(From Hawaii Reporter, April 1, 2008)
“Rashomon,” a celebrated Japanese film, presents four witnesses observing a single crime. Each witness perceives the situation so differently that the audience experiences what appears to be four distinct events. Current discourse on climate change, or if you prefer, global warming, raises a “Rashomon-like” specter of competing perceptions. On the one side are those of see the world in a heap of trouble. As Lynn Scarlett notes, “They focus on the moment, see despoliation, and predict doom. They believe we can evade doom, but only through sweeping changes, wrought through single-minded pursuit of an environmental imperative.” (1) They are convinced that mankind is responsible for the earth’s surface warming about 0.7C over the past century. These are the folks in the ‘consensus category’ that Al Gore and the media talk about. According to Gore, “The science is settled on climate change. The planet has a fever and its cause is too many cars, power plants, factories, and other human-related sources putting too many emissions into the atmosphere.” (2)
On the other side are the ‘disbelievers.’ These folks posit that warming is part of Mother Nature’s natural cycle and there isn’t a whole lot we can do about it. Although they are a ‘minority,’ there are many more scientists that fit this category than most people realize. They aren’t given much media attention since the media for the most part belongs too the ‘consensus’ group. After all, you don’t get attention by saying that things are just fine; you need to spruce news up with doom and gloom stories. More than 22,000 scientists signed the dissenting “Petition Project” which urges political leaders to reject the Kyoto Protocol or other similar proposals that would mandate draconian tax and regulatory measures aimed at virtually all human economic activity. The petition states there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other green house gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate. (3)
According to a January 1, 2007 New York Times article by Andrew Revkin, a new middle stance has emerged in the debate over climate change. Revkin reports that more scientists are distancing themselves from the extreme fear mongering and exaggerated claims of the climate-change alarmists. (4)
Marc Morano notes that after a May 16, 2007 vote in the Senate on global warming, “there is a shift taking place in climate science. Many former believers in catastrophic man-made global warming have recently reversed themselves and are now climate skeptics. The media’s fear factor seemingly grows louder even as the latest science grows less and less alarming by the day. It is also worth noting that the proponents of climate change fears are increasingly attempting to suppress dissent by skeptics.” (5)
In December 2007, over 400 scientists from more than two dozen countries voiced significant objections to major aspects of the so-called ‘consensus’ on man-made global warming. These scientists, many of whom are current and former participants in the UN IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), criticized the climate claims made by the UN IPCC, and Al Gore in a report issued by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The report lists the scientists by name, country of residence, and academic/institutional affiliation. It also provides their own words, biographies, and weblinks to their peer reviewed studies and original source materials as gathered from public statements, various news outlets, and websites in 2007. (6)
And more recently, scientists skeptical of man-made climate fears met at the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change in New York City. The March 2-4 groundbreaking conference featured about 100 speakers with over people in attendance. Key items discussed at the conference included:
- Most of climate change is caused by natural forces.
- The human contribution is not significant.
- Solar activity changes are the main cause of climate change.
William Jasper reports,”The advocates of Kyoto and other schemes to super-regulate the planet frequently try to portray the scientists who dispute their claims of global warming peril as fringies, fogies, and ‘nut cases’ who shouldn’t be taken seriously. However, as brutal scientific facts have poked holes in their hypothetical global-warming models, the Gore camp has become more strident and abusive. Rather than answer the scientific critiques, they have tended simply to accuse opposition scientists of being in the pay of energy companies. Even worse, they have adapted the tactic of labeling scientists who dispute their claims as being ‘climate-change deniers,’ on a par with ‘Holocaust deniers.” The more radical elements of the climate-change alarmist movement have targeted dissenting scientists for vilification and harassment, even trying to deprive them of their jobs, research grants, and tenure. The most virulent ‘Greens’ call for them to be tried as ‘traitors.’ (2)
Many of the scientists feature in the Senate Report issued in December 2007 consistently stated that numerous colleagues shared their views, but they will not speak out publicly for fear of retribution. Atmospheric scientist, Dr. Nathan Paldor, Professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and author of almost 70 peer-reviewed studies, explains how many of his fellow scientists have been intimidated: “Many of my colleagues with whom I spoke share these views and report on their inability to publish their skepticism in the scientific or public media.” (6) Another example is Dr. Robert Giegengack of the University of Pennsylvania, a geologist who studies ancient atmospheres and finds no relationship between global temperatures in the past and carbon dioxide levels. He says other scientists have told him to just stop broadcasting that finding saying, “People come to me and say, ‘Stop talking like this, you’re hurting the cause.’” (7)
Looks like William F. Buckley, Jr., wasn’t far off the mark with his comment: “The heavy condemnatory breathing on the subject of global warming outdoes anything since high moments of the Inquisition.” (8)
Some Final Words
Assertions by zealots and politicians, who should really know better, that climate change is the ‘most important environmental problem facing the world,’ ought to be subjected to the cold light of reason says Michael Shaw. Before untold resources are spent, shouldn’t we at least compare climate change to other problems facing mankind? (9) What about issues like communicable diseases, malnutrition and hunger, sanitation and access to clean water? Many, if not all, of these demand immediate attention and can aid folks in serious need at present, not some future generations, that may or may not be affected by the weather in the 2100s.
Lastly, 30 years ago we were supposedly headed into a cooling cycle akin to the Little Ice Age. (10) Now, it’s an unprecedented heating cycle. If you ask me, that’s an awfully quick time for a flip-flop on the weather. If the 14 billion year cosmic history were scaled to one day, then 100,000 years of human history would be 4 minutes and a 100 year life-span would be 0.2 seconds. (11) So, in less than 0.1 second in cosmic time we’ve switched on climate change. Seems like we need a few more cosmic time seconds to gather more data.
1.Lynn Scarlett, “Clear Thinking About the Earth,” in Environmental Gore, John A. Baden, Editor, (San Francisco, Pacific Research Institute, 1994), 249
2.William F. Jasper, “2008 Climate Debate,” The New American, March 31, 2008
3.William F. Jasper, “Analyzing Global-Warming Science,” The New American, February 18, 2008
4.Andrew C. Revkin, “A New Middle Stance Emerges in Debate Over Climate,” The New York Times, January 1, 2007
5.Marc Morano, “List of global warming activists, now skeptics,” Spero News, May 16, 2007
6.“United States Senate Report: Over 400 Prominent Scientists Disputed Man-Made Global Warming Claims in 2007; Senate Report Debunks ‘Consensus’”, December 20, 2007
7.William J. Broad, “In Ancient Fossils, Seeds of a New Debate on Warming,” in The Best American Science Writing 2007, Gina Kolata, Editor, (New York, Harper Perennial, 2007), 252
8.William F. Buckley, Jr., National Review, March 31, 2007
9.Michael D. Shaw, “A Rational Look at Climate Change,” healthnewsdigest.com, February 10, 2008
10.Stephen H. Schneider, The Genesis Strategy, (New York, Plenum Press, 1976), 90
11.Max Tegmark, “We’re Not Insignificant After All,” in What Are You Optimistic About?, John Brockman, Editor, (New York, Harper Perennial, 2007), 4