More On Global Warming & The Politics Of Fear

Jay Lehr has an interesting piece on global warming in the Chicago Sun-Times in which he notes the way in which science is politicized beyond all recognition in the global warming debate:

A few years ago, R.J. Braithwaite’s peer-reviewed article in Progress in Physical Geography described a “mass balance analysis” he conducted of 246 glaciers sampled all around the world between 1946 and 1995. That’s 50 years of data. Braithwaite found some glaciers were melting, while a nearly equal number were growing in size, and still others remained stable. He concluded, “There is no obvious common or global trend of increasing glacier melt in recent years.”

But if your goal is to frighten the public into thinking humans are causing global warming with potentially catastrophic consequences, there is no shortage of melting glaciers to report upon. By some estimates, 160,000 glaciers exist on Earth. Only 63,000 have been inventoried, and only a few hundred have been studied in the detail described by Braithwaite.

The partisans of global warming have done a rather good job of marginalizing the many scientists who dissent from the “majority” view on global warming. While there’s little doubt that temperatures are increasing on average, the causes, effects, and significance of those increases are very much in debate. The so-called “hockey stick” graph showing a sudden and dramatic temperature increase has beeen shown to be based on distorted evidence. Because one glacier is melting it doesn’t mean that all glaciers are. The plural of “anecdote” is not data.

The problem with the whole global warming movement is that it isn’t science – it’s ideology. The doctrine that global warming is being caused by man is a given for this movement, and evidence to the contrary is being systematically ignored or brushed aside. Recently a group of Canadian scientists have put together a documentary dissenting from the global warming line, but Canadian broadcasters won’t touch it.

Science isn’t about condemning and brushing aside dissenting opinions. Yet the scientific community’s political ideologies routinely cause them to dismiss contrary evidence on the issue of global warming. That isn’t science, it’s religion, and the cult of global warming seems to have found many disciples among those who normally pride themselves for their rationality.

8 thoughts on “More On Global Warming & The Politics Of Fear

  1. I have to agree with you about the hippy cult. But the over all global temperature is rising and just because we aren’t yet certain how much the increase will be or what effects it will have doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be cautious.

  2. Back in the late 90s I read an interesting history book by James Reston entitled “The Last Apocalyse” about everything that was going on in Europe in the decade leading up to 1000 A.D. One of the things described in the book that has stayed with me is the description of Greenland being warm enough to support a year-round presence by the Vikings – a very uncomfortable and even deadly proposition today. It was probably details like this that had the experts predicting the coming Ice Age back in the 1950s and 60s.

    Anyway, Jay, I really appreciate your blog. You have a very effective and easy to understand way of presenting what are often complex topics that is educational and entertaining.

  3. Science isn’t about condemning and brushing aside dissenting opinions.

    Well… it shouldn’t be.

    But let’s face it: science has a long and rich history of doing just that. The persecution of Galileo by his contemporaries, and their efforts to have him censured by the Pope being maybe the biggest. Bjorn Lomborg could probably relate, although admittedly, at least he was never threatened with the Inquisition.

    Those who compete for funding in the sciences have some of the most disproportionate levels of pride that I have ever witnessed.

  4. You might instead say that science has a long history of being persecuted by religion. Are you even in the sciences, Krakatoa? I am. Maybe I’ve just had it really good so far, but I have yet to witness any of the pride or persecution you seem to see.

  5. I’m a clinical psychologist, and though psychology isn’t a “hard” science like geology, I can tell you that the pride and persecution issues are alive and well here as well. Elizabeth Loftus caught Hell for publishing what should be common knowledge about memory formation and suppression, because it didn’t fit with the party line re: repressed abuse memories. Larry Summers stated what most psychologists take for granted at this point (based on the research), and he’s under assault. I can give other examples as well. And no psychologist who wants to remain employed will deviate from the commandments of multiculturalism and diversity – we aren’t talking about simple issues like how mental health issues impact different people in different ways, but all-out political positions even endorsed by the APA (which I refuse to join for that reason). Clinical psychology is a wonderful career on an individual, therapist-to-client level, but it is oppresive, agenda-driven, and ridiculously political on an agency/state of the field level (and I work in one of the more balanced areas, correctional/forensic).

  6. Regarding Galileo and his persecution by the church. In his book, Modern Physics, Ancient Faith, author Stephen Barr illustrates how Galileo’s treatment want an exception and an anomoly. (My recollection of the details elude me presently.) However, he lists a good dozen early scientists, all priests, monks, even a bishop or cardinal. Galileo’s famous treatment distorts the historical record; and many of the scientists Barr talks about made crucial discoveries or grasped important insights. The book is highly readable. An excellent review is here:

    Erica the overall global temperature is not rising. Flucuations in temperature occur quite naturally. Those proclaiming global warming and the end of the world are pushing an ideology not scientific data. A herd mentality grasps all, shouts of apostate and heretic deride the skeptical. Do you know, for example, that the much praised, (fragments of the True Cross!) Kyoto accords exempt both China and India from their strictures? This carries this discussiong tangentially into pollution, notably air pollution. Where are the cleanest cities in the world? Where the dirtiest? Prosperous economies can afford to suppress pollutants. China will go through an Eastern Eurpoe pollution winter. Let us hope their increase in per capita income also corrects the dreadful political system along with the smoky skies.

  7. I’m not saying that global warming couldn’t be a natural phenomenon. But the sheer amount of data that has been collected does imply that the planet, for whatever reason, is warming. There is a difference between the scientists who do science and the environmentalists who smoke pot. You have to stop listening to the pot smokers and start reading scientific journals.

    Yes, when a new theory is published people are skeptical. That’s the way it ought to be. When Stephen J. Gould first published his ideas on punctuated equillibrium, other biologists were extremely skeptical. However, they eventually found that his model did fit the data. Models that are robust will stand up to criticism and analysis and models that are not won’t. That’s they way science (hard science) works. Believe it or not, not all scientists are liberal Democrats.

  8. Erica:

    Religion has been an equal-opportunity persecutor of many things including science, art, religion, philosophy etc…

    At the same time, it has been an equal-opportunity patron of all those things.

    Galileo enjoyed decades of patronage by not only the Medici’s, but also by many powerful bishops, cardinals and even a pope or two in Rome.

    His persecution was instigated by those in the scientific community jealous of his accomplishments and wounded by his barbs. Galileo was an intensley proud and egotistical man, and he suffered fools poorly, be they fellow scientist or powerful religious figures. It was his own ego and biting wit he displayed when making the foppish character Simplico in Dialogue on the Two Great World Systems the mouthpiece of his ostensible friend, Pope Urban VIII that incensed the powers that be. Even so, despite what we read about today in our schoolrooms, his persecutions wasn’t all that dreadful by any standard. He spent many months under house arrest in the friendly and luxurious confines of one of his religious benefactors.

    I spoke too broadly in my original statement however, and I’ll try to be more clear. The scientists with the most insufferable levels of pride tend to be the ones we popularize to the masses. It appears to be human nature.

    Examples would include Galileo, Hawkings and Sagan. All very bright individiuals with indispensible contributions, but all very far from modest.

    I don’t think anyone is suggesting that all scientists, or even the majority of them, are liberals. Sadly, the liberal scientists are the ones getting most of the press, while rational alternative viewpoints get shunned.

    Just for once I’d like to see the news media entertain the notion that the SUN heats the earth and, imagine that, solar activity has been increased for the past 30 years, which very neatly coincides with what little real temperature increase exists.

    I think though, the dominant scientific agenda was clearly on display when they dismissed the input of paleo-climatologists as not being relevant to the issue of, umm, climate.

    When you speak about the sheer amount of data that has been collected, I can’t help but call bullshit. Every bit of data I’ve read is inconclusive. The “hockey stick” is pure bunk. The measurements from 70 year old stations is suspect for a multitude of reasons including the localized heat-sink effect of urban sprawl. For every glacier or icepack that is shrinking there is one that is growing. Atmospheric temperature readings are clearly not supporting the environmentalist’s mythology. UN and WWF computer models paint ugly pictures, but are demonstrably flawed as when fed the known data from the past, they do not accurately report temperature variances that are part of recorded history.

    This is hubris of epic proportion, and has sadly and unfairly diminished the greater scientific community’s standing as an impartial and trusted source of information.

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