Propaganda as Journalism

One of the vilest, most venomous pieces of writing masquerading as journalism was the Newsweek cover story on August 13, 2007.

With the sun as the backdrop, which in the piece got a minor supporting role for global warming, compared to man-produced CO2, the magazine screamed “Global Warming is a Hoax” * and the asterisk led to the clincher as a large enough footnote: "Or so claim well-funded naysayers who still reject the overwhelming evidence of climate change. Inside the denial machine."

The attack was so vicious that MIT meteorologist Richard Lindzen, a well known climate expert and a strong doubter of any unusual global warming is “the kind of man who, if you’re in the minority, he opts to be with you.” Just before the writer gave a hint for the reason for Lindzen’s character flaw. His parents fled Nazi Germany. (I checked my facts. Lindzen is not funded by oil companies or their proxies.)

Well, I am also not in anybody’s pay and I am not even, heavens forbid, a Republican. And I have not relied on the “hundreds of scientists” constantly invoked as signing petitions but never publishing causal papers. I have personally worked on radiation heat transfer and I do not need the opinions of others about anthropogenic global warming, maybe 0.1 degrees centigrade. The postulated global warming simply cannot be caused by man-made CO2.

I am not a climate expert and I am perfectly willing to accept that global warming is happening. But the writer, Sharon Begley, did not even bother to really distinguish between global warming, an occurrence that has demonstrably happened over and over again in earth’s history, something that the climate experts are debating, and the politically loaded anthropogenic part. Make no mistake. The latter is far more salient to the Gores of the world and it is an undisguised, ideologically driven, full frontal attack on American and developed world lifestyles and the energy industry.

Had the writer attempted even remote due diligence, just by asking some of the 800 “authors” of the IPPC report to produce just one reference, she would discover that there is not one paper in the peer reviewed heat transfer or thermodynamic literature that shows the causal relationship between the presumably observed and, especially, forecasted global warming and the increased CO2 at the 300 parts per million levels. Correlation does not prove causation. That’s what I thought until now. I am even willing to accept that global warming can cause enhanced CO2 in the atmosphere by reducing the solubility of the gas in the oceans. But the other way around is what is at issue.

Instead, the well funded machine, with only ExxonMobil identified as a funder, is supposed to cast aspersions to what Newsweek thinks is the obvious. By the way ExxonMobil in a well publicized move a few years ago gave $100 million to Stanford University to study global warming issues. Much of that money went to environmentalist type projects.

First, oil companies should love the rhetoric of global warming. They would be watching with glee. If the public is conditioned to believe in alternatives such as wind at $200 per barrel of oil equivalent or solar at $1,000, if taxes are supposed to force conservation while the public uses more and more energy, guess what gift is handed to those that manage oil and gas. The reason we use those energy sources is not because of some ideological propensity. They are the easiest and cheapest to use. The profits margins of oil companies will soar in a preposterously legislated remedy-global-warming future. Environmentalist silliness will strengthen the presumed devils all the while preventing the market to develop into real technologies and alternatives. Solar and wind will never do that.

Second, while slogans and magazine articles lament what they consider to be a looming catastrophe, other than saying oil, gas and coal are bad for you, they are not really suggesting what else can be done because if they did they would quickly find the insurmountable costs. Unless committing economic suicide is what’s in their mind. If the recent virtual economy hiccup can cause the problem that it did, imagine what a forced energy supply disruption will mean for the world.

I have calculated that sequestering just the expected incremental CO2 between today’s levels and 2030 will require 1.7 million wells at a cost of over $7 trillion. Alternative energy sources will cost more.

I am sure that all this nonsense will be swept away by the economy and reality. There is no need to worry. Oil and gas will be the dominant sources of energy for another 50 years, at least.