Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Wolf, wolf!

Many years ago I remember reading some outlandish claims about rising sea levels, published in one of the many environmental propaganda tracts that are force fed to primary school students. The article sat beside a photo purporting to show what Sydney would like like in 2010. The ocean was halfway up Centrepoint tower!

I am not a scientist but similar outlandish claims, made by environmentalists, occur with such regularity that it makes me sceptical. In the past they have claimed that we are running out of food, the world is cooling and that pesticides are linked to cancer. Although there is generally some evidence for these views, the unequivocal manner in which environmentalists express them surely hurts their cause when events show them to be wrong. Paul Watson, the co-founder of Greenpeace, summed up their attitude when he said:
It doesn't matter what is true, it only matters what people believe is true ... You are what the media define you to be.

And, once again the environmentalists have been proven wrong. Remember salinity? It was the latest environmental scare story a couple of years ago. Well evidence now shows that the claims were way overblown. Unfortunately, governments have already committed $1.5 billion based on these miscalculations.

But these mistakes do not appear to temper the media's obsession with hyping the latest nightmare scenario. Recent reports suggest that an ironic consequence of global warming could be the freezing over of large parts of Europe. (An example of science imitating art, see the movie The Day After Tomorrow.) Some even claim that most of north-western Europe could resemble Newfoundland within a few decades. Despite the frenzy of media reporting these conclusions are based on two data points!

Perhaps this time they're right but responding to cries of wolf are not costless. Given their record, I think it is reasonable to demand a higher evidence threshold on such claims before resources are committed to abate them.

1 comment:

Luke van Hooft said...

Golbal warming or cooling? AT least the green-extremists cover that base by referring to it as climate change.

Environmentalism is the ultimate theory, completely unfalsifiable.

Sounds less like a scientific theory and more like a religion ....