And Margaret Wente: Facts make me itchy

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In columnist Margaret Wente’s periodic rant (to which the Toronto Globe and Mail denies access unless you are an online subscriber), we are treated to the rhetorical question: “Why wreck a good story with the fine print?”

Why, indeed? Certainly, Wente is careful not to offend on that count.

 Her general tack on climate change – an issue into which she regularly dips her toe, but no more – is to dismiss the issue as unknowable, and to castigate anyone who expresses concern as a wrong-headed enviro-whacko or a dupe. In a recent column, for example, she made fun of her uptown friends who have switched to driving hybrid SUVs, a gesture that Wente condemned as hollow. It turns out that fuel efficiency in a hybrid SUV, while an improvement, is still much worse than, say, a bicycle. Wente ridiculed her friends’ unwillingness to make a bigger sacrifice as a show of insincerity. Really, if you’re going to be cavalier, why not deny the problem altogether?

Wente’s own allergy to complexity leads her frequently to the same conclusion. As she says in this column, after offering up some strained contradictions: “Who’s right? How should I know?”

Wente is proud to keep an open mind – a mind uncluttered by the facts that created a consensus among the best climate scientists in the world. But her avowed lack of insight doesn’t keep her from joining the debate. Far from it, she continues to argue strenuously that everyone should stick to their full-gas Hummers pending final, irrevocable, undeniable, incontrovertible proof that the last gasping climate change denier is a charlatan.

And the precautionary principle be damned.

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