Planet Gore

By His Friends, Ye Shall Know Him

More cheerleading on the utterly inane nomination of John Holdren as the president’s chief science advisor, this time from the PR outlet called “DeSmogBlog,” which pumps out global warming hysteria and personal attacks — and which was, oddly enough, bankrolled by a carbon trader currently under the watchful eye of correctional authorities.


Their closing line is brilliant: “‘The Skeptical Environmentalist’ was so offensive to the scientific community that Scientific American published a ten-page evisceration authoured by four actual researchers, including Holdren.”


Mmmm. Yes. “The scientific community” was outraged, which took the form of four Keystone Klimate Kops stumbling through their own inaccuracies in a rush to condemn Lomborg for . . . for what? Right, for expressing dissent and getting attention in the process.


I reprise this particular case study in alarmist thuggery in Red Hot Lies, excerpted here if in slightly truncated form due to the detailed treatment it deserved (citations omitted). Note, by the way, how James Glassman’s take on their response to Lomborg has been so perfectly embodied, yet again, in recent days:

Their claim that Lomborg is somehow factually deficient is particularly risible given the source. As Ron Bailey notes, the reviewers that Scientific American sicced on discrediting Lomborg phoned those whom he had cited to ask them if it was done accurately. For example, “Lomborg cites Paul Ehrlich and E. O. Wilson as supporting something called the Wildlands Project, which would reserve 50 percent of the North American continent as uninhabited wildlands. Pimm and Harvey asked Ehrlich if he supported such a plan. ‘I know of no such plan,’ replied Ehrlich. ‘If there were one, I wouldn’t support it.’ Q.E.D.” Fortunately Bailey is able to help out, confirming [for] an obviously distracted Ehrlich that in “The High Cost of Biodiversity” from the June 25, 1993, issue of Science, “The principles behind the Wildlands Project have garnered endorsements from such scientific luminaries as Edward O. Wilson of Harvard [and] Paul Ehrlich of Stanford (who describes himself as an ‘enthusiastic supporter’).”


Lomborg’s detractors seem to be projecting their own deficiencies on him. Either that, or deep down they suspect that only a fool would rely on the elite peer-reviewed journals as authorities.


But worse was yet to come for Lomborg, who experienced behavior that the greens visit upon any who dare disagree. This does lead one to wonder if this isn’t the ultimate sign that they lack confidence in their own racket. As [James] Glassman also notes, “Back in the 1960s, campus radicals used to say that their demonstrations would provoke college administrators, the police, and government authorities into showing their ‘true nature’;” in the greens’ case, this has been revealed as “a petulant, angry, selfish child that whines that it must have its own way.” …


Scientific American, certainly as much as Nature, started the whole unpleasantness [i.e., the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty, which shamefully cut-and-pasted the SciAm Four’s claims into a complaint, one that was ultimately tossed out] when Lomborg’s inroads into the general media came to be of unbearable embarrassment to the vested establishment. That publication set in motion what was basically a character assassination by environmental doommongers (Stephen Schneider, John Holdren, John Bongaarts, and Thomas Lovejoy). Something simply had to be done. This should come as no surprise from a publication which hailed Al Gore’s movie (which gets the cause-and-effect relationship between CO2 and temperature — its very premise — backward) as “a paragon of clear science communication.”


In its January 2002 issue, SciAm published the (pretentiously titled) feature “Misleading Math about the Earth: Science defends itself against The Skeptical Environmentalist.” In this eleven-page assault on Lomborg for daring to deconstruct the alarmist agenda, the four horsemen of climate alarmism purportedly representing “science” criticized him — oh, yes, and to some extent, his arguments, specifically as they pertained to global warming, energy, overpopulation, and biodiversity.


Reading like a slightly over-cast witches scene from Macbeth, the four strove to ensure that this Dane didn’t get off Scot-free (so to speak) for sins both real (but small) and imagined, and would never become king of the environmental discussion they have so comfortably presided over. With perceptible insincerity SciAm sniffed in its pages that this ludicrously unfair mugging “should be a welcome audit. And yet it isn’t.”


This prompted a well-deserved firestorm of criticism largely centering on SciAm’s obvious campaign to find activists to slam Lomborg with supposed critiques that largely skirted the substance of what he wrote. It then allowed Lomborg to respond and its alarmists to rebut him as the final word. As Mark Steyn has discovered, this is precisely the standard called for by Islamic fundamentalists trying to suppress speech that they don’t like.


So, four-against-none becomes eight-to-one. Reader reaction must have been severe. In a letter (that SciAm actually published, to their credit) Denis Dutton, cited as the Philosophy and Literature Editor at New Zealand’s University of Canterbury [and the editor of Arts & Letters Daily] , assailed the enterprise’s false construct and noted that the attack presumed to define alarmism as science and skeptics as being outside of science — even though science itself is inherently skeptical and indeed throws itself back to Medieval times upon abandoning skepticism.


You have no intellectual warrant whatsoever to divide the world into two camps: “science,” including the Lomborg critics you publish, plus their allies, Paul Ehrlich et al., and, apparently, “nonscience,” including Lomborg, Matt Ridley, Lewis Wolpert and his many other allies. If you wanted to say “Environmentalism (or The Green Movement) defends itself against The Skeptical Environmentalist,” that would be acceptable. But there is no question that Lomborg and his allies are within science.


Lomborg then detailed his detractors’ own significant and embarassing inaccuracies in their rush to claim him guilty of precisely that practice, exposing most of the claims as the visceral whines ritually spouted against every heretic, even if untrue in his case (“denierof the warming trend, which he isn’t; rejects the UN process, which regrettably he doesn’t; ignores specie loss, which he actually instead overtly debunks).


Lomborg closed by noting that his critics never addressed his concept of prioritization of risks, which is the underlying theme of his criticism of alarmist demands: the industrial processes so abhorred by his critics for purportedly warming the planet by a degree in a century-and-a-half have also brought unprecedented life-spans, reduced infant mortality, allowed sufficient wealth to be dedicated to environmental protection, and so on. But the wellbeing of people apparently has absolutely nothing to do with their calculus, but only occasionally their rhetoric.


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