Is there a “scientific consensus that humans are largely responsible for global warming?” The lead editorial in today’s New York Times says there is, and blames Dick Cheney’s pension for any skepticism on the matter. The Times, notably, does not even entertain the notion that “global warming” itself is held in doubt by a very, very, very large number of reputable scientists; the Times takes that issue as settled beyond any doubt, and leaps straight to the “A” in AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming. for those of you not conversant with trendy green acronyms).
Where is this “scientific consensus?” Certainly it dwells happily among the tens of thousands of people whose livelihoods stem from widespread belief in AGW — but widespread belief does not equal “consensus,” if there is also a widespread belief to the contrary.
The fact is, no one has, or can, demonstrate any such consensus. What an investigator will find is a lively and ongoing discussion and debate among qualified experts, very nearly drowned out by the shrill assertions of advocates on both sides of the issue, the usual phalanxes of profiteers (including one former Veep who has lined his pockets to an extraordinarily extent by making hilariously silly claims), and upwards of several million uninformed or misinformed zealots standing on streetcorners holding clipboards asking bewildered bypassers if they “want to help save the planet.” (Seems like a lot to ask someone just off the bus on their way home after a long day at work, doesn’t it?)
Asking good questions is not the same as being “In Climate Denial, Again,” as the Times declaims in its headline. It’s part of what hundreds of years of “scientific consensus” calls the “scientific method,” a process apparently unfamiliar to the editors of the Times, and generally absent from much of what passes for climate change “research.”
One startling example of this rather loose approach to the evidence can be found in a recent statement by the Senate Majority Leader, who blurted “Anyone who still has any doubts about global warming should go up to Alaska and look around for themselves.” Surely even the most ardent advocates for AGW in the scientific community blanched at this remarkably unfortunate suggestion that an issue as complex as climate change could be settled by a day trip to Sarah Palin’s back yard.
Those of you who share our open minded approach to this topic will doubtless be heartened to know, again according to The Paper of Record, that you either think that AGW is “a left wing plot” or you are “singing the tune of corporate benefactors.” Apparently, there is no possibility of honest inquiry on your part; if you do not hew to the dogma, than you are simply apostate, and that’s that. After all, what the hell do you know about it? The “consensus” has spoken.
And Dick Cheney’s pension? Ah, yes — the Times writes that Cheney, “received annual checks [from Halliburton] while in office.” Sounds downright crooked, doesn’t it? But what were these “annual” checks? The Times does not say. Well, Cheney was CEO of Halliburton for several years before he retired, and one assumes that he collects a pension, and probably dividends from any Halliburton stock he still owned. Not exactly what the Times makes it sound like, is it? But any time the Times wishes to paint its opposition in a particularly nasty light, it invokes Cheney, in much the same way as a mother might scare a small child by dark references to the bogeyman.
But we still must admit to admiring this fine piece of cannibal journalism, with all our favorite attributes:
- the substitution of conjecture for fact (scientific consensus, indeed),
- the demonization of a straw man villain (sorry, Dick, you’re going down),
- the dismissal of all doubters as “deniers,”
- the bald lie that anyone opposed to the Times agenda is driven by the basest of motives (the Times, of course, has only the loftiest of intentions), and
- the hope that if you yell something loud enough and long enough, people will think it must be true.
We normally don’t comment much on the often-mindless meanderings of the Times editorial page, but this one — well, it looks good enough to eat. Whoever actually wrote this sad strange piece of fiction: into the stewpot with you.