EUREFERENDUM Blog 28.6.09
Rigging the debate
One of the explanations for the unseemly rush to get the Waxman-Markey Bill through Congress is that the warmists are on the back foot. The global warming tide is shifting against them and, before too long, their creed will be consigned to the dustbin of history as yet another of those mad obsessions that periodically grip the masses.
This is certainly the view of the Wall Street Journal [see below] which notes with approval how the Australian Senate is giving Kevin Rudd's version of a climate change law a very hard time. Furthermore, it observes, Australian polls have shown a sharp uptick in public scepticism; the press is back to questioning scientific dogma; blogs are having a field day.
The response of the warmists, however, is nothing if not predictable. Having controlled the agenda for so long, their reaction to the changing tide is to rig the debate, closing down on dissenting voices and suppressing alternative views.
One element of this strategy is recorded by Booker in today's column, where he describes the concerted efforts of the Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG) to prevent one of the world's leading experts on polar bears attending a meeting because his views on global warming do not accord with those of the rest of the group.
The group is meeting in Copenhagen under the aegis of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature/Species Survival Commission, set up – as Booker puts it- "to produce a suitably scary report on how polar bears are being threatened with extinction by man-made global warming," one of a steady drizzle of events planned to stoke up alarm in the run-up to the UN's major conference on climate change in Copenhagen next December.
The excluded expert is Dr Mitchell Taylor who has been researching the status and management of polar bears in Canada and around the Arctic Circle for 30 years, as both an academic and a government employee. His problem is that, more than once since 2006 he has made headlines by insisting that polar bear numbers, far from decreasing, are much higher than they were 30 years ago. Of the 19 different bear populations, almost all are increasing or at optimum levels, only two have for local reasons modestly declined.
To add to his litany of sins, while Dr Taylor agrees that the Arctic has been warming over the last 30 years, he ascribes this not to rising levels of CO2 but to currents bringing warm water into the Arctic from the Pacific and the effect of winds blowing in from the Bering Sea.
Thus Dr Taylor has been told that his views running "counter to human-induced climate change are extremely unhelpful". His signing of the Manhattan Declaration – a statement by 500 scientists that the causes of climate change are not CO2 but natural, such as changes in the radiation of the sun and ocean currents – are "inconsistent with the position taken by the PBSG".
This is but one example of how the warmists control the agenda, another being offered by Watts up with that, which catalogues measures taken by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to suppress dissident voices within its own organisation.
None of this could happen, of course, without the active participation of the media and, in his second piece, Booker refers to Lord Hunt, who last week "made one of the most absurd claims that can ever have been uttered by a British minister."
Solemnly reported by the media, Booker writes, he said that by 2020 he hopes to see thousands more wind turbines round Britain's coasts, capable of producing "25 gigawatts (GW)" of electricity, enough to meet "more than a quarter of the UK's electricity needs".
Hunt's ideas are so patently absurd that, had a minister announced that the UK was about to launch a series of manned space shots to the moon to mine green cheese in order to solve the global protein shortage, there would be little to compare between the two.
Booker notes though that perhaps most disturbing point is that the media dutifully reported Lord Hunt's absurd claims without asking any of the elementary questions that could have revealed that he was talking utter nonsense. One cannot of course expect Opposition MPs to take an intelligent interest in such matters, he writes, but if journalists allow ministers to get away with talking such tosh, the slide into unreality can only continue.
This is a broader point that deserves more attention, touching on an effect we see in defence and elsewhere. The media – as a collective – has its own narratives and as long as an utterance fits with those narratives, it is given an airing. That which goes against the grain is buried.
Currently, the media narrative on climate change is that global warming is real and represents a major threat to the planet and humankind. Similarly, all the woes in the military stem from "under-resourcing" and all problems in Afghanistan will be solved by more "boots on the ground". Thus is the debate rigged, through which means our decline into obscurity, poverty and impotence is managed.
Posted by Richard North
WALL STREET JOURNAL 29.6.09
The Climate Change Climate Change
The number of skeptics is swelling everywhere.
• By KIMBERLEY A. STRASSEL
Steve Fielding recently asked the Obama administration to reassure him on the science of man-made global warming. When the administration proved unhelpful, Mr. Fielding decided to vote against climate-change legislation.
If you haven't heard of this politician, it's because he's a member of the Australian Senate. As the U.S. House of Representatives prepares to pass a climate-change bill, the Australian Parliament is preparing to kill its own country's carbon-emissions scheme. Why? A growing number of Australian politicians, scientists and citizens once again doubt the science of human-caused global warming.
Among the many reasons President Barack Obama and the Democratic majority are so intent on quickly jamming a cap-and-trade system through Congress is because the global warming tide is again shifting. It turns out Al Gore and the United Nations (with an assist from the media), did a little too vociferous a job smearing anyone who disagreed with them as "deniers." The backlash has brought the scientific debate roaring back to life in Australia, Europe, Japan and even, if less reported, the U.S.
In April, the Polish Academy of Sciences published a document challenging man-made global warming. In the Czech Republic, where President Vaclav Klaus remains a leading skeptic, today only 11% of the population believes humans play a role. In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy wants to tap Claude Allegre to lead the country's new ministry of industry and innovation. Twenty years ago Mr. Allegre was among the first to trill about man-made global warming, but the geochemist has since recanted. New Zealand last year elected a new government, which immediately suspended the country's weeks-old cap-and-trade program.
The number of skeptics, far from shrinking, is swelling. Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe now counts more than 700 scientists who disagree with the U.N. -- 13 times the number who authored the U.N.'s 2007 climate summary for policymakers. Joanne Simpson, the world's first woman to receive a Ph.D. in meteorology, expressed relief upon her retirement last year that she was finally free to speak "frankly" of her nonbelief. Dr. Kiminori Itoh, a Japanese environmental physical chemist who contributed to a U.N. climate report, dubs man-made warming "the worst scientific scandal in history." Norway's Ivar Giaever, Nobel Prize winner for physics, decries it as the "new religion." A group of 54 noted physicists, led by Princeton's Will Happer, is demanding the American Physical Society revise its position that the science is settled. (Both Nature and Science magazines have refused to run the physicists' open letter.) [Thank heaven for the blogosphere -cs]
The collapse of the "consensus" has been driven by reality. The inconvenient truth is that the earth's temperatures have flat-lined since 2001, despite growing concentrations of C02. Peer-reviewed research has debunked doomsday scenarios about the polar ice caps, hurricanes, malaria, extinctions, rising oceans. A global financial crisis has politicians taking a harder look at the science that would require them to hamstring their economies to rein in carbon.
Credit for Australia's own era of renewed enlightenment goes to Dr. Ian Plimer, a well-known Australian geologist. Earlier this year he published "Heaven and Earth," a damning critique of the "evidence" underpinning man-made global warming. The book is already in its fifth printing. So compelling is it that Paul Sheehan, a noted Australian columnist -- and ardent global warming believer -- in April humbly pronounced it "an evidence-based attack on conformity and orthodoxy, including my own, and a reminder to respect informed dissent and beware of ideology subverting evidence." Australian polls have shown a sharp uptick in public skepticism; the press is back to questioning scientific dogma; blogs are having a field day.
The rise in skepticism also came as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, elected like Mr. Obama on promises to combat global warming, was attempting his own emissions-reduction scheme. His administration was forced to delay the implementation of the program until at least 2011, just to get the legislation through Australia's House. The Senate was not so easily swayed.
Mr. Fielding, a crucial vote on the bill, was so alarmed by the renewed science debate that he made a fact-finding trip to the U.S., attending the Heartland Institute's annual conference for climate skeptics. He also visited with Joseph Aldy, Mr. Obama's special assistant on energy and the environment, where he challenged the Obama team to address his doubts. They apparently didn't.
This week Mr. Fielding issued a statement: He would not be voting for the bill. He would not risk job losses on "unconvincing green science." The bill is set to founder as the Australian parliament breaks for the winter.
Republicans in the U.S. have, in recent years, turned ever more to the cost arguments against climate legislation. That's made sense in light of the economic crisis. If Speaker Nancy Pelosi fails to push through her bill, it will be because rural and Blue Dog Democrats fret about the economic ramifications. Yet if the rest of the world is any indication, now might be the time for U.S. politicians to re-engage on the science. One thing for sure: They won't be alone.