Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Nothing Funny

Jon has a history of talking out of his ass on GW. He may be "just a comedian" but he should know better.
Think Progress: Jon Stewart Praises ‘SuperFreak’ Author: ‘I’m Sorry You’ve Taken So Much S**t’
On last night’s Daily Show, host Jon Stewart heaped praise on the contrarian approach to global warming taken by SuperFreakonomics author Steve Levitt, a University of Chicago economist. Stewart was dismissive of the widespread criticism of Levitt and co-author Stephen Dubner, asking, “Have you stepped on a secular religion?” Stewart, often a tough interviewer, coddled Levitt, saying, “I’m sorry you’ve taken so much s**t for it.” He blamed the uproar over SuperFreakonomics on people who “feel you are betraying environmentalism”:
I’ve been somewhat surprised at how angry people are. The global warming chapter, you don’t deny global warming. You don’t say that CO2 isn’t a factor, but they feel you are betraying environmentalism or our world. Why are people so mad?
Watch it:

SuperFreakonomics mischaracterizes the field in order to argue that “moralism and angst” has blinded scientists and policymakers from pursuing the “cheap and simple solution” of geoengineering. Although the book condemns scientists for fearmongering and promotes a radical alternative to existing policy, Levitt tells Stewart, “I don’t try to pretend I know the science.”
In reality, the critics of Levitt’s treatment of climate science and policy are not “dogmatic” believers of a “secular religion” — they are highly respected climate scientists, energy experts, and economists, including climate scientist Ken Caldeira, who has said Levitt and Dubner misrepresented his views. The widespread criticism isn’t based on the book’s personal attacks on Al Gore or its mocking of global warming as a “religion,” but on the multitude of factual errors, misrepresentations, and false conclusions that the authors use to promote their mindless contrarianism. As science journalist Eric Pooley writes, “The book claims the opposite of what Caldeira believes.”
Levitt recommends untested, planetary scale geo-engineering to block the sun as a “band-aid” that “buys us time” if “we might need to do something,” because carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for a long time. However, scientists concerned that global warming needs to be reduced rapidly have already found a well-proven approach that’s cheaper and safer than pumping unlimited amounts of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere: stopping black carbon emissions of soot from diesel and biomass burning.
Stewart rightly concluded, “I really don’t know what I’m talking about, do I?” However, he failed to understand his mistake when he added that he had “apparently frightened our audience by suggesting that conservation isn’t the only way out of any of our problems.”
Stewart has excoriated other media darlings for their laissez-faire approach to serious issues, from Tucker Carlson to Jim Cramer, and just last week skewered CNN for its failure to do even basic fact-checking of its guests. Unfortunately, in this instance, there was nothing funny about Stewart’s inaccuracy.
Dana Milbank noted this morning, "It must be very lonely being the last flat-earther." He was referring, of course, to the tragically confused senior senator from Oklahoma, James Inhofe (R).
The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a key hearing yesterday on global warming, and even conservative Republicans on the panel "made it clear that they no longer share, if they ever did, Inhofe's view that man-made global warming is the 'greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.'"
"Eleven academies in industrialized countries say that climate change is real; humans have caused most of the recent warming," admitted Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). "If fire chiefs of the same reputation told me my house was about to burn down, I'd buy some fire insurance."
An oil-state senator, David Vitter (R-La), said that he, too, wants to "get us beyond high-carbon fuels" and "focus on conservation, nuclear, natural gas and new technologies like electric cars." And an industrial-state senator, George Voinovich (R-Ohio), acknowledged that climate change "is a serious and complex issue that deserves our full attention."
Then there was poor Inhofe. "The science is more definitive than ever? You keep saying that because you want to believe it so much," he said bitterly. He offered to furnish a list of scientists who once believed in climate change but "who are solidly on the other side right now." The science, he said, "already has shifted" against global-warming theory. "Science is not settled! Everyone knows it's not settled!"
Inhofe called for more oil drilling. His aides tried to debunk the other senators' points by passing around papers titled "Rapid Response." Mid-hearing, Inhofe's former spokesman, now in the private sector, sent out an e-mail -- "Prominent Russian Scientist: 'We should fear a deep temperature drop -- not catastrophic global warming.' "
Inhofe later insisted that "we went out of that natural warming cycle about nine years ago" -- a claim that's patently ridiculous.
As for Inhofe's "list of scientists," let's not forget that many of them aren't scientists, and many more are convinced Inhofe's wrong. (Some of the actual scientists included on the senator's list demanded that their names be removed -- and he ignored their requests.)
Every time I see Inhofe ranting about this, I picture him on the Senate floor, after legislation has already passed, sounding like some tragic Don Ameche, shouting to no one in particular: "Now, you listen to me! I want the voting reopened right now. Get those members back in here! Turn those machines back on!"

No comments:

Post a Comment