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Ross Spencer: A Climate of Fear

A Climate of Fear

By Ross Spencer

There has to be an explanation for the media’s transfixion with global warming. There also has to be an explanation why scientists so often offer dire predictions about the future of the environment?

In a well written and well researched book, Meltdown, climatologist Patrick J. Michaels says it’s only natural. A research professor of environmental studies at the University of Virginia and a past president of the American Association of State Climatologists, Michaels, who is the winner of the American Library Association’s worldwide competition for public service writing, and an author of the 2003 climate science “Paper of the Year,” awarded by the Association of American Geographers, argues that the way we do science today--when issues compete with each other for monopoly funding by the federal government--creates a culture of exaggeration and a political community that then takes credit for having saved us from certain doom.

Michaels starts with a succinct discussion of climate-change science and then unrolls the litany of falsehood, exaggeration, and misstatement inherent in this black art of climate change. He cites hundreds of errors and exaggerations in scientific papers, news reports, and television sound bites--from the “National Assessment” of global warming, a Clinton-era document that used computer models that its authors knew did not work, to the infamous New York Times story about the melting of the North Pole, published in September 2000 and halfheartedly retracted three weeks later. [1.]

An eminently readable and often humorous critique, Meltdown explains why these exaggerations persist and what to do about them. This powerful, lucid, fluent book is a triumph of science over poppycock! This gifted climatologist, tells the straight truth about the hysteria and ignorance surrounding climate change and how the scientific establishment has been led astray.

All this hubris on global warming should not concern the Deforestation Watch, except that environmental organizations such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth (FOE), Wetlands, et al have been falling over each other to blame palm oil cultivation for contributing, in their words to “deforestation, destruction of habitat for the orang utan, and ultimately, to global warming”! Apart from failing to provide concrete evidence, there is an all pervading suspicion that these previously respected environmental organizations are motivated more by the funding that such a position attracts than purely altruistic and conscionable posturing.

For some time now, we have been contending that in fighting for conservation, we have to be careful not to let our cause be sidetracked by organizations with hidden agendas, even if the self same organizations were the erstwhile flag-bearers for the environmental movement. Environmental organizations such as Greenpeace and the FOE which have built up enviable reputations over the years have now dragged our cause from a legitimate environmental concern, down the slippery slope towards the ignominious depths of risking the entire environmental movement being contemptuously labeled as environmental scams and climate change con-artists!

We saw this coming and had warned against such unsustainable hubris. Perhaps, Michaels was right in pointing out that this culture of exaggeration and falsehoods will ultimately unravel and expose climate change proponents for the fraud that some members of the scientific community are calling some of the more questionable climate scientists and environmental organizations such as Greenpeace and the FOE.

Al Gore serves as a useful point of reference. Feted as an environmental warrior and awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on the “Inconvenient Truth”, Al Gore now stands exposed as a fraud. For one, a British Judge, in hearing a suit brought by a part time teacher, Stewart Dimmock to resist the British Government’s plan to show Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” in English Secondary Schools ruled that the film was made in the context of “alarmism and exaggeration!” [2.]

In a stunning rebuff to Gore, High Court Judge Michael Burton outlined nine scientific errors — including Gore's claim that sea level rises of 7 meters (23 feet) might occur in the immediate future — something Burton characterized as "distinctly alarmist." Other errors, he said, included the claim that Hurricane Katrina, the evaporation of most of Lake Chad and the melting of the snows of the Kilimanjaro were all the result of global warming. Burton said there was insufficient evidence to back his claims.

And Al Gore needs to come clean about his Generation Investment Management private equity firm. Al Gore needs to be transparent about where GIM gets its funding from, what projects it invests in, and the main stakeholders involved. If Al Gore has nothing to hide, then he should take the initiative to show the world independent proof that all his global warming alarmism isn't tied in to a self-centered profit motive.

More signs are emerging. Recently, the LA Times in an editorial on 10th March 2008 on the California State Government’s plan to introduce a cap-and-trade program in the State, in which carbon emissions are capped and power generators can trade carbon credits — permits to pollute — among themselves, argues that such a scheme is open to serious abuse and amounts to a “scam”. [3.] The trouble with such a scheme is that by buying a "carbon credit" the buyer has bought nothing, except the Pet Rock of our generation. Trees exist, with or without our purchasing the right to pollute. Our cars, planes and homes will still pollute, regardless of how much we pay a tree to do its thing in Humbold.

If we accept the concept that we are one world, and a single person polluting in Shasta is harming someone in Lagos, then the cap and trade business is as phony as buying a Pet Rock or a carbon credit.

If we are allowed to sell the right to pollute, then we are selling bad air and death to others. Either close down all polluting operations or stop the canard. All this does is make money for the Pet Rock, or, carbon credit people, like Al Gore.

Deforestation Watch has to ask - Would you buy a carbon credit, a Pet Rock or sell your "right" to pollution to others?

Over in the United Kingdom, in a recent investigation published by the venerable newspaper, the Financial Times (FT) on 8th March 2008, the paper found few environmental benefits from carbon credit projects that have collected millions of dollars.[4.]

The FT has found multiple examples of corporations selling carbon offsets for projects which are either inherently profitable or inexpensive to complete. A carbon credit purchased from a company which has already benefited from a project hardly seems legitimate.

Any type of business where the consumer pays money for an intangible benefit, the potential exists for abuse. The Financial Times asks how exactly are consumer supposed to sort out the options and determine where their money will be put to good use. People who have faith in the system as it stands will lose that faith as stories of fraud surface.

In the view of Deforestation Watch, conservation is a legitimate concern. However, building a climate of fear, especially when it is built on shaky ground such as Greenpeace’s and the FOE’s senseless attacks against palm oil (a sustainable crop, in our view) can result in fraud by the less scrupulous lurking within our midst. Far worse is to have our noble cause cruelly exposed and buffeted by the winds of scientific fact.

    1. Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians and the Media, Patrick J. Michaels, 2004.
    2. International Herald Tribune, publication of October 11th, 2007
    3. The LA Times, publication of March 10th, 2008
    4. Financial Times publication of March 8th, 2008.


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