October 16, 2009
The Liberal Faith
By Jack Kelly
Most liberals aren't very religious. But they are people of faith. When reality clashes with a cherished belief, they cling to the cherished belief.
It snowed in Minnesota over the weekend. In Denver, too. Record cold temperatures were set in Idaho and western Montana.
It was unseasonably cold in Madison, Wisconsin over the weekend, too. But those who attended the annual meeting of the Society of Environmental Journalists didn't notice.
The keynote speaker was former Vice President Al Gore. Mr. Gore is the world's most famous advocate of the theory of anthroprogenic (man-made) global warming. In his book, "An Inconvenient Truth," and his movie of the same name, Mr. Gore warned mankind faces catastrophe if drastic steps aren't taken immediately to slash our emissions of carbon dioxide.
Mr. Gore predicted the Senate would pass a "cap and trade" bill before a UN conference on climate change in Denmark in December. Most of the 500 journalists who heard him speak applauded.
Mr. Gore is someone only a liberal could regard as an expert on climate change. He took exactly two science courses as an undergraduate at Yale, scoring a D in Natural Sciences 6, and a C in Natural Sciences 118.
Mr. Gore's paucity of qualifications may be why he refuses to debate scientists who challenge his thesis. And he rarely answers questions after giving one of his alarmist speeches. Mr. Gore did so in Madison, perhaps because he assumed the audience was friendly.
But in the audience was Irish filmmaker Phelim McAleer, who asked him about a 2007 finding by a British judge that "An Inconvenient Truth" is riddled with scientific errors.
Justice Michael Burton had to rule on the veracity of Mr. Gore's claims because a parent objected to having the film shown in schools. He found nine "significant errors" made in "the context of alarmism and exaggeration." Screening the film in British secondary schools violated laws barring the promotion of partisan political views in the classroom, Justice Burton said.
When Mr. McAleer asked Mr. Gore what he was doing to correct the errors Justice Burton identified, Mr. Gore, after much stammering, said: "the ruling was in favor of showing the movie in schools."
That response was technically true, but evasive. Justice Burton said "An Inconvenient Truth" could be shown, but only if Mr. Gore's "one-sided" views were balanced.
When Mr. McAleer pressed Mr. Gore on his evasion, the Society of Environmental Journalists cut off his microphone and escorted him away.
There was a time when journalists applauded when one of their own spoke truth to power. But in the Society of Environmental Journalists, relevant facts must be suppressed if they clash with the party line.
But reality is making it more difficult for journalists to protect Mr. Gore and other alarmists from scrutiny, and there are defections from the Praetorian Guard. As the Society of Environmental Journalists was silencing Mr. McAleer, Paul Hudson, climate correspondent for the once firmly alarmist BBC, was asking "What happened to global warming?"
The warmest year on record, Mr. Hudson noted, was 1998, 11 years ago. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been increasing, but temperatures have not. This is something the computer models on which Mr. Gore and other alarmists rely said was impossible.
Satellite data indicate the planet cooled significantly from 2007 to 2008, said Dr. John Christy of the University of Alabama at Huntsville. This winter figures to be the coldest in decades, says the Farmer's Almanac. The ice sheets in the Arctic and Antarctic are getting thicker. Dr. Mojib Latif, a scientist on whom the UN relied heavily for its original alarmist forecasts, now says the planet will cool for the next 20 years.
As the evidence moves decisively against them, alarmists are escalating their rhetoric. Britain's Prince Charles -- whose academic credentials are even weaker than Al Gore's -- told business leaders in Brazil we have less than 100 months to avert climate catastrophe.
But opinion polls in Australia, Britain and here indicate people no longer are buying what they're selling. The Society of Environmental Journalists may not notice, but ordinary people can tell when it's cold outside.