Climate alarmists prefer ad hominem to argument

(Centennial Fellow) If you are not among the global warming alarmists scared to death about a plague of boils, frogs, lice and locusts, as well as tornadoes, hurricanes and other weather events, you are to them a “denier,” which is different from being a skeptic.

The terminology was stolen from anti–Semitic Holocaust deniers refusing despite endless eye witnesses and tons of evidence to agree that, during World War II, the German government slaughtered some 6 million innocent people for the Nazi–identified offense of being Jewish.

The implication of using the word to describe doomsday skeptics is that they have some deep, dark evil motive—probably money—to overlook scientific data piled so high that no one of ordinary intelligence possibly could miss it. The ad hominem accusers don’t worry that most skeptics agree that the Earth has been getting a little warmer even if they harbor doubts about an apocalypse arriving tomorrow afternoon.

One of the latest of these Holocaust–trivializing, rhetorical misadventures issued from a Newsweek article in which the writer says, “Even those who deny the existence of global climate change are having trouble dismissing the evidence of the last year.” She then speaks of the tornadoes, rainstorms, drought and heat waves … The “extremes,” she says, have reached “biblical proportions,” though I must admit she does not specifically say we have been revisited by the Egyptian plague of locusts and more referred to in Exodus.

She also tells us that “climate change deniers” have argued warming was a hoax and there was no need to adapt, and yes, some skeptics do believe It’s a hoax, thanks to articles like this one.

An online article in Time Magazine, a Newsweek competitor, is more cautious. It observes that one noted climate scientist, Judith Curry of Georgia Tech, says there has been “a downward trend” in tornadoes since record keeping started more than a half century ago. To connect any weather events with warming, the article argues, you need all kinds of information about weather during a long period of time in a particular location and, after seeing “an upward trend,” exclude every other possible factor. It’s a tough job, and not much has been done to make the case.

The Time writer also says, however, that we “already know” climate change is a fearful business that will afflict us mightily in countless ways if we do not “change the way we use energy, ” and adds: “There shouldn’t be any debate about that.”

Bring on Leonard Solomon first, and then Freeman Dyson. Solomon wrote an ironically titled book called “The Deniers” about more than two dozen internationally respected scientists who have no possible ulterior motives. He has noted that they all believe the Earth is warming, but that some doubt the warming is man–caused and that all doubt the consequence will be incredible destruction, mostly saying the warming over time will be slight.

According to Solomon in a National Review interview, the idea of a “consensus” about catastrophic warming rests on the unsupportive fact that 2,500 scientists participated in parts of a U.N. panel report that they were not asked to endorse as a whole. Curry, mentioned in Time, accuses the panel of “corruption,” according to a Scientific American article.

Solomon thinks the Kyoto anti–warming policies did enormous harm to Third World countries that bowed to new energy–production prescriptions, and has observed in another forum that some warming alarmists think we should dispense with many of our liberties to serve their cause.

Dyson, one of America’s most respected physicists, once went to war in a New York Review of Books piece with scientists who dismissed other scientists skeptical of warming alarms as having nothing important to say.

He noted that the majority of scientists have time and again been proven wrong in controversies, adds that warming is less about science than environmentalism as a secular religion, and says fine—the basic ethics add up.

What doesn’t add up, he says, is adopting “as an article of faith the belief that global warming is the greatest threat to the ecology of our planet.”

To which I say amen.


Jay Ambrose was formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver. He is now a syndicated columnist living in Colorado, as well as a Centennial Institute Fellow and co–director of our project on News in the 21st Century.

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