[THS] FAIR: Forbes Publishes Fiction on Climate Change Debate
psalience at fastmail.fm
Tue Dec 15 14:50:49 CET 2009
[embedded links for cited reports at url above]
Forbes Publishes Fiction on Climate Change Debate
Monday 14 December 2009
by: Jim Naureckas, FAIR
Forbes.com has an article up called "The Fiction of Climate Science" (12/4/09).
Thanks no doubt to a link from Drudge, it's currently one of the website's "top rated,"
"most popular" and "most emailed" items. "Fiction" is a polite word for what the
author, Gary Sutton, does with evidence.
Sutton grinds the already well-worn denialist ax about "global cooling"--scientists
were predicting an imminent ice age in the 1970s, the argument goes, so why listen
to those eggheads now about global warming? See FAIR's Action Alert from last
February 18 for a debunking of this myth.
But wait! Sutton provides a quote:
In 1974, the National Science Board announced: "During the last 20 to 30 years,
world temperature has fallen, irregularly at first but more sharply over the last
decade. Judging from the record of the past interglacial ages, the present time of
high temperatures should be drawing to an end
leading into the next ice age."
First of all, this isn't one quote--this is two quotes from two separate National Science
Board documents stapled together. The first comes from a 1974 report titled Science
and the Challenges Ahead, and it was accurate at the time. The report goes on to
talk about potential human impacts on the global climate--both in adding dust to the
atmosphere for a potential cooling effect, and by "activities of the expanding human
population--especially those involved with the burning of fossil fuels--[that] raised the
carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere, which acts as a 'greenhouse' for retaining
the heat radiated from the Earth's surface." The report notes that "the state of
knowledge regarding climate and its changes is too limited to predict reliably whether
the present, unanticipated cooling trend will continue."
The second half of the quote comes from another report, from 1972, called Patterns
and Perspectives in Environmental Science. Reader David McManus pointed out the
games Forbes played with this quote; here's the sentence in full, with emphasis
Judging from the record of the past interglacial ages, the present time of high
temperatures should be drawing to an end, to be followed by a long period of
considerably colder temperatures leading into the next glacial age some 20,000 years
The report immediately adds: "However, it is possible, or even likely that human
interference has already altered the climate so much that the climatic pattern of the
near future will follow a different path." It goes on to discuss "increased atmospheric
opacity" as a possible cooling factor, counterbalanced by the fact that "increasing
concentration of industrial carbon dioxide in the atmosphere should lead to a
temperature increase by absorption of infrared radiation from the Earth's surface."
Needless to say, someone who is unable to correctly report what a book says is
unlikely to be able to perform the much more complicated task of independently
analyzing climate data and pointing out where all those scientists went wrong.
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