Thursday, February 19, 2009

Weather Network Founder Says 'Don't Believe Climate Change'

MSN is linking to this story today. It tells how John Coleman a 'founding father' of the Weather Network is on a crusade against global warming hype:

If you consume mainstream media, odds are you’re not hearing much debate about
climate change these days. We’re told the debate is effectively over. Scientists say so, too. It’s our consumption that continues to ruin our planet’s environmental health, so there’s no longer time to debate—it’s time to act.

Every time we do anything, like flip on a light switch or charge an iPod or turn on the A/C, we’re contributing to the release of greenhouse gases, and so the oceans rise and that’s a problem for the polar bears and, well, you know—something like that. It may be difficult to explain, but we know the state of the environment is bad. Most recently, in fact, we were told that the effects of man-made climate change are all but irreversible.

John Coleman has dedicated his life to studying weather and the science that creates it—so shouldn’t we at least hear him out?

So, yes, the debate is over. And yet for some reason, somewhere outside the fray, the weather sage John Coleman decided it shouldn’t be. That we’d been hoodwinked. That it was still worth talking about. So a year and a half ago, determined he’d heard enough of the noise and the Al Gore and the polar bears, he threw his voice into the conversation.

When Coleman posted his first climate change brief online, he was surprised by the attention it got. “I thought I was the only one,” he says. “I started finding that there were plenty of people out there, it’s just that the media was ignoring them and the place to find them was on these little corners of the internet.” In May, 2008, an organization called the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine released a petition at the National Press Club, with the signatures of 31,000 scientists rejecting the U.N. consensus of man-made climate change. Nine thousand of the names reportedly belong to Ph.Ds.

31,000 scientists, 9,000 Ph.Ds. signed the statement. It just goes to show again that intelligent people can differ. Later on in the article Coleman's comments get really interesting:

“Gradually there’s this build-up, this hysteria about global warming,” he says. “The Al Gore book comes out. The Al Gore movie comes out and starts winning awards. The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change gets headline news status and starts issuing its predictions. The media is clamoring aboard and the next thing I know, it’s headline news every day, everywhere. And I’ve been studying it, reading stuff, and looking at it, and can’t figure out what the heck they’re talking about.”

What “they” are talking about, and we have heard much about is that climate change is one of greatest challenges we face in our lifetime and that humankind is generally fucking up everything imaginable involving air, water, and land. John Coleman says it’s perpetrated by the media. . .

“You’ve got Al Gore. You’ve got the environmentalists. And then all the networks come aboard, because they love gloom and doom, the-end-is-near,” he says. “From Y2K to killer bees—God, give us something to tell people their lives are coming to an end—cancer scare, HIV, whatever we’ve got—let’s go, Man, scare the hell out of people,” he says. “This is awful. Shame on them, scaring people. That’s deplorable.”

He's right about that it really is deplorable the number of times in the last 20 years that our society has been taken in by a doom and gloom story hook, line and sinker. From my perspective, the next few paragraphs neatly sum up the debate about climate change.

“Have temperatures gone up? No. Is global warming sweeping the planet? No. Is the ice melting at the poles? No. Is there any proof that it’s creating significant impact? No. Can you produce a computer model that predicts that it will? Oh yeah, anyone can manipulate a computer model, and they have.”

Of course, the prevailing wisdom is that yes, temperatures have gone up, that ice is melting, and that the scientists assessing climate data aren’t doing so with malicious intent. Attempting to debunk those who are attempting to debunk climate change, as it turns out, is complicated.

To get some sort of definitive explanation, I talked to Kerry Emmanuel, who is a professor of Atmospheric Science at M.I.T. He agrees with Al Gore that the debate is over (although he does think the movie has some “scientific flaws”). “I would not take anything that John Coleman says too seriously,” Emmanuel tells me. Emmanuel says he could relatively quickly give me a “good feeling for the evidence.” But, he says, to bring me up to speed on the physics behind the greenhouse effect, “you’d have to take a semester class.” On top of that, he says, “The models are even difficult for the professionals to understand.” So the problem, as Emmanuel presents it, is that scientists often expect the general public to accept conclusion “as an article of faith” because the explanation can be so intricate and difficult to communicate. "Therein lies a problem,” says Emmanuel. “You have to take my word for that.”

And you see that's the thing Mr Emmanuel, I won't just take your word on that. It's your job to convince me, and so far nobody has done that.

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