Feb 4, 2009

Global Warming and the Media


It seems that some of President Obama’s most passionate supporters speak of him in almost messianic terms. There is one scientist who means it literally: James Hansen of NASA.

Dr. James Hansen is the chief climate scientist at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and is the man who originally sounded the alarm on global warming in 1988 in an appearance before congress. He is also the keeper of the most often cited climate data. Recently Dr. Hansen was publicly rebuked by his former supervisor, Dr. John S. Theon, at NASA. Dr Theon wrote, “Hansen thus embarrassed NASA by coming out with his claims of global warming in 1988 in his testimony before Congress.” Dr. Theon has now publicly declared himself a skeptic and has declared that Hansen “embarrassed NASA” with his alarming claims of man-made global warming. Needless to say Dr. Theon joins the rapidly growing ranks of international scientists abandoning the promotion of man-made global warming fears.

Dr. Hansen recently told the
U.K. Guardian that the new President “has only four years to save the world.” Unless we implement drastic measures like a “moratorium on new power plants that burn coal” and a hefty “carbon tax,” we face an apocalyptic future, “global flooding, wide-spread species loss and major disruptions of weather patterns.”

Of course, Hansen’s warnings made headlines around the world. Not only because “doom and gloom” sells, but because the mainstream media treats any claim about man-made global warming with the utmost credulity. In their haste, the media seldom asks for data to support a researcher’s claims or check a researcher’s credentials. Some of the claims made by “researchers” are strikingly similar to declarations pronounced in what is called the “
Thiaoouba Prophecy”.
Less amusing but no less telling are the stories about the “disappearing” Arctic ice. A year ago, we were told that the Arctic had reached a “tipping point” and that Arctic ice could be “completely” gone, with dire consequences for polar bears and Santa Claus, within five years.

What you probably haven’t heard is that, by October, that same Arctic ice covered 29 percent more area than it did the year before and that by the end of the year, it was approaching its greatest mass since 1979. And it’s still growing.

There are countless other examples of where real-world facts conflict with global warming theory, not the least of which is that the Earth has been cooling since at least 2003 and arguably since 1998.

As the chairman of the International Geological Congress has asked, “For how many years must the planet cool before we begin to understand that the planet is not warming?”

It’s possible that he and other critics are wrong, of course. What is certain is that we are not getting anything resembling a complete presentation of the facts. The media reports the dire claims, and by the time the claims have been debunked, they have already moved onto the next one.

Given the level of dissent and skepticism on the subject, we ought not to let ourselves be panicked and stampeded into taking drastic and costly measures. Nor should we allow the claims about “scientific consensus” to persuade us. First, remember, there is no such consensus; and, second, scientists are just as prone to peer pressure and groupthink as everybody else.

This is a major issue. The costs here are enormous, not only in terms of dollars, but in terms of human life. I recommend we take a biblical perspective on environmental stewardship. The Acton Institute has produced just such a booklet available
online, this is a great tool to gain perspective.

 
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