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Opinion

Opinion

Treading lightly on environment

December 6, 2009

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A few years ago, we were in the midst of a typical Kansas summer — infernally hot, unbearably dry. Interpretation of this recurring phenomenon had changed, however, and it was viewed as irrefutable evidence of global warming caused by human activities.

“Hot enough yet?” asked a letter writer, who compared that summer’s heat to a biblical plague, warning that failure to act would condemn us to a fiery doom. By that logic, last summer’s freakish and wonderful coolness ought to foretell the coming of another Ice Age.

Stop! Wait! I am not a “denier.” I once made the mistake of poking fun at Al Gore’s apocalyptic climate change pronouncements and was treated as a heretic who deserved to be burned at the stake. I was subjected verbal waterboarding. People with no more scientific expertise than I have rained down curses upon me. Never in 20 years of column writing had I touched so hot a button or received such vitriolic response. I was cast out from enlightened society like a pariah dog.

Never again. Even though I argued that global warming seemed plausible and that human activities were obviously harmful to the environment, that got lost in the fury caused by my suggestion that Al, posing as a biblical prophet, exhibited the rigid certitude usually associated, not with science, but with religious fundamentalism.

Since then I have seen the light. These days I dress in sackcloth and carry a sign that proclaims, “Repent!” Like the Ancient Mariner, I stop people on the street, lecture them about the evils of the gasoline engine and warn them of catastrophe if they don’t change their ways. I communicate spiritually with Al Gore and applaud him for putting his money where his mouth is and investing in businesses that stand to profit from global warming fears.

So I hope that I won’t be suspected of recidivism if I do say that the evangelists of global warming have been strangely quiet after the cool summer we’ve just enjoyed. A few Thanksgivings ago, fearful New Yorkers predicted imminent extinction when the thermometer read 70 degrees in Central Park. A week later, they fell silent when the Big Apple was buried under 10 feet of snow. “One swallow does not make a summer,” a skeptic might say. Not I. Skepticism is blasphemy when the survival of the planet is at stake. A closed mind is the first line of defense.

Top climate scientists have recently been exposed for manipulating data and suppressing arguments that undermine their global warming views. I commend their dishonesty. Errors and even fabrications are acceptable if they serve a higher truth. Some “scientists” claim the earth has actually been cooling. Haven’t they heard: The debate is over! Doubtless their “research” was paid for by Exxon.

The makers of computer models that predict global warming have recently admitted that their models are imperfect. Will someone please tell those eggheads to stick to their models and stop undermining the attempts of politicians to get control of the world’s energy use?

You won’t find me shilly-shallying or paying attention to mere facts. A glacier could cover Douglas County tomorrow; it wouldn’t shake my belief that we are destined to go up in flames. But let’s put this debate in perspective. Does it really matter whether we end in fire or ice? Robert Frost answered that question nicely.

“I hold with those who favor fire,” he wrote. “But for destruction, ice is also great, and would suffice.”

Comments

Centerville 4 years, 4 months ago

Nothing scientific about refusing to share your data to let others try to duplicate and verify your findings. At this point, AGW doesn't even rank in standing as a theory. Joke's on anyone who bought into it.

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Bruce Springsteen 4 years, 4 months ago

George denies he is a denier. Then he claims to be a skeptic, which is what all armchair deniers do. Three years after he made a public clown of himself on this topic, he clearly hasn't learned one fact more than he had at his disposal then. He just wants to throw mud at the objectivity of Al Gore, even after I explained in detail (in this forum) virtually every point of Gore's arguments Gurley missed or misconstrued. He just repeats his silly Farmer's Almanac "common sense" folk science of the "I dunno, summer seemed pretty cool to me" kind, and his too cute labeling of the overwhelming consensus of mainstream scientific observation as closed-minded "fundamentalism." Nyah, nyah. George needs to step away from the keyboard and pick up a book -- a real science book, before he tries this gambit again.

You want to know what a real skeptic is, and how they evaluate facts? Read the views of former climate change doubter Michael Shermer, editor of "Skeptic" magazine and regular columnist for "Scientific American."

Like this, published a full month before Gurley's first fumbling bleat on the topic:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-flipping-point

And, parenthetically, the Journal-World desperately needs some serious science-savvy writers and editors, to "balance" the steady drumbeat of science deniers, ghost chasers, pet acupuncturists, anti-vaccination hysterics, and fan dancing religious gabblers who get such free, unskeptical play in their pages. Dolph Simons is alway jabbering about how this or that vacant leadership position in the public eye needs a "top-flight" person to fill the bill, a no-nonsense professional with real qualifications, etc, etc. When his own paper exemplifies that level of competent leadership in matters of skeptical, dig-deep reporting (not the phony skepticism of deniers and conspiracy theorists) and giving the public real expertise on real things, he'll be more than a hypocrite pointing at everyone else's lesser failings.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 4 months ago

"Stop! Wait! I am not a “denier.”"

Perhaps not, but amid all your straw man arguments here, I am left wondering what the point is of this piece of fluff.

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