Skeptics gather, alarmists squirm

by Julie Walsh on March 5, 2008

From Planet Gore

As winter prepares to yield to spring, we find the world well into its fourth straight year of cooling. Since atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide are still increasing, this suggests the obvious if monumentally important conclusion that CO2 does not drive atmospheric temperature, and that something else — larger and presumably “natural” (i.e., not man-made) — is at work. The past few years of a strangely quiet sun suggests that celestial body’s dominant role in global climate. Time and science will tell.

These are troubling signs for the global warming industry — but as many are coming to learn, the field of climate change is driven by drama, not by fact and logic. The principal question is whether policymakers will do the taxpayers the service of waiting for verifiable facts before granting the alarmists’ agenda the force of law.

Five hundred people from around the world who pay attention to such things gathered in New York City this week to share experiences, research, and insights. These included scientists of every variety (from geologists and climatologists to economists and statisticians), as well as policy experts and local activists.

As the conference — sponsored by Chicago’s Heartland Institute — loomed, warming advocates betrayed a bit of their own drama. Alarmists suddenly began to insist that it was a mistake for them to have for so long claimed that they enjoy a “consensus” — because they never really meant “consensus” anyway. Alarmist professor John Holdren now says that they never really meant “global warming” (or, presumably, the “global cooling” before that), but “global climate disruption.” Frankly, I had thought that their conflict was resolved with the rhetorical bait-and-switch of “climate change” for “global warming.”

The warmists’ unease and contortions were manifested in a piece by the New York Times’ Andy Revkin, called “Skeptics on Human Climate Impact Seize on Cold Spell.” On the eve of the event, he condensed recent climate into the past few weeks in order to explain it away as a “cold spell” — and a meaningless one in the face of a bigger picture that any fool knows to be warming. The Times, at least for now, has decided that discrete weather events and temperatures are not portents of things to come. The Gray Lady now now finds it fashionable to quote well-known skeptics, who describe the recent cooling as “just good old fashioned weather.”

Of course, these same skeptics would have said the same thing to Times reporters about warm weather and violent storms, if only the media sought non-alarmist opinion on those occasions. But back then, they were hyping a warming trend, as opposed to trying to explain a cooling trend away. On Tuesday, CNN adopted the same approach. Now, the calmer voices will be reliably ignored until the next time there is a need to trot them out to reassure the public that calamitous warming still awaits them.

Skeptics are used to the media chasing after catastrophic story-lines, whether built around warming or cooling or – soon, no doubt — simply the now-ominous “change.” As such, the New York gathering remained largely light-hearted. Sober moments included Czech President Vaclav Klaus repeating his counsel of vigilance against global salvationism — which his experience suggests, following Mencken’s adage, is always a false front for the urge to rule.

My presentation at the conference spoke to these hilarious media contortions in the name of the global-warming agenda. A single year or weather event is newsworthy and meaningful . . . unless it’s the wrong kind. Individual research papers warrant coverage . . . and what coverage! . . . but only when their results are alarmist. Otherwise, they’re just one paper.

We have learned that three years is a pattern . . . unless it is on the cooling side of the ledger. We know that ten years is conclusive . . . unless it’s the past ten years, when no warming is evident. Unseasonably warm weather is clear evidence of global warming, exceptional cold is merely an anomaly — or better yet, further proof of climate disruption. Warming temperatures — over whatever period the press chooses — and retreating glaciers — whatever the season — are sure signs of “global warming.” Cooling temperatures and advancing glaciers signify nothing.

The alarmists and their press proxies are also quick to point to funding and financial interests . . . if you disagree with their agenda. Meanwhile, absolutely no one on the skeptics’ side of the argument has earned as much money as Al Gore and his tiresome advisor James Hansen have off of their high-profile climate alarmism.

An event like the Heartland conference, that by its very nature disparages media irresponsibility on climate matters, shouldn’t expect to receive thoroughly objective press coverage. The media that did stop in revealed by their mien and questions that they were none too happy about it — poor Miles O’Brien of CNN was reduced to hectoring attendees with an ad hominem suggesting that they were the equivalent of the “Flat Earth Society.” So we should expect the press attention the conference receives not to stray too far from the approved alarmist narrative. As I noted earlier today, some members of the press are even using an outdated alarmist fact-sheet — like the environmental reporter at the Baltimore Sun who repeats the now-abandoned factoid that the IPCC climate-scientist consensus on global warming is 2,500-strong.

Reality might eventually force the media and other alarmist friends out of their comfort zones. In such trying times, anything can happen — even real debate over the actual facts.

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