Monday, April 25, 2005


Students at Middlebury College evidently can take "a class on climate change and activism." I wonder if that's considered a "gut" course? At Dickinson in the '80s we had Astronomy 101 ("Stars for Studs;" I was a T.A.) and Geology 101 ("Rocks for Jocks"). Is this the environmental equivalent? "Stumps for Chumps?"

Well, if it is, the students just got more education than they bargained for. As part of the class, they designed a "Flat Earth Award" for global-warming naysayers. Gee, somehow I didn't think it required a $160,000 liberal arts education to do something like that. The winner was Dr. Fred Singer.

Singer did not shrivel up in horror when righteous youth shone its searing light of truth on him. He leaped up to accept the award. He even wrote an acceptance speech.

It reads, in part:

As you undoubtedly realize, there is no consensus within the scientific community about global warming. And even if there were such a consensus, this is not how science progresses.

Remember: There was once a consensus that the sun revolves about the earth, that humans could not travel faster than 25 m.p.h., that manned flight was technically impossible, and that rockets could not operate in the vacuum of space.

What matters are facts based on actual observations. And as long as weather satellites show that the atmosphere is not warming, I cannot put much faith into theoretical computer models that claim to represent the atmosphere but contradict what the atmosphere tells us. A computer model is only as good as the assumptions fed into it.

I hope that this does not come as too much of a shock for you. As for the claimed consensus - as published by Naomi Oreskes in the Dec. 3, 2004, issue of Science: A colleague of mine completed an audit of the material used by Professor Oreskes but did not duplicate her result. I expect that her paper will be withdrawn. You may want to drop the link to her article on your website.

He also points out that, contra Middlebury, he continues to publish in peer-reviewed journals, his work is not industry-funded, and he does not deny the principle of global warming. He says the greenhouse effect is real; he just says its effects are not as great as some other scientists say. "There is a discrepancy between what we expect from theory and the facts, and we need to explain that. That's what we're all working on."

All of which, I'm sure, is more education than the Middleburyites bargained for, even at $40,000 a year. But attempts to apply ivory tower dogmas to real-world situations, or enforce campus speech codes off-campus, often turn into teachable moments. Just remember what happened to Greenpeace protesters last year when they decided to storm London's International Petroleum Exchange and close down trading for the day. The Greenpeace team ran onto the trading floor, according to the London Times, "blowing whistles and sounding fog horns, encountering little resistance from security guards. Rape alarms were tied to helium balloons to float to the ceiling and create noise out of reach."

But London traders seem to be young, tough, and have a soccer fan streak, and they don't suffer such foolishness lightly. They set upon the trespassers at once and "literally kicked them on to the pavement." One of the Greenpeacers complained, "I've never seen anyone less amenable to listening to our point of view."

One trader, as his mates tossed a protester bodily out of the building and onto the sidewalk, dismissed him with the immortal phrase, "Sod off, Swampy!"

Labels: ,