Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A Long History of Advocacy

Last night, George W. Bush took the calculated political risk of acknowledging "the serious challenge of global climate change."

This morning, Kevin Mooney reveals the terrifying liberal plot to defund denialist thinktanks.

Climate change skeptics - and journalists who report on them - have become the target of a campaign aimed at stifling legitimate debate....

Leftist activists masquerading as scientists are promoting false notions of "consensus" in an effort to back calls for mandatory caps on CO2 and other "greenhouse gas" emissions....
The problem, it seems, is that "consensus" is being used to cover up "real disputes that exist in the science over the quality of data."

To anyone who's familiar with, say, evolutionary theory, it won't seem peculiar that scientific consensus could coexist with real disputes over the quality of data. But like ID discoverists, climate denialists like to portray this "contradiction" as evidence for their opponents' secret socialist agenda. Thus, Myron Ebell announces the awful truth about the Union of Concerned Scientists:
Myron Ebell, director of energy and global warming policy at Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a key target of the UCS report, characterizes the UCS as a "hardcore left-wing activist" organization with a long history of advocacy.
I can't imagine anyone being shocked to learn that people who refer to themselves as "concerned scientists" have concerns about science. But Ebell apparently feels that he's blown the lid off their seedy little racket.

Next, Mooney offers a fair summary of the UCS's accusations against denialists associated with the Independent Institute, including their funding by ExxonMobil. Without a trace of irony, he quotes Fred Singer, who's fast becoming the Denial Industry's answer to Baghdad Bob:
"The facts and the data are pretty convincing now," he said. "Any warming taking place is largely due to natural variability, not human activity. The way we can tell is by comparing the pattern of warming with what greenhouse warming models predict. They don't agree."
The idea of a congressional investigation into Exxon's funding of denialists like Singer strikes Jeff Kueter, of the Exxon-funded George C. Marshall Institute, as deeply unjust:
"It smacks to me of McCarthyism and big-brotherism and is completely antithetical to the scientific process and the American political philosophy of free speech," Kueter said.
The Exxon-funded denialist Ben Lieberman can't help but agree, and suggests that the real problem is sour grapes on the part of anticapitalist one-worlders (who, like many figures in conservatarian mythology, are both all-powerful and totally ineffectual):
"What's really going on here is the skeptical arguments have merit and they are resonating with American people," Lieberman said. As a result, "there's a frustration on the part of alarmists who have not been able to scare the American people."
That'd certainly explain these survey results.

On a positive note, I have to give some credit to Bonner Cohen, who's managed to come up with an argument I've never seen before:
Cohen counters that the so-called "peer review process" is too narrowly focused, because it does not allow for input from geologists who are better positioned to gauge the question of global warming than climatologists.
Just for the record, here's what the Geological Society of America has to say about climate change:
The Geological Society of America (GSA) supports the scientific conclusions that Earth’s climate is changing; the climate changes are due in part to human activities; and the probable consequences of the climate changes will be significant and blind to geopolitical boundaries.
The American Geophysical Union concurs:
Human activities are increasingly altering the Earth's climate. These effects add to natural influences that have been present over Earth's history. Scientific evidence strongly indicates that natural influences cannot explain the rapid increase in global near-surface temperatures observed during the second half of the 20th century.
It all seem very neat and tidy...until you consider the very real possibility that these once-great organizations have been infiltrated by double agents from New Swabia, and are fomenting global warming hysteria in order to usher in the Fourth Reich.

Teach the controversy!


Phila said...


I don't agree or disagree, really. I consider it irrelevant. Every single one of us is going to die; that doesn't mean we should spend our lives in gloomy anticipation of it, without doing any of the worthwhile things it's within our power to do while we're alive.

The same goes for our alleged "doom" as a species. We have responsibilities to attend to, here and now, regardless of what the future holds for us. What we deserve is beside the point, and what we get is beside the point. The only thing that matters is to make an effort. Therefore, to the extent that views like yours encourage apathy, I'm against them (although I do understand and sympathize with them).

goatchurch said...

It's even quicker to check how many contributors on are active geologists to show Bonner Cohen is wrong.

It bugs me how media doesn't ever feel it necessary to issue corrections when they have given airtime to guests who has perpetrated flat untruths.

It's also very important that we don't allow the elite corporations to get away with blaming the public for global inaction and an unwillingness to compromise on our lifestyles.

The fact is we didn't pay people to lie to us -- they (Exxon) did. We also don't have enough control over our media to enforce standards that would have stopped them printing those lies.

It's going to be very difficult to move forward until we get a full and unqualified apology from Exxon for what it has been doing for the last decade in order to prove to the large segment of the population who still have not seen through the lies that what they believe is based on false information.

Phila said...

It's going to be very difficult to move forward until we get a full and unqualified apology from Exxon for what it has been doing for the last decade in order to prove to the large segment of the population who still have not seen through the lies that what they believe is based on false information.

I agree. We really need something like a "Truth and Reconciliation Commission...


I wrote that screed NOT to encourage apathy, but to goad people into ACTION, NOW. Read it again. We must start planning for polar cities NOW, and we must start thinking AHEAD now......NOW... it's not too late to start no, I am against apathy. my point was this: wake up!@