Friday, October 09, 2009

Conservative craziness on climate change

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I love it when conservatives find one global warming denying "scientist" and pump him and his (or her) crazy ideas out of all justifiable proportion, as if a single denier is enough to overturn almost the entire edifice of legitimate and mainstream scientific thought.

Paul Bedard, author of right-leaning U.S. News and World Report's right-leaning "Washington Whispers" blog, did just that a couple of days ago, "reporting" -- in a neutral tone but with a clear bias -- that a geologist named Leighton Steward "has turned his attention to convincing Congress that carbon dioxide emissions are good for the Earth and don't cause global warming."

I kid you not.

Apparently, this geologist -- and it's not clear how exactly he's a climate expert -- has "a mountain of studies and scientific evidence that suggest CO2 is not the cause for warming" at his disposal. Apparently, all those scientists among the overwhelming majority of the scientific community that has concluded that carbon dioxide emission by human beings (or, rather, caused by human beings) is in fact the leading cause of global warming either aren't aware of this mountain or choose to ignore it, preferring instead to spin a lie. Apparently, this "noted geologist" knows the truth, namely, that global warming is actually caused by solar activity. Apparently, he actually thinks "CO2 levels are so low that more, not less, is needed to sustain and expand plant growth."

You want crazy? There's crazy.

You want more crazy? Here you go:

In taking on lawmakers pushing for a cap-and-trade plan to deal with emissions, Steward tells Whispers that he's worried that the legislation will result in huge and unneeded taxes. Worse, if CO2 levels are cut, he warns, food production will slow because plants grown at higher CO2 levels make larger fruit and vegetables and also use less water. He also said that higher CO2 levels are not harmful to humans. As an example, he said that Earth's atmosphere currently has about 338 parts per million of CO2 and that in Navy subs, the danger level for carbon dioxide isn't reached until the air has 8,000 parts per million of CO2.

His preoccupation with taxes gives away his political agenda -- and his credibility (not that he had much to begin with). He's solidly in the James Inhofe camp.

But the rest of that? Come on. It's one thing to offer an alternative scientific theory, quite another to make shit up. We're not talking about what is immediately poisonous to human beings, we're talking about rising CO2 levels to the point where the global climate is changing, precipitating potentially disastrous consequences. No, higher levels may not kill human beings directly, but they may cause, will cause, are already causing changes that are certainly harmful to human beings. Ask the residents of the Gulf Coast, for example, if stronger hurricanes caused by rising seawater temperatures are harmful. Ask the residents of Canada's north if changing migration patterns are harmful to their way of life. Ask the residents of low-lying areas of the world, notably in poverty-stricken, densely-populated regions, if the flooding they are experiencing and will experience even more strongly in future is harmful. It isn't just the scientific community that would disagree with Steward.

Of course, Steward has a culprit: solar activity. I'm sure he, his debunked theories, and his do-nothing approach will find a receptive audience among Republicans on Capitol Hill. And that's the real danger. He gives them what they want, which is token scientific support for their conservative agenda, and they'll defend that agenda with the weight of this supposed "mountain" of studies and evidence.

Democrats, and the rest of us who live in reality, would do well not just to dismiss him as a hack with a partisan agenda but to continue to summon to our side the full weight of the scientific community. There are dissenters, to be sure, but the overriding consensus is clear.

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share


  • interesting comments. rather than talk about how wrong everybody is, why not include the pertinent data with references to articles and books which back up your claims?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:30 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home