I don’t want to get into the habit of flagging every piece of writing by a climate change skeptic — it’s a mug’s game. But this column by Debra Saunders goes beyond the usual selective emphasis and obfuscation and crosses the line into, well, stupidity.
She starts by pointing out that no enviro has blamed global warming for the recent tsunamis. Right. That would be dumb. But, it seems, some have pointed out that rising sea levels — which are attributable to global warming — are likely to increase the damage done by future tsunamis. Saunders calls this "capitalizing on the tragedy." Uh … what? Are the people pushing for the creation of a better early-warning system also capitalizing on the tragedy? How about the people advocating for a stable international aid organization? How exactly does pushing for action to reduce the impact of future tragedies amount to capitalizing on current ones?
Capitalizing on the tragedy would mean using it to make cheap political points against strawman opponents, and so far that seems to be a climate change skeptic’s game. See Joel Makower and Chris Mooney for other examples.
After a jaw-droppingly uncritical paean to Michael Crichton’s new book and the work of the well-funded skeptics upon which it is based, Saunders concludes with this gem:
On Dec. 29, National Geographic’s Web site reported that while media accounts "frequently assert that climate change is uncertain," a UC San Diego professor read 928 scientific papers and found, "Not one of the papers refuted the claim that human activities are affecting the Earth’s climate." (Funny, Crichton’s 20-page bibliography found contrary opinions.)
The piece that Saunders didn’t take the time to track down is here, and it refers to papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Yes, Crichton found plenty of skeptical sources, but none that had survived the process of peer review. That might have meant something to Saunders, were she not simply filling column inches with vapor to get to her risible, utterly unsupported concluding accusation:
…some global-warming true believers argue things that they know aren’t true. And that makes them dangerous.
One can only shake one’s head in wonder at the sight of the scientific community and environmental activists being branded "dangerous" by a group that includes a best-selling author, several mega-billion dollar industries, the think tanks they fund to produce and disseminate skeptical chaff, and a party that controls all three branches of government.
UPDATE: More on this from Chris Mooney.
Get Grist in your inbox