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Making Sense Out of "Global Warming Scare Stories"

A recent Policy Analysis (No 576 dated August 23, 2006) from the Cato Institute reviewed “recent global warming scare stories” in order to answer the question: “Is the Sky Really Falling?” The paper was written by Patrick J. Michaels, whose most recent book is Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians and the Media.

In the Policy Analysis, Michaels writes:

“In the last two years, a remarkable amount of disturbing news has been published concerning global warming, largely concentrating on melting of polar ice, tropical storms and hurricanes, and mass extinctions. The sheer volume of these stories appears to be moving the American political process toward some type of policy restricting emissions of carbon dioxide.

“It is highly improbable, in a statistical sense, that new information added to any existing forecast is almost always “bad” or “good”; rather, each new finding has an equal probability of making a forecast worse or better. Consequently, the preponderance of bad news almost certainly means that something is missing, both in the process of science itself and in the reporting of science. This paper examines in detail both recent scientific reports on climate change and the communication of those reports.

In short, he says:

"This constellation of half-truths and misstatements is a predictable consequence of the way that science is now conducted, where issues compete with each other for public support. Unfortunately, this creates a culture of negativity that is reflected in the recent spate of global warming reports.”

Given the alarmism in most major media reporting of global warming, the policy analysis would be a good place for taxpayers to begin arming themselves with "convenient truths."


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