"Climate Change's Gravy Train
By Peter C. Glover
Source Tech Central Station Daily
"In an open letter to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, 60 leading scientists called upon him to "re-visit the science on global warming and review the policies inherited from his leftwing predecessor." Referring to Kyoto as "pointless," the letter not only questioned the science of climate change, it also cites as a greater threat the billions of dollars that are to be wasted on associated research and development -- an outgrowth of that self-same science.
Questioning the justification for this R&D will not only attract the ire of researchers on the gravy train, it threatens the sources of fodder for scare-mongers in the mainstream media. Indeed, had 60 scientists written urging almost anything else, it would have, no doubt, received widespread coverage. But this open letter was marked by an almost deafening media silence in the US, UK and elsewhere.
Richard Lindzen, Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) asks a pertinent question: "How can a barely discernible, one-degree increase in the recorded global mean temperature since the late 19th century possibly gain public acceptance as the source of weather catastrophes? And how can it translate into claims about future catastrophes? The answer has much to do with misunderstanding the science of climate, plus a willingness to debase climate science into a triangle of alarmism."
Lindzen goes on to identify how the doom-mongers in both the science research community and media have a "vested interest" in "hyping" the "political stakes for policymakers who provide more funds for more science research to feed more alarm. "After all", Lindzen wonders, "who puts money into science -- whether for AIDS, or space, or climate -- where there is nothing really alarming"?
Lindzen himself knows a thing or two about science research funding. The faculty at MIT has recently suffered cuts. The physics department was only able to accept 25 students this year -- down from 50 last year. And two MIT contracts with NASA -- which PhD candidates rely on to pay for their work -- have been trimmed by 91 percent. During 2005 two research workers turned down funding at MIT to work in Europe where funding is currently less of struggle. But he plainly does not allow this to cloud his opinion on the science.
Even though the US still spends more than any other country on scientific research, federal research funds more generally are currently flat or declining in many areas. But the National Institutes of Health saw its budget double between 1998 and 2003. Still, this year saw the Congress approve the first NIH budget cut since 1970. The National Science Foundation received only a modest increase to its massive $5.6 billion budget. (The usual response from science advocates squaring up to warn of the US 'losing its competitive edge' duly followed.)
The Bush-led government duly felt the full force of the "anti-science" accusation as a result. The notion that there are issues of more immediate financial need, like Homeland Security, cuts no arctic ice with funding ideologues, however.
Lindzen points to how the successes of climate alarmism are directly reflected "in the increased federal spending on climate research from a few hundred million dollars pre-1990 to $1.7 billion today." But he notes a "more sinister side to this feeding frenzy." It's that "scientists who dissent from alarmism have seen their funds disappear, their work derided, and libelled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse." The result? "Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their basis."
Dr. Roy Spencer recently warned that the current global warming hysteria could be assuaged if "more scientists who don't believe in predictions of climate catastrophe...rise above their fears of losing funding and speak out."
In the UK, the trade union Prospect -- which represents 68,000 scientists -- issued a report in March called 'Who's looking after British science?' The report complained bitterly that recent government cuts have "damaged the UK's core science capability." Once again, we are talking about public funding in the public sector. Prospect's real concern was that funding would be switched to "fund research that would only benefit private companies, which could switch the focus of research according to commercial demand."
In response to the publication of 2006 Climate Change Programme, Tomorrow's climate, today's challenge, the chair of the British Local Government Association's Board David Sparks has recently demanded that local government "needs £28 million to meet climate change challenges."
Perhaps never, in the annals of scientific research, has Mark Twain's observation about science been so apt: "One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact." And the fact is, billions in special interests are now controlling the debate. "
Peter C Glover is the author of The Politics of Faith. He also edits the blog Wires From The Bunker. "
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