So a New York Times editorial Thursday took after Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., not for being a Doubting Thomas, but as the headline read, a "Doubting Inhofe." The brunt of the editorial was not a scientific refutation of Inhofe's arguments against the global-warming craze -- other than to cite a National Academy of Sciences report that warned that the Earth is approaching the warmest temperatures in 12,000 years -- a short blip in time to your average geologist.The Times' focus was on Inhofe's refusal to bow to "the consensus among mainstream scientists and the governments of nearly every industrialized nation concerning manmade climate change." That is, Inhofe has had the effrontery to challenge elite orthodoxy. Or, as the editorial put it, Inhofe "has really buttressed himself with the will to disbelieve."
Get thee away, Satan.
"I see a sense of desperation that I haven't seen before," Inhofe told me by phone Thursday, "and frankly I'm enjoying it." CNN's Miles O'Brien also challenged Inhofe in a similar vein. O'Brien cited the NAS study, then assailed Inhofe with quotes from notable Republicans -- President Bush, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rep. Chris Shays of Connecticut -- who recognize global warming. Note that Schwarzenegger gets into global-warming heaven just for believing, despite his four Hummers and use of a private jet.
Global warming even has a martyr, NASA scientist James Hansen, who told O'Brien in January that under the Bushies, "you're not free to speak your own mind." It's amazing that a scientist can complain that he is being muzzled -- while appearing on CNN and "60 Minutes."
Be it noted that Hansen endorsed Sen. John Kerry for president in 2004 and received a $250,000 award from a foundation run by Teresa Heinz Kerry in 2001. At the time, Hansen told The New York Times, the award had "no impact on my evaluation of the climate problem or on my political leanings." I believe that.
I also believe we should all be so muzzled.
What does Inhofe make of the NAS finding? Inhofe recognizes that the Earth is warming, but sees this as part of the natural cycle. Inhofe mentioned the Medieval Warm Period -- A.D. 1000 to 1270, when the Vikings grew crops in Greenland. So he doesn't buy this 12,000-year high. His office referred me to a piece University of Oklahoma geology professor David Deming penned for the Normal Transcript that noted, "The fact that the thermometer wasn't invented until the year 1714 ought to give us pause when evaluating this remarkable claim."
I remain agnostic on global warming, as I've seen good arguments on both sides. I know, however, that I never will be convinced that global warming is a scientific threat as long as believers put most of their energy into establishing orthodoxy and denying that reputable global-warming skeptics exist.
The Times' "mainstream scientists" line undermines the editorial's credibility, as it ignores the likes of MIT climate scientist Richard S. Lindzen, who argues that clouds and water vapor will counteract greenhouse-gas emissions. Ditto the 60 Canadian scientists who wrote to Prime Minister Stephen Harper that there is no "'consensus' among climate scientists."
Let me add the Copenhagen Consensus, a group of Nobel Prize-winning scientists and economists that looks at the best way to spend a hypothetical $50 billion to benefit mankind, rated fighting global warming as a "bad" use of money. That's amazing, when you consider the pressure that is put upon scientists to conform.
"Consensus" is another word for clique science. The good people are true believers, the bad people exhibit a "will to disbelieve." Editors used to salute healthy skepticism. Now some are global-warming Torquemadas.