Saturday, February 03, 2007

Global Warming Shenanigans

Scientists and economists have been offered $10,000 each by a lobby group funded by one of the world's largest oil companies to undermine a major climate change report due to be published today.

Letters sent by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), an ExxonMobil-funded thinktank with close links to the Bush administration, offered the payments for articles that emphasise the shortcomings of a report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Travel expenses and additional payments were also offered.
So... whom should we believe? The 1,000 scientists who agree on global warming, or the five scientists who were paid $10,000 each to disagree with them?

This quote from one of Andrew Sullivan's readers sums it up nicely:
Many people don't have the time or interest to sift through the actual evidence, so they'll see one story that says yes, and another that says no, and throw up their hands and say 'oh well, whatever, who can know?' That has real-life consequences. So work like this really has a disproportionate effect, in the sense that 5 scientists who say 'man doesn't cause climate change' and are funded by oil companies can counteract the effect of hundreds or thousands of scientists who say 'man does cause climate change', but operate through the usual, scientifically-accepted channels. That's why shenanigans like this have to be see the light of day, so at least everyone knows who's pushing the pieces around.
This is my opinion on global warming: Of course global warming exists, and we're probably causing most of it. But really, I don't care one way or the other about whether or not climate change "comes true" 100 years in the future because I won't live to see Bangkok and Miami under water. What I care about is keeping the earth clean, keeping its waters clean, keeping its skies clean, and preserving as much of the beauty of this planet as possible. If, by proper environmental stewardship, we manage to eliminate the threat of global warming: Great! My only wish is never to see another orange-tan noontime haze over Bangkok again.

Nobody wants more pollution. Nobody wants more orange-tan skies. Since we are all agreed on that, we can all agree that — global warming or not — as our planetary population, economy, and production continues to grow, we should be taking steps to reduce pollution and conserve resources.

Yes... I know it's more complicated than that; that there are economic factors and technological factors, but the fact remains: We... our industries... should be taking better care of our planet.

Once we all recognize that we agree on this common ground, once we stop debating the minituae of scientific study, once cynics stop taking advantage of the inherent uncertainty of scientific conclusions to complicate and confuse, we can realize that we all want the same simple thing, and can start working towards it: A clean earth.

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