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Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Gored again

posted by Aziz P. at Tuesday, May 30, 2006 permalink View blog reactions
The Nazi reference attacks on Gore by "climate skeptics" just don't stop coming. Now, acclaimed skeptic Bill Gray, a cantankerous meteorologist who believes that global warming is a natural process and will reverse itself in twenty years, comes out with this gem (in a long article in the WaPo):

Somehow Hitler keeps popping into the discussion. Gore draws a parallel between fighting global warming and fighting the Nazis. Novelist Michael Crichton, in State of Fear , ends with an appendix comparing the theory of global warming to the theory of eugenics -- the belief, prominently promoted by Nazis, that the gene pool of the human species was degenerating due to higher reproductive rates of "inferior" people. Both, he contends, are examples of junk science, supported by intellectual elites who will later conveniently forget they signed on to such craziness.

And Gray has no governor on his rhetoric. At one point during our meeting in Colorado he blurts out, "Gore believed in global warming almost as much as Hitler believed there was something wrong with the Jews."

Is it possible for any skeptic of global warming to make their point as methodically and rationally as the realClimate folks do, without resorting to ad hominem smearing? Frankly I don't think so, else we would actually have seen some by now.

 A casual observer might well ask, if the skeptics have such sound rationale for rebutting the global warming message, why don't they actually rebut the message via peer review? Instead they attack the messengers - and apparently when it comes to Al Gore, no intermediate comparisons are warranted, let's just go straight for the Nazi comparison and save time.

In case you're curious, Gray's basis for skepticism is that he believes that computer model simulations are bogus and that the intuition of meterologists "in the field" is superior:

The skeptics scoff at climate models. They're just computer programs. They have to interpret innumerable feedback loops, all the convective forces, the evaporation, the winds, the ocean currents, the changing albedo (reflectivity) of Earth's surface, on and on and on.
The models can't even predict the weather in two weeks, much less 100 years, he says.
"They sit in this ivory tower, playing around, and they don't tell us if this is going to be a hot summer coming up. Why not? Because the models are no damn good!"
Gray's crusade against global warming "hysteria" began in the early 1990s, when he saw enormous sums of federal research money going toward computer modeling rather than his kind of science, the old-fashioned stuff based on direct observation. Gray often cites the ascendancy of Gore to the vice presidency as the start of his own problems with federal funding. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) stopped giving him research grants. So did NASA. All the money was going to computer models. The field was going off on this wild tangent.

Numerical models can't predict the future, he says. They don't even pretend to predict the weather in the coming season -- "but they make predictions of 50 or 100 years from now and ask you to believe the Earth will get warmer."

The modelers are equation pushers.

"They haven't been down in the trenches, making forecasts and understanding stuff!"

And then the skeptics switch 180 degrees and say that hey - "global warming isn't just not happenning, it's also a Good Thing if it happens". To wit:

Plants like carbon dioxide. Trees devour it. This demonized molecule, CO2, isn't some kind of toxin or contaminant or pollutant -- it's fertilizer.

They even have cut an ad - essentially, global warming: don't worry, be happy! The closer?

"Carbon dioxide: They call it pollution. We call it life."

I for one welcome our Ent overlords. Hoom.

What I find particulary interesting in the WaPo piece however is that the skeptics actually keep each other at some arm's length. For example, Gray says of noted skeptic Michael Lindzen, a professor at MIT:

"Lindzen, he's a hard guy to deal with," Gray says. "He doesn't think he can learn anything from me."

Which is correct. Lindzen says of Gray: "His knowledge of theory is frustratingly poor, but he knows more about hurricanes than anyone in the world. I regard him in his own peculiar way as a national resource."

The question comes to mind then, why aren't there anti-warming scientific conferences? Why not a collaboration? Does it really make sense for a scientists to say that there's nothing he/she can learn from another scientist in the same field? Perhaps because they aren't practicing science?

And it's not like these guys are being frozen out of the peer review or being denied funding (as they often like to compain). Lindzen is a professor at MIT. Gray is fully funded by the CEI. Both have extensive media pulpits, books, websites, etc.

The truth is that the skeptics, like with Intelligent Design, can't compete on the level field of peer review. And they know it. So on one hand they fabricate excuses of victimization, and on the other they retreat to that playing field where volume, not content, matters most: the field of public opinion.

Which is why they hate Al Gore. And why in their minds, he really is a Nazi. And that outburst by Gray above reveals in one second the true nature of their crusade - and the rotten foundations of their work.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.