Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Tierney and Global Warming 'Alarmists'

In skewering the wingnuts' reaction to that John Tierney column yesterday, I didn't didn't really deal with the column itself. It really is bad, though--bad enough to be worth a post in its own right.

Tierney is dishonest in a couple of ways here. First, he follows the popular strategy of picking at what people say about global warming in order to discredit the idea without addressing its substance. As S. W. Anderson points out, the existence of some overly-alarmist voices about global warming has no bearing at all on the reality of the phenomenon--any more than wingnut hysteria about Terra negates the existence of al Qaeda.

(Of course, Tierney may be making a virtue of necessity here, given that his own understanding of the substance appears to be cartoonishly wrong; for example, there is this:

Droughts in California and Australia became the new harbingers of climate change (never mind that a warmer planet is projected to have more, not less, precipitation over all).
Which is extremely silly: obviously, there is no contradiction between drought in some areas and more precipitation over all.)

The other key bit of dishonesty comes when Tierney identifies a class of "availability enterpreneurs" that lumps together "activists, journalists and publicity-savvy scientists"--implying that journalists and (non-denier) scientists are just as agenda-driven as the activists. Of course, the 'scientists' who are most agenda-driven and 'publicity-savvy' are the ones who shill for the corporations--which is why they have been so successful at confusing the issue. As usual, Tierney gets it completely wrong: it isn't global warming activists who run the well-oiled propaganda machine.