I watched PBS Frontline earlier tonight, and I wrote the following, and sent it to Frontline comments and the PBS ombudsman.
Being in general conservative, I rarely watch Frontline, as your progressive views offend me, but I heard via Mr. Anthony Watts’ blog of the “Climate of Doubt” episode. I expected a one-sided hit piece. You even exceeded my low expectations. Have you no fact checkers? Could you not review the “97%” claim and read the shoddy paper from which it came? Did any of you read any of the Climategate emails? Do you not realize how impossible it is for the release to have been accomplished by an outsider? We normally hold whistleblowers up as heroes. Have you no one who might look into the facts of history for “funding” of skeptical views on the “science” of global warming? Could you not find the records that compare the billions of dollars funding the “team” and climate research, mostly from tax dollars, versus the thousands directed to skeptical efforts, almost entirely from private sources? What about the global situation versus just here in the USA?
The old saying is “follow the money.” What happened to that?
PBS recently interviewed Anthony Watts. Could none on your staff visit his website and review the breadth of references and discussions there of facts? Did any of your staff read any of the materials put out by the people and organizations you lambasted? If you did, you addressed none of it in the episode.
Dare I point out that we hardly have a consensus in science about such fundamentals as gravity? Do you not understand that arguments from majority and consensus are arguments from authority? Is not argument from authority the basis of religion? Science tests. Science admits ignorance and fallibility. Science checks, and checks again. There is no reveled truth, only reproducible results. Science is never settled. Climate science is hardly more mature and testable than psychology and the other soft sciences; some would say even less mature.
The alarmists and advocates of anthropogenic driven climate change that leads to catastrophe can readily and exactly be compared to religious fundamentalists. The easiest comparison is to the young-earth creationists. The group points to their authority in holy writ. They point to their technical training, degrees, honors, and scientific papers of their cohort, and they hand-wave regarding the circular and incestuous nature of their research and findings depending upon one another and a few agreeable and acceptable “outsiders.” I know this because I have been trying to stand for truth against such beliefs for nearly my entire life.
Truth will out. The facts will triumph. In the end, it will be the alarmists eating crow, or at least needing to. Whether they will ever admit their folly is another matter. (Shockley never admitted eugenics was bogus.)
In the episode it was stated that the sea will win. Of course. It will rise and fall as it always has, higher and lower than we can imagine, and we will deal with it. The facts are clear; sea level is not a problem. Even if it rises enough to matter, it will rise slow enough to deal with without catastrophe nor excessive economic hardship. Mr. Watts collects several sources of factual data here: http://wattsupwiththat.com/reference-pages/ocean-pages/ocean/
Here is an easy to understand perspective on the whole thing: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/12/12/historical-video-perspective-our-current-unprecedented-global-warming-in-the-context-of-scale/
If you succumb to your prejudice against Mr. Watts, perhaps you will better appreciate PhD geologist, Christopher R. Scotese and his paleomap project, which he started before any global warming controversy, here: http://scotese.com/climate.htm
Dr. Scotese describes his graphic, which clearly shows that the history of earth is MUCH warmer than the alarmists predict for our near future. He states, “During the last 2 billion years the Earth’s climate has alternated between a frigid “Ice House”, like today’s world, and a steaming “Hot House”, like the world of the dinosaurs.”
If you note, during the Tertiary, near the boundary of the early Eocene, the indicated temperature for the global average was approximately 14°C higher than the currently indicated global average. I hardly need to point out that this is much warmer than even the most alarmist of projections. Note also that the early Eocene is when we see the emergence of most modern mammals, including us primates, and ungulates did quite well, perhaps because a warm earth is a green earth.
Regardless of your fast-and-loose attitude to facts, truth, and testable science, and your obvious slant on politics, the most disturbing aspect of the episode to me was the hate. Yes, it is an overused and trite word nowadays, but you treated skeptics, including me, by association and implication, with ridicule and spite. It seems you must have conscientiously intended to make Dr. Singer seem to be a doddering and senile old codger, worthy only of your condescension. Us-versus-them is key to your argument. You alienate and even dehumanize those who refuse to conform to the consensus, establishment view. You imply I am heartless and selfish, focused only on myself and my own present comforts. Note that others are going so far as to medicalize skepticism. There seem to be efforts to lock people like me away as contrarians and deniers, putting us on par with the likes of Ahmadinejad, who for fanatical religious reasons denies the holocaust of WWII. (No one seems to suggest that he be locked away, at least no one from the left of the political spectrum.) So, you see, I take this all rather personally. I care deeply for my children, and I strive to provide a better world for my posterity for ages to come. I am simply convinced that Luddite views cannot work—they kill. Alarmism and apocalyptic thinking are invariably harmful.
Technology advances in ways that we cannot predict even over a few months. The world of today was unimaginable to people born only a century ago. The pace of change and advancement is quickening. We cannot tell what may or may not result from our choices decades hence. We never have. We never will. We must think ahead and plan wisely, but fighting weather via a war on fossil fuel is the epitome of folly. Thinking we can control the weather at all is the height of hubris.
As a closing note, you had Lord Monckton calling global warming alarmism by the title of Penn and Teller’s television series. Keep in mind that these champions of the con point out that we just don’t know. They point out that there are many motives that are not compatible with science and sound thinking that drive environmentalism in general, and global warming alarmism specifically. They don’t quite call it a hoax, but I agree with my Senator.