Saturday, December 12, 2009


Blowin' Smoke

A thought:

As Alan I. Leshner, who heads the American Assn. for the Advancement of Science, wrote this week: "It is wrong to suggest that apparently stolen e-mails . . . somehow refute a century of evidence based on thousands of studies. . . . Doubters insist that the Earth is not warming. This is in stark contrast to the consensus of 18 of the world's most respected scientific organizations, who strongly stated in an Oct. 21 letter to the U.S. Senate that human-induced climate change is real. Still, the doubters try to leverage any remaining points of scientific uncertainty about the details of warming trends to cast doubt on the overall conclusions shared by traditionally cautious, decidedly nonradical science organizations such as the National Academy of Sciences and the American Assn. for the Advancement of Science."

Long ago, Cicero suggested that a mysterious public act could be best assessed by asking: Who benefits? Is it really any accident that Palin and most of the GOP lawmakers trying to discredit the science on global warming come from states enriched by petroleum production and industries with sizable carbon footprints? (The delegate from Saudi Arabia has taken a similar position at Copenhagen.)

If you feel like you've been here before, think back on the long and agonizing debate over tobacco regulation and second-hand smoke. As additional tens of thousands died, Big Tobacco produced one eccentric scientific skeptic after another. Every one of them got a sympathetic hearing from lawmakers elected from tobacco-growing states.

- Tim Rutten, "The silliness of Climategate," The Los Angeles Times, December 12, 2009

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