December 14, 2009

Man-Caused Climate Change (and other) Advococracies: A Perversion of Science

by Hal Gershowitz

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“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.” Upton Sinclair

The causes, effects and even the certainty of global warming and climate change may be a settled consensus among some politicians, academicians, environmental writers, bureaucratic regulators and even a chorus of scientists, but it is, by no means, settled science. Quite the contrary, and it’s about time those who seem to have staked their careers (not to mention their income) on keeping the “Climate-Change Cash Express” rolling stop acting as though it were settled science. It is not!

In fact, as now seems glaringly apparent, some of the most vociferous players in the man-caused, global-warming imbroglio have been frantically working to keep their gravy train protected from any interference by what is uniformly accepted as authentic scientific process. Scientific process welcomes contrary theories. In fact, it depends on them.

Established scientific theory earns its stripes by ultimately prevailing over challenges that are shown to be less worthy…that are shown to be wrong, not by having competitive theories elbowed out of the contest by self-styled keepers of the faith. That kind of take-no-prisoners orthodoxy was supposed to have died when the keepers of the faith of a long-past, dark era were disgraced by the invention of a simple telescope. The systematic testing of alternate explanations of phenomena in the physical world is the very basis of scientific process and it is through this process, and this process alone, that scientific hypothesis becomes recognized as established settled science. When we have an apparent concerted effort by the establishment to sabotage and belittle alternate scientific views, than science is being perverted and the establishment’s position should be viewed as blatantly suspect.

An anonymous whistleblower’s release of outrageous email (what Senator Barbara Boxer unashamedly calls email-theftgate) from Britain’s previously prestigious Climate Research Unit (CRU), lays bare the chicanery behind much of the rush to steamroll the industrialized world into a crash program, at astronomical cost, to save the planet from what may well be a questionable, if not a fictionalized, threat. The tragedy here is that the possibility of man-caused climate change may, in fact, be a very real problem that needs to be vigorously addressed. But the pseudo scientific “pretenders” at the CRU who apparently plotted so clumsily and so brazenly to sandbag alternate scientific points of view have forfeited, at the altar of expediency, their right to be taken seriously.

The apologia from the usual cast of elitists on behalf of the, now unmasked, pseudo-scientific climate-change miscreants has been predictably breathtaking. Economist Paul Krugman assured George Stephanopoulos’s “This Week” audience on ABC that boys will be boys and all the talk about cooking the climate-change books is just the way intellectual academicians talk among themselves. Senator Barbara Boxer laments what she calls the theft of the climate-change conspirator’s emails — the apparent conspiracy be damned. EPA’s go-to person on climate change, tells us no matter what we learn about the integrity of the data coming from the CRU at Britain’s University of East Anglia, “the established consensus won’t change.” White House Science Advisor, John Holdren testifies that the apparent conspiracy to fudge data, manipulate information and freeze out contrary scientific information regarding global warming won’t change man’s responsibility for causing this climate change. Man’s guilt cannot be challenged, he seems to opine. Really?

Just what is going on here? What are these folks so afraid of that they would conspire to marginalize those with differing views, ban them from publication, and even discuss ways to manipulate their own data to establish the supremacy of their own conclusions? What would lead a so-called scientific researcher to suggest, “We can make the results come out the way we want by throwing in enough garbage”? Well, that brings us back to the profundity of Upton Sinclair, whose perceptive observation we noted at the top of this essay.

While we are not presuming to judge the science on either side of the climate-change controversy, we find Sinclair’s wisdom quite timely. There is a treasure trove of funding available for those who have hitched their wagon to the man-caused, global-warming school. Through President Obama’s recently enacted American Recovery and Reinvestment Act alone, $42 billion is being invested in climate change mitigation and research. Much of this money will directly pay salaries and, indirectly, pay rent, put food on the table, straighten kid’s teeth, send youngsters to camp and provide the security that comes from steady employment.

We have absolutely no problem with anyone being well paid for doing their job, and that certainly includes working to solve any of the serious problems facing mankind, including the possibility of climate change. But when individuals conspire to shut down opposing points of view in the name of science, their work cannot be called science. It is, in fact, the antithesis of science. Such behavior at least suggests a very vested interest in making sure the funding continues. If we may paraphrase what Upton Sinclair articulated a generation ago, it is hard to change the mind of someone whose livelihood depends on his or her mind not changing.

We shouldn’t be surprised that such featherbedding goes on when so much is at stake. Whether it is to protect one’s livelihood or to perpetuate a movement, information is, at all costs, going to be managed by individuals and organizations that have staked their futures on a predetermined outcome. That’s when self-interest deteriorates into a type of fanaticism. The one place, however, where there should be zero tolerance of such chicanery is in the citadels of science or other so-called institutions of higher learning where the quest for truth should be all that matters. These are, or should be, the last refuges of honest, unadulterated inquiry, where getting it right should be all that matters.

Fanaticism can and does proliferate in almost all areas of “winner-takes-all” public policy or political warfare. How else to explain the absolutely unyielding position of so many so-called environmentalists (and the elected officials who are beholden to them) in opposition to securing for America the oil that lies beneath the frozen tundra of Anwar or under the coastal waters just off our shores?

The green movement has a whole host of similar positions that are informed by an anti-growth, anti-free-market, anti-corporate mentality that tolerates no compromise based on reason, logic or sound public policy. They coalesce around a litany of “No!” No! to hazardous-waste disposal no matter how safe or how well engineered. No! to nuclear energy, no matter how great the need. No! to genetically engineered food no matter what the benefit to mankind. No! to economic growth no matter the consequences. Even before the emails from the CRU were revealed, the green movement has attempted to vilify those who express doubt about the effects of human activities on the climate, by referring to them as global warming “deniers”, using the term “denier” which is usually reserved for “holocaust deniers” to invidiously suggest that they are as ignorant or evil as that group.

We need no greater example of the green movement’s “culture of No!” than its determination to oppose progress by any means possible, even when one of their own favorite renewable energy programs appears about to succeed. Just last week (December 9th) a Federal District Court judge in Maryland ruled in a case brought by two environmental groups that purport to support wind energy as a substitute for carbons, that a very promising wind-energy project must be shut down because of its negative effect on the habitat of Indiana bats. The project was expected to produce enough energy per year to supply the energy needs of 50,000 homes in neighboring West Virginia. While one might admire the green plaintiff’s concern for Indiana bats (although we have never met one we would adopt as a pet), where was the concern for the well being of the American families who will need some way to heat their homes after the “global warmists” shut down or heavily tax all other alternatives.

The world’s leaders are congregated in Copenhagen to deliberate on how best to save the planet from the threat of carbon dioxide, or as the established lingo says, reduce man’s carbon footprint or the emission of man-caused greenhouse gases in order to roll back the coming disastrous affects climate change will impose on mankind. Oh, if only such an august body of world leaders were around during the run-up to the last great ice age or when the oceans threatened to recede from areas that comprise many of today’s deserts.

And let us not forget that on April 28, 1975, Newsweek magazine wrote about “ominous signs” that the world was facing, citing in particular, drastic declines in food production due to global cooling. Newsweek cited “massively” accumulating evidence of this change. Scientists, they said, are “almost unanimous” in the view that the “trend will reduce agricultural productivity” for the rest of the century . . .and the coming famines would be catastrophic. They pointed out that the amount of sunshine diminished by 1.3 percent in 7 years and that the temperature change had taken us a sixth of the way toward the Ice Age average. The article concluded by noting that climatologists “are pessimistic” that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for or allay the effects of “climate change”. If only our current political leaders had the wisdom to learn from the inaction of their counterparts only 34 years ago. One has to ask how man made global warming can be settled science when 34 years ago, the scientific community was almost unanimous in its conclusion that the planet was cooling.

It is not our purpose to ridicule those who labor on behalf of the great movements of the day. Rather, we wish simply to urge extreme caution when massive economic upheaval is about to be mandated in the cause of this or that movement, particularly a movement that won’t tolerate the kind of peer review studies on which real science is always to be based.

Global warming activists are but one part of the so called “green” movement, which wraps itself in the ridiculous claim that they are saving the planet. Allied with historic preservationists, natural food advocates, who seek to ban preservatives which have made food more widely available in the world, ignorant food purists who rail against the use of pesticides that could greatly reduce the scourge of malaria and other cults who, Cassandra like, warn of terrible consequences resulting from every human advance. The greens have become the equivalent of a religion whose dogma must not be questioned.

Marshall McLuhan, in his 1964 best seller, “Understanding Media,” posited, “the medium is the message,” and that “the content of a medium was as a juicy piece of meat carried by the burglar to distract the watchdog of the mind.” And so it may very well be with the apparent plotting of the conspirators at the CRU or similar conspirators behind a host of other movements. They brook no interference from scientists or others who question the validity of man-caused climate change, or, for that matter, those who seriously question the desirability or the plausibility of trillions of dollars in new health-care entitlements that “won’t add a dime to the deficit.” The conspirators ply their trade well. Regardless of the movement, they follow the same successful formula over and over again…construct a crisis, relentlessly focus on it sufficiently to distract the watchdog of the mind. We would recommend this to be a time to follow the words etched on a plaque at the University of Wisconsin, memorializing that school’s motto: “Whatever may be the limitations which trammel inquiry elsewhere, we believe that [we] should ever encourage that continual and fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found.”

All comments regarding these essays, whether they express agreement, disagreement, or an alternate view, are appreciated and welcome. Comments that do not pertain to the subject of the essay or which are ad hominem references to other commenters are not acceptable and will be deleted.

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6 responses to “Man-Caused Climate Change (and other) Advococracies: A Perversion of Science”

  1. Bill_H says:

    If GW is real & manmade, mankind has no choice but to drastically reduce its population & restore the forests that were stripped away during mankinds industrial rise.
    &
    Just because there are those who say that a ground breaking technology is green does not make it so. If one peers into the future regarding the energy exchange process between large scale wind power generation around the globe and the atmosphere, one does have to ask: What is the impact of this new technology on global climate, given its increasing interference with the global heat exchange process between the equator and the poles ?

    Without a clear answer, we may well be jumping out of the frying pan into the fire.

  2. mkaback says:

    What fools you mortals be! Are you suggesting that because a few self-motivated “scientists” —“cook the books” that the enormous majority of proven, recognized, and superbly honorable members of the scientific community are part of some conspiracy? You both are grossly misled and way off base!! It would be like saying all trash collectors are Mafia, or all lawyers are charlatans. ABSURD…

    • 🙂 Indeed, it would be absurd to cast aspersions on an entire community because of the transgressions of a “few.” But, speaking for “the fools we mortals be,” when “the few,” conspire to keep those who disagree with them from being published, or appearing at conferences or when they “cook the books” to give greater credence to their position, it is they who cast aspersions on their fellow scientists.

  3. Bill_H says:

    Indeed

  4. garbro says:

    I’ve got a thick-headed brother who has taken issue with your positions in this article (I should have probably not even bothered to forward it to him). Be that as it may, he made specific comments in a subsequent chain of emails that I found outrageous. First was the comment that “this is the absolute worst kind of bullshit journalism imaginable” in direct response to his initial reading of the article. Then there was the characterization that “This article is anti-green, anti-environment, pro-economics, pro-politics, pro-oil/coal/natural-gas and pro-bullshit. ” He also seemed to diminish the importance of the East Anglia mess with this comment: “I have also researched the CRU email ‘theft-gate’ crap and accept that it is the (somewhat) shameful result of some humans being exposed as – hard-working-honest, mediochre or simply assinine. Hello and welcome to our human existence – inside and outside the scientific community.”
    While all of these things bothered me and caused me to vigorously oppose his comments, there is one thing that bothers me above all the others. And that is when I read what someone else has to say, I like to think that I have understood the author’s purpose and salient points. I wrote to him that “the author’s key points…in this debate [are that] science has been hijacked by scientists (and many others) with an agenda, and that if there truly is a climate problem, then the science upon which we depend has been done a great disservice by those same folks. The final point is that those very same agenda-driven proponents are trying mightily to minimize the damage done to the ‘cause’ by the anonymous leak of emails out of East Anglia.” He seems to think “The thrust of the article is NOT the East Anglia email theft-gate leak – which is merely a point of reference used by the author to further his/their own anti-AWG opinions.” Could I have possibly misread your fine article so completely? I know that there are other points this article made, but I would sure like to know, from you directly, if I am totally misconstruing the thrust of your article. Also, if you could make some comments about the ‘anti-green…’ blather my brother went on about, and state your true stance on these issues, I would be glad to have it from you. I believe my brother has completely miscast your stance, in fact, I do not know how he could have derived this from your remarks.
    At any rate, I would love to have you correct me if I am wrong in my interpretation, as well as your response to the comments from my thick-headed brother. If you wish to send directly to my email address, please use: garbro1@windstream.net

    Thanks for a great article and most excellent website!

    Gary Broughton

    • I think your assessment is, basically, correct. In fact we made the
      point that “the real tragedy here is that the possibility of
      man-caused climate change may, in fact, be a very real problem that
      needs to be vigorously addressed. But the pseudo scientific
      “pretenders” at the CRU who apparently plotted so clumsily and so
      brazenly to sandbag alternate scientific points of view have
      forfeited, at the altar of expediency, their right to be taken
      seriously.”

      We appreciate your sharing your thoughts with us.

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