February 28, 2004
Reading comprehension and Global Warming
There has been quite a bit of talk recently about the "suppressed" report commisioned by the Pentagon that discusses potential consequences of climatic change, after an astonishingly stupid article in The Observer grossly misrepresented the contents of the report, and news organizations across the globe reported the story in the Observer without bothering to read the original report. (The latest is from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, in which Mark Trahant, the editor of the Editorial page, takes a swipe at Donald Rumsfeld.) The text of the report can be found here, from a global warming alarmist site which also uncritically trumpets the story in the Observer.
After reading the report, several items leapt out at me. Firstly, the report states before the executive summary that this exercise is not intended to simulate a likely set of conditions, but rather is a hypothetical scenario to stretch US security planners' ability to prepare for a drastic change. The Observer states the scenarios explored in the report as factual, not as hypothetical, which is a severe disservice to their readers, and an inexcusable breach of ethics.
Second, the report is not about global warming at all, but rather global cooling. (Oooooh, flashback to the 1970's.) As such, the report does not discuss the Kyoto Protocol, or call on the US to reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses such as CO2. Nowhere in the Observer piece is this fact noted, as the eco-fundies are pinning everything on global warming.
Third, the foundation upon which this report is based notes a similar set of conditions occured 8200 years ago, when man had absolutely no effect on global climate, and the report doesn't discuss the impact of humans in this scenario. It's all driven by nature. The Observer again fails to note this crucial point.
Fourth, the report notes that most scientists who believe in climate change also believe that the effects will be local in nature, rather than global. Unsurprisingly, the Observer omits that from their article.
Fifth, much of the report's premise is based on a decline in temperature caused by a change in the thermohaline circulation in the earth's oceans. Current climate change models do not include this in their programming. The Observer doesn't point that out, either.
Sixth, the conclusions of the report are not discussed. The report stresses that more accurate models must be developed in order to formulate policy. It also notes that we have the technology to warm the planet, so we can release hydroflourocarbons into the air to offest the cooling effects (I'm not making this up, honest). Eco-fundies would stroke out if we took the report seriously and began to implement its recommendations.
The Observer has sunk to a new low with this article. The slipshod misreporting of the facts, coupled with a willful indifference to the truth, puts them somewhere below Newsmax.com as a reliable source of news. I'd trust them over Weekly World News, but only slightly. At least Weekly World News doesn't misrepresent the facts in important news stories. Elvis's three headed love child with Debbie Gibson is not a pressing concern for most of the world.