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Reframing the Issue of Global Warming

Commentary by Greg Lewis / NewMediaJournal.US
April 4, 2006

You're no doubt aware of the recent foray by Time Magazine into the global warming wars. It would be difficult not to be, given that the magazine's shameless pimping of one of the Left's most revered issues was broadly trumpeted as gospel on left-leaning websites and by liberal ISPs, including, especially, AOL. As blatant an example of advocacy journalism as the Time piece was, however, perhaps more important is the fact that its arrant elevation of pseudo-science as the basis for political policy is but the latest in a century-old highjacking of scientific theory for political purposes.

To cite but one example: From the late 1920s through the 1930s, as Joseph Stalin carried out his murderous consolidation of power in the Soviet Union, Trofim Denisovich (T.D.) Lysenko emerged as the leading proponent of a scientific position that would become the basis of Stalin's collectivization of agricultural production in the Soviet Union. Lysenko's muddy and unsupported "theory" of plant development — which held incorrectly that environment, and not genetics, was the critical factor in determining how much time it would take a plant to mature — was applied widely in an attempt to improve the productivity of then-recently collectivized Ukrainian farms. The resulting disaster saw as many as five million kulaks (as the group of peasants singled out in Stalin's brutal collectivization strategy were called) die of starvation, in no small part because of crop failures that resulted from the application of Lysenko's theories. Policies based on Lysenko's work were also at the core of the Great Leap Forward, Mao Tse Tung's agricultural reform of the late 1950s and early '60s in communist China, during which as many as 30 million Chinese people, again mostly peasants, perished from hunger.

In promoting speculation as fact in the service of a political agenda, Time is partaking of the same unbridled and politically motivated arrogance of so many who have done this in the past. No one has better expressed this arrogance than one Stephen Schneider. Schneider is a "scientist" who has criticized the overwhelming and indisputable evidence that Bjørn Lomborg amassed against the case for global warming in his book, The Skeptical Environmentalist. Schneider has said this about what scientists need to do to convince people that global warming is real: "[W]e have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, make little mention of any doubts we might have . . . decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest."

In other words, it doesn't really matter what the evidence indicates. Never mind that Lomborg presented a meticulously researched and massively documented (The Skeptical Environmentalist contains more than 3,000 footnotes!) case against global warming and many other environmental disasters predicted by "science." What really matters to environmentalists is to promote an anti-capitalist agenda, specifically one which says that industrial civilization is bad for the environment across the board, in the current instance because it tends to generate inordinate amounts of the gas carbon dioxide, which ostensibly contributes to the greenhouse effect, which in turn is going to lead, possibly within our children's lifetimes, to massive changes in the earth's climate that will render many regions of our planet uninhabitable and create unimaginable chaos in our descendants' lives.

Never mind that, to cite only one counter argument among many, the United States is a net decrementer of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere because our country is literally so green that the huge quantities of oxygen emitted into the air by our forests and other green spaces far outweigh the amount of carbon dioxide our cars and lawnmowers and manufacturing and power plants and other diabolical creations of our capitalist society manage to throw off into the atmosphere. And never mind that it is only in advanced capitalistic societies that real progress against the ostensible threat greenhouse gases pose is being made, that it is in modern western industrial democracies where the most effective progress in cleaning up the environment is occurring.

In fact, the real polluters, the heaviest contributors to the greenhouse gas problem, are generally developing nations, which are following the same relatively unregulated path toward industrialization that our own country pursued through the first half of the last century. The good news, though — and Lomborg, again, makes this case convincingly — is that when industrialization and modernization in these developing countries reaches critical mass, they too will, as we have done and continue to do, clean up their act.

But the real problem with the global warming hysteria that is being perpetrated by otherwise intelligent and educated scientists who should know better is that global warming itself is a phenomenon that has only become an issue in the past decade or so. Take a look at these dire predictions about the climatic future of our planet from a 1975 Newsweek Magazine article entitled "The Cooling World":
There are ominous signs that the Earth's weather patterns have begun to change dramatically. . . . A survey completed last year by Dr. Murray Mitchell of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reveals a drop of half a degree in average ground temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere between 1945 and 1968. According to George Kukla of Columbia University, satellite photos indicated a sudden, large increase in Northern Hemisphere snow cover in the winter of 1971-72. And a study released last month by two NOAA scientists notes that the amount of sunshine reaching the ground in the continental U.S. diminished by 1.3% between 1964 and 1972.

The article went on to paint a doomsday picture of crop failures and widespread starvation due to the dramatic cooling that had been taking place in the previous quarter century and was continuing at a rapid pace. The question is, What happened between 1975 and the early 1990s, when predictions suddenly reversed and scientists began to caterwaul about global warming and the disastrous effects of the increase in the earth's temperature many of them had begun to "observe?"

First, there is the rise of the computer model as the digital "bible" of so-called scientists. A computer model is a program into which its users enter suspect and incomplete and inevitably inaccurate data and arrive at conclusions about the future of our planet that have virtually no way of being verified but will inevitably, if their conclusions are somehow weighed against the outcomes they purport to predict, prove those who stand behind them to be absolute idiots, except for the fact that those who have have stood behind them will be long gone by the time we can verify or discredit their conclusions.

(On the plus side, Paul Ehrlich is still alive to see what an idiot he was. Ehrlich predicted in the early 1970s that before the turn of the 20th century, the "population bomb" would explode and that hundreds of millions of people would die in the massive famines that resulted because of overpopulation. Not even close.)
Second, and equally important, there is the politicization of science. If it hadn't been for the fact that George W. Bush has been occupied with cleaning up the mess left by Bill Clinton's ignoring the real threats to our nation's safety, such as Islamist terrorism, while "science" was ginning up fears about global warming, I would argue that the Bush Presidency should be busy turning the tables on bought-and-paid-for science and selling us on global cooling. President Bush, however, has bigger fish to fry.

Unless and until we stop listening to such disingenuous charlatans as Stephen Schneider and start paying attention to the fact that none of the credible data gathered on the issue of greenhouse gas-generated climate change, when brought together and analyzed responsibly, point to anything remotely resembling the "crisis" that so-called "concerned scientists," in collusion with I'm-happy-to-be-led-by-the-nose liberal-agenda media honks, are trying to sell us, we're doomed to be inundated by so-called "news" that predicts our collective climatological demise because we failed to limit our carbon dioxide emissions.

The bottom line is this: It's not that we need more data (though the data we gather over the next decade and beyond will certainly be a welcome addition to the rather funky and incomplete stuff collected thus far); it's that we need a more dispassionate and less agenda-driven assessment of the data currently available to us in order to better determine where we (and our planet) stand with regard to the issue of global warming. Until such credentialed (albeit compromised) scientists as Stephen Schneider and his cohorts stop making global environmental issues the occasion for America-bashing and unsupported scaremongering, we can be assured that they are not using their knowledge and authority to serve the interests of the people of this planet.


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