Friday, February 29, 2008

Tom Pelton is a Reporter, Isn't He?

Tom Pelton, the Baltimore Sun’s environmental activist/reporter, ignited a huge straw man on the Sun’s Bay and Environment blog. Pelton’s straw man is the Maryland Business for Responsive Government’s referral of reporters to the Oregon Institute for Science and Medicine’s petition of 19,000 scientists claiming

There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide,methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate.

Pelton ably slays this man of straw:

But what the press release doesn't say is that this petition was circulated a decade ago... Nor does the press release reveal that this petition came from a fringe group called the Oregon Institute for Science and Medicine, which has been criticized by mainstream scientists.

What is the Oregon Group? Source Watch, an online information service provided by the nonprofit Center for Media and Democracy, describes the Oregon Group as "a small research institute that studies biochemistry, diagnostic medicine, nutrition, preventive medicine and the molecular biology of aging.

It is headed by... an eccentric scientist who has a long history of controversial entanglements with figures on the fringe of accepted research. OISM also markets a home-schooling kit for 'parents concerned about socialism in the public schools' and publishes books on how to survive nuclear war."

None of the eight faculty members listed on the Oregon Institute's website are climate scientists. Six are chemists, one is an electrical engineer and another is a professor of medicine.

Nice job Tom, you have revealed MBRG’s use of a discredited organization, a thousand huzzahs for you.

However, all this proves is that Rocky Worcester needs to a better job on his homework. MBRG could have cited other scientists like Richard Lindzen, Don Easterbrook, or Roy Spencer who are skeptical of the theory of anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Counting heads is not a line argument skeptics of AGW should get into because it does not really prove anything. As I will show later, this is a problem for the alarmists and their “2,500 scientists” as well.

Pelton offers up his own good old-fashioned cow dung.

Let us start with the “non-partisan” Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). Technically, Pelton is correct when he labels CMD as nonpartisan. However, it is a distinction without a difference. The Center for Media and Democracy is an unabashed left wing media advocacy group. CMD receives funding from left wing foundations such as Rockefeller and Tides foundations. When avowed leftists like Amy Goodman, Bill Moyers, and Erich Schlosser offer testimonials on its behalf, you know the organization is decidedly partisan.

Tom Pelton is a reporter, isn’t he?

Pelton predictably goes on to cite the IPCC and the “real consensus” among scientists

The real consensus of scientists is not reflected by the Oregon Institute. It is reflected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international scientific organization with more than 2,500 scientists from 130 countries that recently won the Nobel Prize.
A year ago, the Intergovernmental Panel concluded it was more than 90 percent sure - having "very high confidence" - that global warming is being caused by human industry.
In November, the IPCC issued another report that went even farther, saying: "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level.... There is very high confidence that the net effect of human activities since 1750 has been one of warming."

I guess Tom did not know that the IPCC won the Nobel PEACE prize, which is NOT a SCIENTIFIC category. Also, the IPCC report he links to is not the actual IPCC report, rather it is the Summary for Policy Makers (SPM) of its Synthesis Report (SR), which is a political document written by bureaucrats. The SPM downplays uncertainties from the main scientific report, omits contrary evidence, and in many ways disagrees with the underlying scientific report.

An analysis of the IPCC Working Group I peer-review process (the actual scientific report) by the Science and Public Policy Institute revealed:

The critical chapter, that which attributed recent warming to human activity, was reviewed by 54 individual and 8 government representatives but almost 1/3rd of reviewers made just one comment.
- 31 of the 54 had a vested interest in the report, as editors or having papers cited
- 26 authored or co-authored papers cited in the final draft
- 10 reviewers explicitly mentioned their own papers in their review

Among the 23 independent reviewers just 4 explicitly endorsed the chapter with its hypothesis of a significant human influence on climate, and one other endorsed only a specific section.

The reviewers' comments show that is actually little support for the IPPC's contention that anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide have caused warming.

The IPCC reports appear to be largely based on a consensus of scientific papers, but those papers are the product of research for which the funding is strongly influenced by previous IPCC reports. This makes the claim of a human influence self perpetuating and a corruption of the normal scientific process.

Tom Pelton is a reporter isn’t he?

Pelton cites Naomi Oreskes systematic review, in which, “more than 900 peer-reviewed articles on climate change published between 1993 and 2003 found that not a single one challenged the fact that human industry is playing a role in global warming.”

Perhaps Pelton is unaware that Oreskes study has been thoroughly debunked and discredited. He might have known that if he bothered to read the comments on his own blog post.

Tom Pelton is a reporter isn’t he?

Pelton then turns to another lame, but yet again predictable alarmist ploy.
In his book, The Weather Makers, author Tim Flannery described a well funded propaganda effort by industry lobbying groups to try to convince journalists and the public that scientists are still debating whether global warming is real. That debate is over, but many in the public doesn't know it yet because of doubt manufactured by industries with billions at stake in avoiding regulation,

Flannery writes. "The industries who oppose action on climate change are little different from the asbestos and tobacco companies, who by constantly challenging and clouding the outcomes of research into the link between their products and cancer seek to buy themselves a few more decades of fat profits," Flannery writes.

This is laughable for two reasons. First, alarmists receive BILLIONS of dollars in funding versus the millions that skeptics receive from “industry” lobbying groups.

Second, it is hypocritical of Pelton to argue that skeptics are funded by industry lobbyists when General Electric, which possess the largest lobbying army in Washington spent 118.4 million from 1998-2005 (24.2 million in 2005 alone), pushing hard for various climate change legislation so it can benefit from government subsidies and mandates. GE, by the way, snatched up all of Enron’s alternative energy interests at it went belly-up in 2001. Enron was the chief lobbyist on the Clinton administration to sign the Kyoto treaty because according to an internal Enron email it “would be good for Enron stock.”

Tom Pelton is a reporter isn’t he?

Pelton says

So for anyone to claim these days that global warming is not a reality --as some AM radio talk show hosts and business groups do -- is clearly outside the scientific and political mainstream.

Curious that he does not name the aforementioned radio talk show hosts or business groups that deny that global warming is reality. Given the overall disingenuousness of Pelton’s post, this is not surprising.

No serious skeptic denies that the earth has warmed or that climate changes. What we are skeptical of is the smoke and mirrors “consensus” on the theory of AGW, and the economy crushing and freedom denying ramifications of alarmist policy prescriptions.

However, this position is not what Pelton challenges rather he attacks straw men and arguments no one made. Alarmists like Pelton, know they are losing traction on both the scientific and political fronts. This is why they to burning straw men, recycling discredited studies, and using the “well-funded” industry-stooge slur against skeptics. Many in the general-public are not buying the theory of AGW, and understand the drastic effects alarmist policy prescriptions will have on the economy.

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