April 12, 2006

Climate Studies: A Lucrative Line Of Work

Snake-oil comes in many forms but the people who peddle it are all after the same thing: a sucker's money. Take the current alarmist trend in climate studies, particularly the focus on "global warming" and its alleged relationship to the increase of man-made greenhouse gases. One of the major reasons it gets so much attention is the funding that it brings those who scream that the sky is falling.

In today's OpinionJournal.com, Richard Lindzen, an Alfred P. Sloan Professor at MIT, explains why this has become such a big deal:

"The answer has much to do with misunderstanding the science of climate, plus a willingness to debase climate science into a triangle of alarmism. Ambiguous scientific statements about climate are hyped by those with a vested interest in alarm, thus raising the political stakes for policy makers who provide funds for more science research to feed more alarm to increase the political stakes. After all, who puts money into science--whether for AIDS, or space, or climate--where there is nothing really alarming? Indeed, the success of climate alarmism can be counted in the increased federal spending on climate research from a few hundred million dollars pre-1990 to $1.7 billion today. It can also be seen in heightened spending on solar, wind, hydrogen, ethanol and clean coal technologies, as well as on other energy-investment decisions."
What's even more troubling, however, is the way those scientists who have the nerve to question all the current conventional wisdom suffer because of it. Sloan continues:
"But there is a more sinister side to this feeding frenzy. Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen their grant funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse. Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their basis."
The Professor goes on to cite specific examples of this kind of thing. When you get this confluence of radical environmental groups, Left-wing politicians and academic advocates (with the MSM doing their marketing campaigns for them), you get a perfect storm that results in junk science becoming the generally accepted standard. And the biggest monetary prizes go to the ones who can sell the biggest panic to the policymakers and the taxpayers. As P.T. Barnum used to say, "there's a sucker born every minute".

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footnote: Thanks to the anonymous commentor below for the clarification about the column's author.

Posted by: Gary at 09:10 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
Post contains 417 words, total size 3 kb.

1 The author is Richard Lindzen. As the Journal footnote states: "M. Lindzen is Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT." Alfred P. Sloan was President of General Motors from 1923 until 1946, and Chairman of the Board until 1956. He died in 1966. There is no evidence he is currently on the faculty at MIT.

Posted by: Any A. Mouse at April 12, 2006 08:30 AM (kCb5q)

2 As it happens, there was an article on Drudge the other day accusing pharmaceutical companies of hyping bogus maladies in order to sell needless drugs. I'd be willing to bet a great many people read that and nodded in agreement. So why would it be any different here? The pharma boys may be in it for the money. In the world of gov'mint and academia, one also has to throw the prizes of power and prestige into the mix, but the incentive structure remains more or less the same.

Posted by: Robert the Llama Butcher at April 12, 2006 09:11 AM (IkTb7)

3 Bet there are more men over the age of 35 taking Lipit0r than not. BTW, had to stick the zero in place of the 'o' because Mu.Nu recognizes it as a common spam word.

Posted by: Gary at April 12, 2006 12:31 PM (PLHs9)

4 There is no evidence he is currently on the faculty at MIT. You mean other than MIT's website: http://www-eaps.mit.edu/faculty/lindzen.htm

Posted by: rightwingprof at April 13, 2006 05:17 PM (hj1Wx)

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