The global-warming discussion long ago fell victim to a style of politics in which one side turns the opposition into a self-debunking caricature.
Former President Bill Clinton was and remains a master at this. He manages to make serious people who disagree with him look like goons of the "vast right-wing conspiracy" his wife invented.
So goes global warming politics. Scorn falls to anyone who doubts that governments must restructure the world economy to keep the planet from overheating.
That's a shame. The issue deserves serious attention. Instead, it gets former US Vice-President Al Gore and his moralistic hallucinations of doom.
Gore and his cowinner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Chairman Rajendra Pachauri, both have likened doubters of the need for urgent warming responses to people who believe the world is flat.
There's sophisticated discourse for you.
A consistent ploy of the Gore-Pachauri axis and its media lemmings has been to caricaturize opposition as the work of a tiny cabal of crackpots supported financially by ExxonMobil.
That maneuver hit a snag on Dec. 20 with publication of a report documenting widespread scientific opposition to the alarmists' view.
The report comes from the office of the ranking member of the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.). It cites challenges from more than 400 scientists to the ballyhooed "consensus" view on global warming. Some of the scientists participate in the IPCC or have done so.
Many of the quotes are classic. Here's just one sample, by Dr. George Kukla, a research scientist with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, from the Apr. 24, 2007 issue of Gelf Magazine: "The only thing to worry about is the damage that can be done by worrying. Why are some scientists worried? Perhaps because they feel that to stop worrying may mean to stop being paid."
The report appears at http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.Blogs&ContentRecord_id=f80a6386-802a-23ad-40c8-3c63dc2d02cb.
According to the Washington Times, a Gore spokeswoman scanned the document and observed that 25-30 of the scientists might have received funding from Exxon Mobil.
See how it works?
This feature will appear online next on Jan. 4, 2008.
(Online Dec. 21, 2007; author's e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)