Global Warming and the Anti-Science Right

The report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change presents the current scientific consensus on climate change and global warming finding the evidence for it is “unequivocal” and that human activity is the main cause. Some people have a vested interest in denying the science and they are scrambling for ways to get people to ignore the scientific findings. I previously noted the attempt by a right wing think tank with ties to the oil industry to circumvent the normal peer review process and bribe scientists to dispute the findings. If they can’t get enough scientists to go along, The American Thinker presents a creative but specious attack for a different direction.

While the argument is totally devoid of rationality, it is worth mentioning both for its creativity and for the total lack of understanding of science frequently characterizes the right wing. They try role reversal, attempting to characterize those who believe in global warming as the religious fanatics. They argue that religion is hard wired into our brains, and that when religious belief is “subverted” it is replaced by something else, playing to the conservative belief that only tree-hugging liberals, all of whom in their viewpoint are anti-religion, believe in global warming. From here they argue that environmentalism is a pseudo-religion, and that all religion must have an apocalypse, such as the dire predictions of global warming, as they project their intellectual shortcomings on others.

The fallacy here is that I don’t “believe” in global warming in the sense that people “believe” in various religious teachings without evidence. Matters of science are not based upon an individual’s personal beliefs. Instead I accept the scientific method and the conclusions reached when it is used. I believe in global warming because this represents the consensus of scientific belief. While religious beliefs are not subject to refutation, opinions based upon science are. Should other evidence (in peer reviewed publications–not opinions obtained with bribes) show otherwise I have no aversion to changing my view on global warming. I would prefer that the problems predicted by global warming not occur, but we cannot ignore the consequences because we would prefer that they not be real.

If scientific predictions based upon the belief in global warming should turn out to be erroneous then the idea will need to either be revised or thrown out. In contrast, those who do not believe in global warming do so for reasons unrelated to science, and therefore no amount of evidence, such as that which has been presented in the IPCC report, will change their minds. It is the people who disbelieve in global warming who are actually exhibiting pseudo-religious beliefs, not those who accept the scientific findings.

Such anti-scientific belief is seen in many areas on the right, including their belief in intelligent design over evolution, disbelief in geology when it conflicts with biblical predictions as to the age of the earth (including claims that the Grand Canyon was created in the biblical flood as opposed to by geological forces), and claims of fetal pain before this is biologically possible to support their opposition to abortion.

Even the Bush White House is no longer willing to go along with the right wing fanatics in disputing the scientific evidence for global warming as is seen in this White House statement:

“This Summary for Policymakers captures and summarizes the current state of climate science research and will serve as a valuable source of information for policymakers,” said Dr. Sharon Hays, the leader of the U.S. delegation at the meeting and Associate Director/Deputy Director for Science at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. “It reflects the sizeable and robust body of knowledge regarding the physical science of climate change, including the finding that the Earth is warming and that human activities have very likely caused most of the warming of the last 50 years.”

When George Bush’s White House has abandoned a right wing idea all that is left is the lunatic fringe.

SciFi Friday

The newly remastered version of Journey to Babel airs tomorrow, and those who have seen the new portions say they are impressive. A list of affiliates carrying the remastered episodes of Star Trek is available here. The episode schedule is available here. The enhanced versions are scheduled for release on HD-DVD at the end of this year.

Chris Doohan, son of James Doohan has a suggestion for the casting of his father’s old character Scotty in Star Trek XI–himself. On his Myspace page he writes:

I just found out that they are going to make a new Star Trek Movie and are currently looking for a 30 something actor to play the role of , Scotty (yes, I’m a bit older :). They already signed Matt Damon for the role of Capt. Kirk and are considering James McAvoy as Scotty, but have not made the final decision yet.

They are not looking to fill ALL the spots with known actors, so I thought that maybe I would give it a try. Here’s why. 1.I kind of look like my Dad. 2. I can do a great scottish accent. 3. We share the last name. 4. I like money. 🙂 I didn’t know how to try out for this, or get an audition, so a friend in the business said that someone should start a write-in campaign and get a bunch of my friends to write to Paramount studios and J.J. Abrams (the producer) to try and persuade him/them to give me a try. Even if the role of Scotty has been taken, a small walk-on role would be fun.

Daybreak was pulled from ABC’s schedule before concluding the series. Four unaired episodes, in addition to the previous episodes, have been placed on line at ABC’s web site. Click here, and then click on Launch Now for a listing of ABC shows available.

Tim Kring has provided some information on Heroes at SciFi Wire. The current story arc involving predictions of a nuclear detonation in New York will be resolved and the season will end with a cliff hanger to set up season two. “Save the cheerleader, save the word” remains one of the top searches to reach here. I suspect that the new tag line, “are you on the list” might not catch on as well. There’s just something about both cheerleaders and the fate of the world that made the tag line for the first half of the season more compelling.

Trek Today reports on a TV Guide interview with George Takai about his work on Heroes, which includes information on the plans for the second season:

“I’m a big fan of Heroes,” Takei said. “I like to think we blazed a trail for it. Like Gene Roddenberry’s vision for Star Trek, Heroes tackles the big themes with a very diverse, multiethnic cast of characters.” But unlike Star Trek, which was cancelled after three years on NBC in the 1960s, “Heroes does something we never did — it gets great ratings!”

Takei explains that his character is extremely wealthy and wants Hiro to return to Japan to work as the industrial leader that his father has become. “Hiro has mysteriously vanished to the United States, and that is intolerable!” Takei explained. “My character is very old school and believes in learning the business from the bottom up. He was brought up that way by his father, and he wants his son raised that way, too.” This is why Hiro worked in a cubicle before he discovered his time-bending powers, even though he will likely inherit a fortune.

Heroes creator Tim Kring told Logan that the elder Nakamura opened a major story arc for the series’ next season, which will explore Hiro’s family background. “Isn’t that tantalizing?” asked Takei, noting that the Nakamura dynasty stretches far into the past: “In ancient times we were in the shogun class…only samurai were allowed to carry swords, and the upper echelon had the best of the swords, so therefore they became heirlooms.” Takei believes it is possible that the legendary sword for which Hiro is seeking may connect to his family, which pleases Takei, who has a “legendary samurai” in his own family tree.

As noted yesterday, the final installment in the Harry Potter series has been announced for release on July 21.

Brazile Predicts Gore Might Enter Race

I heard Donna Brazile on NPR recently saying that she did not believe that Gore was running. (As she was saying the same as Gore, I didn’t consider that newsworthy so I didn’t keep an exact quote or link.) I now find it interesting that she is now raising the possibility that Gore might run:

His former campaign manager, Donna Brazile, strongly implied that possibility while speaking at Moravian College in Bethlehem Tuesday night.

”Wait till Oscar night,” Brazile told an audience of about 100 people at Haupert Student Union. ”I tell people: ‘I’m dating. I haven’t fallen in love yet.’ On Oscar night, if Al Gore has slimmed down 25 or 30 pounds, Lord knows.”

Brazile was also asked about this after the speech:

”I believe [Gore] is ready for this moment,” Brazile said in an interview after her speech. ”He is a good leader. I think he can be one of the few leaders who can bring this country together.”

She acknowledged it will be a tough decision for Gore, noting Kerry’s announcement last week to bow out of the race. Gore believes he is now doing his life’s work, Brazile said. However, she conceded that Gore might be able to do more about global climate change from inside the Oval Office. He has already made an impact by forcing President Bush to talk about the issue, she said.

If an Oscar win would give Gore momentum towards a run, the Nobel Peace Prize might do even more. Gore has the name recognition and support to wait until October to get into the race if he desires. If Gore runs for President, will conservatives attempt to repeat yesterday’s farce and get Rush Limbaugh to also enter the race?

Limbaugh vs. Gore for Nobel Peace Prize

Sometimes the news is so funny that all we need to do is report it to get a good laugh. This week we have had two such stories. First there was this one, and now there is the report that the Landmark Legal Foundation has nominated Rush Limbaugh for the Nobel Peace Prize. From their press release, posted here for its comic value:

Limbaugh, whose daily radio show is heard by more than 20 million people on more than 600 radio stations in the United States and around the world, was nominated for the prestigious award for his “nearly two decades of tireless efforts to promote liberty, equality and opportunity for all humankind, regardless of race, creed, economic stratum or national origin. These are the only real cornerstones of just and lasting peace throughout the world,” said Landmark President Mark R. Levin.

“Rush Limbaugh is the foremost advocate for freedom and democracy in the world today,” explained Levin. “Everyday he gives voice to the values of democratic governance, individual opportunity and the just, equal application of the rule of law — and it is fitting that the Nobel Committee recognize the power of these ideals to build a truly peaceful world for future generations.”

Rush Limbaugh winning the Nobel Peace Prize and being called an “advocate for freedom and democracy?” Only on the Bizarro World. While Limbaugh might actually win the Nobel Peace Prize on the Bizarro World, his chances here on earth are poor compared to those of Al Gore, who is seen as a possible winner. The nomination by itself means little. Last year there were 190 nominees for the award, and probably none who deserved it less than Rush Limbaugh.

Paul Krugman on Missing Molly Ivins

Paul Krugman on Molly Ivins:

Molly never lost sight of two eternal truths: rulers lie, and the times when people are most afraid to challenge authority are also the times when it’s most important to do just that. And the fact that she remembered these truths explains something I haven’t seen pointed out in any of the tributes: her extraordinary prescience on the central political issue of our time.

I’ve been going through Molly’s columns from 2002 and 2003, the period when most of the wise men of the press cheered as Our Leader took us to war on false pretenses, then dismissed as “Bush haters” anyone who complained about the absence of W.M.D. or warned that the victory celebrations were premature. Here are a few selections:

Nov. 19, 2002: “The greatest risk for us in invading Iraq is probably not war itself, so much as: What happens after we win? … There is a batty degree of triumphalism loose in this country right now.”

Jan. 16, 2003: “I assume we can defeat Hussein without great cost to our side (God forgive me if that is hubris). The problem is what happens after we win. The country is 20 percent Kurd, 20 percent Sunni and 60 percent Shiite. Can you say, ‘Horrible three-way civil war?’ ”

July 14, 2003: “I opposed the war in Iraq because I thought it would lead to the peace from hell, but I’d rather not see my prediction come true and I don’t think we have much time left to avert it. That the occupation is not going well is apparent to everyone but Donald Rumsfeld. … We don’t need people with credentials as right-wing ideologues and corporate privatizers — we need people who know how to fix water and power plants.”

Oct. 7, 2003: “Good thing we won the war, because the peace sure looks like a quagmire. …

“I’ve got an even-money bet out that says more Americans will be killed in the peace than in the war, and more Iraqis will be killed by Americans in the peace than in the war. Not the first time I’ve had a bet out that I hoped I’d lose.”

So Molly Ivins — who didn’t mingle with the great and famous, didn’t have sources high in the administration, and never claimed special expertise on national security or the Middle East — got almost everything right. Meanwhile, how did those who did have all those credentials do?

With very few exceptions, they got everything wrong. They bought the obviously cooked case for war — or found their own reasons to endorse the invasion. They didn’t see the folly of the venture, which was almost as obvious in prospect as it is with the benefit of hindsight. And they took years to realize that everything we were being told about progress in Iraq was a lie.

Oil Companies Attempt to Bribe Scientists to Dispute Global Warming Report

If you are in an industry which would be harmed by action to reduce global warming the first thing you do is to try to cast doubt upon the science. There’s plenty of right wing writers and bloggers who are perfectly willing to write what is politically expedient for them. After all, conservatives never allow facts to get in the way of ideology, and worship of big business is a central part of their religion.

The problem with this strategy is that the scientific evidence has become so overwhelming that fewer and fewer people are listening to those who disagree. Al Gore, once considered boring, is now exciting when he warns about global warming. Even George Bush is showing signs of backing away from his earlier total denial. Time for a new strategy. If the scientists say global warming is a concern, buy your own scientists to say the opposite.The Guardian reports on an attempt of by the American Enterprise Institute to pay off scientists to dispute a major climate report:

Scientists and economists have been offered $10,000 each by a lobby group funded by one of the world’s largest oil companies to undermine a major climate change report due to be published today.

Letters sent by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), an ExxonMobil-funded thinktank with close links to the Bush administration, offered the payments for articles that emphasise the shortcomings of a report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Travel expenses and additional payments were also offered.

The UN report was written by international experts and is widely regarded as the most comprehensive review yet of climate change science. It will underpin international negotiations on new emissions targets to succeed the Kyoto agreement, the first phase of which expires in 2012. World governments were given a draft last year and invited to comment.

The AEI has received more than $1.6m from ExxonMobil and more than 20 of its staff have worked as consultants to the Bush administration. Lee Raymond, a former head of ExxonMobil, is the vice-chairman of AEI’s board of trustees.

The letters, sent to scientists in Britain, the US and elsewhere, attack the UN’s panel as “resistant to reasonable criticism and dissent and prone to summary conclusions that are poorly supported by the analytical work” and ask for essays that “thoughtfully explore the limitations of climate model outputs”.

Climate scientists described the move yesterday as an attempt to cast doubt over the “overwhelming scientific evidence” on global warming. “It’s a desperate attempt by an organisation who wants to distort science for their own political aims,” said David Viner of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.

“The IPCC process is probably the most thorough and open review undertaken in any discipline. This undermines the confidence of the public in the scientific community and the ability of governments to take on sound scientific advice,” he said.