Friday, November 02, 2007

Where there's smoke ...

An e-mailer responds to Thursday's editorial notebook, A modest tornado theory: Skeptical about the weather
GP writes:
"The New York Times in an editorial in 2006 lambasted Senator Inhofe's position on man made global warming. Now that both you and the Times have debunked Senator Inhofe's 2006 position and speech, please read the 2006 commentary by Debra J. Saunders that followed the Times article. Therefore, request you now debunk the Saunders' article in an editorial. Now that Al Gore' film and his movement have propelled him into sharing the Nobel Prize, again use this prestigious award in support of your editorial. Also address and debunk the opinion of Copenhagen Consensus cited by Saunders. Would like very much to read your commentary in the new future."

Saunders labels herself a man-made global warming "agnostic." Hard to debunk an agnostic. Besides, our little edit notebook intended mere whimsy, not debunking.
Let's remember, no serious person could claim any field of science has unanimous agreement, especially in global warming. However, it's accurate to say that the most of the scientific community has reached consensus that man-made activity is playing a role in climate change. Most does not equal all.
Saunders writes:
"I know, however, that I never will be convinced that global warming is a scientific threat as long as believers put most of their energy into establishing orthodoxy and denying that reputable global-warming skeptics exist."

Sorta reminds me of those who for decades were skeptical that smoking lead to serious health problems.
Follow this link to a thought-provoking 1994 photograph. In it are tobacco company executives who raised their right hands and swore before Congress that nicotine was not addictive. Government scientists had been saying the opposite for three decades. Independent researcher suspected as much years earlier. Even further back serious scientists were sure tobacco use lead to horrible diseases, including cancer and emphysema. Yet, the tobacco industry helped fund skeptics who were skilled at casting doubt, well beyond when the scientific community had reached - ta-da -consensus.
Where do the two camps of skeptics meet up?
Author George Monbiot picks up the story:
"[W]hat I have discovered while researching this issue is that the corporate funding of lobby groups denying that manmade climate change is taking place was initiated not by Exxon, or by any other firm directly involved in the fossil fuel industry. It was started by the tobacco company Philip Morris."

Want more? Read here, here and here. (The last link is from a 1998 memo plotting the skeptics' strategy against global warming. A backgrounder on the memo is here.)

UPDATE: Chuck Bernstein of the National Environmental Trust responds:
Good job of rebutting. I see you've got a link to a memo that's posted on our site, so you probably checked out the press briefing we held on the tobacco connection; feel free to recommend it to readers.

Will do. The link is here.