Update: My post on breaking news about downward revisions to US temperature numbers is here.
Well, I finally read Newsweek's long ad hominem attack on climate skeptics in the recent issue. It is basically yet another take on the global-warming-skeptics-are-all-funded-by-Exxon meme. The authors breathlessly "follow the money to show how certain scientists have taken as much as $10,000 (gasp) from fossil-fuel related companies to publish skeptical work. Further, despite years of hand-wringing about using emotionally charged words like "terrorist" in their news articles, Newsweek happily latches onto "denier" as a label for skeptics, a word chosen to parallel the term "Holocaust denier" -- nope, no emotional content there.
I'm not even going to get into it again, except to make the same observation I have made in the past: Arguing that the global warming debate is "tainted" by money from skeptics is like saying the 2008 presidential election is tainted by Mike Gravel's spending. Money from skeptics is so trivial, by orders of magnitude, compared to spending by catastrophic warming believers that it is absolutely amazing folks like Newsweek could feel so threatened by it. In my Layman's Guide To Man-Made Global Warming Skepticism, I estimated skeptics were being outspent 1000:1. I have no way to check his figures, but Senator Inhofe's office estimated skeptics were being outspent $50 billion to 19 million, which is about the same order of magnitude as my estimate.
Given this skew in spending, and the fact that most of the major media accepts catastrophic man-made global warming as a given, this was incredible:
Look for the next round of debate to center on what Americans are
willing to pay and do to stave off the worst of global warming. So far
the answer seems to be, not much. The NEWSWEEK Poll finds less than half in favor of requiring high-mileage cars or energy-efficient appliances and buildings....
Although the figure is less than in earlier polls, A new NEWSWEEK Poll finds that the influence of the denial machine remains strong.39
percent of those asked say there is "a lot of disagreement among
climate scientists" on the basic question of whether the planet is
warming; 42 percent say there is a lot of disagreement that human
activities are a major cause of global warming. Only 46 percent say the
greenhouse effect is being felt today.
It has to be the "denial machine" at fault, right? I can't possibly be because Americans think for themselves, or that they tend to reject micro-managing government regulations. The author sounds so much like an exasperated parent "I kept telling my kids what's good for them and they just don't listen."
Yes, I could easily turn the tables here, and talk about the financial incentives in academia for producing headlines-grabbing results, or discuss the political motivations behind Marxist groups who have latched onto man-made global warming for their own ends. But this does not really solve the interesting science questions, and ignores the fact that many catastrophic climate change believers are well meaning and thoughtful, just as many skeptics are. The article did not even take the opportunity to thoughtfully discuss the range of skeptic's positions. Some reject warming entirely, while others, like myself, recognize the impact man can have on climate, but see man's impact being well below catastrophic levels (explained here in 60 seconds). Anyway, I don't have the energy to fisk it piece by piece, but Noel Sheppard does.
For those of you who are interested, I have a follow-up post on the science itself, which is so much more interesting that this garbage. I use as a starting point the Newsweek author's throwaway statement that she felt required no proof, "The frequency of Atlantic hurricanes has already doubled in the last century." (Hint: the answer turns out to be closer to +5% than +100%)