Scientists and public policy analysts were justifiably appalled by Steve Zwick writing in his Forbes.com column last week that firemen should let houses burn down if they are owned or occupied by global warming “denialists.” Lost in Zwick’s over-the-top rhetoric, however, has been his even more troubling assertion of what constitutes sound science.
Before we get to the science, however, let’s clarify one point about the rhetoric.
For all the crying by global warming alarmists about the lack of civility in the global warming debate, almost all of the over-the-top vitriol among spokespersons for each point of view emanates from the alarmist crowd. Zwick’s call for skeptics’ houses to burn down is actually mild compared to other prominent alarmists calling for the murder, imprisonment, and execution of skeptics. These violent and hateful statements are made by alarmists on a fairly regular basis, yet the predominantly left-leaning media ignores it. By contrast, when serial name-caller Michael Mann cries “woe is me” because people actually follow the Scientific Method and criticize his methods or theories, the media goes on a tear-jerking bender of stories about scientists being under attack. Oh, please…..
Now, on to Zwick’s science.
When you dig beneath the vitriolic rhetoric of Zwick’s column, he makes the following scientific argument: “A recent poll by Yale and George Mason Universities shows that most Americans are at or near that point on climate change, with 72% of us seeing a link between extreme weather and our own actions. It’s a link that climate models have long predicted, and with the benefit of hindsight we see that even the earliest models have proven accurate over time.”
Let’s take a closer look at the survey Zwick cites.
The Yale Project on Climate Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication have released a joint survey about Americans’ impressions of recent extreme weather events. Much like the phenomenon where millions of people claim and apparently believe they were actually at the 1969 Woodstock music festival, a ridiculously high percentage of people claim in the Yale/George Mason survey to have personally experienced severe weather events like hurricanes and tornadoes during the past year.
Twenty-one percent of survey respondents say they personally experienced a tornado last year. This is astonishing. Unless the survey was conducted almost exclusively in Joplin, Missouri, or Tuscaloosa, Alabama, I am guessing the Woodstock effect is occurring here.