Sunday, February 11, 2007

Controlling The Conversation

Let’s get a few things on the table at the very beginning of this post:

1. I do not give a damn what The United Nations thinks about global warming or any other topic of geopolitical significance. Consequently, I have not given up all hope for future generations because of the recent release of a report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

2. Global warming is happening though I do not believe that humans - or should I dare say, Americans, are the main culprits. While the United States uses much more than it's share of global energy based on population, the ratio shifts significantly when viewed against GNP.

3. The data being used to support human responsibility for global warming is derived from a very short time period and does not take into account previous periods of warming and cooling in the past 1000 years. Need I point out that this was prior to the Industrial Revolution and the invention of the internal combustion engine?

4. Other studies have indicated that these previous global temperature fluctuations correspond much more directly to solar activity as opposed to carbon dioxide emissions.

5. I do think we should pursue more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly technologies but not at the expense of torpedoing our economy with lunacy like the Kyoto Treaty. And please, don’t even start about how it’s all Bush’s fault. Kyoto was negotiated during the Clinton Administration. He didn't even bother to send it to the Senate after they voted 95-0 on the Byrd-Hagel Resolution saying they would not ratify it even if President Clinton submitted it. Talk about bi-partisanship. By the way, how’s that Kyoto Treaty working out anyway? Did all of those signatories reach their emission goals? Nah, I didn’t think so.

Then along comes Ellen Goodman who recently wrote an article for The Boston Globe in which she stated that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, though one denies the past and the other denies the present and future.” This goes directly to the heart of my point about controlling the conversation. Goodman frames her point by saying, in effect, either you must agree with me or your opinion is not only invalid, it is beyond the pale. This is intellectual dishonesty, pure and simple.

Justifiably so, James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal takes Ms. Goodman to task for her ridiculous statement:

“There's an enormous difference between doubting an outlandish prediction (even one that comes true) and denying the grotesque facts of history. Because we are ignorant of the future, we can innocently misjudge it. Holocaust deniers are neither ignorant nor innocent (though extremely ignorant people may innocently accept their claims). They are falsifying history for evil purposes.

This columnist is skeptical of global warming. We don't have enough scientific knowledge to have anything like an authoritative opinion--but neither does Ellen Goodman, who bases her entire argument on an appeal to authority, namely the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. We lack the time, the inclination and possibly the intellect to delve deeply into the science. No doubt the same is true of Goodman.

Our skepticism rests largely on intuition. The global-warmists speak with a certainty that is more reminiscent of religious zeal than scientific inquiry. Their demands to cast out all doubt seem antithetical to science, which is founded on doubt. The theory of global warming fits too conveniently with their pre-existing political ideologies. (Granted, we too are vulnerable to that last criticism.)

Above all, we can't stand to be bullied. And what is it but an act of bullying to deny that there is any room for honest disagreement, to insist that those of us who are unpersuaded are the equivalent of Holocaust deniers, that we are not merely mistaken but evil?”

Ms. Goodman goes on to say “There are astonishing gaps between Republican science and Democratic science. Try these numbers: Only 23 percent of college-educated Republicans believe the warming is due to humans, while 75 percent of college-educated Democrats believe it.” Which only proves what - that Republicans are better educated than Democrats? In the vein it was originally intended, her comment amounts to elitist arrogance masquerading as fact.

Ms. Goodman says in closing “Can we change from debating global warming to preparing? Can we define the issue in ways that turn denial into action? In America what matters now isn't environmental science, but political science.”

I couldn’t agree more.

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