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With A Grain of Salt

Here’s a letter to the Washington Post:

You reported yesterday on Pres. Obama’s initiative “aimed at highlighting the connections between climate change and public health” – a connection that (despite your report’s title) the White House has already concluded exists and poses a threat to human health (“White House wants to explore how climate change makes you sick”).  On the very same webpage as that report there appeared also a report on the recent collapse of the long-standing consensus among experts that the typical American’s salt intake poses a threat to human health (“More scientists doubt salt is as bad for you as the government says”).

How revealing.  One report insists that the current consensus among experts on the dangers of climate change is so unassailable that we must turn over more power and resources to government to protect us from doom that would otherwise be inevitable, while a second report effectively warns that expert consensus, even when endorsed by government officials, should at least sometimes be taken with a grain of salt.

There’s a lesson here, summarized nicely by a quotation in the report on salt from Baylor medical professor Dennis Bier: “When you are making recommendations for 300 million people, you have to be concerned about any data that suggests harm.”  Indeed so.  Adequate concern, we now learn, was not exercised over earlier ‘expert’ warnings about salt.  Sensible people, therefore, will understand it to be quite possible that adequate concern is not now being exercised over current ‘expert’ warnings about the effects of climate change.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030

By the way, this report finds little connection between climate change and public health.


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