No matter where you are, no matter the time of day, no matter the weather, it seems you can find someone talking about it. Recently it was at the grocery store. Two checkers couldn't agree. Global warming? Or not? Still stinging from the recent cold crunch, my vote was with the not. But what is true? Certainly the mainstream media is no help.
I must admit, I am a skeptic. After all, as Kenneth Chilton, director of the Institute for the Study of Economics and the Environment said, "These guys are going to try to tell you what the climate's going to be like in 2100, and the weatherman can't tell you what it's going to be like in five days. Weather is simple compared to climate. Let's get real here." 1
Yet the Associated Press continues to print headlines such as, "Climate report warns of droughts, starvation, disease." In fact, reporter Seth Borenstein prophesies, "Tens of millions . . . will be flooded out of their homes each year as the Earth reels from rising temperatures and sea levels. . . Tropical diseases will spread. By 2050, polar bears will mostly be found in zoos, their habitats gone. Pests like fire ants will thrive." 2 [emphasis mine]
Not until later does Mr. Borenstein regain some realism adding the term, 'could.' Why? What is his basis? His purpose? A dose of reality? A well-crafted rumor?
Can't we trust the news? Don't they present the 'facts'? If so, why the sensationalism? The contradictions? The mud-slinging?
A good example of today's conflicting propaganda is revealed in the comparison of two recent 'news' reports. Canada Free Press, which calls itself Canada's Fast Growing Independent News Source, presents one side. A guest essay by Ross Gelbspan, posted on 'The Grist', a website dedicated to environment news and commentary, expounds the other.
Ross, a 30-year journalism veteran, maintains the pace of global warming has kicked into overdrive. He claims, "the hollow optimism of climate activists, along with the desperate responses of some of the world's most prominent climate scientists, is preventing us from focusing on the survival requirements of the human enterprise." He contends we have "failed to meet nature's deadline."3
Miguel A. Guanipa, reporter for the Canada Free Press, disagrees. He says, '. . . no consensus is to be found among the 400 scientists that are listed on [the U.S. Senate Committee] report, other than the nearly unanimous agreement that the claim of Global Warming as a legitimate threat to humanity is more an ideological juggernaut than a proven scientific certainty . . .' 4
But, Ross goes on to say, "within the last two years, a number of leading scientists . . . have all declared that humanity is about to pass or already has passed a "tipping point" in terms of global warming. The IPCC, which reflects the findings of more than 2,000 scientists from over 100 countries, recently stated that it is "very unlikely" that we will avoid the coming era of "dangerous climate change." "5
Wait! Aren't they the same group who, in 2001, said we could expect the world's oceans to rise as much as 35 inches. But, in their 2007 report, reduced their forecast to 16.5 inches? 6
Mr. Guanipa contends, '[The 400 scientists'] consensus is based in the scientifically verifiable notion that . . . periodic Hemispheric warming (and cooling) of the earth are natural cyclical phenomena, caused primarily by fluctuations in the sun's electro-magnetic radiation, water vapor, and a host of other culprits meaner than the rise in carbon dioxide levels, which is actually an effect rather than a cause of warming. This natural cycle has taken place - and will continue to take place - over millennia. This means that the net impact that man - in all his industrial fury - has over any significant climate variations, is no more distinguishable - as a contributing former meteorologist puts it - than a "fart in a hurricane".'7
400 scientists? Why don't we hear more about them? According to the Canada Free Press, they feel their voices are being suppressed, their opinions ridiculed, and their jobs threatened. "They also contend that stripped of its thin veneer of scientific legitimacy, the theory of A.G.W. is nothing more than an ideological doctrine, and a dangerous one at that. . . [which stifles] healthy debate . . . on an issue that could have serious and lasting global economic and social repercussions."8
Still Mr. Gelbspan persists, 'This slow-motion collapse of the planet leaves us with the bitterest kind of awakening . . . For anyone anywhere who truly absorbs this reality and all that it implies, this realization leads into the deepest center of grief . . . There needs to be a vision that accommodates both the truth of the coming cataclysm and the profoundly human need for a sense of future.'9
This leaves one reeling. Is this just a war of words? Is it a spitting match? A power play? One has to wonder. Especially when one reads some of the comments on Mr. Gelbspan's commentary. One worker in the Environmental Protection field who has a science and mathematics background said, "I have studied this issue for many years, reading everything I can find on the subject, including all the IPCC reports (not just the executive summaries). I have yet to come across any credible evidence that increasing atmospheric CO2, man-made or otherwise, is causing global warming. To the contrary, all of the research-backed theories that seem to explain past climate changes have nothing to do with CO2. . . .So far, all this hype appears, in my view, to be based on computer models that are seriously flawed.' 10
It is enough to make one cry. Not only is this controversy, regardless of who is right, throwing a bad light on the scientific community, fueling the fires of controversy, separating friends, and making reporters sound like fools, but it is downright depressing.
One wonders how many people echo this reader's comment, "the future is going to s- - -, we just don't know how badly." Or this one, "This article kind of makes me want to go home, eat a handful of Xanax and stare at a wall for a while." Or even this one, "What the h- - - am I supposed to do now?" 11
What we don't need is more sloppy science, weeping politicians, false accusations, and blind denial. Pure and honest reporting from the mainstream press would be a great start. However, whether an environmentalist, Christian, or unconcerned citizen, everyone has a responsibility to their environment. What we do will effect future generations.