Color Me Skeptical

Last night, I turned on the computer before getting ready for work, and I came across this story:
Report Has 'Smoking Gun' on Climate

By SETH BORENSTEIN (AP Science Writer)
From Associated Press
January 22, 2007 8:58 PM EST

WASHINGTON - Human-caused global warming is here, visible in the air, water and melting ice, and is destined to get much worse in the future, an authoritative global scientific report will warn next week.

"The smoking gun is definitely lying on the table as we speak," said top U.S. climate scientist Jerry Mahlman, who reviewed all 1,600 pages of the first segment of a giant four-part report. "The evidence ... is compelling."

Andrew Weaver, a Canadian climate scientist and study co-author, went even further: "This isn't a smoking gun; climate is a batallion of intergalactic smoking missiles."

The first phase of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is being released in Paris next week. This segment, written by more than 600 scientists and reviewed by another 600 experts and edited by bureaucrats from 154 countries, includes "a significantly expanded discussion of observation on the climate," said co-chair Susan Solomon, a senior scientist for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She and other scientists held a telephone briefing on the report Monday.

That report will feature an "explosion of new data" on observations of current global warming, Solomon said.

Solomon and others wouldn't go into specifics about what the report says. They said that the 12-page summary for policymakers will be edited in secret word-by-word by governments officials for several days next week and released to the public on Feb. 2. The rest of that first report from scientists will come out months later.

"Edited in secret"?! That was the first thing to set off my bullshit detector. There's often a good reason to do things in secret: In order to deceive someone else about what you are doing, whether a military enemy or a business competitor. For some reason, however, I thought that "science" was supposed to be on the up-and-up, and not about trying to put something over on someone! And who are these international "government officials" who will be doing the secret word-by-word editing? To whom are they accountable, if anyone?

Then there's the question of "Who are these experts they are quoting, and what's their angle?" Because EVERYONE has an angle. It turns out that if you google Jerry Mahlman and Andrew Weaver, you'll find that they have been on the leading edge of the climate change hysteria for years. They're the "hockey stick" guys, telling us that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is taking off on a logarithmic curve and that pretty soon the Earth will be as hot as Venus and we're all going to die! They're both deeply invested in the theory of global warming, and like most scientists, they are mainly looking for data to prove their hypotheses and ignoring data that doesn't fit their models. Mahlman lives in Boulder, Colorado. How's that global warming going, buddy? Let me know when you get your sidewalk shoveled from that fifth snowstorm in five weeks in Colorado.

These are the guys who say things like "Thirty Kyotos might do the job." In other words, the only way for us to "save the planet" is for all of us to return to a pre-industrial existence. Well, almost all of us; the ones who don't starve to death (which would be most of us) would raise crops to feed themselves and the scientific and governmental priesthood who would rule over their neo-feudal lives. The priesthood, of course, would still travel in stretch limo SUVs and private airplanes, and have things like electricity and computers. They would be doing Important Things, and could not be expected to make the sacrifices the rest of us would have to make to "save the planet." After all, it's for The Greater Good. And for The Children. Never forget The Children! Does this sound good to you? Don't you feel guilty about your huge carbon footprint, you planet-raper? Better you should starve to death than to continue to burn those fossil fuels and contribute to global warming!

Pardon me if I remain skeptical. When I was around ten years old or so, I had a really scary book. Not Frankenstein, not Dracula, but The Environmental Handbook, which was put out by Friends of the Earth for the original Earth Day back in 1970. It had a bunch of prophetic chapters about how we were all doomed, doomed! because of the pollution of earth, water and soil. Perhaps the scariest was a futurist prophecy by an ecologist named Paul Ehrlich, titled "Eco-Catastrophe!" It opened with the line "The end of the ocean came late in the summer of 1979." Last time I was at the beach, the ocean was still alive and well, thirty-six years after Ehrlich's laughably bad prognostication. The gloom-and-doomers have been doing the jeremiad thing for many years, and they've always been wrong before. It would be totally out of character for them suddenly to be right.