cite as: F. Bi. 2008. Ode to a theory unsung and conspiratorial. Intl. J. Inact., 1:101–104
This isn’t very new, but from one Professor Denis G. Rancourt comes a climate conspiracy theory which even the self-proclaimed ‘non-mainstream dissenters of the orthodoxy’ will see as non-mainstream — the fringe of the fringe. Well, let’s just say it’s a conspiracy theory from a left-anarchist point of view:
Global warming is often presented as the greatest potential threat to humankind and as the greatest environmental and ecological threat on the planet. It is also presented as a problem that could be solved or contained by determined international collaboration – by political will if it were present.
[...] I argue that by far the most destructive force on the planet is power-driven financiers and profit-driven corporations and their cartels backed by military might; and that the global warming myth is a red herring that contributes to hiding this truth. In my opinion, activists who, using any justification, feed the global warming myth have effectively been co-opted, or at best neutralized.
Um yeah, The Truth Is Out There, as they say in The X-Files, and who better to expose the Plain Truth than an individualist leftist anti-government Bakuninist who, well, knows the Truth?
The Truth… the Truth…
Except, nowhere does le professeur name the specific “corporations” which are complicit in this enormous global warming ‘scam’. Is ExxonMobil part of this plot, seeing that it’s been dishing out money to global warming deniers? Perhaps Blackwater is also involved? Is Toys Я Us in it too?
And while there’s an impressive list of about 100 “Selected Supporting References” at the end, he doesn’t actually (!) refer to them in his main text.1 No matter: in any case, he proceeds to dismiss all the scientific papers with a broad stroke of the brush:
Environmental scientists and government agencies get funding to study and monitor problems that do not threaten corporate and financial interests.
Wow, now that’s really rigorous, my good prof…
Rancourt’s entire essay, in fact, is an entire string of such vague just-so statements, with no specific citations whatsoever. Out of the numerous vague claims, there was a slightly less vague claim which caught my eye:
The most recent thermometer measurements have their own special problems, not the least of which is urban warming, due to urban sprawl, which locally affects weather station mean temperatures and wind patterns: Temperatures locally change because local surroundings change. Most weather monitoring stations are located, for example, near airports which, in turn, are near expanding cities.
Now this ‘fact’ sounds awfully familiar (to those of us watching the global warming ‘debates’, anyway). Indeed, it’s straight out of inactivist Anthony Watts’s playbook! Watts has been working on a project called
surfacestations.org ostensibly dedicated to 'exposing' the 'bias' towards the global warming theory produced by 'bad' temperature measurements. The project home page shows a nice beautiful picture of a "well maintained and well sited USHCN [US Historical Climatology Network] station" at Orland, CA and a "not-so-well maintained or well sited USHCN station" at Marysville, CA; and it tries to 'show', using two graphs, how the difference 'affects' the surface temperature trends:
Now that's very shocking indeed -- well-sited stations show cooling, and poorly-sited stations show warming! Except that Watts doesn't mention that the above graphs are for the temperature records before homogeneity adjustments (to account for e.g. changes in thermometers). After adjustments, it turns out the temperature trends don't look so different:
Curiously enough, Rancourt's list of 'selected references' mentions neither Watts, nor
surfacestations.org, nor the poem by "Horatio Algeranon" commemorating this issue (heh). (Well, it's after all just a list of 'selected' references, not all references...)
So, what's up with Rancourt's conspiracy theory? Did the professor simply lap up some 'facts' from random sources espousing the 'greenism is crypto-communism' line, and reinterpret the 'facts' according to his own ideology? Who knows. Anyway, there's a lot more of such silliness in Rancourt's essay; those who are brave enough are invited to read the whole thing...
- Jeez, he's a professor, surely he should know that the whole point of having a list of references is to allow people to check the source of each of his claims. The list isn't just there to look pretty.