Peter Gleick at the Pacific Institute penned a column at Forbes.com on Jan. 5 titled “The 2011 Climate B.S.* of The Year Awards.” The Heartland Institute was mentioned twice by name, which promted this reply by me with my own column space at Forbes.com
Gleick and I have now gone back and forth again in the comments. I encourage you to read it all, but here’s an excerpt of one of my comments that makes sense even without the full context.
After directing a full column to singling out scientists who disagree with him and attacking them (and many others) by name, Peter Gleick appears to have his feelings hurt that he is the “entire target” of my column responding to his attacks. I am sorry Peter, but I was actually empathizing with your pain and providing some reassuring truth that might make you feel better. I am sorry that the truth did not set you free.
Gleick says he cannot understand the “parallel universe” of facts and data that I presented that he says makes his “head explode.” Perhaps this is because the “parallel universe” in which I live is one where objective data trumps subjective opinion presented by uninformed or biased sources.
For example, Gleick applauds the “fine response” by an anonymous “cyruspinkerton.” And just what is the substance of what Gleick considers a “fine response”? Cyrus claims global warming must be a crisis because a large insurance corporation says natural disasters caused record economic damage last year. In other words, an anonymous person makes the remarkable claim that because a tsunami and earthquake devastated Japan last year, humans must be creating a global warming crisis. Really, are you serious?! And Peter Gleick finds this to be a “fine response”! Add this to the long list of reasons why Gleick cannot comprehend the “parallel universe” where objective data trumps subjective and ridiculous speculation.
Further in his post, the anonymous person produced a quote from an insurance industry spokesman using global warming as an excuse to charge customers higher premiums. When objective data show declining trends in tornado, hurricane and drought frequency, but an insurance industry spokesman nevertheless uses global warming myths as an excuse to charge its customers higher premiums, Gleick says giving credit to the industry spokesman’s financially self-serving comments while ignoring objective scientific data and peer-reviewed scientific studies is a “fine response.” No wonder Gleick considers objective scientific data a “parallel universe” that he says makes his head explode!
The anonymous person cites additional subjective speculation as well, presented by people with a long-term record of global warming activism, such as NOAA’s Tom Karl. Some NOAA scientists believe humans are causing a global warming crisis. Other NOAA scientists say humans are not causing a global warming crisis, even though much of NOAA’s funding is dependent upon the assertion that humans are indeed causing a global warming crisis. (Bravo for the brave NOAA scientists to stand up for truth even when it works against the financial interests at the federal funding trough!) So rather than citing the objective hurricane data, tornado data, and data-intensive peer-reviewed drought studies I cited in my column, Scientific American, the Guardian and Voice of America quote long-term global warming advocates predictably blaming anything and everything on global warming. Heck, why not just quote Al Gore while you are at it? But then again, this is what we should expect when an anonymous person and Peter Gleick appeal to the “scientific authority” of the media rather than the scientific authority of objective facts and data.
Heck, even NOAA’s “Climate Scene Investigators” (which is itself run by long-term global warming activists) has debunked many of the asserted links between global warming and extreme weather events claimed by the anonymous person and Gleick. See, for example, http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/02/21/noaas-csi-explains-record-snows-global-warming-not-involved/ and http://www.dailycamera.com/news/ci_18028717 .
Gleick also further reveals his deceitfulness or ignorance (take your choice) by making the straw-man argument that 97-98 percent of scientists say the planet has warmed and human activity is one of the factors. Let me answer the survey questions myself:
Q1. “When compared with pre-1800s levels [i.e., the Little Ice Age], do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?”
James Taylor Answer: Risen
Q2. “Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?”
James Taylor Answer: Yes
I am the 98 percent! So are nearly all of the global warming “skeptics” that Gleick rants about.
Yet these two banal questions do not even remotely address the far more important and central question of whether or not humans are causing a global warming crisis. The mere fact that humans are likely responsible for some of the warming that has lifted the earth out of the Little Ice Age does not necessarily mean that climate Armageddon is at hand. For those who believe otherwise, please do some research on the strikingly negative climate consequences of the Little Ice Age and the striking beneficial climate consequences of the Medieval Warm Period and the Roman Climate Optimum.
Gleick either knows or should know that most global warming “skeptics” believe the earth has warmed since the Little Ice Age and that human activity is a partial cause. By erroneously claiming that these two banal questions define the split between “alarmists” and “skeptics,” Gleick reveals his deceitfulness or ignorance on the core issues that divide “alarmists” and “skeptics.”
Finally, Gleick asks for the Heartland Institute to publicly reveal all the names of its donors. The Heartland Institute used to do so, while similarly appealing to other groups to do the same. However, environmental activists and other extremist groups used the information to launch a campaign of personal harassment against Heartland Institute donors while simultaneously refusing to release the names of their own donors. It is funny how Gleick rants against the alleged harassment of Katharine Hayhoe yet remains silent about the harassment of people who disagree with him. This further reveals Gleick’s appalling lack of objectivity, as does Gleick’s call for the Heartland Institute to release the names of its donors while ignoring the fact that the vast majority of global warming activist groups have been far less transparent than the Heartland Institute.
Of course, Gleick’s attempts to make Heartland Institute funding an issue while ignoring the less transparent funding reports of global warming activist groups with 10, 20, or even 80 times the funding of the Heartland Institute is a tired and sad tactic used by global warming alarmists who try desperately to take attention away from scientific facts and objective scientific data. I can see why Gleick views these scientific facts and objective data as a “parallel universe” that makes his “head spin.”