I recall a T-shirt, worn by an actress in a not particularly funny movie, that proclaimed “You can’t be first, but you can be next.” The reverse of that attitude is playing out among our alarmist media friends, in which everybody gets to be first, for purposes of grabbing headlines.
Today we read “Scientists link human activity to warming in polar regions for first time. . . . Human activity and, in particular, the production of greenhouse gases can be linked definitively to warming in parts of the Arctic and Antarctic, according to a new study that makes the controversial connection for the first time.” It discussed the past five decades or so.
Funny, I recall an absurd story earlier this year by the Financial Times’s Fiona Harvey that breathlessly opened with “Scientists have been able to say with virtual certainty for the first time that the climate change observed over the past four decades is man made and not the result of natural phenomena.”
There’s usually a flaw in the alarmism, of course — which partly explains, I suppose, why each succeeding story can use “for the first time.” In the FT case, Ms. Harvey claimed that something the authors assumed for the purposes of their paper – that man drives climate change — was actually a finding instead.
In today’s example (congrats to a Canadian paper for showing balance), John Christy cites the models’ well-known shortcomings as making it impossible to state such a claim with credibility, let alone certainty. In short, they are just reverse engineering, yet again, to reach a desired conclusion: because we can’t explain it we know the human did it. This is what Dick Lindzen calls the alarmists’ tired “lassitude” argument. (An approach that the report’s co-author admits on the BBC here. Pat Michael’s follow-up assessment explains why the author, I have learned, was very reluctant to appear once she discovered that Pat would be allowed to opine on her work – a trait shared by many alarmists, as I have previously observed).
Here’s a contest: Who can find the most media claims that scientists have proven man-made global warming “for the first time”? Start with coverage of every IPCC report and proceed from there.