June 17, 2006

Oh, So Now Global Warming Skeptics are “Exx-Cons”

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:55 pm

Robert Pollock reported today in a subscription-only column in The Wall Street Journal about the response to a factual statement he made.

His final sentence is a direct hit at the assumptive arrogance of the global warming crowd (“elide” means “to leave out of consideration”; bolds are mine):

Confessions of an ‘Exx-Con’

Global-warming alarmists take it for granted that they have the “scientific consensus” on their side. The truth is that their views can be as much an article of faith that avoids or elides basic facts.

I was reminded of this recently after suggesting on our weekly television show — The Journal Editorial Report on Fox News Channel — that “everyone agrees there has been some warming over the past century, but most of it happened before 1940.”

“Not true,” declared a subsequent editorial in the New Republic magazine. “The last three decades have seen the sharpest rise.” TNR suggested I was what they’ve dubbed an “Exx-Con” — that is, a conservative whose views on climate change are so unmoored from reality that they can only be explained by a slavish devotion to Exxon and other big oil firms.

WSJtempGraph WSJtempGraph2

But it is TNR that’s having trouble with the facts here. I’ll grant that my off-the-cuff remarks could have been worded a bit more precisely. I probably should have said “more than half” instead of “most.” But that doesn’t change the fact — as the NASA charts nearby illustrate — that the early 20th century saw a rise in global and U.S. temperature, followed by about three decades of declining or stable temperatures that global-warming alarmists have a hard time trying to explain.

….. In any case, the graph at issue presents a challenge to those who claim that the recent warming trend is primarily caused by carbon dioxide and is not part of a natural rebound from a cool 19th century. The early 20th century saw a rise in temperature rise at least as great. And far, far more CO2 has been pumped into the atmosphere in the years following 1940 than the years before.

What’s more, there’s a debate over whether recent global data is biased upward by the fact that many measuring stations are located in or near cities around the world that have grown rapidly over the past half-century. Anyone who’s ever crossed the George Washington Bridge can understand the concept of the urban “heat island” effect.

….. Finally, a word about motive. Why wouldn’t I want to be on the safe side and embrace the Kyoto Protocol? Not because of an attachment to oil companies, but because meaningful CO2 cutbacks would entail drastic reductions in energy use by billions of people in places like China and India who are finally getting a chance at a better life. The New Republic doesn’t seem to have addressed such consequences in any serious way. Attempting to wave someone out of the argument by calling them an Exx-con is much easier than confronting the difficult facts beneath the global warming debate.

Paraphrasing what I said a couple of weeks ago: The global-warming-is-gospel crowd wants to skip the dirty work of actually having to prove what they believe, so they can get on with their primary goal of slowing down the march of economic progress that has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty and promises to lift out billions more in as little as 40 years. Go figure.
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UPDATE: Amy Ridenour has another example of a Media Matters dispute of an argument made by Chris Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute on Fox News about then-President Clinton’s degree of interest in pursuing ratification of the environmental movement’s holy grail, the Kyoto Treaty. Her post includes a timely reminder of the Senate’s 95-0 resolution in 1997 AGAINST Kyoto. The fact is that Mr. Clinton never brought the treaty before the Senate for formal ratification, and was willing to expend no political capital in such an effort. Instead, Mr. Clinton and Vice President Al Gore, in what would have been a serious separation-of-powers issue if they had been serious about it (but they weren’t, at least until Gore got elected [oops], and everyone with a brain knew it), were fond of saying “Well, we’ll comply with it anyway.” That was meant to placate their (apparently quite gullible) enviro base.

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3 Comments

  1. I think your point about global warming alarmists not wanting to actually prove their assertions before going ahead with their “solutions” is dead-on.

    I also think it goes nicely with my general theory that, following the collapse of Communism, the good little Communists in the international community became good little environmentalists. The end result of either ideology is the destruction of capitalism.

    Comment by Phil Prenger — June 17, 2006 @ 7:18 pm

  2. #1, you could not be more correct.

    Comment by TBlumer — June 17, 2006 @ 7:48 pm

  3. Dittos to what Phil says, plus this: The global warming alarmists also do not want to prove (or even discuss very much whether) their proposed solutions would have any impact before we adopt them.

    Comment by Amy Ridenour — June 17, 2006 @ 11:18 pm

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