Wednesday July 6th 2011

Archives

The Heritage Foundation loses its grip on reality, calls science ‘magic’

The Heritage Foundation, a once-influential conservative think tank, has long had extreme views (see “Heritage even opposes energy efficiency“).  Now it has completely lost its grip on reality, comparing the IPCC’s scientific work to what a magician at a children’s party does (!), as explained in this Wonk Room repost.

Mike Gonzalez, Vice President of Communications for Heritage, believes that the scientific consensus on global warming is a massive hoax, perpetrated because of “politicians putting pressure on scientists to come up with theories that would vastly add to their regulatory and taxing powers.” Gonzalez — who abandoned print journalism to become a mid-level speechwriter for the Bush administration — argues that the “whole edifice of global warming is now falling apart” because the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is like a birthday-party magician:

The whole edifice of global warming is now falling apart. It is collapsing with such rapidity that it is worth pausing from time to time to take stock. The foundations of such edifice rest on a single assumption. This hypothesis—one that drove many people, even some reasonable ones, to contemplate upending the world as we know it — is that that traditional fuels will have cataclysmic consequences on the environment because they emit gases that make the world too hot.

The authority to turn this assumption into fact rested largely on a U.N. document – the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2007 report – which declared climate change “unequivocal” and its man-made origin “very likely.” The purpose of the IPCC report was to turn hypothesis into fact.

The reason Sens. Kerry, Graham and Lieberman had to turn away from cap-and-trade, and target industries individually, is that the idea of an iron-clad scientific consensus is now being revealed to be a bit, shall we say, exaggerated. The IPCC’s turning of hypothesis into fact now looks less like the scientific process and more like the magician you paid $50 an hour to pull flowers out of hats at your daughter’s birthday.

The IPCC report was a summary of existing scientific literature — its conclusions are those of the world’s scientists. The threat of manmade global warming is, quite simply, a fact. As democracy derives much of its strength from the rational debate of ideas, it’s sad to see that the Heritage Foundation has fallen into the swamp of conspiracy theories.

The “edifice of global warming” is the edifice of modern civilization, the edifice of free enterprise, the edifice of Western thought. The great scientific endeavor to understand the world around us — not through superstition and demagoguery but through tedious observation and critical examination — has granted us the modern world, with the promise of previously unimaginable wealth and prosperity for billions. Much of the success of the scientific edifice is its ability to clarify inconvenient truths — to allow society to face difficult decisions and recognize unintended consequences. Treating science like a buffet, picking only the facts that fit his reality and ascribing the rest to an inchoate conspiracy, is a threat to the edifice upon which modern man depends.

JR:  Let me end by quoting the Summary of the November statement by the Met Office (the UK’s National Weather Service [i.e. meteorological office], within the Ministry of Defence), the Natural Environment Research Council, and the UK’s Royal Society (the UK’s national academy of science, “the world’s oldest scientific academy in continuous existence,” founded in 1660):

The 2007 IPCC Assessment, the most comprehensive and respected analysis of climate change to date, states clearly that without substantial global reductions of greenhouse gas emissions we can likely expect a world of increasing droughts, floods and species loss, of rising seas and displaced human populations. However even since the 2007 IPCC Assessment the evidence for dangerous, long-term and potentially irreversible climate change has strengthened. The scientific evidence which underpins calls for action at Copenhagen is very strong. Without co-ordinated international action on greenhouse gas emissions, the impacts on climate and civilisation could be severe.

This article was originally posted on Climate Progress