Wednesday, July 18 , 2018, 6:53 pm | Mostly Cloudy 70º

 
 
 
 

David Harsanyi: Who Doesn’t Trust Science Now?

Flat-Earthers aren't the only ones susceptible to faith-based ideology

All of you deniers and flat-Earthers who are exploiting the glacial temperatures and bizarre snowfall to mock global warming fears are missing the point: Weather isn’t the same as climate.

David Harsanyi
David Harsanyi

Shoddy evidence, bogus fears and a lack of transparency, on the other hand, are worth talking about. Yet the lack of skepticism by those who claim a sacred deference to scientific integrity proves that flat-Earthers aren’t the only ones susceptible to some faith-based ideology.

Recently, Tim Wirth, president of the U.N. Foundation and a former senator, said the manipulated evidence uncovered by the ClimateGate e-mail scandal was a mere “opening” to attack science that “has to be defended just like evolution has to be defended.”

Get it? Those unreasonable people who deny evolution — despite the overwhelming evidence — are the same brand of illiterate hoi polloi who won’t hand over their gas-powered lawn mowers on the word of an oracle weather model and haphazardly placed weather station.

Problems keep popping up for the true believer. Phil Jones, the former director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (and the only one held responsible for ClimateGate), admits that lots of his decades worth of data were sloppy or missing, i.e., not very scientific.

Jones, when recently asked whether the Medieval Warm Period was warmer than the current period, admitted that it had not been proved — and the importance of this can’t be stressed enough.

Is Jones just being careful now? Probably. Which is more than can be said for others.

The important Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change claimed that Himalayan glaciers will melt by 2035. Turns out this was based on the conjecture of a single researcher. The 2007 IPCC report also warned that by 2020, global warming may reduce crop yields in Africa by 50 percent, though there was no real science to back the claim.

We all have heard the average environmentalist get a bit hysterical with tales of impending catastrophes as a way to motivate us. But these reports were edited by scientists. Can we count on them always to be honest and apolitical? The only way to know is transparency.

So let’s revisit the case of Kevin Trenberth, head of the National Center for Atmospheric Research’s Climate Analysis Section. This week on National Public Radio, he blamed the heavy snowfall, in part, on global warming, proving that even very smart experts can use weather to further the cause.

Trenberth, who has no problem taking a salary and nearly full funding from taxpayers, is not as keen on complying with Freedom of Information Act requests.

He, through NCAR lawyers — also paid for by you (and doing a wonderful job) — claims to be immune from such intrusions.

Then there is NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Chris Horner at the free market-advocating Competitive Enterprise Institute has been trying for years to have NASA release information about the inner workings of Goddard. As a government agency without any national security issues to worry about, it has an obligation to comply.

Shouldn’t NASA want to comply? After all, the science of climate tragedy is irrefutable — so obvious, in fact, that those who resist can be compared to Holocaust deniers.

It’s true that most reasonable people concede there has been warming on the planet and that most concede they can’t possibly fully understand the underlying science. I certainly can’t, despite my best efforts.

The problem is that reasonable people also understand economic trade-offs. Many don’t like intrusive legislation. Others can sniff out fear-mongering for what it is. Some even trust in humanity’s ability to adapt to any changes in climate trends.

In the end, though, the burden of proof is on the believers. And if they’re going to ask a nation — a world — to fundamentally alter its economy and ask citizens to alter their lifestyles, the believers’ credibility and evidence had better be unassailable.

David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Denver Post and the author of Nanny State. Click here for more information, or click here to contact him.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >