23 March 2007

Nothing new here that we have not heard ad naseum from the same handful of global warming deniers

And they still sound like tobacco company lawyers of olden days, that for years spread around chests of money to successfully cast doubt on the truth — that use of their products caused disease and death.

A followup to my piece earlier posted in response to spoken words on the KPXQ 1360 AM Andrew Tallman Show, now that I had a chance to listen to the entire program and review the host’s argument. It seems that Andrew placed a lot of stock in the BBC documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle, and for him, was much more persuasive than the overwhelming consensus of scientists and Al Gore’s Oscar winning An Inconvenient Truth. And the fact that all of the scientific journals, including National Geographic, Scientific American, New Scientist, and others have all declared the debate on anthropogenic global warming over.

The Great Global Warming Swindle has given skeptics some ammunition, even if its producer Martin Durkin, is tainted with disrepute for previous show productions that distorted and misrepresented, even leading to official broadcast apologies. Suffice to say, it’s not the first time Durkin has taken the liberties with the truth. Now, in the aftermath, the TGGWS broadcast has resulted in outrage and an upset scientist who participated in the program, who has written a letter protesting the distortions and twisting of his words.

What we now have is an out-and-out propaganda piece, in which there is not even a gesture toward balance or explanation of why many of the extended inferences drawn in the film are not widely accepted by the scientific community. There are so many examples, it’s hard to know where to begin, so I will cite only one: a speaker asserts, as is true, that carbon dioxide is only a small fraction of the atmospheric mass. The viewer is left to infer that means it couldn’t really matter. But even a beginning meteorology student could tell you that the relative masses of gases are irrelevant to their effects on radiative balance. A director not intending to produce pure propaganda would have tried to eliminate that piece of disinformation.

It’s interesting that the host made his case based watching the respective pro and con movies. I’ve not watched An Inconvenient Truth but I’m quite familiar with the points made in it, having read most of the material (in book form) that the slide show and subsequent movie was constructed from. However, I probably have taken in the entire TGGWS, at least in audio form, in various chunks. And minus the visuals, which may lessen its power as I’ve found that almost any video production, even on issues where I share the position of the filmmaker, can easily slant the story. Spooky music, or enticing music, with colorful backdrops tell a more vivid story than the narration, and most often, an incomplete picture is painted. I would rather chew through the numbers and weigh the evidence in written (or audio) form.

First, before addressing a few points that I did not cover in my last post, here is list of links that eviscerate TGGWS.

The major thrust the host made in favor of his position was (a) humans contribute little to CO2 buildup, (b) global warming advocates are neo-communists in pursuit of a global agenda and (c) sun spots explain heating/cooling trends much more than CO2, and that phenomenon cannot be corralled by mortal humans. Pushing aside the ludicrous business about some sort of communist conspiracy, a brief summary response to the other two charges. Other charges, like the myth of 1970’s “imminent ice age” prediction and other deceptions are addressed, again, in my previous missive.

My assessment on the matter is not a closed one, as I’m a computer programmer, not a climate scientist, or oceanographer, or involved in front line investigative science discovery. But I continue to wait to hear from a legitimate climate scientist who challenges the idea that humans are impacting global warming who is not funded by energy or similar industry interests or has a personal axe to grind. Commonly trotted out as global warming scientist skeptics are:

  • Richard Lindzen — a $2,500 per day oil and coal industry “consultant” who has also received financial backing from OPEC
  • Frederick Seitz — nearly 96 years old now, long removed from active research, a former hired gun for R.J. Reynolds, long in the employ of oil and coal interests, and a promoter of the fraudulent Oregon Petition
  • Patrick Michaels - also in the employ of oil and coal interests, and notable for dubious research
  • Timothy Ball — another climate change skeptic in the pocket of energy industry lobbyists
  • Fred Singer — has not had a single article accepted for any peer-reviewed scientific journal for 20 years, another energy lobby hired PR flack

Make no mistake, Al Gore’s AIT is a propaganda piece too. But at least his is based on sound science, not on fraudulent charts, deceitful omissions, and distortions of scientific testimonials. And of course, TGGWS forgot to mention that there has been no peer reviewed scientific paper published refuting the consensus view that global warming is real and humans are the cause.


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