...in three easily-read and understood parts...
Global Hot Air
By Thomas Sowell
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
The political left's favorite argument is that there is no argument. Their current crusade is to turn "global warming" into one of those things that supposedly no honest and decent person can disagree about, as they have already done with "diversity" and "open space."
The name of "science" is invoked by the left today, as it has been for more than two centuries. After all, Karl Marx's ideology was called "scientific socialism" in the 19th century. In the 18th century, Condorcet analogized his blueprint for a better society to engineering, and social engineering has been the agenda ever since.
Not all the advocates of "global warming" are on the left, of course. Crusades are not just for crusaders. There are always hangers-on who can turn the true believers' crusades into votes or money or at least notoriety.
Whether the globe really is warming is a question about facts -- and about where those facts are measured: on land, in the air or under the sea. There is no question that there is a "greenhouse" effect. Otherwise, half the planet would freeze every night when there is no sunlight falling on it.
There is also no question that the earth can warm or cool. It has done both at one time or another for thousands of years, even before there were SUVs. If there had never been any global warming before, we wouldn't be able to enjoy Yosemite Valley today for it was once buried under thousands of feet of ice.
Back in the 1970s, the environmental hysteria was about the dangers of a new ice age. This hysteria was spread by many of the same individuals and groups who are promoting today's hysteria about global warming.
It is not just the sky that is falling. Government money is falling on those who seek grants to study global warming and produce "solutions" for it. But that money is not as likely to fall on those skeptics in the scientific community who refuse to join the stampede.
Yes, Virginia, there are skeptics about global warming among scientists who study weather and climate. There are arguments both ways -- which is why so many in politics and in the media are so busy selling the notion that there is no argument.
If you heard both arguments, you might not be so willing to go along with those who are prepared to ruin the economy, sacrificing jobs and the national standard of living on the altar to the latest in an unending series of crusades, conducted by politicians and other people seeking to tell everyone else how to live.
What about all those scientists mentioned, cited or quoted by global warming crusaders?
There are all kinds of scientists, from chemists to nuclear physicists to people who study insects, volcanoes, and endocrine glands -- none of whom is an expert on weather or climate, but all of whom can be listed as scientists, to impress people who don't scrutinize the list any further. That ploy has already been used.
Then there are genuine scientific experts on weather and climate. The National Academy of Sciences came out with a report on global warming back in 2001 with a very distinguished list of such experts listed. The problem is that not one of those very distinguished scientists actually wrote the report -- or even saw it before it was published.
One of those very distinguished climate scientists -- Richard S. Lindzen of MIT -- publicly repudiated the conclusions of that report, even though his name had been among those used as window dressing on the report. But the media may not have told you that.
In short, there has been a full court press to convince the public that "everybody knows" that a catastrophic global warming looms over us, that human beings are the cause of it, and that the only solution is to turn more money and power over to the government to stop us from our dangerous ways of living.
Among the climate experts who are not part of that "everybody" are not only Professor Lindzen but also Fred Singer and Dennis Avery, whose book "Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years," punctures the hot air balloon of the global warming crusaders. So does the book "Shattered Consensus," edited by Patrick J. Michaels, professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia, which contains essays by others who are not part of "everybody."
Global Hot Air: Part II
By Thomas Sowell
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Propaganda campaigns often acquire a life of their own. Politicians who have hitched their wagons to the star of "global warming" cannot admit any doubts on their part, or permit any doubts by others from becoming part of a public debate.
Neither can environmental crusaders, whose whole sense of themselves as saviors of the planet is at stake, as they try to stamp out any views to the contrary.
A recent and revealing example of the ruthless attempts to silence anyone who dares question the global warming crusade began with a "news" story in the British newspaper "The Guardian." It quickly found an echo among American Senators on the left -- Bernard Sanders, an avowed socialist, and John Kerry, Pat Leahy and Dianne Feinstein, who are unavowed.
The headline of the "news" story said it all: "Scientists Offered Cash to Dispute Climate Study." According to "The Guardian," scientists and economists "have been offered $10,000 each by a lobby group funded by one of the world's largest oil companies to undermine a major climate change report."
It is a classic notion on the left in general, and of environmentalist zealots in particular, that no one can disagree with them unless they are either uninformed or dishonest. Here they dispose of scientists who are skeptical of the global warming hysteria by depicting them as being bribed by lobbyists for the oil companies.
While such charges may be enough for crusading zealots to wrap themselves ever more tightly in the mantle of virtue, some of us are still old-fashioned enough to want to know the actual facts.
In this case, the fact is that the American Enterprise Institute -- a think tank, not a lobbyist -- did what all kinds of think tanks do, all across the political spectrum, all across the country, and all around the world.
AEI has planned a roundtable discussion of global warming, attended by people with differing views on the subject. That was their fundamental sin, in the eyes of the global warming crowd. They treated this as an issue, rather than a dogma.
Like liberal, conservative, and other think tanks, the American Enterprise Institute pays people who do the work of preparing scholarly papers for presentation at its roundtables. Ten thousand dollars is not an unusual amount and many have received more from other think tanks for similar work.
Enter Senators Sanders, Kerry, Leahy, and Feinstein. In a joint letter to the head of the American Enterprise Institute, they express shock, shock, like the corrupt police official in "Casablanca."
These Senators express "our very serious concerns" about reports that AEI "offered to pay scientists up to $10,000 for questioning the findings" of other scientists. The four Senators express how "saddened" they would be if the reports are true, "by the depths to which some would sink to undermine the scientific consensus" on global warming.
If the reports are true, the Senators continue, "it would highlight the extent to which moneyed interests distort honest scientific and public policy discussions" by "bribing scientists to support a pre-determined agenda."
The Senators ask: "Does your donors' self-interest trump an honest discussion over the well-being of the planet?" They demand that "AEI will publicly apologize for this conduct."
As the late Art Buchwald once said about comedy and farce in Washington, "You can't make that up!"
If it is a bribe to pay people for doing work, then we are all bribed every day, except for those who inherited enough money not to have to work at all. Among those invited to attend the AEI roundtable are some of the same scientists who produced the recent report that politicians, environmentalists, and the media tout as the last word on global warming.
The trump card of the left is that one of the big oil companies contributed money to the American Enterprise Institute -- not as much as one percent of its budget, but enough for a smear.
All think tanks have contributors or they could not exist. But facts carry little weight in smears, even by politicians who question other people's honesty.
Global Hot Air: Part III
By Thomas Sowell
Thursday, February 15, 2007
If you take the mainstream media seriously, you might think that every important scientist believes that "global warming" poses a great threat, and that we need to make drastic changes in the way we live, in order to avoid catastrophes to the environment, to various species, and to ourselves.
The media play a key role in perpetuating such beliefs. Often they seize upon every heat wave to hype global warming, but see no implications in record-setting cold weather, such as many places have been experiencing lately.
Remember how the unusually large number of hurricanes a couple of years ago was hyped in the media as being a result of global warming, with more such hurricanes being predicted to return the following year and the years thereafter?
But, when not one hurricane struck the United States all last year, the media had little or nothing to say about the false predictions they had hyped. It's heads I win and tails you lose.
Are there serious scientists who specialize in weather and climate who have serious doubts about the doomsday scenarios being pushed by global warming advocates? Yes, there are.
There is Dr. S. Fred Singer, who set up the American weather satellite system, and who published some years ago a book titled "Hot Talk, Cold Science." More recently, he has co-authored another book on the subject, "Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years."
There have been periods of global warming that lasted for centuries -- and periods of global cooling that also lasted for centuries. So the issue is not whether the world is warmer now than at some time in the past but how much of that warming is due to human beings and how much can we reduce future warming, even if we drastically reduce our standard of living in the attempt.
Other serious scientists who are not on the global warming bandwagon include a professor of meteorology at MIT, Richard S. Lindzen.
His name was big enough for the National Academy of Sciences to list it among the names of other experts on its 2001 report that was supposed to end the debate by declaring the dangers of global warming proven scientifically.
Professor Lindzen then objected and pointed out that neither he nor any of the other scientists listed ever saw that report before it was published. It was in fact written by government bureaucrats -- as was the more recently published summary report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that is also touted as the final proof and the end of the discussion.
You want more experts who think otherwise? Try a professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia, Patrick J. Michaels, who refers to the much ballyhooed 2001 IPCC summary as having "misstatements and errors" that he calls "egregious."
A professor of climatology at the University of Delaware, David R. Legates, likewise referred to the 2001 IPCC summary as being "often in direct contrast with the scientific report that accompanies it." It is the summaries that the media hype. The full 2007 report has not even been published yet.
Skeptical experts in other countries around the world include Duncan Wingham, a professor of climate physics at the University College, London, and Nigel Weiss of Cambridge University.
The very attempt to silence all who disagree about global warming ought to raise red flags.
Anyone who remembers the 1970s should remember the Club of Rome report that was supposed to be the last word on economic growth grinding to a halt, "overpopulation" and a rapidly approaching era of mass starvation in the 1980s.
In reality, the 1980s saw increased economic growth around the world and, far from mass starvation, an increase in obesity and agricultural surpluses in many countries. But much of the media went for the Club of Rome report and hyped the hysteria.
Many in the media resent any suggestion that they are either shilling for an ideological agenda or hyping whatever will sell newspapers or get higher ratings on TV.
Here is their chance to check out some heavyweight scientists specializing in weather and climate, instead of taking Al Gore's movie or the pronouncements of government bureaucrats and politicians as the last word.
Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of Basic Economics: A Citizen's Guide to the Economy.