Today I received a email forward from my Uncle John that contained an anti-global warming press release from Sen. James Inhofe's Environment and Public Works committee. Inhofe, of course, is one of the Senate's chief skeptics that human actions are contributing to negative climate change. So as a parting shot from his committee chair, he released the rather screedish report, "A Skeptic's Guide to Debunking Global Warming Alarmism." It's a good title, but it also explains a lot about how the global warming opposition defines itself. Just like the Religious Right of the 1990s, their identity is shaped by the people they dislike. Here's how I responded to my uncle:
Dear Uncle John,
What you sent over is a press release written by Sen. Inhofe's committee staff, so it's obviously very biased towards his perspective. I think most scientists agree that there are hiccups in the theories that try to explain global warming, and that skeptics shouldn't be muzzled. Science, after all, thrives on a healthy debate and discussion. It is the most self-correcting profession that exists (far better than politicians). But I'm afraid Sen. Inhofe is trying to make a round Earth appear flat. The vast majority of scientists who work in climate change fields, probably over 95%, believe that humans are contributing to global warming and that it's a problem. And when Sen. Inhofe holds a comprehensive hearing on global warming, 75% of the scientific experts he invites are skeptics about the human race's role in increasing global warming. That's like opening a French restaurant and hiring 5 Scottish chefs and a Maitre'De from Quebec--not very representative of reality.
I am not sure why so many conservatives have an ingrown fear of global warming. I can understand why oil and coal companies don't like people to talk about it--their profits are directly correlated to rising carbon dioxide levels. But I'm noticing an increasing anti-global warming gut reaction from conservative news sites and pundits that seems to exist for the simple reason that people like Al Gore and Leo DeCaprio are on the opposing side. It reminds me of the knee-jerk rhetoric that once roiled the debates over prayer in school and creationism. Conservative christians clung to those cultural issues because they helped them define who they were in opposition to--mainly so-called secular humanists and atheists. But when one examined the basis of the religious right's main arguments (ie. school violence, abortion, and Satanism have increased because kids no longer pray before homeroom) -- they were plainly ridiculous and non-sensical.
When Sen. Inhofe decided to focus his last hearing on the "media conspiracy" promoting global warming, he showed that climate change skeptics, who lack any scientific weight or consensus, seek to define themselves by those they are against. It's the same silly smokescreen as Pat Robertson complaining about how Madalyn Murray O'Hair drove God from the public schools back in 1962. And I think it is an endgame ploy of a side that lacks the standing to make an argument.