By David L. Brown
I have been silent in recent weeks on the subject of climate change. My reason: I am gobsmacked by the success of the anti-global warming activities that have taken place. Science and reason are in full retreat in the face of the most astounding set of charges, accusations, and declarations I have ever seen.
What can you say when faced with the unimaginable? Think of it as like standing in the middle of a Roman village named Pompeii in 79 A.D., gaping at the sight of Mount Vesuvius blowing itself to pieces. “Oh my goodness!” just would not quite suffice, and more expressive reactions would only be pointless profanity. You would be facing the unimaginable. You would be staring at the end of the world as you know it.
What has happened on the issues of global warming and climate change in the past few months is truly bizarre and frankly unexpected. First thousands of e-mails were hacked and several statements cherry picked out of context, twisted, and made to look like scientists were in disagreement and fighting among themselves on questions pertaining to global warming.
Well, duh, that’s what scientists do! It’s their job to pick at the edges, to squabble among themselves, to try to knock down ideas, to, well, disagree. If they did not do these things, there would be no science, no progress, no real knowledge, just superstition and the recognition of the obvious.
The most amazing thing about that phase of the operation was that among all those thousands of e-mails over a dozen years that the deniers couldn’t find anything any more damning than the extremely thin gruel they did.
Do not scientists have a right to be ironic, as in making a comment during a blizzard that questions global warming? Did that scientist in Colorado who did so believe there is no global warming because it was cold in Colorado in the winter? No, certainly not, and yet that ironic, human, personal statement was seized upon with an Aha! that could be heard all the way to Antarctica, where just today a chunk of ice described as the size of a small country fell into the ocean.
Fact check: An ironic personal comment is not scientific data. It is nothing, in fact. And there is a big part of the problem with this attack: Most of the “flaws” that have been found are on the nature of minor typographic errors, statements of opinion, guesses about the future, and other things that are not scientific data at all.
Such it was with the supposedly egregious “error” concerning the rate of melting of “the Himalayan glaciers.” This appeared on page four hundred and some of the second volume of the latest IPCC report, a work comprising nearly 3000 pages. It was one sentence, and it contained a typo apparently. It was not presented as data, not used as the basis for even a general observation much less the entire bulwark of global warming evidence. It was merely part of a huge compendium of evidence provided by several thousand scientists and cooperatively vetted by representatives of more than a hundred nations of the world. It was nothing.