Free Markets, Free People

Michael Mann

Climate-gate – How will the US media cover it?

USA Today’s cover story today is entitled “Is the Global Warming movement cooling”.  It features Penn State University professor Michael Mann who is puzzled, puzzled I tell you, over all the controversy.  My favorite Mann quote:

“I look at it like this: Let’s say that you’re in your car, you open up the owner’s manual, and you discover a typo on page 225. Does that mean you stop driving the car? Of course not. Those are the kind of errors we’re talking about here,” Mann says. “Nothing has fundamentally changed.”

USA Today lists his research as:

Mann’s research, which used tree rings, coral and other historical indicators to estimate how temperatures have risen in recent centuries, has been used by the IPCC in its reports.

Not a word about the infamous “hockey stick”. Not. A. Word. Of course the “hockey stick” and cherry picked tree-ring and temperature data have been the foundation of the IPCC’s conclusions. All have been found to be highly suspect by other scientists.

But to return to Mann’s self-serving analogy, this isn’t about a typo in the car’s owner’s manual.  This is about a fatal flaw in the engine.  The Himalayan glacier nonsense may be considered a “typo”, but the hockey stick, tree ring and temperature data is the foundation of the “consensus” opinion.

The article goes on to note that despite the controversy the Obama administration agree’s with the Mann analogy.

Carol Browner, the White House’s director on climate and energy policy, says there are “thousands and thousands” of scientists whose work provides evidence of global warming. She told USA TODAY that, based on her frequent visits to Capitol Hill, recent questions over science have not changed a single vote in Congress on climate change legislation.

“It’s easy to misuse these isolated reports of problems to suggest that the science behind global warming is somehow wrong,” Browner says.

It is also easy to ignore it when not doing so works directly against the outcome and result you’d prefer to see – government restrictions against and regulation of so-called “greenhouse gases.” And I doubt Ms. Browner has her finger on the pulse of Congress. Even today, Democrats included, they’re considering legislation that would block the EPA from unilaterally imposing restrictions on CO2 output.

The article is quite long, and I suggest you read it, but one further item of note – a new excuse, I suppose, for the “typo” in the “owner’s manual”:

Tim Wirth, a former U.S. senator who is now president of the United Nations Foundation, defends the IPCC, stating it has an annual budget of “only” about $3 million and relies almost entirely on volunteers to produce and fact-check its content.

Wirth says the organization would be aided by adding more scientists to its full-time staff. Yet he also criticizes what he called “K Street (Washington) PR firms … who are hired to examine every (detail) of the IPCC report and find problems and then get them out into the public domain.”

“It’s not a fair fight,” Wirth says. “The IPCC is just a tiny secretariat next to this giant denier machine.”

“Giant denier machine?” It’s mostly been individuals and bloggers. Volunteers.  The controversy broke in the UK, not in DC.  Most of the global warming research was funded by governments, for heaven sake, which are able to outspend any outside group without breaking a sweat. And then we have Al Gore, a movie and entire movement spreading the gospel of AGW as well.

But to the larger point – these volunteer fact-checkers were apparently good enough for Wirth and the governments around the world to propose draconian taxes and restrictive policies, but now that the results are being called into serious question, suddenly the IPCC – the Nobel Peace Prize winning IPCC – is just a “tiny secretariat” staffed mostly by volunteers.

Seems to me that while the US media, in this case in the guise of USA Today, has finally determined it can’t ignore the Climate-gate controversy anymore, if this article is any indication of its thrust, you can expect to see the problem minimized and ignored, despite the word count.