The politics of global warming.

Author:Derr, Thomas Sieger
Position:OPINION
 
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With the virtual apotheosis of Al Gore, talk of global warming has become pervasive--and pervasively one-sided. Churches of all varieties have signed on as a moral cause. Corporations, including former doubters, have adopted anti-warming language, either from new conviction or convenient public image. Politicians, with few exceptions, dare not openly deny that there is a problem, though their responses may vary.

Through it all, one would never know there are dissenters of distinguished credentials in the scientific community. Even where their existence is admitted, they are thoroughly marginalized, accused of being in the pay of the oil companies (Gore slyly and meanly implies this in his movie, An Inconvenient Truth), or dismissed as over-the-hill retirees out of touch and perhaps a bit senile. Their articles are denied publication in Science and Nature, those two so-called flagship science journals of high reputation despite some embarrassing lapses.

When dissenters do speak and publish, the majority who embrace the prevailing theory that humans are causing global warming try to silence them on the grounds that, because they are in error, they must not be allowed to be heard. Newspapers who seek balance in their reporting are told that they are doing a disservice to the public, to truth, and to the survival of the human race. The Weather Channel, a full-bore promoter of global-warming alarm (which feeds its appetite for newsworthy disaster), has, through its chief climate expert Heidi Cullen, even said that weather reporters who don't accept the reigning thesis should be decertifled by the American Meteorological Society--in other words, believe our way or lose your job. When British television producer Martin Durkin made a counter-movie to Gore's, the head of the Royal Society declared that he should not be allowed to show it.

The result is that anyone who finds the dissenters persuasive--including me--is suspected of being a right-wing extremist, making politics determine science. In vain do we point out that dissenters from established scientific consensus have often been dramatically vindicated. Undeterred, some of our critics have even compared us to Holocaust deniers or urged that dissenters be tried as war criminals. Or maybe burned at the stake for heresy--for our religious critics do think of us as heretics and sinners.

This dismal state of affairs is made possible by an astonishing historical amnesia. It is indisputable that climate swings are a regular feature of our planet's life. Short-term changes lie within our personal memories: The current warming trend dates from only about 1975. Before that, a pronounced cooling period starting about 1940 led the scientific consensus of the 1970s to proclaim global cooling and perhaps the first signs of an ice age. Note that these swings do not correspond to the amount of C[O.sub.2] released into the atmosphere; 60 percent of global warming since 1850 occurred before 1940, while 80 percent of C[O.sub.2] was emitted after that date-and temperatures fell...

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