Published November 10, 2005
You may remember the 1970s song “On the Cover of Rolling Stone” by Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show, especially the catchy lyrics, “Wanna see my picture on the cover, Wanna buy five copies for my mother…”
Well I didn’t make the cover of the Nov. 17 Rolling Stone (Billie Joe Armstrong of the rock group Green Day did) but I did get my picture in a pretty exclusive gallery that also featured President Bush; ExxonMobil CEO Lee Raymond; author Michael Crichton; Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.); and the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s global warming point man Myron Ebell.
Rolling Stone knocked the six of us as the “leading debunkers” of global warming, while heaping praise on its “Warriors & Heroes: Twenty-five Leaders Who Are Fighting to Stave Off Planetwide Catastrophe.”
Just who are some of these “warriors” and “heroes”? While you’ll find quick takes on all of them at JunkScience.com, we’ll focus here on those “heroes” who have scientific credentials.
Rolling Stone calls NASA scientist James Hansen the “Paul Revere” of global warming as it was Hansen who famously sounded the alarm about global warming in his 1988 testimony before Congress.
But Dr. Hansen’s predictions of global temperature increases have also been famously wrong. While Dr. Hansen predicted a 0.34 degrees Centigrade rise in average global temperatures during the 1990s, actual surface temperatures rose by only one-third as much (0.11 degrees Centigrade) and lower atmosphere temperatures actually declined. At least the real Paul Revere was right -- the British did come.
Dr. Robert Watson is extolled as “The Messenger” by Rolling Stone. Watson is lauded for leading the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in concluding that humans have already warmed the planet and that the Earth’s temperature will rise by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100.
But as pointed out in this column previously, the sort of crystal ball climate modeling that the IPCC report relies on has never been validated against historical temperatures, so it’s difficult to take its predictions of future temperatures too seriously.
Moreover, global warming theory and its climate models say that atmospheric temperature increases should be 30 percent greater than surface temperature increases, but they’re not -- they’re actually less.
As chairman of the IPCC, Watson was responsible for propagating the myth that only 1 or 2 percent of scientists did not believe humans were responsible for global warming. Watson, of course, overlooked at least 17,000 scientists who signed a petition cautioning against global warming alarmism – a petition compiled with the assistance of former National Academy of Sciences (NAS) president Dr. Frederick Seitz.
The global warming “Hardballer” is the current NAS president Dr. Ralph Cicerone who earned Rolling Stone’s admiration for supposedly “facing down” global warming skeptics in a NAS report on the subject.
Perhaps political hardball is Dr. Cicerone’s strength – but it’s not clear that climate science is. Dr. Fred Singer describes Dr. Cicerone as an atmospheric chemist who should have won the Nobel Prize 30 years ago for his work on the possible destruction of stratospheric ozone by chlorine. But Cicerone is no climate scientist, according to Dr. Singer, and his July 2005 testimony before Congress proves it.
“While paying lip service to uncertainties, [Dr. Cicerone] managed leave the impression of a substantial 20th-century human-caused warming [while] ignoring the cooling between 1940 and 1975 that has always created problems for advocates of anthropogenic global warming.
Virginia State climatologist Dr. Pat Michaels also had much say about Cicerone’s congressional testimony – or rather much to say about what Cicerone omitted to say.
Then there’s the “Tide Turner,” Dr. Robert Corell who Rolling Stone cites for chairing the alarmist report known as the “Arctic Climate Impact Assessment.”
Rolling Stone’s “Visionary” is Amory Lovins, a proponent of hydrogen fuel cells. But at least some in the alternative energy crowd have a different take on Lovins. In an article for the Alternative Energy Action Network entitled, “Amory Lovins Misleads with Numbers,” Arthur Miller criticized a recent Lovins article in Scientific American on energy efficiency and hydrogen fuel cells for “[throwing] a lot of numbers around, but far too many of the ones he provides are irrelevant, meaningless, or misleading.”
As you may guess, I’m very pleased that Rolling Stone chose to pit the six “leading debunkers” (there are actually many more prominent debunkers that Rolling Stone overlooked) against its 25 “warriors and heroes” -- a group that, ironically, makes the case against global warming hysteria quite well. That’s ample compensation for not making the cover of Rolling Stone.
Steven Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and CSRwatch.com, is adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, and is the author of Junk Science Judo: Self-defense Against Health Scares and Scams (Cato Institute, 2001).