ГЛАВНИ И ООДГОВОРНИ УРЕДНИЦИ
Branko Popazivanov <email@example.com>
Trust us, we’re experts
One of my favourite book covers depicts a doctor staring at us in earnest from a 1950s television set. His visage and dress convey a man of sober-minded science. His speech-balloon says, "Trust us, we’re experts," which is the book’s title. In his right hand he holds a lit cigarette.
The book, by Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber, documents the way in which industry purchases the services of so-called independent "experts," who promote a message that is profitable to them, while simultaneously discrediting the opposition. Inconvenient data is suppressed and manipulated. Working backwards, paid-up scientists arrive at the sought-after conclusions. The character, motivations and bona fides of opponents are called into question, as the virtues and credentials of those who are on-side are exaggerated.
But what is most sought after in the public relations game is the creation of what the authors call a "media pseudo environment," one in which ordinary citizens are encouraged to abandon their own judgment, and blindly place their trust in the approved experts. The general population then internalizes the favoured message, obediently becoming its apologists and advocates.
The spin doctors establish a priesthood of experts who alone are in a position to adjudicate truth, and who the rest of us must blindly follow. Once such a societal mind-set has been established, the character, motivation and moral rectitude of those who stray from orthodoxy can be traduced. Gone entirely is the notion that honest agents of goodwill can disagree. Those who dissent from the prevailing orthodoxy can be righteously slandered, for dissent only arises for reasons which are irrational, dishonest, avaricious or pathological.
Thus a sort of intellectual fraud is perpetuated on society, one which operates in opposition to a scientific stance. Science is skeptical, questioning, disinterested and somewhat cynical. It is also fundamentally democratic, in that all claims must be brought before the bar of scientific reason. Rather than taking anything on faith, the scientifically literate demand that all claims be backed with publicly available evidence.
Yet until a whistle-blower released a series of emails from the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit, the prevailing public mood was that the climate science was "settled"; that there was a "consensus" in the scientific community; and that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report was rock solid, based on rigorous peer-reviewed literature.
The "media pseudo-environment" had been established in spades. Those who strayed from the orthodoxy were labeled “deniers,” a term insinuating that they are on a moral par with those who deny the Holocaust. In this same spirit of self-righteous indignation, an emotional Elizabeth May compared Stephen Harper to Neville Chamberlain, in that both men had capitulated in the face of a great evil.
But we have now been allowed to peer behind the curtain of the climate science priesthood to witness a steady stream of humiliating revelations. Taken together, these new disclosures have seriously undermined the credibility of the IPCC. The much vaunted "peer-reviewed" science apparently consists, in turns, of idle speculation, the unpublished dissertation of a student and simple factual errors. Contrary to the IPCC report, Himalayan glaciers are not going to melt by 2035, nor is global warming going to cut African crop production by up to 50% by 2020. And, contrary to what the IPCC claims, 50% of the Netherlands does not lie below sea level, a simple factual error which speaks to a woeful lack of rigour during the editorial process.
With so many astonishing claims resting on science of such dubious quality, the only rational response is healthy skepticism. And this is now more or less the case across a broad and increasing spectrum of the public. The leaked emails have made it apparent that the science is not "settled" and that the much celebrated "consensus" in the scientific community was mere wishful thinking; that calls to "hide the decline" do not constitute scientific business as usual; and that attempts to hide the data sets from unfriendly eyes are exactly what they appear to be: instances of intellectual dishonesty.
It is time to put behind us the preaching of a priesthood who would have us believe that the debate can only proceed according to their pre-determined script. In the spirit of genuine science, we need to listen to the voices of honest dissent; we need to admit to the debate those mavericks whose views arise from a spirit of scientific disinterestedness, rather than allegiance to the party line.
In other words, it is time to move the climate change debate beyond the intellectual equivalent of a one-party state, where dissidents who stray from the approved orthodoxy are either sent for reeducation or put up against the wall. The climate change "experts" were wildly successful in setting up a “media pseudo-environment.” Thankfully, their time is past.
National Post, March 5, 2010
Weather hype, climate tripe
By MICHAEL FUMENTO
Some global warming skeptics are using the enduring deep freeze and record snowfalls to attack the idea of global warming. Believers are crying foul. "You’re confusing weather with climate!" they insist.
And they’re right. But they invented the game a long time ago and have been deftly playing it ever since.
Among the complainers is Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, who last year won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary. "The Earth is really, really big," he condescendingly but correctly observes in a nationally syndicated column. "It’s so big that it can be cold here and warm elsewhere—and this is the key concept—at the same time. Even if it were unusually cold throughout the continental United States, that still represents less than 2% of the Earth’s surface.
“Those who want to use our harsh winter to ‘disprove’ the theory that the planet’s atmosphere is warming should realize that anecdotal evidence always cuts both ways,” he says, observing that crews had to bring snow to the ski runs at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver because the winter there has been unusually warm. Meanwhile, "Revelers participating in Rio de Janeiro’s annual carnival," he says, "sweltered in atypical heat, with temperatures above 100 degrees."
All true. But what he neglects to say is that the warmists never hesitate to use any unusual phenomena to assert their case. "Any?" you ask with incredulity. Any. Including all sorts You might expect to read in the satire newspaper The Onion.
Indeed, it was precisely to include things like extreme cold and heavy snow under the rubric of "global warming" that the preferred term became “global climate change.”
A huge list of phenomena warmists have attributed to "global climate change" can be found at this website: numberwatch.co.uk/warmlist.htm One glance blows you away. It includes everything from "acne" to "yellow fever," with "short-nosed dogs endangered" in between.
Others include: brain eating amoebae, brothels struggling, cannibalism, circumcision in decline Earth to explode, Earth upside down, football team migration, Garden of Eden wilts, invasion of king crabs, Italy robbed of pasta, killer cornflakes, Loch Ness monster dead, mammoth dung melt, opera house to be destroyed, seals mating more, spiders invade Scotland, squid larger, squid tamed, UFO sightings, Vampire moths, violin decline, witchcraft executions.
But regarding weather changes specifically, we have: African summer frost air pressure changes, avalanches reduced, avalanches increased, Baghdad snow, cold spells (Australia), cold wave (India), cold weather (world), cyclones (Australia) Europe simultaneously baking and freezing, frostbite, frost damage increased, inclement weather, severe thunderstorms, snowfall increase, snowfall heavy, snow thicker, weather out of its mind.
And you probably never even knew weather had "a mind," which shows how little you understand global warm–er, uh, global climate change.
Four years ago, the warmists built a whole trend toward a hurricane-shredded world, entirely based on two weather aberrations. They were called Katrina and Rita.
"The hurricane that struck Louisiana yesterday was nicknamed Katrina by the National Weather Service. Its real name was global warming," wrote environmental activist Ross Gelbspan in a New York Times op-ed that one commentator aptly described as "almost giddy." The green group Friends of the Earth linked Katrina to global warming, as did Germany’s Green Party Environment Minister.
But hurricane seasons since then have been exceptionally mild, with last year the mildest in three decades. This notwithstanding that the jacket of Al Gore’s latest book, Our Choice A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis, features a satellite image of the globe showing four major hurricanes—all Photoshopped.
Extreme cold and blizzards have long been exploited by the warmists. Thirteen years ago the cover of the Jan. 22 Newsweek read: "Blizzards, floods & hurricanes: Blame global warming." The New York Times carried a front-page article headlined "Blame global warming for the blizzard" and a nationally syndicated article by environmentalist Jessica Matthews ran under titles such as “Brrr, global warming brings our blizzard.”
And they continue it yet. Robinson neglected to say that just five days earlier his own newspaper ran a column by uber-environmentalist Bill McKibben titled "Washington’s Snowstorms, Brought to You by Global Warming."
Time magazine also argues "climate change could in fact make such massive snowstorms more common, even as the world continues to warm."
There are many other examples, but the point is made.
So here’s to you, Mr. Robinson. But what goes ’round, comes ’round. Now don’t go outside without your coat. But remember, too, hypocrisy is a mantle never worn well.
Michael Fumento is director of the nonprofit Independent Journalism Project, where he specializes in science and health issues. National Post, March 5, 2010
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