Earlier in the week, Bob Ward, the British Royal Society's senior manager for policy communication, had sent a letter to the oil giant ExxonMobil accusing it of funding groups that misinform the public about the reality of man-made global warming, asking it to cease and desist.
It's safe to say that Ward may count the Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes Reason magazine and Reason Online as one of the 39 groups that he believes misleads the public on the issue of climate change. If that's the case, then at least some of the information that Ward says "misrepresents" climate change science may be past articles written by me. So the question is: Why did I do it? Did ExxonMobil CEO Lee Raymond hand me brown paper bags filled with stacks of unmarked bills in the back of taxis while whispering, "Ron, we're counting on your widely read and highly influential articles to help stave off the Green onslaught against our soaring profits"? Or was I a simple-minded dupe, passing along misinformation supplied to me during expensive lunches at the Palm by corrupt scientists who had been paid off by the oil giant? Or perhaps I am just generally skeptical of end-of-the-world scenarios and believe, as Carl Sagan famously did, that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence"?
It's extraordinary that he didn't look at the extraordinary body of evidence that had been accumulating since before the first IPCC conference in 1988. Extraordinary he chose to base his skepticism on the discrepancy between ground temperatures, and atmospheric temperatures measured by satellites and by balloons. That's it.
Ronald Bailey's conversion was sudden. The day the scientific peer-review process established that satellites and weather balloons had not be measuring temperatures correctly, and that in fact the atmosphere is indeed experiencing upward trends in warming rates, as predicted by earlier climate models, he publicly recanted.
In August 2005, Science magazine published three papers that went a long way toward resolving the issue. One paper found that Christy and Spencer had failed to take proper account of satellite drift, which produced a spurious cooling trend to their dataset. Another found that the operation of weather balloons also tended to add spurious cooling to their data. When the corrections were made the satellite and weather balloon datasets were in better agreement with the surface thermometer datasets that showed higher warming trends. On the day that the studies were released I wrote a column for Reason in which I declared that my skepticism of man-made global warming was at an end. The column was titled, "We're All Global Warmers Now." The first line read: "Anyone still holding onto the idea that there is no global warming ought to hang it up."
The Committee for Reeducation note that the conversion is not total, and recommends further rigorous attention in this matter.
In the column, I quote Christy saying, "The new warming trend is still well below ideas of dramatic or catastrophic warming."
I reviewed former vice-president Al Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth for Reason. I agreed that Gore has "won the climate debate" and that "on balance Gore gets it more right than wrong on the science" though I argued he exaggerates just how bad future global warming is likely to be.
We further note that he has tried to deny that he is nought but a 'corporate shill', employing the same scant logic that makes the Reason Magazine masthead a major misnomer, and which fuels the media 'debate' on the scientific consensus.
ExxonMobil has been a supporter of the Reason Foundation. Folks at the foundation confirmed when I called yesterday that the company has donated a little over $250,000 since 2000. The company's latest contributions were $10,000 in 2003 and $20,000 this past January. The last contribution poses a possible conundrum for hard-line corporate conspiracy theorists because it arrived about five months after I declared, "We're All Global Warmers Now." I would suggest that ExxonMobil supports the Reason Foundation because my colleagues robustly defend the free enterprise system.
Er, ExxonMobil has given Reason Foundation $230,000 since 2000 to deny global warming, and then five months after the public conversion of Bailey, Reason's science correspondent for nearly eight years, they get another $20,000 in the post. And he uses this to deny he is a shill? There's a lesson for you in speed if you were the ship-jumping rat type.
Good Members of the Committee for The Global Warming Apocalypse Reeducation Unit of the One World Government, come on? You can bet your bottom carbon trading offset investments that, if Reason was so far off the money on the science and so slow on the evidence, their invoicing of ExxonMobil wouldn't be any quicker.
Our constitution allows us to accept conversions-in-full only. My recommendation to the Committee is for further reeducation - Ronald Bailey is to be subject to 500 hours of watching An Inconvenient Truth, and a further 25 hours of Al Gore's live PowerPoint presentations.
He'll have plenty of time to look at ALL that science that he got so wrong for so long. And to think about how much carbon dioxide was actually emitted into the atmosphere on his watch, and during his long career working for ExxonMobil funded think tanks. For penance he will write an insiders tell-all about big fossil-fuel's long and hard campaigning to sow public confusion about the global warming scientific consensus. Upon doing so, the Committee should determine his conversion as complete, and reset Ronald Bailey's status to good chap, and action all consequent privileges under the Single Government of the Global Carbon Economy.
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