The Incontestability of Change

Dissent from man-made global warming belief from prominent scientists begins to gain media attention.

by Cody Hensarling

One of the most unsettling trends in public discourse is the tendency of those who oppose government regulation designed to combat man-made global warming, such as Cap & Trade and the expansion of Environmental Protection Agency regulatory power, to be shouted down by their opponents. While this happens at seemingly all levels of society, Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Perry is finding out firsthand that the more intense media scrutiny becomes, the shriller the voice of the climate change regulators in response.

The MSNBC/Politico Republican Primary Presidential Debate was not exactly lauded by conservatives for the nature of the questions asked. Rather, most conservative pundits noted the questions seemed designed to paint Republicans as “stupid” and “out of touch with the mainstream”. At one point, Politico moderator Jon Harris asked Governor Perry on which scientists’ opinion did he most strongly base his doubt of the theory of man-made global warming. Perry, for whatever reason, chose not to directly answer the question. Perhaps this decision was a shrewd choice in terms of debate strategy; perhaps Governor Perry did not have a name on the tip of his tongue. Maybe, if the debate happened today, he would have a name.

On Tuesday, September 13th, Nobel laureate Dr. Ivar Glaever announced his resignation from the premier physics society in the nation; the American Physical Society. While some would be quick to point out that a resignation from APS doesn’t necessarily mean Dr. Glaever rejects the assertion that man is causing climate change, Dr. Glaever made it quite clear in his resignation letter that his objection was to describing the evidence for man-made global warming as “incontrovertible”. Dr. Glaever was quoted in a September 14, 2011 article from Fox News (http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/09/14/nobel-prize-winning-physicist-resigns-from-top-physics-group-over-global/) as saying that “The word ‘incontrovertible’ … is rarely used in science because by its very nature, science questions prevailing ideas.”

Dr. Glaever is not the only name that Governor Perry could have cited. In another high profile resignation from the APS, Professor Emeritus at the University of California at Santa Barbara, Harold Lewis, claimed he was resigning in October of 2010 because “(man-made global warming) is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist.” Professor Lewis’ resignation was covered by media outlets worldwide, including the UK’s London Telegraph. (http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100058265/us-physics-professor-global-warming-is-the-greatest-and-most-successful-pseudoscientific-fraud-i-have-seen-in-my-long-life/) Both of these physicists were signatories to a letter of over 100 American scientists who wrote to President Obama in 2009 denouncing the mainstream acceptance of man-made global warming.

The next time someone tries to tell you that climate change is settled science, remember the names Glaever and Lewis. Make no mistake about it; many of those who want government to act to stop climate change simply want government to regulate winners and losers in the markets. Having a sensible environmental policy that uses the principles of conservation and has the goal of preserving a healthy environment for future generations is worthy goal. However, rash action that drastically expands government control over the lives of its citizens and over the economy of the United States is policy without sound logical or scientific foundation.

Cody Hensarling is an intern at the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.

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