Daniel Kitts, a producer of current affairs programs for TVO writes in a commentary today that he no longer believes that climate change skeptics deserve equal time on the air to make their case.
In his article he admits to having been swayed by the greenahadeen into accepting their point of view as truth, so much so that it overrides his duty to be fair and balanced.
He writes of his ‘personal conflict’ over the matter, but still has made up his mind to help promote green propaganda over any true debate. Note that he slides this little gem into his reasoning:
"They (climate-change skeptics) must be pressed to make a more compelling argument as to why they are right and the majority of scientists are wrong."
Has he not read
this**, a petition to the US government signed by over 17,000 scientists including geologists, geophysicists, oceanographers and meteorologists? Or this, by Dr Richard Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT.
** See the Update for why this link should be disregarded (though I leave it active, can’t hide from the awful thruth now can I?)
Which group is really the majority? The believers or the skeptics? Kitts is either ignorant of the case against climate change, or has decided to discount it. He also makes no mention of how greens turn on any of their ranks that question the junk science, witness how Patrick Moore and Bjorn Lomborg were treated by the environmental zealots, just for raising questions about their agenda and misuse of statistics.
This is a serious issue, not least because implementing many of the radical actions demanded by the greenahadeen will result in the continued poverty and deaths of those in the developing world. Kitts has a duty to consider these innocents before he makes any decision to undermine and tilt the debate one way.
Update Jan 27 2007: Daniel Kitts has posted a comment on this post, for which I thank him. For readers that don’t read comments, below is Mr Kitts’ response to my post in its entirety, followed by an email I responded with:
I’m the guy who wrote the article.
I took a look at the petition you mentioned. Unfortunately for you, this petition has been thoroughly discredited.
I suggest you check out what sourcewatch.org says about the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, the organization responsible for the petition. Among other things, sourcewatch notes that the petition started as a bulk e-mail (you know how reliable online petitions are), the petition has not been peer reviewed (all credible scientific papers are), and that OISM has no way of verifying the credentials of any of the signatories.
Here’s a quote: "When the Oregon Petition first circulated, in fact, environmental activists successfully added the names of several fictional characters and celebrities to the list, including John Grisham, Michael J. Fox, Drs. Frank Burns, B. J. Honeycutt, and Benjamin Pierce (from the TV show M*A*S*H), an individual by the name of "Dr. Red Wine," and Geraldine Halliwell, formerly known as pop singer Ginger Spice of the Spice Girls. Halliwell’s field of scientific specialization was listed as "biology." Even in 2003, the list was loaded with misspellings, duplications, name and title fragments, and names of non-persons, such as company names."
Scientific American also looked into the OISM petition. "Scientific American took a sample of 30 of the 1,400 signatories claiming to hold a Ph.D. in a climate-related science. Of the 26 we were able to identify in various databases, 11 said they still agreed with the petition —- one was an active climate researcher, two others had relevant expertise, and eight signed based on an informal evaluation. Six said they would not sign the petition today, three did not remember any such petition, one had died, and five did not answer repeated messages." Nice.
As for Richard Lindzen, great. I’d be more than happy to suggest we invite him to come on my show and answer some tough questions on climate science.
As I stated in my piece, I am not saying that we should accept everything that climate change believers say or stop talking to climate skeptics.
But I would be distorting reality if I pretended that the weight of evidence compiled by both sides is equal. It just isn’t.
I’d like to say there’s a raging debate among scientists as to humans are warming the planet. It would make my job easier. But it’s just not the case.
There are some important disagreements on to how quickly the planet’s climate is changing and how much action — and what kind of action — needs to be taken. Those issues are very much worth debating. But saying that a credible, widespread group of scientists think that climate change is a complete sham? Can’t say that. Because it’s not true.
I refer you to the following article in Science showing the weight of scientific opinion on climate change: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/306/5702/1686
And my reply:
Thanks for taking the time to write a thorough comment in response to my post, I certainly appreciate it.
I did look at the link to the petition I quoted, and indeed I cannot deny your observations. I knew that the citation was in trouble as soon as I saw a Spice Girl on your list of the ‘worthies’ that had signed it. Since no matter my thoughts on climate change I could in no way bring myself to defend a pop tart, I concede the point.
To make my position clear, I have no problem with individuals, countries and world organizations taking measures to reduce harmful emissions or to treat the planet more gently. My real concern is that the climate change argument has been hijacked by agenda-driven zealots. When I see deconstructions of Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ detailing the exaggerations he has included in his ‘documentary’ I see no difference between Gore and Michael Moore’s ‘Bowling for Columbine’ or "Fahrenheit 9/11′. Both film makers have taken factual nuggets and made the ‘facts’ fit their personal theory or agenda. Yet both produce movies watched by millions of people who take what they see at face value, declaring it to be ‘truth’.
The truly scary part of this is that ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ is now taught as fact in American schools, combined with the teachers notes made available by Gore’s team. There is no alternative viewpoint on the curriculum to balance the claims that Gore makes. Since the most quotable exaggeration is Green Al’s ‘sea levels will rise by 20ft’ (the science says 1ft in the next 100 years), I think that this is significant.
I also wonder at the reasons for the intense sensitivity of greens when faced with criticism from insiders. In previous posts on the environment I have mentioned both Bjorn Lomborg (‘The Skeptical Environmentalist’) and Patrick Moore (co-founder of Green Peace) as examples. Greens tried and in some degree succeeded to have Lomborg censured by the Danish Committee on Scientific Dishonesty for his book. In turn the DCSD was censured for its findings against Lomborg. Patrick Moore is an outcast among his former friends for daring to shine a light on their increasing reliance on alarmist headlines and shaky science. Moore is a realist that has also upset greens by pointing out that the cheapest and cleanest method of energy production is nuclear – anathema to greens, but a tried and tested technology that deserves more consideration as a solution than it gets.
I worry mostly about the fall-out (poor choice of term perhaps) from the headlong rush into bad policy like Kyoto. Without India and China as signatories Kyoto is meaningless as a global solution. What Kyoto would achieve is the hobbling of the strongest economies in the world, which over the years will mean less investment in global infrastructure, and essential humanitarian aid to those who need help now. The dark side of the green agenda is that the wrong moves in the attempt to arrest global warming will consign many to lives of poverty, or death, and Africa will once more take the brunt of the negative effects.
There are precedents: First, after the 1962 publication of Silent Spring there followed a global outcry from embryonic environmentalist groups to ban all use of DDT. Since malaria had been conquered in the developed world, little or no thought was given to the people of Africa for whom malaria was and is an everyday killer. Had the science prevailed over the hyperbole, the outcome would, I hope, have been more reasoned and malaria in Africa could have been beaten by now. Instead, millions are dead that could have been saved, but the greens would never admit to their role in this most avoidable of catastrophes.
Second, witness the hysteria over genetically-modified or ‘GM foods’ in Europe. Greens were in no small part responsible for the demonizing of a practical method of improving harvest yields and resistance to disease. Their misguided activism has once more directly influenced the ability of Africa to feed itself. I don’t think any Europeans starved to death because of the public outcry over ‘frankenfoods’, but I know that Africans did.
These are the reasons why I take the skeptics side – when the greens have no countering viewpoint, people die. Now the populism and media-management skills that environmental groups have become so adept at are aimed at making global policy to prevent or contain ‘climate-change’. Let’s allow the hard science to be heard and reasonable solutions come to the fore before the developed world’s governments makes decisions for votes that have real and devastating consequences for the voiceless.
In the end, I’m just another guy with a blog, putting my opinion on-line for any that care to read it. I try to back-up my opinions with facts – and if those turn out to be as dodgy as those I criticize, I’ll own up to it. You have a much larger potential audience as a producer – I would only ask that you don’t cut the dissenting voice from the debate. If for no other reason than keeping the climate change debate honest, for making the greens prove the point with real facts and not armageddonist headlines, it would be worth that effort.
Once more, thank you for taking the time to respond, and I wish you success in your future programming.