Acton Institute Powerblog

Global Warming Consensus Watch – Truth is Inconvenient

Share this article:
Join the Discussion:

It’s not uncommon for those of us who find ourselves on the skeptical side of the great climate change debate to be accused of deliberately shading or outright misrepresenting scientific research in order to obscure the dire nature of the crisis at hand. We do this, our accusers claim, out of pure greed – either we are bought off by corporations who stand to become much less profitable should strong action be taken on this issue, we personally stand to lose money because of our investments in said corporations, or something else along those lines.

The reality of the situation is almost 180° opposite. For example, let’s take the world’s most popular climate alarmist, Al Gore. The standard story on Gore is that he functions as a modern prophet, bravely speaking scientific truth to the masses out of nothing but genuine concern for our dear planet which faces an unprecedented crisis; his science is unimpeachable, and therefore it would be beneath him to engage his critics, who will one day be revealed as the idiots that they truly are, and are thus to be pitied rather than feared.

Reality check: Gore is already making a significant amount of money off of global warming hysteria, and stands to pocket a whole lot more if governments adopt his “solutions” to the “crisis.”

And what of that crisis that Gore warns us about? Is it really a crisis? Does Al Gore even believe it’s a crisis? Based on his own words, I’m not so sure. Check out this little gem of a quote, from an interview with Gore published in May of 2006 in Grist Magazine:

Q: There’s a lot of debate right now over the best way to communicate about global warming and get people motivated. Do you scare people or give them hope? What’s the right mix?

A: I think the answer to that depends on where your audience’s head is. In the United States of America, unfortunately we still live in a bubble of unreality. And the Category 5 denial is an enormous obstacle to any discussion of solutions. Nobody is interested in solutions if they don’t think there’s a problem. Given that starting point, I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience to listen to what the solutions are, and how hopeful it is that we are going to solve this crisis.

Over time that mix will change. As the country comes to more accept the reality of the crisis, there’s going to be much more receptivity to a full-blown discussion of the solutions.

Here’s the honest translation of that statement:

  • In the United States of America, unfortunately we still live in a bubble of unreality: I have been unable to convince my fellow citizens and their elected representatives of the rightness of my position because they are either thick headed or beholden to corporate interests, not because they don’t believe my science adds up.
  • And the Category 5 denial is an enormous obstacle to any discussion of solutions: There can be no legitimate opposition to my position on the climate change issue. Critics of my position are either ignorant and bamboozled by corporate spin or perfidious and a party to crimes against the environment.
  • Nobody is interested in solutions if they don’t think there’s a problem.: At this point, the only way to get my way is to cause a panic.
  • Given that starting point, I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience to listen to what the solutions are: It is totally appropriate for me to lie in order to force my agenda forward.

Did you catch that? Gore is claiming for himself the right to lie – to “over-represent” the facts – in order to move public opinion toward his radical vision of the environmental future. Now, if I were a cynical person, I’d look at that statement and think that perhaps Al Gore might not be living up to his spin. I’d look at his financial stake in the carbon trading business that could make him a very wealthy man if governments adopt his policy proposals and I might start to question whether his motives are entirely pure. I’d look at his steadfast refusal to meaningfully engage his critics and wonder if his stance is truly based on confidence in science or if it’s instead part of a carefully crafted public relations campaign, designed to underline his contention that we truly face a “crisis.” And I’d even start to wonder if he really believes that we face a crisis at all.

Hmm. I must be a cynical person.

But one can hardly resist cynicism when reading things like this:

“The alarmists who trumpeted recent years as ‘warmest ever!!!’ in the United States (by a mere tenth of a degree) now dismiss this reversal — 2000 and subsequent years being cooler than 1900 — as just being a tenth of a degree or so,” said Competitive Enterprise Institute scholar Chris Horner. “Well, either that’s a big deal whichever direction it falls, or it isn’t. Which time are you lying?”

Or how about this: the conventional wisdom is that Greenland’s ice sheet is melting because of the ravages of global warming. At least, that was the story that the media jumped all over earlier this year. Well, it turns out that there may be another explanation:

In recent years, Greenland’s ice has been melting more and flowing faster into the sea—a record amount of ice melted from the frozen mass this summer, according to recently released data—and Earth’s rising temperatures are suspected to be the main culprit.

But clues to a new natural contribution to the melt arose when scientists discovered a thin spot in the Earth’s crust under the northeast corner of the Greenland Ice Sheet where heat from Earth’s insides could seep through, scientists will report here this week at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

Well, I guess that’s global warming of a sort – but it’s also more evidence that the science isn’t nearly as settled as Gore and his cohorts would have us believe. And speaking of unsettled science:

According to a new study on global warming, climate scientists at the University of Rochester, the University of Alabama, and the University of Virginia found that the climate change models based on human influence do not match observed warming…

…The new report, which challenges the claims of Gore and the IPCC, was published in the December 2007 issue of the International Journal of Climatology of the Royal Meteorological Society.

The report was written by David Douglass at the University of Rochester, John Christy at the University of Alabama, and Benjamin Pearson and S. Fred Singer at the University of Virginia.

“Our findings basically are that fingerprints – that is to say the pattern of warming – that’s predicted by greenhouse models does not match the fingerprints of observations, so there is a disconnect between greenhouse models and the actual reality of observations,” Singer told Cybercast News Service.

“This means that the greenhouse effect – while real – is not very important in producing climate change,” he said. “It’s a lot smaller than what the models calculate.”

Naturally, the first response of climate change alarmists is to point out that this finding is “radically out of step with the vast consensus.” Here’s Bracken Hendricks, of the Center for American Progress:

“It’s dangerous to get into a game of dueling science,” [Hendricks] added. “We don’t want to be gambling with the fate of the planet.”

Dissent in the world of science is “a dangerous game.” But guaranteeing economic disaster for millions of the world’s poor (and probably middle class and rich) population by voluntarily cutting off economic growth to prevent a crisis that might not even exist isn’t? My head is spinning.

And it just keeps on coming. You’d think that at some point the rhetoric would become so overblown that even the media would have to start noting how ridiculous this is becoming. For instance, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has now warned that the world faces “oblivion” if we don’t ACT NOW to stop climate change. “Oblivion”? Really? I haven’t heard that particular word used since Megatron threatened the Autobots with destruction in the old Transformers cartoon series back in the mid-80’s. And yet, there it is:

“The situation is so desperately serious that any delay could push us past the tipping point, beyond which the ecological, financial and human costs would increase dramatically,” Ban said in a speech to delegates.

“We are at a crossroad,” he added. “One path leads to a comprehensive climate change agreement, the other to oblivion. The choice is clear.”

Unfortunately, the hysterical rhetoric doesn’t just come from the secular world, but also from the religious world, as evidenced by an article titled Global Warming Skeptics Face Divine Judgment, Suggests NAE’s Cizik:

Cizik, whose work often places him in the position of an evangelical lobbyist, relayed an encounter with Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS). The senator, according to Cizik, questioned the efficacy of unilateral American measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The NAE official replied: “‘Well, Sam, God isn’t going to ask you whether China or India did their part. He’s going to ask you did you do your part, and he’s going to hold you to a higher standard than even me.’” Cizik continued, “And frankly, I would wish that the White House and even the President of the United States would get that picture, that he would be held accountable.” Cizik added an ominous warning, borrowing words from the letter to the Hebrews (10:31) about the damnation of those who forsake the faith: “It’s a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

Well golly, Richard, tell us how you really feel. I guess this means I’m a corporate whore who’s now facing eternal damnation because I have the temerity to not swallow the “consensus” whole. It’s almost as if I’ve transgressed the holy writ of some fundamentalist environmental religion. Ah well; in this case, I remain perfectly happy to be a heretic.

Marc Vander Maas

Comments