Monday, December 15, 2008

It's the Planet Stupid

Update. A. Siegel feels that I didn't give him enough credit for the content of this post. I did link back to his Firedoglake post at the bottom but should have been clearer as to the source for some of the content. I apologize.

It's coming Christmas again and just like last year, the Minority on the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Commitee has just released another misleading "report" discounting global climate change. Just to be on the safe side, if they fail to prove that global climate change is a myth they want you to believe that humans have nothing to do with the warming and not only that but if the climate is changing for the worse there is nothing we can do about it. James Inhofe (R-Big Oil) and his partner in crime Marc Morano have recycled many of the deceptions and outright lies from from last year's report. The report titled UN Blowback: More Than 650 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims Study: Half of warming due to Sun! –Sea Levels Fail to Rise? - Warming Fears in 'Dustbin of History' is another cheap attempt to confuse the natives and the media with a massive dose of bad information hoping that the media and others are too lazy to fact check and will just repeat the lies outright. Releasing the report during the Christmas break is very strategic as they know there is not the staff on the hill to counter the report with accurate information before the press runs with it.

The good news is that, just like last year, journalists working on the web are starting to dig out the truth and debunk the malicious lies in the report. For example, Joe Romm at Climate Progress published a piece yesterday quoting one scientist reacting strongly about how the Inhofe/Morano report not only misquoted her but presented her work 180 degrees out from what it actually said. The title of the article sums it up nicely: Scientist: “Our conclusions were misinterpreted” by Inhofe, CO2 — but not the sun — “is significantly correlated” with temperature since 1850.

Just like last year, they are once again trying to overwhelm readers by quoting large numbers of supposed scientists and other authorities on climate. They know good and well that that most journalists will run with the headline "650 scientists say" and not do any serious checking on who these 650 scientists are and whether they actually said what is suggested. The problems with the list of "scientists" are legion. How many are actually legitimate climate scientists or people actually qualified to make informed comments? If they are legitimate, are they questioning some specific item in the research or the whole consensus of global climate change? Again, if they are valid sources, is their work being fairly and accurately represented? While the entire list of this year's 650 "scientists" hasn't yet been vetted it is illuminating to have a look at last years list of "experts" to get a flavor of what this year's list is all about.

  • Inhofe's list last year included 413 people.
  • 84 have either taken money from, or are connected to, fossil fuel industries, or think tanks started by those industries.
  • 49 are retired
  • 44 are television weathermen
  • 20 are economists
  • 70 have no apparent expertise in climate science
  • Several supposed skeptics have publicly stated that they are very concerned about global warming, and support efforts to address it. One claims he was duped into signing the list and regrets it

Here is just one case from last year, documented by Andrew Dressler in January 2008:

Meteorologist George Waldenberger is on the list. In response, George sent an email to Inhofe’s staffers that began:

Take me off your list of 400 (Prominent) Scientists that dispute Man-Made Global warming claims. I’ve never made any claims that debunk the “Consensus”.

You quoted a newspaper article that’s main focus was scoring the accuracy of local weathermen. Hardly Scientific ... yet I’m guessing some of your other sources pale in comparison in terms of credibility.

You also didn’t ask for my permission to use these statements. That’s not a very respectable way of doing “research”.

Yet, as Dessler notes, “he’s still on the list.”

Are you surprised that Waldenberger is on the "new" expanded list of 650?

The Global Warming deniers know that the more misinformation and doubt they can foment in the public mind with official sounding studies that call into question the basic science the more they can continue to confuse and cloud the issue. The more confusion exists the less the realities of the challenges of Global Warming are taken to heart and the desired effect of undermining public support is achieved. This is a complicated issue and you cannot understand it without some clear and sound information. The varied interests that want the public to stay confused and misinformed have the easy task, as it is far easier to perpetuate and mass distribute deception and disinformation than it is to educate and inform people as to the real situation. A great percentage of the population get their "news" from headlines and soundbites on FAUX TV or the equivalent. The climate change deniers know this and use it to their advantage. We each have to do what we can to counter this attempt to keep the populace "dazed and confused".

Next month, Barack Obama will be President, Stephen Chu will soon after be Secretary of Energy, and the Democratic Party will have nearly 60 Senators but there are still plenty of Republicans in the Senate who do not have the best interest of the American public as one of their concerns. You saw it in the vote on the automotive industry support and you will see it again in votes on health care, energy policy and everything else that endangers the bottom line of the GOP corporate masters. There are a lot of battles ahead but this is the "big one". Single payer health care and all the rest are irrelevant if we don't have a planet to live on.

h/t Firedoglake

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