If you want to convince the world that an overwhelming majority of scientists believes in global warming, then start by ignoring scientists who are not true believers. First, establish lists of scientists with your approved position, then smear dissidents. Soon, up-and-coming scientists will be afraid to cross the rigid green line.
So, the Society of Environmental Journalists put together a guide on climate change that lists a number of publications on global warming, scientists and seven environmental groups, each with positive descriptions. Under the "Deniers, Dissenters and 'Skeptics'" category are four listings -- all negative. They suggest that these folk are venal, partisan and bad scientists, or all of the above.
According to the SEJ guide, University of Virginia professor Patrick Michaels "still claims to be the Virginia 'state climatologist' although the state has disavowed him." The publisher of George Mason University professor Fred Singer's books is connected with the "Moonie" leader, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon. The Competitive Enterprise Institute think tank has received oil money. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., has a flack "whose resume brags of starting the 'Swift Boat' story that injured candidate John Kerry." The short list, with a senator even, suggests they had run out of dissident scientists -- or dissident scientists they could squeeze into the venal-lightweight box.
James O'Brien -- director of the Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies and former Florida state climatologist, and not listed in the SEJ guide -- said of guide's terms for nonbelievers: "I don't like the term 'deniers.' They're trying to say we're like Holocaust deniers." He didn't make that up. Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman recently wrote that "global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, though one denies the past and the other denies the present and future."
It ought to tell you something that the guide focuses not on the issues, but personal issues and credentials of nonbelievers. Ooooooh, a senator has a flack who spins. How nefarious. I'm sure global warming guru and former Vice President Al Gore only hired monks.
Most insulting is the insinuation that skeptics are after money, while believers are pure. Nonsense, David Legates, Delaware state climatologist, told me. Dire global warming predictions draw the big bucks in research these days: "There's a lot more money to be made by saying the world is coming to an end than to say that this is a bunch of hooey."
"Hooey" is the term also used by Reid Bryson, the father of scientific climatology, in the (Madison, Wis.) Capital Times, as he explained: "If you want to be an eminent scientist, you have to have a lot of grad students and a lot of grants. You can't get grants unless you say, 'Oh global warming, yes, yes, carbon dioxide.'"
Legates tells students who are not global-warming true believers, "If you don't have tenure at a major research university, keep your mouth shut."
Dissenting scientists do not deny that the planet is getting warmer. As O'Brien noted, "I believe that there is global warming and it's probably due to natural as well as human causes." But also, "It's not occurring as fast as the alarmists say," and its consequences won't be as dire as they say. SEJ should see the value in skeptics who challenge the global-warming orthodoxy -- which can make global warming forecasts more concise -- instead of suggesting that no good scientists have alternative views.
O'Brien sees a schism in the science community, with real-world scientists -- think former Director of the National Hurricane Center Neil Frank -- on one skeptic side, and environmentalists and ecologists, who "if they see more turtles this year than last year, they write a paper" on the worst-case-scenario other.
Legates noted that state climatologists deal in patterns and cycles and "tend to be more skeptical of the extreme climate change scenarios."
Politicians, thus, have begun to stifle state climatologists who are not global-warming boosters -- oddly with little complaint that evil politicians are trying to censor noble scientists.
Oregon state climatologist George Taylor is a skeptic. Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski, a Democrat, asked Oregon State University to stop Taylor from using a title he had used without complaint since 1991. Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, also a Democrat, pulled a similar move on Michaels, who is now the American Association of State Climatologists-designated state climatologist in Virginia.
As if it's a bad thing to be recognized by fellow climatologists, instead of a politician -- at least to the Society of Environmental Journalists.
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