Monday, October 10, 2005

Evans: Crichton is wrong, nuff said

Harold Evans uses his most recent "Point of View" slot on the BBC to confirm that he is a) a committed believer in man-made global warming and b) uninterested in a substantive discussion about it.

His article is, ostensibly, a critique of novelist Michael Crichton's own very critical position on the science behind many of the global warming claims. I say ostensibly because in fact Evans ends up ignoring Crichton's actual arguments, and instead makes points that are at least twice removed from anything Crichton has said.

Evans first errs by conflating the plot of Crichton's novel, State of Fear, with his real life objections to the science behind global warming claims. The plot, as Evans describes it, involves "eco-maniacs" who are able to create "natural" disasters, which they then claim are due to global warming in order to advance their own political agenda. This, Evans says, is Crichton's "conspiracy", which he then goes on to liken to such other conspiracy theories as that FDR and Churchill conspired to have Japan bomb Pearl Harbor, and that assassins hired by LBJ were manning the grassy knoll in Dallas. Needless to say, Evans is as unimpressed with Crichton's conspiracy as he is with the others.

But the thing is, unlike the others, Crichton's "conspiracy" is an acknowledged work of fiction. Sure, Crichton has undoubtedly used the novel as a vehicle to make a point about global warming theory enthusiasts, but for Evans to pretend that the plot of Crichton's fiction represents his actual objections to global warming science is to avoid the very substance of Crichton's real-life arguments. Which, clearly, Evans is intent on doing. For, even with regard to the novel itself, Evans has nothing to say other than to dismiss it as a "paranoid" conspiracy theory.

Instead he spends his time commenting on what other people, like Senator James Inhofe and President Bush, say and do. Or, rather, what they don't say or do. Evans finds it "quite significant" that, in the wake of hurricane Katrina and the fact that "the ferocity of Katrina and Rita" was "widely blamed in the press on the unusually hot waters in the Gulf," Bush didn't reassert his doubts about the threat posed by global warming. Apart from the fact that the "unusually hot waters" were not quite so unusually hot, and the fact that Evans' very own employer poured cold water (sorry) on the haste with which Katrina and global warming were linked by some, apparently it hasn't occurred to Evans that perhaps Bush has more important things to do than to object every time the global warming crowd announces that yet another naturally occurring event has been caused by global warming.

Evans also points out that, despite Senator Inhofe's doubts, the senator has failed to explain the "rare consensus" of "top scientists" regarding catastrophic consequences of unchecked gas emissions. Which is an odd point, inasmuch as Evans had already noted Crichton's disparagement of consensus science..."If it's consensus, it isn't science. If it's science, it isn't consensus" Crichton says. One would have thought that, having decided to site a scientific "consensus" in an effort to knock Inhofe, he would have at least found it necessary to rebut Crichton's criticism of its oxymoronic nature. Instead he acts as though no such point had ever been made, and that such a scientific "consensus" is self-evidently meaningful. Again, he simply ignores rather than addresses Cricthon's arguments.

Evans can't even get his timeline correct. After mentioning (correctly) that Crichton has become "something of a hero" to groups opposing Kyoto-like reforms, he says that Crichton was invited to speak at the American Enterprise Institute about science policy in the 21st century. "The sceptics needed this kind of reinforcement," says Evans, suggesting that the recent hurricanes, and presumably the, er, obvious link to global warming, had silenced them. The thing is, Crichton's appearance at AEI came back in January, some 8 months prior to the "need" foisted upon the sceptics by Katrina and Rita which it apparently fulfilled.

Evans also cites 5 organizations, such as Advancement of Sound Science Center Inc, Comittee for a Constructive Tomorrow, and the Annapolis Center for Science-based Public Policy, which he accuses of have "deceptive titles". Deceptive how? Well, they all raise questions about the validity of the science behind global warming. Apparently the only "science-based public policy" worthy of the name is one that accepts the claims of global warming alarmists without question. The other problem that Evans sees with these organizations is that they accept money from the likes of Exxon, which is interesting given that this is precisely one of the problems cited by Crichton himself in both of his public speeches...the politicization of the scientific process. One would think this might be a point on which agreement could be found. The problem is that, where Crichton recognizes that all the science, including that of proponents, has become politicized, Evans seems to think that only the science of the sceptics is colored by their biases.

Ultimately, although his piece is entitled "Crichton's conspiracy theory" and it is introduced as taking issue with Cricthon's latest thriller, ultimately Evans decided to punt on Crichton and discuss other things. Which is unfortunate. Both of Crichton's speeches, back in 2003 and at the AEI this year, in which he lays out his objections to the science surrounding global warming claims and the process by which they are made, are compelling. It might have been interesting to see someone take him on, and attempt to show why his objections have no merit. Despite his pretense to the contrary, however, Evans is simply not up to the task.


Blogger Richard John said...

Interestingly someone else pointed out that critics of the book reminded him of the catholic church attacking The Da Vinci Code - another work of fiction.

Quite an interestin comparison I think as those who support the Man Made Global Warming thinking do seem to be a bit religous in their attitude!

7:42 AM  

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