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The Myth of 'Settled Science'


National Geographic's latest cover story has ?generated lots of attention because it sneers at those close-minded Americans - mostly conservatives, of course - who do not accept scientific facts.

Only 40 percent of Americans (according to Pew Research Center) "accept that human activity is the dominant cause of global warming," and the magazine finds it "dispiriting" that so many "reasonable people doubt science."

National Geographic compares global warming doubters to those disbelieve NASA's moon landing and those who think water fluoridation is an evil plot. How could so many dismiss "established science?"

Well, here's one reason?: the public has come to distrust government warnings and the scientific experts: they are often wrong.

Ironically, National Geographic's sermon on settled science could have hardly come at a more inopportune time. In recent months, leading scientists have reversed themselves and have admitted their expert findings and advice were wrong on eating fat. After decades of telling us not to do so, we now learn that fat can be good for your diet and for weight loss. What we all thought to be true based on the expert testimonies turned out to be precisely the opposite of the truth. Oops.

Forty years ago the experts warned of a coming ice age, now they are absolutely certain the the earth is warming - and some of the same "experts" were on board both scares.

National Geographic even acknowledges this inconvenient fact, but explains that this somehow actually helps make the case for global warming. If a scientific theory isn't refutable, i.e. warming and cooling both prove climate change, then how is it science?

The magazine is incredulous that so many skeptics "believe that climate activists are using the threat of global warming to attack the free market and industrial society generally."

Wait. Climate change activists ARE using the issue as a means of attacking free market capitalism. This past summer major environmental groups gathered in Venezuela to solve leading environmental problems like global warming, concluding:? "The structural causes of climate change are linked to the current capitalist hegemonic system."

How is it paranoia to believe that the climate change industry wants to shut down capitalism when the movement plainly states that this is their objective?

And how can a movement be driven by science when its very agenda violates basic laws of economics?  I am no scientist, but I'm highly skeptical of a movement whose first advice is to  steer the U.S. economy off a cliff toward financial ruin.

National Geographic's next scientific claim is that "Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, one of the most powerful Republican voices on environmental matters, has long declared global warming a hoax. The idea that hundreds of scientists from all over the world would collaborate on such a vast hoax is laughable."

Laughable? The entire history of the green movement is full of grand hoaxes and even catastrophic advice, dating back to the modern-day birth of this movement with Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. This was the green anthem which played a big part in the banning of DDT around the world - a move which contributed to millions of Africans losing their lives from malaria.

As for the claim that scientists would never "collaborate on a hoax," what about the scandal of climategate, which the Left to this day pretends didn't happen? Shouldn't the fact that some of the leading climate change researchers were caught red-handed manufacturing evidence and suppressing data even cause some degree of skepticism by the media and the scientific community as to the validity of the "science?"

Nearly every environmental scare of the 1970s and backed by hundreds of scientists, as well as media like National Geographic, was proven to be a hoax. We were assured then by the "experts" that the world was overpopulated, running out of energy, food, water, minerals, getting more polluted, and that the end result would be massive poverty famine and global collapse.

Every aspect of this collective scientific wisdom was spectacularly wrong.

In 1980 top scientists in the United States government issued a report called The Global 2000 Report to the President which was a primal scream that by 2000 the world would run out of oil, gas, food, farmland, and so on. Just a few brave souls like Julian Simon and Herman Kahn dared to contradict this conventional wisdom. They were disparaged then, just as climate change skeptics are today, as dangerous lunatics.

Yet on every score, these iconoclasts were right and the green scientific consensus was wrong. Start with the fact that hundreds of millions of Chinese, mostly girls, are demographically missing today because of the barbaric one child policy, which the greens all supported as a way to save the planet.

The final insult of conservatives by National Geographic is this: "It's very clear, however, that organizations funded in part by the fossil fuel industry have deliberately tried to undermine the public's understanding of the scientific consensus by promoting a few skeptics."

So everyone who dares question the climate change theology has been bought off by industry polluters, but the climate change research brigades are pure as snow. Really?

In 2010 the Climate Depot identified more than 1,000 international scientists doubting the science of global warming.  Are 1,000 scientists "a few," and are they all bought off by the Koch brothers?

No doubt industry is funding some of these skeptics, but it is also true that the U.S. government and private foundations are funding to the tune of billions of dollars. Obama wants $8 billion this year - for climate change research and activities - and the best way to get defunded and to go unnoticed is to conclude global warming isn't happening. Would anyone want to fund the green-industrial complex if the earth's temperature weren't on a catastrophic path of warming or cooling?

What is most offensive and delusional about the National Geographic screed is that this magazine which purports to be scientific concludes that there is not room for debate on climate change - period, end of argument.

This "settled science" argument isn't meant to advance scientific inquiry and understanding, but to shut it down. What is the Left so afraid of that they want to cut off all debate and disparage all who question the consensus?

Once liberals believed in "questioning authority," now they insist on universal allegiance to every conventional wisdom.

But one lesson of history is that scientific truth is the first casualty in ideological crusades like climate change. I am in no position to know whether it is happening or not but, as with half of Americans, I question this settled science, if only because of the Stalinistic approach which commands everyone to believe.

Here again we see the tolerance movement of the Left refusing to tolerate a minority opinion. By disparaging skeptics as imbeciles, stooges of industry, and right-wing Republican ideologues, National Geographic isn't advancing science, it is abusing it.

For shame.

*Stephen Moore is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation

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