Monday, August 27, 2007

Newsweek recently ran a cover story claiming that people who didn't agree that "we have to do something about global warming - NOW!" were stupid, ignorant and/or being paid off by energy companies.

Given that I don't agree that (1) global warming is happening, (2) that, even if (1) was taking place, that man is responsible, (3) that even if (1) and (2) were true, that the effects of this warming would be an overall negative (I'm not sure that, while some people and places would be hurt, other people and places wouldn't benefit to the point of offsetting the negative effects), (4) that even if (1),(2) and (3) were true, that man could do much of anything to reverse the effects of warming (it presumes that not only we haven't reached a 'tipping point' but also that man has the capacity to reverse these trends), and that even if (1),(2),(3) and (4) were true, that we wouldn't be worse off by whatever programs were put in place to reverse the warming (are the costs of reversing global warming greater than the benefits of doing so?), and as my bank account doesn't show any deposits from Exxon's public relations department, I have been wondering over the past couple weeks if I was stupid or ignorant.

Anyway, imagine my chuckles today when I started reading the letters Newsweek received in response to the article and saw the very first one was a congratulatory piece ("the deniers are well-paid charlatans") from none other than Paul Ehrlich. Yes, Paul, "If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000" Ehrich, who has been so wrong for so long that he's become the poster child of 'the sky is falling, the sky is falling' doomsday alarmism, and the loser of a bet with Julian Simon of the University of Maryland, where Simon demolished Ehrlich's claim that population growth would lead to shortages of, well, just about everything.

Having Ehrlich on their side ought to make any self-respecting editor wonder if they were missing something. It's kind of like running for office and having David Duke sign on in support, or arguing in favor of a natural diet and having Barry Bonds offer up his endorsement, or having Charlton Heston offer his well wishes for your gun control campaign, or having Jerry Falwell sign on as a sponsor of the local gay rights parade (yeah, I know Falwell is dead, but you get my point, right?). It doesn't mean that you're automatically wrong, but it ought to make you think once or twice about whether you were missing something.

But somehow, I doubt that Begley or her editors at Newsweek are doing much soul-searching right now. True believers are often proven wrong, but they are never in doubt of the righteousness of their beliefs...