Joe Romm has an excellent piece over on Salon taking on global warming deniers. It contains some good advice on ways not to feed denialist fires, specifically, when it comes to using terms like "consensus":
One of the most serious results of the overuse of the term "consensus" in the public discussion of global warming is that it creates a simple strategy for doubters to confuse the public, the press and politicians: Simply come up with as long a list as you can of scientists who dispute the theory. After all, such disagreement is prima facie proof that no consensus of opinion exists.
This is the sort of tactic we saw in December when James Inhofe's minions released a list of 400 "prominent scientists" who dispute claims about man-made climate change. A number of them were neither prominent nor scientists. Others actually only disagree about the specifics of the rate and impact of climate change -- not whether it's happening or man-made. But as Romm points out, it's not about "consensus of opinion" -- it's about data and science and scientific conclusions, and needs to be framed as such. And what that data shows is actually worse than the latest "consensus" reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
This reflects the progression we've seen in the global warming denier crowd. First, they said global warming wasn't happening. Then they acknowledged it was happening, but swore it wasn't man-made. Then they conceded it was happening and manmade, but doing something about it was just "too costly." And now that most Americans understand of how costly it would be to not take action on climate change, they've resorted to disputing whether scientists are actually in agreement on what's happening to the planet, and pulling out all kinds of bunk arguments to support that idea. Which is precisely why talking about it as "consensus" is problematic. They'll always be able to dig up some folks to disprove that everyone's agreed.
Romm's piece is especially appropriate this week, as the famed ExxonMobil and Philip Morris-lovers at the Heartland Institute bring together as many denialist schmucks as they can dig up for an International Conference on Climate Change in New York, with under the theme "Global Warming: Crisis or Scam?" The event is meant to solidify their denialist message and garner some good press, which they'll probably get. But any examination of the "luminaries" they've invited to speak shows how desperate their attempts at arguing against science have become. (Kevin Grandia is working on a reference list on the conference speakers.) I'd feel bad for them for cobbling together such a pitiful group, except for the fact that they'll probably get plenty of uncritical press out of the whole deal.
Those who live in glass houses....
The Green/Left specialization in attempted character assassination that we see exempified above would seem rather unwise. It invites retaliation. And retaliation is not difficult, as the background of some of their own people is not very inspiring of trust or of any confidence in impartiality. Tim Ball notes:
Kevin Grandia is the writer at Desmogblog which spends its time in personal attacks on people rather than discussing the issues. Despite this a recent article by Mike De Souza claimed Desmogblog was a climate blog. De Souza, although identified as a reporter for a newspaper provides a steady flow of articles in support of the David Suzuki Foundation and the work of Desmogblog.
The Blog itself was formed by James Hoggan owner of a public relations company that has as a client the David Suzuki Foundation and alternative energy companies including Ballard Fuel cells. If there is no conflict there consider that he is has been on the Board of the David Suzuki Foundation and is currently Chair.
Hoggan set up Desmogblog and hired Kevin Grandia to run the operation. Grandia was formerly an assistant to a Canadian Liberal Party Cabinet minister who lost his seat in the last election. Grandia was thus available. He will list the usual pieces of inaccuracy, innuendo and smears that typify his style and the site he runs, but then he has no choice because he cannot and will not debate the science.
And who is trying to muddy the climate debate? All I am seeking is a debate. It's the same as them calling me a climate change denier when my entire career has involved educating people to how much and how often climate changes.
And Iain Murray notes
Note this quote from the Desmogblog site:
The DeSmogBlog team is especially grateful to our benefactor John Lefebvre, a lawyer, internet entrepreneur and past-president of NETeller, a firm that has been providing secure online transactions since 1999. John has been outspoken, uncompromising and courageous in challenging those who would muddy the climate change debate, and he has enabled and inspired the same standard on the blog
Mr Lefebvre is a past President of NETeller because he is currently awaiting sentencing, having pled guilty to federal money-laundering charges. As it happens, I think the application of those laws to his activities were an example of government overreach, but can you imagine the outcry from the enviros if someone on our side was in the same situation?
But now that the Green/Left have lost "consensus" as an argument, abuse is all they have left as a way of reponding when the many gaping holes in the global warming theory are pointed out -- so abuse is what they will continue with, I guess. Honesty would be too much to expect -- JR
Posted by John Ray. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and for a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. Also, don't forget your handy-dandy summary of Obama news at OBAMOLOGY