National Review – Snow Job

The June 5th cover story of the National Review Magazine was entitled, Snow Job – The Truth About the Great overhyped Glacier Melt.

I friend of mine, who knows my political leanings and who reads this blog occasionally, handed me this issue with the gentle advice that I should read this story so I might have more ‘balance‘ in my views and in the things I’m writing both here and in my column.

So I took the magazine home and read the article and mulled it over for a few days wondering what to say about it.

I went through the story and found a number of things that were bogus.

But, before I get into those, I want to make a confession – I am pro-science. It’s the only reliable methodology humanity has come up with so far to get at the truth – unvarnished by our hopes and fears and our illusions. So, for me, when we’re talking about something as important as the climate, which affects all of us regardless of our political persuasions, we should be trading information derived from science. If we’re trading anything else, it is guaranteed to have bullshit and confusion built into it.

The first thing I objected to in the article was the emotional sniping and innuendo. If climate change skeptics believe they have persuasive facts, they should just roll them out and let them stand of their own merit in the hard light of day. Put your science derived facts up against the other fellow’s. Instead, their discussion is laced from end to end with ridicule and contempt and the facts they do present to support their views are very selectively chosen.

They refer to global warming’s ‘supposed’ ills. They claim that Science Magazine, one of the preeminent scientific publications of the world, is prone to hysteria. They say, “We see a photograph of a polar bear standing all by his lonesome at the water’s edge and are told that the poor fellow might drown because the ‘polar ice caps are melting faster than ever.'” Then they tell us that the ice-caps story has been distorted for political aims.

Now that you’ve been alerted, if you look for them, you will find similar ridicule, belittling, and mocking throughout the article. It is emotional perception shaping – it is not facts and reasoning. I guess they haven’t a lot in the way of facts which can stand up to the science they oppose so they are trying blind and awe us with their wit and sarcasm.

Let’s just pick a place and begin. How about that poor polar bear? They ridicule the ‘poor fellow’ but they then conveniently skip over the fact that the arctic ice has been melting and receding further and further each year for 20 years. It isn’t anyone’s pipe dream that polar bears may well go extinct because of this in the next 20 to 50 years. None of this is in the realm of ‘soft’ facts. Science has nailed it cleanly and very few in the main-line science community have any doubts about it. Take another look at the picture of the polar bear – more ridicule replacing facts. He’s got a large stone around his neck – maybe to help drown him?

At another point, they quote an article published by Curt Davis in Science Magazine (same magazine they just ridiculed a moment before) saying that Antarctica is gaining ice not losing it. Google ‘Curt Davis National Review’ on-line. It won’t take but a moment to find articles where he’s complaining that this story has done a major distortion of his research and he’s rather irked about it. You can read about his complaint here: In the section where they are referring to Davis’ research to demonstrate that Antarctica and Greenland are not melting, they manage to not mention the in controversial facts that while global warming has raised the average temperature one degree in most places, it has raised it by four in the high arctic and permafrost is melting for the first time in recorded history in many areas. They ridicule the idea that glaciers are melting in the article’s title but don’t mention that 90% or more of the world’s glaciers are, in fact, melting and melting fast.

They say that there is no consensus that man is the main cause of climate change. That is utterly wrong. The vast majority of reputable peer-reviewed climate scientists have asserted that the issue is settled beyond a doubt.

They cite Richard Lindzen of MIT as a scientific authority figure to bolster their arguments. Well, Lindzen has some ties to Exxon that should be revealed before we rely on his scientific impartiality too much. See this:

Here’s another analysis over at ThinkProgress which picked up on other problems and distortions in this article. Their post is here:

People will, in general, believe what they want to believe and unconsciously seek out those who speak the ‘truth’ they want to hear. The only antidote I know for this form of blindness is to challenge your own beliefs frequently and to base your views on the best science you can find.

The Snow Job article indicated that it thought the reason scientists were trumping up the case for global warming was because there was scientific grant money available to study the issue and if they reported that there was no global warming, those grant funds would dry up.

It sounds perhaps plausible on the surface but think a moment…

Exxon just posted some of the highest profits ever seen in history for a corporation. Most of the climate skeptics are receiving money and support from Exxon or the oil, gas and coal industries. If I had to make a rational choice between believing the men of science or the men paid by the energy industry (and remember these fellows have billions of dollars at stake and those huge profits), I know who I’d believe. And it doesn’t hurt that the fellows I’d believe have science on their side.

– research – thx Deborah for the National Review article

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