Saturday, January 26, 2008

Goldwater Institute falls for old hoax!

To claim that there is a libertarian, liberal, or free-marketeer answer to a scientific question would be ludicrous. Why, then, are the staff at free-market think-tanks more likely than most to fall for the lies circulated by the sociopathic global-warming denialists? If it's because the liars know how to flatter the libertarian's prejudices, that's truly shameful.

Byron Schlomach of Arizona's own Goldwater Institute revealed in a recent newsletter article that he's an easy mark for such con men. So easy, in fact, that he fell for the global warming denialists' equivalent of the Canal Street, New Orleans "betcha I can tell you where you got your shoes": the Oregon Petition.

The connection between Schlomach's article and said hoax was glaringly obvious. Schoolboys know that human life per se is carbon-neutral; the CO2 we exhale was recently taken out of the atmosphere by plants. (The beef industry is not carbon neutral because the net effect on atmospheric composition is to replace a considerable amount of CO2 with CH4, or methane, a far more potent greenhouse gas.) Schlomach, on the other hand, is either genuinely afraid that Arizona will regulate his "very breath", or thinks his readers as so many fools who can be made afraid. Of the denialist hoaxes, the Oregon Petition emphasized most strongly that CO2 is exhaled as a normal part of human respiration.

The bare minimum we ought to be able to expect from think-tank staff anywhere on the political spectrum is that they be neither suckers nor swindlers, that they never willfully lie or dispense with critical thought. Robinson and Soon dressed up their old Oregon Petition propaganda to look like something out of the pages of PNAS and published it in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, which despite the name, is a right-wing newsletter, not a peer-reviewed technical journal.

If Schlomach had bothered to do any digging, he'd have found that this "paper"'s nearly identical predecessor was so widely and solidly debunked as to have no credibility, and that this one, too, has some obvious faults, the most prominent being its dishonest and deliberately misleading selection of data. If one wants to discuss global temperature, one must actually reference global temperature, not studies of the Sargasso Sea! Moreover, even schoolboys know that the anthropogenic global warming thesis does not imply that temperature will correlate 1:1 with hydrocarbon use (as in Fig. 3), nor that year-to-year fluctuations will not correlate to solar activity! Matters are much more complicated, that's why the models involved are of the sort that require computer evaluation and consequently give economists fits for reasons nobody but economists understand. (Were they traumatized by Fortran 77?)

The least we can expect from a think-tank is that it will have enough internal editorial checks so as to not allow someone so willfully lazy as to not check if a source from a dubious "journal" has been discredited to send his arguments to one of the larger contact lists in the state. The mistake was made: to preserve its reputation for honesty and high intellectual standards, the Goldwater Institute must kick Schlomach to the curb.

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