The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart has joined the critics who found that SuperFreakonomics got climate science wrong. When economist Steven Levitt came on the show to promote the book on October 27th, Stewart defended his work, wondering if critics were just part of a “secular religion.” Levitt had portrayed former Vice President Al Gore as the “patron saint” of the “religion” of global warming, who has chilled investigation into “cheap and simple” solutions because of his “moralism and angst.” However, two days later, Stewart interviewed Gore to discuss his own new book, Our Choice. In the mean time, Stewart belatedly did some reading up on this fundamental issue, and found that the “science was, according to actual people who know climate science, not good”:
We had on a guy on the show, Steve Levitt — Freakonomics — whose science was, according to actual people who know climate science, not good, but it seemed like the tone of the book was, “Why don’t we just think about these other things?” People came at him hard.
Watch it (Stewart mentions SuperFreakonomics at 4:20):
Levitt and Dubner have now admitted, begrudgingly, that they misportrayed climate scientist Ken Caldeira’s own views about his research. To be more precise, they have announced they will change the sentence that claimed Caldeira believes carbon dioxide “is not the right villain in this fight” to omit Caldeira’s name. Despite this one welcome change, the book continues to be a farrago of errors, personal attacks, and unfounded conclusions.
Stewart, however, continues to not understand why the book came under such withering criticism. In his interviews that touch upon global warming — with EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, global warming denier Chris Horner, journalist Bob Woodruff — Stewart has consistently acted bemused, which is often a good interview technique. But it also seems that Stewart’s bafflement is genuine, failing to understand that billions of dollars have been spent by polluters and their political allies for decades to distort the clear need for decisive action. He does not seem to know that greenhouse gases are already reshaping the world we live in, destroying ecosystems and economies.