Mainstream media pundits predictably wring their hands over the breakup of the GOP and conservatives, but what is egregiously overlooked is how Democrats and far-left liberals are committing political suicide whenever they defend their pursuit of unpopular agendas with unsupportable assertions.
The issue of global warming, brought up by President Obama three weeks ago amid a sea of administration scandals, is a case study of this problem. What unsupportable assertion keeps this particular dead horse walking? Consider the following from his 6/25/13 speech:
...science, accumulated and reviewed over decades, tells us that our planet is changing in ways that will have profound impacts on all of humankind
.... I don’t have much patience for anyone who denies that this challenge is real. We don’t have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society.
In short, the science is settled and skeptics who say global warming might not be primarily caused by human-induced greenhouse gases are crazy. But, this is the same basic idea that Boston Globe reporter Ross Gelbspan described back in 1992:
Dr. Stephen Schneider, a leading atmospheric researcher with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., said recently, "It is journalistically irresponsible to present both sides as though it were a question of balance. Given the distribution of views, with groups like the National Academy of Science expressing strong scientific concern, it is irresponsible to give equal time to a few people standing out in left field."
Sen. Al Gore (D-Tenn.) conceded that uncertainties about atmospheric interactions make it impossible to forecast specific phases of climate change. But, he added, "the overall weight of evidence" of global warming "is so clear that one begins to feel angry towards those who exaggerate the uncertainty."
The problem with this narrative is it's plausible that whatever majority that might exist in this situation may have their climate assessments wrong. Scientific conclusions have never been validated by a simple show of hands. More critical is how whistle-blowing skeptics could thwart the whole issue if they present a convincing argument that the case for man-made global warming is without merit.
So how do you marginalize skeptic scientists in the eyes of the public, in order for them to never take skeptics seriously? You don't say they're crazy, you portray them as paid shills of the fossil fuel industry. From the same Ross Gelbspan who wrote the above 1992 piece, we see this at Mother Jones in 2005:
In the early 1990s, when climate scientists began to suspect that our burning of coal and oil was changing the earth’s climate, Western Fuels, then a $400 million coal cooperative, declared in its annual report that it was enlisting several scientists who were skeptical about climate change—Patrick Michaels, Robert Balling, and S. Fred Singer—as spokesmen. The coal industry paid these and a handful of other skeptics some $1 million over a three-year period and sent them around the country to speak to the press and the public. According to internal strategy papers I obtained at the time, the purpose of the campaign was “to reposition global warming as theory (not fact),” with an emphasis on targeting “older, less educated males,” and “younger, low-income women” in districts that received their electricity from coal, and who preferably had a representative on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Accept his paragraph at face value, and you have every reason in the world to worry that some kind of sinister campaign is afoot to downplay the global warming crisis. Question it instead, and you discover this single paragraph contains seven misleading insinuations:
- Regardless of its size, the Western Fuels Association is a non-profit organization
- Three scientists scientists were part of an obscure pilot project newspaper and radio ad campaign - Fred Singer was never among them
- The three scientists were not "sent around the country" in a manner any reasonable person would consider to be influential
- Money paid to skeptic scientists implies false, fabricated scientific statements were a result - an assertion that does not have one shred of physical evidence to prove it
- The "internal strategy papers" were nothing more than simple guidelines which neither Gelbspan nor any other accuser ever showed in their full context for over 22 years - except on one odd occasion just recently
- The "internal strategy papers" Gelbspan 'obtained' were said by Al Gore to be Gelbspan's discovery, despite the fact that Gore's 1992 book quoted from them at least several years before Gelbspan ever mentioned them
- Skeptic scientists offering helpful information were found, in 1989 - they were not "enlisted" to carry out a sinister directive of the fossil fuel industry.
Let's examine that last item in particular. In my blog here, I detailed the way another of Gelbspan's narratives about a 1991 Western Fuels Association annual report went off the rails. But in this specific assertion about "enlisting several scientists who were skeptical about climate change", it's critical to view the actual report Gelbspan refers to - the 1993 report's page 13 - in its full context. Beginning just above the middle of its page:
When the controversy first erupted at the peak of summer in 1988, Western Fuels Association decided it was important to take a stand. As a first step, management became intimately familiar with the details of the popular vision. In the process, scientists were found who are skeptical about much of what seemed generally accepted about the potential for climate change. Among them were Michaels, Robert Balling of the Arizona State University, and S. Fred Singer of the University of Virginia. Their presentations during Western Fuels' 1989 annual energy conference led to our introduction to the work of other scientists."
Scientists were not "enlisted" - found - to carry out a directive of the fossil fuel industry, Western Fuels took a careful look into the issue and "became aware of" - found, in other words - scientists who introduced the organization to others.
So, if this particular narrative of Gelbspan's at Mother Jones is demonstratively inaccurate, and the larger accusation about the so-called "industry corruption" of skeptic climate scientists not only originates with Gelbspan in a highly questionable manner and is additionally not supported by a shred of evidence that such skeptics are paid to lie about the issue, do we not then have the situation I described here at RedState nearly two years ago, a ponzi scheme of incessant media story infusions - including one three weeks ago from President Obama - designed to steer the public away from seeing skeptic scientists as whistleblowers on an idea that can’t support its own science assessments?
Consider how Democrats apply the first-resort defense tactic of character assassination like clockwork against their critics across the board on other issues in increasingly preposterous fashion, and it becomes abundantly obvious as to which side of the political spectrum is headed toward a complete wipeout in credibility. It's only a matter of time before the damage is so extensive that the public will have no faith in anything Democrats say.