Worried about Global Warming or Ozone Depletion? Then Destroy Critics Who Say Those aren’t Problems.

Think about that line of reasoning for a moment. If you are fearful of climate catastrophe, wouldn’t you welcome the critics’ good news? Enviro-activists don’t, and I don’t try to analyze why. What I can do is tell how particular people reveal a one-and-the-same character assassination effort against critics of global warming and ozone depletion.

Naomi Oreskes is the co-author of the 2010 “Merchants of Doubt” book, its central message saying industry-corrupted skeptic climate scientists deny the scientific certainties of man-caused catastrophic global warming and the catastrophic potential loss of the Earth’s upper atmosphere ozone layer. Oreskes is not a scientist, nor does she have climate or atmospheric science expertise, so the only effective weapon at her disposal is to insinuate the skeptic scientists are corrupt.

When a New York Times interviewer recently asked what initially prompted her to focus on skeptics’ ‘corruption’, Oreskes responded with her impression (screencapture, for posterity) of the reaction to her 2004 treatise which quantified the scientific consensus on man-caused global warming:

I didn’t know it, but when I’d used the word “consensus,” I’d hit a land mine. For those who claim that climate change is a myth, the term “consensus” will — boom! — trigger a backlash. That’s because their strategy is based on spreading the idea that the science is still unsettled. Why? Because if you don’t know for sure there’s a problem, you can’t justify doing anything about it.

As an ad from the coal industry had it, “How much are you willing to pay to solve a problem that may not exist?”

Around the time this was happening, I met the Caltech historian Erik Conway. He’d come across material about the campaign to stop ozone depletion by curbing chlorofluorocarbons use. Erik said one of the people attacking me had done the same to Sherwood Rowland, a co-recipient of the Nobel Prize for his work on ozone depletion.

I did some digging of my own. I learned that my critic was among an informal group of physicists who’d risen to prominence in weapons and rocketry during the Cold War. Though none were climatologists, they became key figures in climate change denial.

Sounds really devastating….. until anyone starts dissecting those four paragraphs.

#1  Her bit about “if you don’t know for sure there’s a problem, you can’t justify doing anything” is just a repetition of the talking point the late Stephen Schneider apparently invented, which Ross Gelbspan promulgated to perfection as “come back and tell us what you know when you really know what you’re talking about”, which I detailed in my June 26, 2014 blog post. Squabbling scientists inspire no one to stop global warming or ozone depletion.

#2  Oreskes slides in a reference to the Western Fuels Association’s 1991-era pilot project “Information Council for the Environment” (ICE) PR campaign newspaper ad, an ad which practically nobody saw and which Greenpeace and others have a hard time getting its details correct.  As I noted in another blog post here, Oreskes’ only source of evidence for her accusation that skeptic scientists are ‘paid industry shills’ is that specific ICE campaign.

#3  Oreskes doesn’t bother to name her and Dr Sherwood Rowland’s attacker. An educated guess would be Dr S. Fred Singer, since back in 1997 the LA Times described him this way: (words emphasized in red in comparison to others seen further below)

S. Fred Singer, a Virginia physicist who has not done direct research on ozone depletion, has emerged as one of Rowland’s more ardent critics. Singer’s work has been cited by the likes of radio personality Rush Limbaugh and a few lawmakers to denounce the prevailing view on ozone depletion.

Three critical items must be noted here regarding the Rowland connection: Oreskes cites Ross Gelbpsan’s ‘exposé about the ICE memos’ “reposition global warming” phrase as proof of skeptics’ guilt. Gelbspan tried to pin that memo phrase directly onto Dr Singer…. until he apparently discovered there was no basis for that specific attempt. And where did Gelbspan get those ICE memos? All that is ever said of that is “According to documents obtained by Ozone Action and by Ross Gelbspan, several ICE strategies were laid out including: the repositioning of global warming as theory, not fact…”

Ozone Action, an environmental organization dedicated to stopping ozone depletion, a place that would have no reason to exist if Sherwood Rowland’s assessments were discredited – the same Sherwood Rowland who is seen sending an email directly to Ozone Action pleading for action to stop skeptic scientists’ petition efforts on global warming – the same Ozone Action which apparently was involved with White House efforts months later to do exactly what Rowland was pleading for.

#4  Assuming Oreskes did some digging, the question is whether she merely turned up Gelbspan’s and Ozone Action’s material. A reporter could ask her that, and if she ever checked the veracity of the overall ‘corrupt skeptics’ accusation or if she specifically checked to see if the “reposition global warming” phrase was the top-down industry directive it was portrayed to be, and if she could prove Dr Singer actually denies ‘climate change’ in any genuine fashion.

Another key detail to keep in mind about all those Ozone Action items being found in Greenpeace archive scans: Ozone Action and its files was merged into Greenpeace USA in 2000, with its top three people taking over top spots at Greenpeace USA.

So, as seen in this “Greenpeace USA née Ozone Action” scan of Dr Singer’s Washington Times December 28, 1994 op-ed, is it far-fetched to speculate that Ozone Action kept the following for its own use, but never let its followers see Dr Singer’s defense?

It is interesting to watch the proponents of the ozone-CFC theory squirm when under scientific attack. They resort to evasion, double-talk and often outright prevarication. The Bureau of National Affairs’ Daily Environmental Report quotes from a debate at the August 1994 meeting of the American Chemical Society: University of California chemist Sherwood Rowland, coauthor of the ozone-CFC theory, could only respond that his critics (including this writer) had not published their doubts about ozone depletion in peer- reviewed journals. (Not only is his statement untrue, but Mr. Rowland must know it to be untrue since he replied to one of my publications in the very same Aug. 27, 1993, issue of Science.)

Oh, dear, disagreeing scientists, a violation of the Schneider Doctrine, we mustn’t let the public see that. And Dr Singer’s concluding paragraph there is pure heresy to both the ozone depletion and global warming fearmongers:

The ozone experience provides a lesson on the folly of jumping ahead with costly policies, estimated at well over $100 billion for the United States alone, before the science is well understood and substantial disagreements are settled. Unfortunately, this lesson from CFC-ozone policy has not been learned by our public officials. They prefer to believe the myth of a “scientific consensus” and seem eager to repeat the same mistakes for the global warming issue where the potential for damage by ill-advised and hasty policies is so much higher. Scientists must share the blame; by not speaking up more forcefully, they have allowed regulators and international bureaucrats to run amok in areas in which they have no expertise.

But in no less than exactly what Dr Singer warmed about, sixteen years later the Vice Chair of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Jean-Pascal van Ypersele (an odd combination of bureaucrat/climate scientist) cites Naomi Oreskes (a historian with no climatologist expertise) to claim (full text here):

… damage has been done unfortunately, and that this was what the “organised” critics wanted. Because if you don’t have confidence in the scientific basis of the diagnosis that the planet’s atmosphere receives too much greenhouse gas, why would any country or economic sector go through the difficulties of trying to reduce emissions.

It is a very similar process to what the tobacco industry was doing 30 or 40 years ago, when they wanted to delay legislation, and that is the result of research – not my subjective evaluation – by Prof Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway.

Industry-corrupted scientists manufacturing doubt, in a other words. Van Ypersele was more direct a year later: (via translation) “Mr. Fred Singer is a person whose scientific integrity leaves much to be desired. Its activities are financed disinformation by the lobbies of fossil fuels.”

It’s an amazing pattern. Dr S. Fred Singer, backed by practically an army of his fellow skeptic scientists, shows up with tons of information saying Van Ypersele’s, Oreskes’, Al Gore’s and Greenpeace USA née Ozone Action’s climate fears are monstrously overblown. Did they express initial joy while – as a matter of due diligence – challenging the skeptics on a purely scientific basis, or did they react with knee-jerk character assassination efforts?

Hard to miss that the ozone depletion / global warming pushers have every appearance of choosing the latter, and how their accusation isn’t separated from Ross Gelbspan by more than three degrees.