Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Crack in the Armor

I ran across an op-ed piece by Samuel Thernstrom in today's Washington Post titled "Could We Engineer a Cooler Planet?" A few not-so-random excerpts:
[A] growing number of climate scientists and scholars believe that [legislative efforts to reduce greenhous gas emissions] are likely to be too little, too late to stop warming.
Despite the progress we may see in the coming years, the mathematics and politics of rapid greenhouse gas reductions remain remarkably daunting.
Many climate scientists believe that a significant degree of warming is already "locked in" by past emissions and that greenhouse gas concentrations have already reached potentially dangerous levels. To avoid warming, therefore, global emissions would have to be halted immediately -- and existing emissions would have to be removed from the atmosphere as well. Not a likely prospect.
Warming seems inevitable; the only questions are its timing, distribution and severity. The effects may prove to be modest—but they could be severe or perhaps catastrophic.
The piece then goes on to discuss some geoengineering ideas, but it's what's above that caught my interest. Obviously it accepts global warming as a given; whether or not AGW is "real" isn't even dicussed. What's so interesting about that? Well, look at the information about author Thernstrom at the end of the column:
The writer is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he co-directs a project exploring the policy implications of geoengineering.
The American Enterprise Institute? The same Exxon-funded AEI that reportedly offered cash prizes to scientists to dispute a 2007 IPCC report? The same AEI that said this in a 2006 article?
This [crusade to fight global warming] intimidates the public and would-be dissenters with its unrelenting line that the science of global warming is settled, full stop. (Time swallowed it whole: “The debate is over. Global warming is upon us--with a vengeance. From floods to fires, droughts to storms, the climate is crashing.”) The “consensus” that human activities are playing a role in the earth’s so-far mild warming trend is misrepresented as agreement that we are headed toward catastrophic results that can be prevented only by immediate and drastic action.

In fact, many scientists don’t believe the catastrophe scenarios. But those who dissent from the politicization of climate science face withering ad hominem attacks.
That American Enterprise Institute now accepts global warming as a given? Interesting.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the article, especially for the link to the Guardian article. I recently did an amateur presentation on some of the science behind global warming theory. I had a friend confess that he never bought in to the idea of global warming, and he stated that he could see no benefit to anyone trying to be a denialist. That link will be helpful next time.