Thursday, August 16, 2007

Anthropogenic Global Warming: Solid and Settled Science or Politicized Ideological Dogma?

Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist who wants to know why anthropogenic global warming propagandists [my term] are so intemperate. From his recent column:

Anthropogenic global warming is a scientific hypothesis, not an article of religious or ideological dogma. Skepticism and doubt are entirely appropriate in the realm of science, in which truth is determined by evidence, experimentation, and observation, not by consensus or revelation. Yet when it comes to global warming, dissent is treated as heresy -- as a pernicious belief whose exponents must be shamed, shunned, or silenced.
Newsweek is hardly the only offender. At the Live Earth concert in New Jersey last month, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. denounced climate-change skeptics as "corporate toadies" for "villainous" enemies of America and the human race. "This is treason," he shouted, "and we need to start treating them now as traitors."
Some environmentalists and commentators have suggested that global-warming "denial" be made a crime, much as Holocaust denial is in some countries. Others have proposed that climate-change dissidents be prosecuted in Nuremberg-style trials. The Weather Channel's Heidi Cullen has suggested that television meteorologists be stripped of their American Meteorological Society certification if they dare to question predictions of catastrophic global warming.

When Marlo Lewis, a scientist at the Competitive Enterprise Institute wrote an article opposing Congressionally imposed hard limits on carbon-dioxide emissions until technology exists to produce energy that doesn’t rely on carbon-dioxide, he was vilified and threatened by the President of the American Council on Renewable Energy thusly:

Take this warning from me, Marlo. It is my intention to destroy your career as a liar. If you produce one more editorial against climate change, I will launch a campaign against your professional integrity. I will call you a liar and charlatan to the Harvard community of which you and I are members. I will call you out as a man who has been bought by Corporate America.

Mr. Jacoby concludes:

The interesting and complicated phenomenon of climate change is still being figured out, and as much as those determined to turn it into a crusade of good vs. evil may insist otherwise, the issue of global warming isn't a closed book. Smearing those who buck the "scientific consensus" as traitors, toadies, or enemies of humankind may be emotionally satisfying and even professionally lucrative. It is also indefensible, hyperbolic bullying.

Clearly, global warming propagandists aren’t responding to skepticism with scientific argument but with slander and threats. This looks more like bigotry than solid scientific endeavor. I don’t think it should have a place at the table when we’re having a public policy debate. But that’s just me.