right thing to do."