As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Monday, February 20, 2006

Environmental Science for Dummies

I don't think anybody would argue with the contention that the Bush Administration is skeptical about the issue of climate change. I mean, there aren't any polar bears drowning in DC, after all, so what's all the hubbub?

So hearing that the President grants meetings to fellow skeptics in a sort of mutual admiration society is not surprising. The fact that he doesn't bother to grant those meetings to scientists, who might have actual data to back up their claims, but science fiction novelists, is simply ridiculous:

In his new book about Mr. Bush, "Rebel in Chief: Inside the Bold and Controversial Presidency of George W. Bush," Fred Barnes recalls a visit to the White House last year by Michael Crichton, whose 2004 best-selling novel, "State of Fear," suggests that global warming is an unproven theory and an overstated threat.

Mr. Barnes, who describes Mr. Bush as "a dissenter on the theory of global warming," writes that the president "avidly read" the novel and met the author after Karl Rove, his chief political adviser, arranged it. He says Mr. Bush and his guest "talked for an hour and were in near-total agreement."

"The visit was not made public for fear of outraging environmentalists all the more," he adds.

Look, let's give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe Bush and Crichton weren't talking about global warming at all; maybe they were discussing the cloning of dinosaurs or how robots will malfunction at Western-themed amusement parks.

(Incidentally, they're remaking Westworld? Why can't the Hollywood gatekeepers allow anyone to generate a new idea?)

I work in media my own damn self. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I'm not qualified to brief the President on the environment. With the help of my trusty friend Google, I could probably come up with a list of a few thousand peer-reviewed scientists (I mean peers who aren't political operatives) who are. Or I could bring back some digital photos of the polar ice caps or the Greenland Ice Sheet melting away. Either way, my opinion on the subject, informed or not, simply pales in comparison to an expert's. Michael Crichton falls on my side of the fence in this scenario.

This is priceless:

Mr. Crichton, whose views in "State of Fear" helped him win the American Association of Petroleum Geologists' annual journalism award this month, has been a leading doubter of global warming and last September appeared before a Senate committee to argue that the supporting science was mixed, at best.

That's right up there with George Lucas winning the Association of American Light Saber Manufacturer's Raising Awareness Award.

Of course, this preference for political opinion over scientific opinion is not surprising from an Administration that sends a 24 year-old who lied about graduating from college to silence NASA scientists on climate change. This is really par for the course from the "addicted to oil" crowd. But its effects for those of us who want to see Venice someday, or who'd like to breathe clean air in Southern California, or who'd like to leave their kids and grandkids at least a partially un-toxified Earth, are far-reaching.