Year 4, Month 6, Day 25: You Don’t Know What Love Is…

The Cedar Rapids (IA) Gazette gives column space to the infamous Tom Harris. I’d almost forgotten about this asshole.

Last month, U.S. Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) hosted an unbiased climate change panel discussion in Fairmont, W.V. Experts from both sides of the climate debate participated without restrictions of any kind.

McKinley’s open-minded approach is one that should be copied across the United States. Considering what’s at stake — a human-induced eco-collapse if former Vice President Al Gore and his allies are correct, or, if skeptics are right, a waste of billions of dollars and the loss of millions of jobs as we experiment with a switch away from hydrocarbon fuels to alternative energy sources — the risks are too high to do anything less.

No matter what Gore and founder Bill McKibben tell us, experts in the field know that climate science is highly immature. We are in a period of “negative discovery,” in that the more we learn about climate, the more we realize we do not know. Rather than “remove the doubt,” as Gore tells us should be done, we must recognize the doubt in this, arguably the most complex science ever tackled.

The confidence expressed by Gore, McKibben and President Barack Obama that mankind is definitely causing dangerous climate change is a consequence of a belief in what professors Chris Essex (University of Western Ontario) and Ross McKitrick (University of Guelph, Ontario) call the “Doctrine of Certainty.” This doctrine is “a collection of now familiar assertions about climate that are to be accepted without question” (Taken by Storm, 2007).

Fuck. I need a shower. June 10:

Let’s pass over the longstanding relationship between Tom Harris’ reassuringly-named International Climate Science Coalition with the odious Heartland Foundation (notorious for their billboards comparing environmentalists with Charles Manson and the Unabomber). Let’s pass over the ICCC’s incestuous links (identical IP addresses!) with other notorious climate-change denial groups, and let’s choose to ignore Mr. Harris’ explicit advocacy of misinformation and confusion.

Instead, let’s just look at his advice. A measured call for “calmness” in the discussion of global climate change sounds ideal, doesn’t it? But Mr. Harris’ advice is profoundly wrong, for multiple reasons.

First: what Mr. Harris calls “calm” is simply an excuse for doing nothing — and given that the consequences of a runaway greenhouse effect go beyond garden-variety adjectives like “dire” and “terrifying,” that’s the last thing we need. Second: the science of climate change is as close to settled as it’s going to get; a recent study analyzed almost 34,000 peer-reviewed scientific papers on anthropogenic global warming and found only one out of every thousand rejected the prevailing climatological consensus. That’s not just a minority opinion; that’s statistical irrelevance.

Let’s use an analogy. After you find a suspicious lump, the biopsy results lead your doctor to recommend that you start therapy immediately. Getting a second and even a third opinion is wise. But if nine-hundred and ninety-nine oncologists call it cancer and advise treatment, “calm” inaction is no longer reasonable, but suicidal.

Warren Senders

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