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Saturday, September 03, 2005

Now We Know Who's to Blame

The magnitude of the disaster in Louisiana and Mississippi is largely due to the inability of authorities to respond in a swift and effective way. The scenes we see on TV are wrenching and the inefficacy of the response maddening. But now, thanks to Bill Maher and Stanford Professor Stephen Schneider, we know who's to blame for Katrina itself -- the US government.

Yesterday night, on his HBO show Real Time, Maher invited Prof. Schneider and had him explain how global warming is the culprit for Katrina: "... we all know that hurricanes need hot air" said Maher and went on to compete with the professor on who can more explicitly blame Katrina on global warming and irresponsible policies.

Schneider, a well known global warming fundamentalist, claimed the planet's temperature rose by 1 degree Fahrenheit over the last 100 years and that as much as 50% of this rise in temperature can be attributed to mankind's deeds. So we're looking at a quarter of a degree Celsius over 100 years! With the year-over-year variance in temperature being so much larger than that, how can one blame US policies for Katrina?!

Maher was funny when he drew analogies to Bush’s “the jury is still out on evolution” nonsensical statements. But he got it in reverse. It’s Schneider’s theories that are the equivalent of “intelligent design”. I made some “research” (i.e. Googled a few keywords ;-) and it turns out my instincts were right. Prof. Schneider is indeed a snake oil peddler whose controversial tactics are well documented.

I was delighted to find the following in no other place than Schneider's own website:

On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method. … On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. … To avert the risk (of potentially disastrous climate change) we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public imagination. That of course means getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up some scary scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements and little mention of any doubts one might have. …Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective, and being honest.

--Stephen H. Schneider, author of the book Global Warming (Sierra Club), in an interview in Discover Magazine, October 1989
Enough said.

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