Saturday, June 01, 2013


Alterman Cleaves to the Alarmist Talking Points

I first realized that über-leftie Eric Alterman could not be trusted to stand strong for the truth during his last segment on talk radio's The Mike Rosen Show about 10 years ago. Mike Rosen was asking him the hard questions Mike is wont to do but he was not being rude to Mr. Alterman or going ad hominem on him when suddenly Alterman got incensed and hung up on Mike saying, "Why did I expect anything different from right wing radio?"

So it is in that light that I read his recent pompous drivel about Alarmist Anthropogenic Global Warming titled, Blame News for Public's Ignorance about Climate. Here are some thoughts on its contents.

Alterman writes about the Cook/Nuccitelli "study" which claimed to find 97% concurrence about Alarmist Anthropogenic Global Warming among climate scientists although only 32.6% of the articles cited actually showed support for it. So that well debunked study is, for Alterman, the truth and everyone who opposes it can be easily ignored as a product of just so much right wing radio propaganda. For a political wing which lauds itself for supposed independent, critical thinking and questioning authority, the left too often relies on argumentum ad verecundiam (argument from authority) as their main support for what they believe. We cave-dwelling rubes on the right actually think differently. Consensus has nothing to do with science; indeed, it is anti-scientific. 97% can say something is true and all be dead wrong. Before Copernicus, for example, the scientific consensus was that the Earth was the center of the Universe and everything else, the stars, sun, moon, and planets revolved around it. Seems a pretty quaint belief now. More recently, we boomers actually observed a now central geological belief go from 97% of scientists believing it was dead wrong to 97% believing it was dead on, in little more than a decade (floating continents). From his broadly falacious start, Alterman descends.

I’ve written in the past on the myriad components of purposeful climate illiteracy in the media. Many U.S. meteorologists, for instance, who have no particular expertise in climatology, play the role of climate deniers to the general public in part because, according to meteorologist and writer Bob Henson, “There is a little bit of elitist-versus-populist tensions.” He explains, “There are meteorologists who feel, ‘Just because I have a bachelor’s degree doesn’t mean I don’t know what’s going on.’”
Using argumentum ad verecundiam, I would counter that meteorologists probably know more about climatology than Mr. Alterman. To the left, who overwhelmingly have a near religious faith in the truth of Alarmist Anthropogenic Global Warming, only an elite know the truth and everyone who disagrees has a character flaw of one sort of another. (It is a very tedious position, almost as meaningless as the race card has become). But aren't we Republican knuckle-draggers merely using independent, critical thinking and questioning authority? Moving on.

Alas, researchers at George Mason University found that more than a quarter of television weathercasters agree with the statement “Global warming is a scam,” and nearly two-thirds believe that if warming is occurring, it is caused “mostly by natural changes.” But even the American Meteorological Society has stated that warming is occurring, and that human activities are very likely the cause. Unfortunately,according to The New York Times, researchers at Yale and George Mason found that 56 percent of Americans trusted weathercasters to tell them about global warming far more than they trusted other news media.
So the media weathercasters generally disagree with the central authority. They must be wrong. (I did tell you it was tedious to hear the authority fallacy and ad hominem argument again and again).
Even PBS is in the misinformation business and has been criticized by its ombudsman, Michael Getler, who observed that the network “stumbled badly” when it broadcast a segment on “PBS NewsHour” that sought to create “an artificial or false equivalence” between global warming “skeptics” and “believers.”
So the authority figure at PBS has spoken and covering Global Warming Climate Change fairly (that is, presenting both sides) is creating an artificial and false equivalence between supporters of a theory and those who do not believe it. The authority has spoken! The so called consensus is right and everything counter to it is false, unworthy of even a mention. But let's get a little to the merits of the thesis and its antithesis.

One has to go back all the way to 1984—the height of former President Ronald Reagan’s reheated Cold War—to find a debate season where global environmental threats received so little attention. What’s more, this refusal to bring up the man-made climate threat was occurring, as Richardson noted, as millions of Americans found themselves threatened by “rising sea levels and more wildfire outbreaks, starving our agricultural base with increasingly severe droughts, and killing our citizens in an epidemic of extreme heat waves.” When asked about the absence of the topic from the town-hall debate, CNN’s Candy Crowley explained it in this way: “Climate change, I had that question. … All you climate change people. We just, you know, again, we knew that the economy was still the main thing.”

I can't let Alterman's false revisionism stand unchallenged. In 1984 Ronald Reagan and others were entering the endgame of a near 40 year struggle which extirpated the threat of nuclear war (megadeaths and the end of civilization as we knew it) by the destruction of the evil empire of the USSR. Still seems more important to me than any other issue at the time. Back to Global Warming Climate Change. I've often thought that the change in the name of the problem was a sign of victory. The properly skeptical right wing, still clinging to the scientific method, caused the Alarmists to abandon the words that accurately described what they believed (AGW) and to adopt a generic, non-threatening title which hid their continued belief in AGW. The fact which caused the name change was the near two decades of no warming. I also look on the recent change by the True Believers to focus now on "extreme weather" as another win for the good guys. The bland Climate Change is real (but natural and not threatening), so they have to make up lies about an increase in weather extremes which simply does not exist. These lies are easily disproved. Alterman fell right in.

Sea level is nearly always rising during an interglacial and when it reverses and starts to fall consistently, then we have left the naturally occurring interglacial and entered another ice age. In the last 140 years, sea level has risen about 9 inches and there is not even the slightest hint that the 2 to 3mm/yr rate is accelerating. Wildfire and forest fire outbreaks in America and Canada have fallen in the past 40 years. Droughts in America have decreased in severity and length since the dustbowl 80 years ago. Rather than an epidemic of "extreme heat waves" global temperatures have stabilized over the past two decades and have in fact gone down in the past decade (despite the True Believer's "adjustment" to the temperature record).

In sum, it is the wort sort of projection for the left to call "ignorant" the scientifically sound skeptics. I see it as the right merely rejecting the left's newest apocalyptic vision. Alterman knows next to nothing about climate but believes everything the left preaches about Alarmist Anthropogenic Global Warming. Who's ignorant there?


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