Sylvie Stein’s recent piece in the Congress Blog, “Don’t help the merchants of doubt,” tells a great deal about Stein and her organization. Stein and the authors of “Merchants of Doubt” are skilled in distortion and being practitioners of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, especially the rule to “pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”
It is telling that Stein wants her views and those of climate alarmists to be conveyed by the media, but not those of people who challenge them. What does that say about her organization’s views of the Constitution and the importance of free speech to a free society? Movements to suppress free speech believe that the end justifies the means. That is unsettling.
The word “denier” has been used by some to equate skeptics of the climate orthodoxy to deniers of the Holocaust. That is shameless. Neither I nor those I associate with deny that climate change and global warming are real or that human activities impact climate. That is far different than human activities being the major cause of warming and extreme weather events like hurricanes.
Her attacks are based on “Merchants of Doubt” and an alleged “97 [percent] consensus” of scientists. That foundation shows the weakness of her case. The movie “Merchants of Doubt” is based on a book by Naomi Oreskes that defames and slanders the good names and reputations of three outstanding scientists who cannot defend themselves because they are deceased. The George C. Marshall Institute published a critique, “Clouding the Truth: A Critique of Merchants of Doubt” in 2013; another critique is “A critique of Oreskes et al. 2008.” Truth and accuracy are victims of Naomi Oreskes’s piece of work.
Using the “97 percent” canard typifies the tactic of repeating a lie until it is accepted. Surveys claiming the 97 percent consensus have been thoroughly refuted. The most recent survey by John Cook involved reviewing cited abstracts of peer-reviewed papers published from 1991 to 2011. Professor David Legates and co-authors dismembered Cook’s 97 percent in an article in Science and Education. They reviewed the same papers cited by Cook and found “only 41 — 0.3 percent — of the 11,944 abstracts or 1.0 percent of the 4,014 (scientists?) expressing an opinion had been found to endorse” the claim that human activity is causing most of the current warming.
Stein’s claims that “when CO2 levels have risen, so have global temperatures” or that the world has been warming rapidly are refuted by geological history, U.S. temperature records since the end of the Little Ice Age, satellite data and the most recent warming pause. Most scientists agree that a doubling of carbon dioxide would only raise temperature about 1 degree unless there is increased climate sensitivity, which has not been demonstrated. Even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) keeps reducing its “estimate” of sensitivity. The real issue is sensitivity; not carbon dioxide levels.
Stein attempts to use the ocean’s storage capacity to explain the warming pause since 1998. But oceanographers acknowledge that good data on ocean warming have only been available for about 20 years. So her point lacks credibility. Carl Wunsch, professor of oceanography at MIT, observes that oceans have been warming since the end of the last glaciation over 10,000 years ago and will continue to warm until the next glaciation.
Finally, Stein attempts to discredit me by allegations about funding. As Ted Koppel told former Vice President Gore when he used the same tactic on ABC’s “Nightline”: “The measure of good science is neither the politics of the scientist nor the people with whom the scientist associates. It is the immersion of hypotheses into the acid of truth. That’s the hard way to do it, but it’s the only way that works.” The Marshall Institute’s publications are publicly available and have stood the test of time.
Stein needs to be reminded of the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s (D-N.Y.) admonition that “everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not his own facts.” Stein is very short on facts.
O’Keefe is CEO of the George C. Marshall Institute and president of Solutions Consulting, Inc.