19 May 2006

They Call It Life, We Call It Lies

There's an interesting trend in the naming of institutes these days.

We have things like the Institute for Software Choice, "a global initiative promoting neutral government procurement, standards and public R&D policies for software!" Strange that this organisation didn't exist and push for choice when Microsoft utterly dominated government procurement, and really strange that the Institute's pronouncements all implicitly seem to be calling for more Microsoft products, and less of that horrible open stuff.

Because, you know, when something is truly open, you have no choice, because you could choose anything, which is clearly impossible, since you must choose something, so the whole thing's a contradiction anyway. Whereas with Microsoft's closed software, you are guaranteed to have just one, easy choice: Microsoft. So that's much better.

And then we have the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), "advancing liberty - from the economy to ecology". Well, you can probably guess how they are going to advance ecological liberty: that's right, by promoting the wonders of carbon dioxide.

You see, as this charming, down-to-earth video from the CEI indicates, all this global warming stuff is pure alarmism. The video proves this by showing two reports that global warming is threatening our planet, and then negating them with two others that report ice in the Antarctic and Greenland is thickening, not thinning. So this proves this idea that greenhouse gas is causing global warming is just nonsense.

Except for the tiresome, inconvenient fact that

the consensus of scientific opinion is that Earth's climate is being affected by human activities: "Human activities ... are modifying the concentration of atmospheric constituents ... that absorb or scatter radiant energy. ... [M]ost of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas" concentrations.

This is the view of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, created in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environmental Programme.

But maybe this is just part of the two for, two against situation that the video showed us: perhaps there are other equally impressive reports that say the opposite. Well, no: all the papers on climate change that could be found in refereed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003 were analysed for their views on the role of greenhouse gases on global warming. The result was clear:

The 928 papers were divided into six categories: explicit endorsement of the consensus position, evaluation of impacts, mitigation proposals, methods, paleoclimate analysis, and rejection of the consensus position. Of all the papers, 75% fell into the first three categories, either explicitly or implicitly accepting the consensus view; 25% dealt with methods or paleoclimate, taking no position on current anthropogenic climate change. Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position.

But the video urges us to ignore all this complicated scientific stuff anyway, and just to go with our hearts; as it puts it, so poetically:

As for carbon dioxide, it isn't smog or smoke, it's what we breathe out, and plants breathe in. Carbon dioxide: they call it pollution, we call it life.

What a pity, then, that logging companies are cutting down so many of the trees and rooting up the plants: but I suppose that's all part of the economic liberty that the CEI espouses.

Update 1: A little clarifying background on the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Update 2: Larry Lessig on something related that looks pretty important.


Anonymous said...

I wrote a counter-ad :::[Carbon dioxide ad - they call it a spot, we call it a stain.] Let me know what you think. If you like it it would be great if you could link it

Glyn Moody said...

I think it's great; well done for skewering their method so well.