19 March 2007

Because mercury occurs naturally in cinnabar, mankindís handling of mercury hasnít impacted the ecosystem

Driving home from work, listening to my favorite radio program, I heard the host express skepticism about the overwhelming scientific consensus on global warming. In defense of his position he cited, most of the common mantra that’s bandied about in global warming denial circles — science can’t be trusted, it’s inconceivable that humans could have such a planetary impact, that it all sounds like a ploy by freaky radical environmentalists, etc.Ö I am not sure I caught the whole segment he devoted to issue, but I’m composing this from what I did hear and from the relevant links presented on the Andrew Tallman website. This is a piece that I do not enjoy writing, as I feel hoarse already on the topic, in battling the disinformation and misrepresentations cast by science deniers. And I don’t buy into the gamut of solution spaces offered up by those on the forefront of the issue either. However, to prattle on about the myth of global warming is akin to being a flat-earther, and I’m going to address a few of their talking points.

  1. First, let’s corral the canard that there’s no way human activity can affect something as vast as the earth. Just review the historical record of temperature, atmospheric CO2 levels and carbon emissions and the matter is quite obvious. The hole in the ozone offers another example of human undoing and now, a beginning of a reversal of that misdeed.

  2. One of the articles cited by the host is a piece by James Robison. And while Mr. Robison isn’t exactly a qualified voice on the matter, like many others in his camp, he makes reference to the Oregon Petition, supposedly a laundry list of over 1,500 scientists who don’t subscribe to the global warming hypothesis. Besides being extremely dated, and filled with all sorts of unqualified signatures (i.e., dentists and veterinarians), it also was constructed in fraudulent fashion. Basically, a mass mailing was sent out to various science departments with a “paper” that was full of deception and half-truths but was formatted to look like a paper appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It was accompanied by a letter from Frederick Seitz, who is an elderly physicist and was a former President of NAS some 30 years ago but is now frankly an extreme anti-environmentalist. The deception was so extreme that NAS took the unusual step of issuing a statement noting that the paper being circulated had not appeared in the Proceedings of the NAS, the mailing was in no way associated with NAS, and furthermore that the paper’s conclusions were not in line with studies by the Academy.

  3. Another leg of dissent is the oft repeated notion that these same scientists were predicting the onset of an ice age then. However, closer examination reveals that a sensationalist piece in popular press is not representative of the content of scientific journals and scientists. As this in-depth investigation reveals, this was absolutely not so.

  4. I realize Al Gore is a popular whipping boy for many a Republican, but overall, scientists are in near universal support of Gore’s message.

  5. A point made by Mr. Tallman on how is swayed to the denial side was anecdotal illustrations of global warming skeptics being treated as heretics and any free dissent stifled by the prevailing voices. While it’s possible to draw a rare example, there is ample evidence that the most suppression in this matter is being waged by the Bush administration. This NASA scientist’s story is not an isolated incident — there have been a number of accounts, similar in nature to James Hansen’s. If there is overhanded passion on the part of scientists, it’s due to the media misconception propagated by the mainstream media there exists a “debate” on the issue, that dissent in the scientific community, beyond paid think tank operatives, PR flacks, and anti-environmentalist extremists, is minimal. While I’ve devoted words for astroturf PR tools like Patrick Michaels, Philip Stott and others in the past, you can look them up and please note they are funded by organizations whose mission, like the tobacco companies, is to deny the truth. For comparison sake, it would be like the mainstream media devoting equal time to the 9/11 Truth Movement every time the official state account of the events of September 11, 2001 was repeated. If you believe that to be a crazy notion, review the roster of official 9/11 account questioners here, note their credentials and compare to (examining those who’ve taken the time to study the matter on both sides) the global warming “debate”. There, it is a ratio over a thousand to one or more.

This winter in the northern hemisphere was the warmest on record. There is no doubt, that yes, we are cooking the planet. It’s tragic that flat-earthers have embarked upon a campaign to deliberately obfuscate the issue to introduce doubt, paralysis and a continuance of the status-quo. Not that skepticism isn’t warranted, or isn’t a healthy mechanism, just that we should move past wishful thinking and begin meaningful discourse on an optimal solution space.

What is at stake? Higher sea level, reduced agriculture output, increase in disease, as well as some other surprising results that may occur. Maybe not for us in our lifetime, but our kids, grandchildren, and their kidsÖ


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