When Public Health Trumps Science…

…solutions could be far from optimal, because “right” but for the wrong reasons.

This lesson that could be applied to AGW can be learnt from the story of the “war on cholesterol”, as described (and denounced) by Gary Taubes in the pages of The New York Times:

Because medical authorities have always approached the cholesterol hypothesis as a public health issue, rather than as a scientific one, we’re repeatedly reminded that it shouldn’t be questioned. Heart attacks kill hundreds of thousands of Americans every year, statin therapy can save lives, and skepticism might be perceived as a reason to delay action. So let’s just trust our assumptions, get people to change their diets and put high-risk people on statins and other cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Science, however, suggests a different approach: test the hypothesis rigorously and see if it survives. If the evidence continues to challenge the role of cholesterol, then rethink it, without preconceptions, and consider what these other pathways in cardiovascular disease are implying about cause and prevention. A different hypothesis may turn out to fit the facts better, and one day help prevent considerably more deaths.

Well, at least we can state now: AGW is not a matter of science, but of public health. And the whole fixation on declaring that “the science is settled” makes a little bit more sense…