The View From 1776

Another Swing-and-a-Miss by the Blind Side

Froma Harrop is a liberal editorial writer for the Providence Journal and a syndicated columnist. The opening paragraph of her February 22, 2006, column is another example of liberals’ compulsion to stretch the truth beyond recognition.

In a column titled “Global warming—A way out of the CO2 debacle” Froma Harrop wrote:

“WE ALL KNOW what must be done to save our planet from global warming: Stop loading the atmosphere with greenhouse gases. If we do nothing, entire ecosystems will collapse. The ice sheets will melt, and much of our coastline will disappear under the waves.”

“We all know” calls to mind the insularity of liberal certitude reportedly expressed by a New York Times columnist after the election of Ronald Reagan to the Presidency.  She is supposed to have said, “How could he have won the election?  Nobody I know voted for him.”

Die-hard liberals, for whom environmentalism is a neo-pagan form of worship, a modern-day version of Comte’s Religion of Humanity, won’t bat any eye at these blatant falsehoods.  But why should Ms. Harrop follow the route of mendacity, when she could as easily have made her point without it?

The reason presumably is that the scientism of liberal-progressives, what passes in the mainstream liberal media for science, is really the religious dictates of atheistic materialism.  Any facts that run counter to liberal-progressive orthodoxy are ignored or dismissed as red-neck heresies. 

It is essential to liberalism and progressivism that intellectuals be able, not only to control human society and restructure human nature via government regulation, but that they also be able to usurp God’s role in determining global climatic conditions.

Ms. Harrop is hardly alone in ‘simplifying’ the truth. She is just following the lead of practitioners of liberal scientism, as Patrick J. Michaels observed in an American Spectator article published 2/21/2006: “In 1989, at the same time [NASA’s Jim] Hansen was “emphasizing extreme scenarios,” Dr. Stephen Schneider, now at Stanford University, opined in Discover magazine that “we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.” “

Let’s look specifically at the three hypotheses stated as fact by Ms. Harrop.

First, “we all know"is simply incorrect. 

Hans H.J. Labohm noted in a TechCentralStation article published April 14, 2005:

“Tens of thousands of bona fide qualified scientists have expressed their reservations as regards the man-made global warming hypothesis (see: But it could perhaps be argued that most of them were not meteorologists and/or climatologists. What about this latter category? At a recent climate change seminar, organised by the (classical liberal) Friedrich Naumann Foundation, together with the Society for the Freedom of Science, in Gummersbach (near Bonn), Prof. Dennis Brays presented the results of a survey among some 500 German and European climate researchers. They showed that the much-repeated claim of a ‘scientific consensus’ on anthropogenic global warming is not correct. According to the results, some 25% of European climate researchers who took part in the survey still doubt whether most of the moderate warming during the last 150 years can be attributed to human activities and CO2 emissions.”

Second, “If we do nothing, entire ecosystems will collapse.” 

Ms. Harrop’s statement of conjecture-as-fact may prove in time to be correct, but there is no way to know with certainty today what future conditions will be.  There are just too many variables, among them the fact that higher concentrations of atmospheric CO2 will stimulate growth of trees that absorb increasing amounts of CO2.

As with all other aspects of the global-warming hypothesis, there is considerable disagreement among climatologists and scientist in related disciplines.  Richard W. Rahn, in an article published August 21, 2005, in the Washington Times, wrote:

“There is almost no agreement about the rate of this warming. There is also considerable disagreement about how much of the warming is man-made—by increasing CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels—and dispute about how much of the additional CO2 will be absorbed by faster vegetation growth and the ocean. (It seems almost every month a new report contradicts some of the previous studies about the above questions—which is not unexpected, given our rudimentary understanding of climatic forces.)

“The big question, at least for me as an economist, is whether moderate global warming will be good or bad for mankind. Most evidence strongly suggests modest global warming will be beneficial—more rainfall, longer growing seasons, less disease and longer lifespans, easier travel, more outdoor sports, etc. (The last warmer Earth period, roughly 900-1300 AD, is widely acknowledged on balance as highly beneficial to mankind).”

Third, “The ice sheets will melt, and much of our coastline will disappear under the waves,” is quite an exaggeration. 

Global-warming theorists claim to have detected an acceleration of the coastal glacier calving and ice-melt rate in Greenland, based on computer models using fragmentary data from satellite radar observations.  They project that the sea levels will rise at an annual rate of 0.0225 inches (0.57 mm) per year.  At that rate, it would require 534 years for the sea level to rise one foot.  Even New Orleans might survive that.

Those Greenland computer-model data are questionable, by the way, because actual measurements on the ground show that ice and snow are accumulating in the interior of Greenland at almost 10 times the projected rate of glacier calving and coastal ice melt.

Former Secretary of Energy James Schlesinger summarized the reality of the global-warming hypothesis in an August 8, 2005, Wall Street Journal article:

“Over the ages, climate has varied. Generally speaking, the Northern Hemisphere has been warming since the end of the Little Ice Age in the 17th century. Most of the global warming observed in the 20th century occurred between 1900 and 1940, when the release of greenhouse gasses was far less than later in the century. Between 1940 and 1975, temperatures fell—and scientists feared a lengthy period of global cooling. The reported rise in temperatures in recent decades has come rather suddenly—probably too suddenly given the relatively slow rise of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

“We must always bear in mind that the earth’s atmosphere remains a highly complex thermodynamic machine. Given its complexities, we need to be modest in asserting what we know. Knowledge is more than speculation.

“.......Second, science is not a matter of consensus, as the histories of Galileo, Copernicus, Pasteur, Einstein and others will attest. Science depends not on speculation but on conclusions verified through experiment. Verification is more than computer simulations—whose conclusions mirror the assumptions built in the model. Irrespective of the repeated assertions regarding a “scientific consensus,” there is neither a consensus nor is consensus science.”

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