May 22, 2009

Hysteria From the Skeptical Side of the Fence (Part 2)

[Read Part 1 here]

Dr. Edward F. Blick's recent 24-page paper, Global Warming Myth and Marxism is less than coherent. It's final paragraph confusingly refers to itself as a book. When I examine the copyright statement at the bottom of page two, I discover the following: "© 2009 by Southwest Radio Church of the Air...No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner...for more information, write Southwest Radio Ministries..."

Whatever larger project this paper has been drawn from, minus its opening notes, bibliography, and graphs, there are only 13 pages of generously-spaced text here. But if one were looking for a reason to dismiss skeptics of global warming, it's difficult to imagine a more damaging 13 pages.

This is not a calm, rigorously-argued, carefully-footnoted essay. For one thing, Dr. Blick is fond of exclamation marks. I count 27 of them. On page 12 there are five. On page 13 there are four. While he frequently accuses other people of extremism, his own language falls well short of even-handed or neutral.

Some version of the word "extremist" appears three times on page four, along with "fanatics" and "wackos." On page five he refers to Barack Obama as "a Marxist president," describes the media as "Marxist," and dismisses a former United Nations' Secretary General as "a Burmese Marxist."

Dr. Blick refers at least thrice to "green Nazis." People he disagrees with are "liars" and "corrupt" and guilty of "fraud." He attributes incendiary quotes to individuals yet fails to provide any source so that the reader might make their own judgment about whether the quote has been fairly reproduced or used out-of-context. He ridicules Al Gore's college grades but does not say how he came to be in possession of such information. He alleges that NASA's activist scientist, James Hansen, received "a $250,000 gift from the charity of [John] Kerry's wife" but again fails to indicate how he knows this.

Are there some valid points amongst all this sound and fury? No doubt. But although Dr. Blick claims to be interested in what a "reasonable person" might think, this is a text guaranteed to alienate reasonable people.

If you want to convince me that global warming theory is flawed, don't muddy the water by quoting scripture and talking about "intelligent design."

If you want me to take your views seriously, please don't besmirch the gem that is American democracy by offhandedly referring to "the Marxist coup that took over our country on January 20, 2009" - Barack Obama's inauguration day.


May 21, 2009

Hysteria From the Skeptical Side of the Fence (Part 1)

I recently told a friend that one of the reasons I've grown suspicious of the global warming hypothesis is because of the hysterical tone in which it's so often discussed. People who feel the need to resort to emotionally-charged pronouncements rather than calm, reasoned arguments make me uneasy.

This is equally true where skeptics are concerned. If you want to convince me of your point-of-view, please stick to facts and data. Extremist language, name-calling, and what I (as an atheist) refer to as God-talk, simply won't accomplish your goal.

Enter Edward F. Blick. I've never met this gentleman, but on paper he sounds impressive. He holds a PhD in engineering science, has been a professor in several fields, and has worked as a consultant to NASA and the United States Air Force.

Despite all of this, his tone in a recently-released 24-page document titled Global Warming Myth and Marxism: How the U.N. and Marxist Economists Have Used the Global Warming Myth to Wreck World Economies is less than professional.

My unease begins near the bottom of page two, where it says: "All scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible, unless otherwise noted." This is not the sort of statement one expects to find in a paper that ends with six pages of gorgeous graphs devoted to empirical subjects such as temperature, solar irradiance, CO2 levels, and sunspot cycles.

Then there's the last line of the summary/abstract (at the top of page 3): "God rules the climate, not man." Right.

A few lines later, in what is the first real paragraph of his paper, Dr. Blick accuses the United Nations of being not only "lawless" and "corrupt" but "anti-God." That's where I stopped reading the first time around.

The only reason I've looked up this paper again is because, on reflection, I feel it's important that I read it in its entirety. If I'm going to criticize advocates of global warming theory for hysteria, fair play demands that I do the same in an instance such as this.

[read Part 2 here]


May 16, 2009

On the Cusp

I've been busy, immersed, distracted lately. I've been reading, reading, reading. Books and websites and scientific journals. News stories and blogs and Twitter feeds. My brain is bursting with facts and figures I'm struggling to make sense of.

It has been 14 years since I wrote my first and only book. Until now, I've felt no need to repeat the experience. But I may be on the cusp of changing my mind.

I believe in debate. I believe in questions. I believe anyone who wants anyone else to dramatically change their lives had better have a strong and persuasive argument.

My reading about global warming has left me bewildered, bemused - and alarmed. I've spent the past several weeks educating myself, and what I've learned isn't pretty.

There's a whole side of the global warming discussion that 90% of the mainstream media ignores. This is because editors and journalists are as susceptible to "group think" as anyone else. It's also because reporters are often too rushed or too lazy to read anything more than the press release when a new study claims to have found yet another reason why global warming should scare us out of our wits.

I wish I didn't feel the need to say anything at all about this topic. There are lots of other things I'd rather be thinking about in my spare time. But the current state of affairs is wrong.