Some friends, both blog readers and nonreaders, have forwarded me two articles arguing — contrary to the consensus view of hundreds of qualified climate scientists worldwide embodied in the new IPCC report — that climate change and global warming aren’t truly problems. Their arguments are unfounded and palpably dishonest to boot.
One comes from Timothy Ball, a former climatology professor writing in the Canada Free Press, a publication whose other causes include promoting hatejock Michael Savage for president. Ball remembers the 70s media scare about global cooling and quotes Lowell Ponte, who back then called global cooling “the most important social, political, and adaptive challenge we have had to deal with for ten thousand years.” Ponte, it turns out, is a radio personality, not a scientist. There was no scientific consensus on global cooling; the best thinking at the time was that we didn’t know enough about climate to make any predictions at all. This business of deliberately confusing popular scares with science-based warnings would be silly if it weren’t reprehensible, since it falsely demeans the best way our species has of learning about the world and foretelling trouble ahead.
The other is J.H. Huebert’s review of Richard Posner’s 2004 book Catastrophe: Risk and Response in the Journal of Libertarian Studies. Huebert has some good criticisms of the book, but also is dogmatic enough that he can refer to “University of Chicago court intellectuals advocating bigger government” with a straight face. He thinks to dismiss Posner on global warming by quoting him (accurately) as saying, “I am not a scientist and have no authority to make judgments on disputed scientific questions.” However, Huebert doesn’t mention that Posner then remedies his deficiency — just as any intellectually honest skeptic with limited time might do (now quoting from my review of Posner in the Reader on March 4, 2005): “He analyzed a random sample of recent articles from the 20 most influential peer-reviewed atmospheric-sciences journals. He observes that of 55 articles, only 2 expressed any doubt that human-caused global warming is real and will have adverse consequences.” Huebert gives every sign of having read Posner’s book, in which case he read this and chose not to mention it. Such deception is unworthy of a journal that purports to represent a noble strand of political philosophy.
Quite aside from their lack of scientific evidence or credibility, neither Ball nor Huebert is arguing in good faith. I have yet to see any material from this side that meets basic standards of argument or evidence. Having spent some time looking, here, here, and here, I have to wonder whether it’s a good use of time and energy to point out the denialists’ lies one at a time while they are not ashamed to continue producing them in bulk.
UPDATE: The excellent So-Called “Austin Mayor” Blog does the necessary demolition work on Mark Steyn as well.